Shakti Stays: Vassani Stay

 
canggu-airbnb-luxe-yogi-blog-pool.jpg
canggu-airbnb-luxury-pool.jpg
canggu-luxury-villa-bali-blog-pool.jpg
canggu-luxury-villa-pool-blog.jpg

I couldn't have asked for a more perfect location than Vassani Stay for exploring Canggu. Everything I needed was within walking distance; from the healthy cafes to the yoga studios, the boutique stores to the tattoo parlour. It definitely hit the top of my list of places to stay in the Luxe Yogi's Guide to Canggu. But the location was the icing on the cake. The place was immaculately clean, stylishly decorated and featured all the thoughtful touches that a nomad needs - universal power points in convenient locations in the room, a tea and coffee making station right outside the room (with stylish coffee mugs and wooden spoons!), pool towels, a writing desk, coat hangers and shelves, a mini fridge and water jug for cool water top-ups... these may seem like insignificant details but trust me, as a frequent traveller, going without these basics can be super frustrating! I was delighted to find nothing was missing at Vassani - in fact, not only was my every need pre-empted and provided for, it was done in a super-stylish way. No boring cushion covers, ugly power adaptors and daggy coffee mugs in sight!

The pool area, is of course, simply divine and you're likely to have it all to yourself much of the time, since Vassani is perfectly petite. With just a handful of rooms, sightings of other guests are rare, and the whole place is blissfully quiet and private. I think it attracts the low-key kind of guest. In the same building, you'll be delighted to find Gypsy Kitchen & Bar serving up some delicious food and great coffees, so you need not go far to get your morning pre-yoga caffeine fix.

canggu-luxury-villa-bali-blogger-bed.jpg
canggu-luxury-villa-bali-blog.jpg
canggu-airbnb-pool-villa.jpg

The Practice Yoga studio is a short walk past some of Canggu's best boutique shops (I dare you not to buy a bikini or a cute top on your way to the studio!) and Samadi isn't too far either - both studios have an incredible line-up of Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Yin and other classes. But, if you prefer to practice solo (sometimes this is really the best for me when I'm travelling and tired!) there is actually room to roll out your yoga mat on the cool, polished concrete beside the bed.

Nearby, don't miss The Avocado Factory, The Shady Shack, The Loft, Pizza Fabbrica and Café Organic. All have amazing options for plant-loving foodies! For more on the seemingly limitless things for a luxe yogi to do and eat in Canggu, read my ultimate travel guide here.

Take me there...

Vassani Stay
Jl. Munduk Catu #1, Badung, Bali

 

Shakti Stays: Fivelements

 
luxury-yoga-retreat-ubud-bali-blogger.jpg
luxury-yoga-retreat-ubud-bali-blogger.jpg
luxury-yoga-retreat-ubud-bali-pool.jpg

I wasn’t sure what to expect on my return to Fivelements; the healing retreat in magical Ubud where my journey into the healing arts and my love affair with tropical life, yoga, raw food and spirituality began. Almost 7 years had passed since I last visited this place, and I knew that most things in life never stay the same. If you’ve ever tried to re-create an incredible experience, you’ll know that it is next to impossible! I also wondered, since I’ve travelled so much and tasted so many amazing raw vegan dishes over the past few years, would I be as impressed as I was back then, as a total newbie to the scene? After all, Fivelements was the first place I ever tasted raw chocolate and zucchini noodles! And, had my first ever Balinese massage and herbal bath. It was also the first time I really began to sense an undercurrent of the healing power of nature; of it’s magic. And the flickerings of intuition and the calling of my dharma began to stir there in the quiet, by the sacred river. Fivelements had a lot to live up to! I really wasn’t sure I’d have the same feelings of awe and wonder...

Well... I am amazed and delighted to report that not only has Fivelements retained that special magic over the years (everything was just as perfect as I remembered it) it has actually evolved!

luxury-yoga-retreat-ubud-bali-blogger.jpg
luxury-yoga-retreat-ubud-bali-blogger.jpg
luxury-yoga-retreat-ubud-bali-blogger.jpg
luxury-yoga-retreat-ubud-bali-blogger.jpg

The property itself is nothing short of paradise. It is so peaceful. The watery murmur of the sacred Ayung river flowing past seems to permeate the entire place, offering subtle sound healing to the subconscious mind. 

We began our Fivelements healing journey with a Balinese Fire Blessing where we chanted the ancient Gayatri Mantra, meditated and made offerings to the fire gods. As the smoke swirled around us, we were cleansed of negative energies and blessed by this ancient ritual.

