The Magic of New Years Festival in Bali with Yoga

Bali, the justly renowned diamond in the necklace of islands that makes up the world’s largest archipelago, is well-known for its inner and outer beauty. Bali Hinduism is the predominant local religion and one that nurtures and encourages the arts. Bali’s stunning geographical beauty includes majestic volcanoes surrounded by terraced rice fields that gently spill into an azure sea. Bali Fisherman

Balinese worship their deities at ceremonial festivals, held every 210 days according to the Balinese lunar calendar system. Our time in Bali is organized to attend rituals connected with Nyepi, the Balinese New Years, and one of the most important festivals in the Bali Hindu calendar year where the entire island undergoes purification.

Purification ceremonies are an important part of Bali Hindu religious cycles.  Usually held during times of stress or plague, these ceremonies many times involve sacred objects and masks, and most are held within the village temples. During the rituals, those who fall into trance communicate the wishes of the high and low spirits to their attentive observers. Our trip will includes attending an authentic trance ceremony.

Melasti Festival Day  (Purification with water) On this day Balinese island-wide march in procession to the sea, purifying themselves and their sacred objects—sacred masks and giant puppets. We travel to a beach where an impressive number of villagers gather, to watch the procession of hundreds worshippers, culminating with the Priests and Priestesses in trance. Those who wish may join the Balinese at prayer.

Mecaru Festival Day: (Purification with fire). The daytime is spent in the family home, with preparation of non-perishable foods that will be consumed on the following day, when cooking is not permitted. As the afternoon wears on, young people congregate in the community halls to prepare for the torchlit processions with percussive Gamelan instruments and carrying giant demonic images, whose purpose is to frighten away pesky low spirits that might interrupt the tranquility of the island on the first day of the New Year (Nyepi). The dummies, called Ogoh Ogoh, are created by the Youth organizations and are quite impressive, as there is a competition to see which is the most creative. Home-made fireworks are also set off, hoping the noise will scare off demons.

Hari Raya Nyepi.  A day for self-examination, meditation and contemplation.  Everything must be still.  Bali-Hindu’s cannot work, light a fire, cook, or leave their home. There will be limited food available at your comfortable, quiet accommodation, but you are free to use the grounds. We will have special, extended yoga sessions on this day.

Our trip will bring you into three distinct regions of Bali. We will stay in small, locally owned hotels—away from the tourist scene—so you can fully immerse ourselves in this unique, evocative culture. In addition to daily yoga classes, our excursions will include rice field hikes, treks in rain forests, snorkelling expeditions among tropical coral gardens, walks through coffee and clove plantations, and lush waterfalls. Each day, your tour guides will give us an insider’s view of Balinese dance, music, art and sacred ceremonies.

For the beginning of our trip, we will leave the energy of western culture behind and travel north to Munduk and the cool volcanic mountains of North Bali– stunning region of rice fields, coffee and cocoa plantations, where myriad tropical fruits, vegetables and spices are grown. You will experience first-hand the unspoiled agricultural and village life that Bali has to offer. This is where you will begin to learn about the Balinese people—their language, their culture, and their way of life.

During the middle portion of our trip, we will move to Ubud, the cultural center of Bali, where we will experience “urban” life and a faster pace. You will drink in many cultural riches and experience a variety of solo and group adventures. Ubud is also the place where you will be able to buy stunning artwork and other gifts to bring back home.

We will conclude  our journey at the peaceful, pristinely beautiful Lotus Bungalows resort, perched right at the edge of the Indian Ocean. This small East Bali hotel is the perfect place to decompress, and prepare for your journey home. We will spend four nights in Candi Dasa, concluding our yoga classes and our explorations of Bali, and our life together as a traveling community.

Itinerary March 17 2020

Tues. March 17: USA Departure The journey begins. Depart USA around midnight, groggy but excited. Cross international dateline and lose an entire calendar day, which is made up on your return and which, if you¹ve never experienced this phenomenon, is sort of cool.