Next we were treated to a luxurious Balinese Beauty Ritual with essential oils and coconut scrubs, finished off with a herbal bath overlooking the river, filled with lime, lemongrass, ginger, pandan leaves and mineral salts; an absolutely blissful experience leaving us both completely relaxed and rejuvenated.

bali-ubud-yoga-retreat-raw-vegan.jpg
luxury-yoga-retreat-ubud-bali-raw-vegan.jpg
ubud-bali-yoga-retreat-raw-vegan.jpg
ubud-bali-yoga-retreat-raw-vegan.jpg
ubud-bali-yoga-retreat-raw-vegan.jpg

Finally, with great anticipation we headed to the Sakti Dining Room to see if the food was as mind-blowing as I’d remembered. I had been talking it up to Mr. Jungle Shakti for months (he's a total food snob and tends to get the sulks if we ever have a bad meal!), so I had my fingers crossed.

Again, I was enchanted! The menu is now even more sophisticated. It is obvious that the chefs take great care in refining the flavours and presentation, and are passionate about raw cuisine! We enjoyed a decadent banquet of raw lasagne, pearl barley risotto, fresh avocado and cashew nut salads, silken tofu canapés, scrumptious tacos, superfood smoothies, and a trio of raw chocolate desserts and a coconut panna cotta served with assorted ice creams and sorbets. It really was the ultimate raw vegan foodies lunch. Fivelements Sakti Dining Room is a raw food lover’s heaven, serving up beautiful living cuisine at its finest. Don't miss this if you're planning a trip to Ubud.

Take me there...

Fivelements
Fivelements, Puri Ahimsa Banjar Baturning, 
Mambal, Bali, Indonesia 80352
 

 

Papaya & Coconut Sorbet Nana Bowls

 
papaya-smoothie-bowls-vegan.jpg

It's feelin' hot, hot, hot in the tropics today and the best way to cool down? Frozen banana smoothie bowls! These are just so quick and easy to make, and you can play around with different flavours and toppings to your heart's content. For these ones, I used papaya too 'coz I'm kinda crushing on this fruit lately. Not only does it look and taste like a sweet sunset in paradise, it's full of enzymes that support and maintain digestive health. It's also a beauty food; naturally hydrating and high in skin-boosting vitamins. 

ingredients

1 fresh coconut
1/4 large papaya
1-2 frozen bananas, sliced
1/4 cup coconut water or milk (your choice!)
a handful of toasted coconut flakes
fruity toppings like: extra papaya, strawberry, passionfruit, raspberries

method

First we need to crack open the coconut to make our 'bowl', being careful to save that precious water to pop into your papaya sorbet. Holding the coconut with a towel, firmly tap it with a meat mallet or hammer, turning as needed, until the shell starts cracking in half. Split the shell, then pour the coconut water into a glass and set aside. Sounds easy, but I always need someone to help me with this!

Next place the papaya, frozen banana and coconut water into a high-powered blender and pulse until a smooth, creamy consistency is reached. It should look a bit like soft-serve ice cream now. Simply spoon the sorbet into the coconut shell 'bowls' and top with toasted coconut flakes and fruit. Consume immediately while it's still nice and cold. Yum, am I right?

 

'Sacred Goddess' Ceremonial Cacao

 
sacred-cacao-ceremony.jpg
sacred-cacao-ceremony.jpg

Apart from being a superfood with a wealth of health properties, raw cacao (or, "chocolate" in it's purest form) is a powerful plant medicine that has been used for centuries for her spiritual and energetic properties. Cacao’s scientific name (Theobroma cacao) translates to ‘food of the Gods’. And it has been used as a ritualistic medicine by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans for centuries. In the mythologies of these people, cacao is said to have come from the heavens and contain the spirit of the sacred 'Goddess Cacao'. 

Because cacao is a ‘heart opening’ medicine, she aids in any transformational shift you are working towards; which is why I particularly love drinking this 'Sacred Goddess' Ceremonial Cacao during full and new moon rituals... more on those later!

WHAT HAPPENS IN MY BODY WHEN I DRINK CACAO?

Serotonin: induces the production in the brain of a substance called tryptophan linked to serotonin, creating sensations of tranquility and happiness.   

Magnesium: helps improve your mood, especially during pre-menstrual depression.   

Theobramine: acts as a diuretic and stimulates the renal system and central nervous system.   

Carbohydrates + healthy fats: induces various chemical processes after the amount of oxygen reaching the brain increases, which then results in greater mental fluency.   

Anandamide: activates certain brain receptors, inducing a pleasant wellness feeling. 