Wed. March 18: Munduk BL Arrive at Bali¹s Denpasar airport mid-afternoon, and hop our friendly minibus to Munduk mountain village and check into our beautiful eco-friendly hotel, perched on rice fields. After a chance to wash up, we’ll enjoy the first of our family-style delicious group dinners together. Fall asleep to the sound of chirping frogs and gurgling  water ponds

Thur. March 19: Munduk BD Coffee and tea service from 6:30 AM. First morning yoga session followed by breakfast (this is repeated every morning). Then the first orientation session focusing on basic Indonesian manners & customs, including a demonstration of how to wrap your traditional sarong because that’s sort of important.  Then we gather at the hotel herbal garden to discover medicinal plants growing there. We take a short hike to one of Bali’s most breathtaking waterfalls through cocoa, vanilla, and banana plantations. If you’re brave, you can climb underneath the Falls. Return to hotel for lunch and down-time. At 5:30 gather at the sunset bar for  a talk with Made Surya about Bali-Hinduism. Second family-style meal together.

Fri. March 20: Munduk BD 6:30 Coffee and tea service available. Morning yoga, breakfast, and our second orientation/language session focusing on Bali’s unique caste system, and during which Judy teaches everyone how to barter in Balinese, with appropriate amounts of drama. Then we’ll go on a trek through the neighbouring countryside: small villages, rice fields, culminating at the magical Growing Stone. Back to the hotel for lunch and down time. Gather at the sunset bar for an overview of Bali’s history. After our group dinner, evening ethnographic film: The National Geographic Special on Bali.

Sat. March 21 : Munduk B Coffee and tea service available. Morning yoga, followed by breakfast. Morning  final language session and talk with Surya on the Balian, Balinese traditional healers.The morning is free for those who might want to take a more rigorous trek, take a traditional cooking, dance or offering making class. Happy Hour gathering at the sunset bar where Made Surya will explain purification ceremonies.Final dinner together in Munduk, followed by evening performance of traditional dance by the local village dance company.
Sunday March 22: Ubud B Melasti (purification with water) Coffee and tea service. Morning yoga, followed by breakfast. Depart Munduk for Ubud, Bali’s “cultural center,” stopping at Pura Ulun Danu, Bali’s most beautiful temple, floating on a small island in a volcanic lake. We’ll wind our way through stunning landscapes and Bali’s fruit and vegetable basket. Our final stop will be the Ogoh Ogoh Museum in Mengwi, a collection of the best creations from previous years. Arrive in Ubud and check into our hotel and prepare to travel to  Sanur beach to watch hundreds of Balinese in their finest apparel and with their sacred objects march in procession to the sea where they pray for the new year and a trance ritual is held. You may join them in prayer if you wish. Return to Ubud and evening on your own.

Mon. March 23: Ubud B Morning yoga followed by breakfast. Then we proceed south, stopping first for a performance of the Barong dance at Batubulan village. Then we back-track slightly, to the home/studio of one of the few master carvers of sacred masks, to watch the process and hear about their role in Balinese society. Then to the home of a family of shadow puppet makers to observe the construction process. Onward to the nearby village of Pejeng, and a visit to a traditional batik factory. Amazing evening performance of Kecak (Ramayana) dance and fire trance dance. Dinner on your own, out and about in wonderful Ubud.

Tues. March 24: Ubud. B Macaru (purification with fire) Morning yoga followed by breakfast. Then we travel to the village of Petulu by mini bus, where we are dropped off, and walk back to Ubud, traveling through small villages, terraced rice fields, community halls, and Hindu temples, observing and discovering everyday village life in Bali and learning further about social organization. Late afternoon gather at the soccer field for the torch-lite parade of Ogoh Ogoh, giant demonic images created to chase the low spirits from the island and purify it for New Years Day.

Wed. March 25: Ubud B Hari Raya Nyepi. BL New Years Day. A day for meditation and contemplation. No one is allowed to work or cook or leave their compound (in your case, the spacious hotel grounds). Small meals will be served. It will be a wonderful day to submerse ourselves in Yoga, swim in the  pool, read, listen to nature.