Polyphenols: protect against heart disease and help prevent degenerative diseases and slow ageing.

Sounds amazing, right? Here's my recipe for 'Sacred Goddess' Ceremonial Cacao; imbued with the magic of the chocolate love goddess herself! If you can, try to find some pure, raw Amazonian cacao powder. Take care to prepare your cacao mindfully, with loving intention. Play shamanic dance music, or recite a mantra, and reflect on your intention for the ceremony as you make the sacred mixture.

ingredients

4 tbsp raw cacao powder
3 tbsp coconut palm sugar
½ cup coconut milk
½ cup dessert tea (this can be any kind of black tea flavoured with chocolate, almond or even chai; the yummier and more aromatic, the better!)
a pinch of vanilla bean powder
a pinch of cinnamon

method

Boil the kettle and prepare your dessert tea. Meanwhile, begin by measuring the raw cacao powder and coconut palm sugar into a large teacup or clay/porcelain tumbler. Stir in the milk to make a smooth, creamy paste. Next add the tea, little by little, until a smooth, velvety consistency is reached. Add the vanilla and cinnamon and stir gently.

You may like to drink it warm, like a hot chocolate, however, I prefer my cacao chilled. If you're like me, make it in the morning, and refrigerate through the day until the sun sets. The flavours seem to intensify and the fats in the coconut milk and cacao make the drink even thicker and creamier when chilled... Translation: yum!

Photos by: Valerie Minville

 

Shakti Retreats: March Glow Weekend

 
retreat-wellness-sri-lanka-kandy.jpg

Well, it's just over a week since my first Glow Weekend Retreat and I'm still glowing! I recently shared a post about discovering my dharma, and feeling as if my life's purpose is to heal, transform and love – not only myself, but others too. I certainly felt like this past weekend was a great leap forward for me in realising that dream and following my heart. It has led me here, to magical Sri Lanka, to teach the healing arts; and last weekend, I was truly blessed to share a milestone moment in my journey with nine beautiful souls. What pure bliss to have these kindred spirits arrive in the jungle last Friday for a weekend of yoga, meditation, mantra, compassionate cuisine, beauty rituals, art classes and, of course, a powerful full moon cacao ceremony. I could not have been happier or more grateful!

glowbaby-69.jpg
Yoga-teacher-retreat-sri-lanka.jpg
tea-beauty-ritual-yoga.jpg
retreat-yoga-sri-lanka-vegan.jpg

After a delicious welcome lunch, we began our weekend's healing journey with a gentle Yin Yoga session. The theme was 'Hanuman's Heart'. With Saturday being Hanuman's birthday, and with the intention to open our hearts and make leaps of faith in life and love, we worked deep into our hips and hearts as the energy began to flow. Next, we enjoyed a luscious 'Glowing Body' beauty ritual and tea ceremony in the shala, learning to release stress and tension with Ayurvedic facial massage and energy-imbued aromatherapy from Synthesis Organics. Completely blissed out, we enjoyed an indulgent five-course vegan dinner on the balcony, under the light of the twinkling stars.

yoga-retreat-sri-lanka-2018.jpg
papaya-sorbet-vegan-retreat.jpg
raw-vegan-chocolate-cooking-class-yoga-retreat.jpg

There was time to chill and chat in the pool with my soul sisters on Saturday, after stirring up some magic in our morning Vinyasa Flow class (dedicated to the full moon and releasing our deep inner magic and intuition). We also performed some culinary sorcery in the kitchen with a Raw Vegan 'Un-Cooking' Class, making goji berry, toasted coconut and almond chocolates and creamy chive and cheddar cheese dips. We almost couldn't fit in lunch – but, of course we did. Since we were served even more divine vegan cuisine – green smoothies, home-made gluten free kurakkan bread and berry chia jam, cheesy polenta wedges with vegetables in a light coconut curry, red rice balls with papaya salsa and tamarind jam, and papaya sorbet... I'll stop before my drool hits the keyboard!

sacred-cacao-ceremony-yoga-retreat.jpg
raw-cacao-ceremony-sri-lanka.jpg
raw-cacao-full-moon-dinner.jpg
full-moon-yoga-ceremony-sri-lanka.jpg

On Saturday evening, after a twilight Yang/Yin Yoga class invoking our inner 'Jungle Spirit' we enjoyed a Sacred Cacao Ceremony under the light of the full moon. We sipped decadently rich, ceremonial-grade cacao prepared with raw ingredients from the Amazon, inhaling the aroma of the chocolate and filling our senses as we invoked the spirit of 'Mama Cacao', releasing negative energies and setting positive intentions for the coming moon cycle. Another 5-course dinner was enjoyed with our new-found soul mates and it was off to bed to dream wild, sweet dreams.

glow-weekend-retreat-sri-lanka.jpg
glow-yoga-retreat-sri-lanka.jpg
healing-arts-yoga-retreat-sri-lanka.jpg

In Sunday morning's Hatha Vinyasa class, we explored asanas inspired by my homeland, Australia, and it's ancient 'Dreamtime' legend. After that, it was time for a Making Magic Workshop, where we practiced 'manifestation' through creative visualisation and a Yoga Nidra meditation. Finally, we took a wander through the chakra rainbow in one final guided meditation before taking up our paint brushes to get creative around the kitchen table. 

After a delicious farewell lunch (we brought out the kurakkan pizzas with beetroot hummus – yasss!), it was time to say goodbye. I honestly felt like I was saying goodbye to nine old friends, and in the quiet space that followed, I reflected on just how beautifully each and every one of us had connected. I only hope that, like me, each time they think back on this weekend, they begin to glow a little brighter!

p.s. if you'd like to experience a retreat just like this one, click here to see all my upcoming events xx

Photos by: Valerie Minville & Dushan Jayasinghe

 

Shakti Stories: Discovering my Dharma

 
yoga-shakti-bali-retreat.jpg

Just as the sun must shine and the bees must make honey, it is said that all beings must accept their dharma for order and harmony to exist in the world. If an individual is following their dharma, they are pursuing their truest calling, serving all other beings in the universe by playing their own unique role. In Buddhism, it is said that acting in this way is the path to enlightenment. 

It can be difficult to grasp from a Western perspective, but I feel that living your dharma means to act in accordance with your divine purpose – you may even call it cosmic destiny. Since dharma is also closely related to the concept of duty and service to others (and in the Bhakti tradition, unconditional love), I feel that one's dharma can never be selfish.

My own dharma became known to me over the past 10 years, via little whispers from my inner voice, serendipitous connections, and transformational shifts. It has been a long and winding road but every day brings me closer. Perhaps the first time I felt that 'cosmic calling' towards the healing arts, was during my stay at Fivelements back in 2012. I had never experienced a place of healing and renewal such as this before; never had I taken a yoga class, nor tasted vegan cuisine. And, whilst I hesitate to use such a cliché phrase, it truly changed my life.

Bali-Yoga-Travel-Blogger.jpg

Nestled on the banks of the mystical Ayung River, Fivelements gave me the space I needed to allow deep healing to unfold – physical, emotional and spiritual. After just 3 days I felt a clarity and purpose like never before. I was glowing, of course, from the divine healing food, the peaceful natural surroundings and beauty treatments, but I was also (finally!) able to hear my inner voice. She was calling me to make a life change; to begin healing myself and others.

On my return to Australia, I immediately enrolled in a holistic nutrition course and took up yoga. I became a vegan and, soon enough, my dharma expanded to include protecting the innocent. I felt a growing responsibility to defend the rights of our animal brothers and sisters, creating change through vegan cookbooks, pop-up dinners and my blog. Today, I am a certified Holistic Health Coach, Shakti Spirit Guide and Yoga Teacher, hosting transformational wellness retreats across Asia. I teach yoga, meditation, mantra, art therapy, creative visualisation, beauty rituals and plant medicine ceremonies – all designed to help others to heal, transform and bring more love into their lives. Every day I wake up grateful to have discovered my dharma, and I have Fivelements to thank for showing me the light.

What's even more exciting is that I'll be returning to this heavenly retreat in May – back to the place where 'Jungle Shakti' was born! I hope you'll follow my adventures in Bali next month as I take you on a journey back to where it all began.

Take me there...

Fivelements
Fivelements, Puri Ahimsa Banjar Baturning, 
Mambal, Bali, Indonesia 80352

 

Raw Vegan Choc-Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream Cake

 
raw-vegan-chocolate-peanut-butter-cake.jpg

Whoah! Wait a minute! Have I not shared this incredible recipe with you yet?? I made this last year for one of my plant-based pop-up dinners and it was a huge hit! It's also my all-time favourite vegan cake recipe. Now that's a big call. It combines peanut butter, banana, chocolate and coconut in one seriously indulgent, totally transcendental, and positively orgasmic dessert experience. Try a little experiment and serve it to some non-vegans (shhhh... don't say anything yet!). Watch their eyes widen in wonder at the deliciousness and then drop the bombshell – it's VEGAN, yo! And, better yet, it doesn't contain any refined sugar! Now, let them bask in your culinary wizardry.