Thur. March 26: Travel Day to Candi Dasa BD After early yoga, we’ll have our final breakfast in Ubud and then transfer to our amazing beachfront bungalows at Candi (pronounced Chaan-dee) Dasa in east Bali. ON the way, we stop for a visit and lunch at one of the local non-protist we support: Bhakti Senang Hati, an educational and recreational collective for physically challenged Balinese adults. We tour their facility, see a presentation of their programs, and have lunch. Then onward to explore beautiful East Bali. Check in to our ocean-front hotel and free afternoon to enjoy your first swim in hotel¹s glorious infinity pool because obviously.  Evening optional ethnographic film: The Three Worlds of Bali.

Fri. March 27: Candi Dasa BD Early morning yoga, and breakfast, Then venture off by minibus to our waiting boats and enjoy a snorkelling  excursion in a nearby coral reef preserve with views of Bali¹s stunning and most sacred volcano Mount Agung. Back to Lotus Bungalows for lunch, Happy Hour seminar at the Sunset Bar and talk with Made Surya on Bali-Hindu concepts to Yoga. Evening ethnographic film about a very controversial Balinese healer.

Sat. March 28: Candi Dasa BD Morning Yoga class. After breakfast, Then we take off to visit the royal palace of Karangesem, and a taste of the age of colonialism. Travel on to Tirtagangga, a stunning “water palace” built by the region’s last Raja (king). Swim in the crystal clear, olympic-sized freshwater pool, followed by lunch in the gourmet restaurant overlooking the palace grounds. On the trip back, visit an incredible organic chocolate factory owned by a man named Charley (seriously). Happy hour meeting in the Sunset Bar,  before our final dinner together.

Sun. March 29: Candi DasaBD Early morning yoga, then breakfast. Your choice to walk or take a mini-bus to the neighbouring aboriginal village of Tenganan, an aboriginal walled village with differing customs than most of Bali. We visit some homes of artists, calligraphers and weavers who reside there. Back to Candi Dasa for lunch and free afternoon to relax and prepare for your journey home.

Mon. March 30: B After our final yoga and breakfast, an easy-going morning, and lunch before we head for the airport or stay on, or travel further in Indonesia.

Please note: Our daily schedule might shift and change as other unexpected opportunities arise ­ cremation festivities or other rites of passage, temple festival and purification ceremonies. You just never know what might be happening depending on the season, the village, or the people we meet. In case any activity must be canceled, another similar activity will be substituted. Sorry, no refunds on any activities you decide not to attend, and anyone who leaves the tour itinerary at any time for any reason is on their own.


  • Round-trip airfare via San Francisco.
  • Airport transfers
  • A snorkeling excursion excluding mask and fins.
  • Attendance at 4 traditional dance & music performances
  • Tour of Tenganan aboriginal village, Puri Amalpura royal palace, Tirtagangga Water Palace, Organic chocolate factory, tour home/studio’s of artists and craftspeople, Ulun Danu temple, fruit and flower market, Ogoh Ogoh  Museum.
  • 3 Treks: neighboring countryside, small villages, rice fields, coffee and clove plantations, & waterfall
  • Breakfast each day, lunch on Nyepi day, and four, family style dinners in Munduk.
  • Seminars on rites of passage, bargaining, history and politics, trance and sacred masks, local customs and culture, language, Hindu religion & caste system, rites of passage, etc.
  • Field trip to the massive purification and trance ritual at Sanur Beach.
  • Yoga class every day
  • Services of Judy Slattum & Madé Surya, professional Bali specialists.
  • Informational booklet.
  • 4 nights at Candi Dasa Beach.
  • 4 nights in Ubud, Bali’s cultual center.
  • 4 Nights in Munduk Mountain Village.