Ingredients

For the crust
1 and 1/2 cups mixed raw nuts and shredded coconut
1 cup dates

For the filling
6 large sweet bananas
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
4 cups cashews
3 cups dates
1/2 cup kitul treacle
Paste from two vanilla pod
Water, as needed
1/2 cup raw cacao powder

Toppings
3 tbsp Vegan Chocolate sauce
3 tbsp peanut butter
1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes
shards of chocolate & bliss balls (to decorate)

Method

To make the crust, process the nuts, coconut and dates until they stick together. Press into the bottom of a spring form or silicone cake tin, lined with baking paper, and place in the fridge.

To make the cheesecake filling, blend all ingredients - except cacao! - until very smooth. Add as little water as necessary to keep your cheesecake nice and creamy. If you don't want to add any water, use some liquid sweetener or another banana. Now pour half the batter into the cake tin and set the rest aside (keep covered at room temperature). Place the cake tin in the freezer for at least an hour before continuing with the chocolate layer.

When ready, add the cacao to the remaining batter and blend until it's incorporated. Remove the cake tin from the freezer, and drizzle peanut butter generously on top of the vanilla layer. Then pour over the chocolate layer.

Set in the freezer overnight and then decorate with chocolate sauce and peanut butter sauce (to make peanut butter sauce simply mix peanut with coconut oil until runny). Sprinkle toasted coconut over just before serving. Serve frozen.

 

Shakti Retreats: Yoga & The Five Elements

 
yoga-retreat-bali-ubud-2.jpg
yoga-retreat-bali-ubud-2.jpg
yoga-retreat-bali-ubud-3.jpg

Friends, I have some really wonderful news! Do you remember back in December when I made my vision board for 2018, I included some images of me practicing yoga in the jungles of Indonesia...? Well it's only March and my vision for the year is already manifesting in spectacular fashion; even more beautifully and rapidly than I could ever have imagined! Next year, I just might have to put a crystal cave and a unicorn on that vision board...

As it turns out, in yet another example of the tremendous power of attraction, I'll be returning to my beloved Bali (the place where Jungle Shakti was born!) this June, for what I know will be another incredible, transformational experience. I've been invited along as a guest teacher for Light & Bliss – a travel and wellness company providing soulful retreats and luxury adventures in exotic destinations across Asia. Together with my kindred spirit, soul sister and fellow wellness warrior, Nina, I'll be hosting a 5 night retreat at B. Saya in luscious Ubud.

This retreat takes it's inspiration from the five elements – fire, air, earth, water and spirit. The program is curated with activities that will immerse us in these elements, taking us on a journey that is both light and fiery, allowing you to explore and deepen your practice. 

The Five Elements

Earth | a grounding practice that involves nature and meditation walks, scenic landscapes within Ubud

Water | water temple ritual, yoga flow practice, waterfall and hidden canyon exploration

Fire | a powerful practice, Balinese cooking class, herbal sauna experience

Wind | gong bath meditation, yoga nidra, a celebration of music

Spirit | an art workshop allowing you to create something out of nothing

green-smoothie-yoga-retreat-bali-ubud-4.jpg
ubud-yoga-retreat-2018.jpg

What's Included

  • 6 days, 5 nights of immersive yoga and outdoor adventure
  • Daily Yoga and Meditation
  • Delicious, Healthy Meals 
  • Stay in a secluded and hidden tropical villa by the rice paddies, yet only a few minutes from town
  • Purification bath ritual at Tirtha Empul
  • Trek to waterfall and hidden canyon with an outdoor picnic lunch
  • Sound healing session
  • Balinese cooking class
  • Meditation at a Balinese temple
  • Outdoor herbal steam sauna experience with access to a natural salt water pool and bonfire
  • Cultural and art immersion workshop
  • Soothing and relaxing 2.5 hour session of Ayurvedic Healing Chakra

It's hard to say what I am looking forward to the most? Connecting with others on their spiritual path? Hell yes! Exploring a side of Bali that I have never seen before? For sure! Deepening my practice? Always! But then, let's get real for a minute and admit that I'm also really, really, really keen on trying out the local vegan cuisine and floating around in that gorgeous pool whenever possible. Ha! You knew I was going to say that, right?

Anyway, I truly hope to see you here in paradise in June. I would love to see some Jungle Shakti fans attending, share a green smoothie and practice yoga together in this exotic shala. Please click the link below to learn more about the retreat and book. Ooh, and don't forget to mention JUNGLESHAKTI when booking to receive $100 off.

Take me there...

Yoga + The Five Elements
B. Saya Ubud
June 21st