NOT Included:

  • Meals except where noted in itinerary (expect $5.-$12. per meal)
  • laundry
  • overweight baggage fees
  • additional sightseeing, and snorkeling equipment rental. “Optional “ activities such as another snorkeling excursion are not covered

Trip Cost and Fees: $3850.00 includes airfare from LA or San Francisco.The price is based on two people sharing a twin or double-bedded room with private bath (all hotels have western amenities). Two have swimming pools. Full breakfast, excursions listed in the itinerary, classes, services of Judy and Surya (Bali guides/experts), along with several orientation and language sessions. The price includes hotel transfers, land arrangements and air, but an unexpected rise in air fare may influence the final price. Ground only, deduct $800.00 Those arranging their own air travel will be responsible for transfers from the airport to hotel and back.

Deposit: A deposit of $500.00 per person is required at the time of booking. Final payment is due 60 days prior to departure. Minimum 10 and maximum 16 participants.

Cancellations and Refunds: For the flight portion, cancellation will be governed by the rules and regulations as listed in the flight contract by the participating airline. For the land portion, a cancellation fee of $200.00 will be collected up to 60 days prior to departure, after which half the ground portion of the final payment will be refunded. No refunds will be made from one month before departure. Trip cancellation and medical evacuation insurance is highly recommended.

Baggage: Two (2) pieces of luggage, not exceeding 62 inches. Each cannot exceed 50 lbs.

Accommodations: All accommodations are based on two persons sharing a double or twin bedded room with private, western-style bath. Single supplement available for $426.00

Roommates: Single people may sign up for accommodations desired on a share basis and will be assigned a roommate as circumstances permit. If a roommate is unavailable, the participant will be notified of the adjusted price for a SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: $426.00

Passports, Visa & Health: A passport, valid six months from date of entry with proof of onward transportation. Indonesian visa for 30 days granted on arrival to US citizens. No inoculations are suggested or required.

Trip Organizers/Leaders: Judy Slattum MFA and Made Surya B.S. are professional tour organizers who have been leading study tours in Bali since 1985. Made has translated and worked with scholars and educational film and video crews, including National Geographic, and lives in Bali half the year. He was senior research assistant for several scholarly books relating to the Balinese view of the After Death. He is on the advisory board for Sacred Sites International, and has been a contributor to Hinduism Today. He has lectured frequently at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and performs traditional mask dance in both Bali and the US Judy Slattum has been organizing and leading study tours to Bali continuously after first visiting the island on sabbatical to study mask dance in 1978. Six months later she returned with the first of many unique travel/learning experiences. Judy has published many articles on Balinese culture and her book, Masks of Bali; Spirits of an Ancient Drama was released by Chronicle Books in 1992, was featured in Time Magazine and sold over 17,000 copies, and was reprinted by Periplus Editions in Sept. 2003. Her museum exhibition on Balinese Masks toured the USA as part of the Festival of Indonesia for 5 years and has now relocated to Bali.

Denise WendlerYoga Instructor: Denise Wendler

Denise’s classes draw faithful students who appreciate her encouraging spirit and patient instruction. She teaches classes, workshops and retreats all over Northern California and beyond and enjoys working with students of all abilities and ages. Her goal is to not only coach people to greater physical strength and flexibility, but also to guide them toward a focused center of self-awareness, for that is where all great journeys begin.

Denise is a CIYT (Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher), a C-IAYT (Certified Yoga Therapist through the International Association of Yoga Therapists) and an RYT 500 (Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance).

She began studying yoga iDenise Wendlern 1984, taking various styles with teachers in California and Japan. In 1992, she took her first Iyengar class and connected with it so strongly that it changed the course of her life. After graduating from the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco, Denise set her sights on becoming a certified Iyengar instuctor. Comprehensive training came to successful fruition after rigorous certification examinations in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 2005, she was fortunate to study with the Iyengar family in Pune at the Ramamani Memorial Iyengar Yoga Institute. In 2007, she passed her third certification exam in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, becoming an Intermediate Junior I instructor. In recent years, Denise completed a 3 year Therapeutic Teacher Training program through Iyengar Yoga Therapeutics and the 4 Module course on the Yoga Sutras in Study and Practice through the Vidya Institute.