Meet the locals: Laura Wilkes from The Yoga Barn

Originally from the UK, Laura Wilkes is a travelling yogi who is has been based in Ubud, Bali since late 2018. She works for one of the biggest yoga centres in South East Asia, The Yoga Barn in the brand and marketing area of the business. This role combines her marketing background and ambition to bring yoga into the lives of more people.

After leaving her corporate life in London, Laura set off to do her Yoga Teacher Training in India and has been living on a yoga-guided adventure ever since.

Laura Wilkes The Yoga Barn

How did you end up working with the Yoga Barn in Bali?

A friend I used to work with in London saw the job on Instagram and sent me a screen grab encouraging me to apply. At first I wasn’t interested, I loved The Yoga Barn, but it’s so far from home (UK), and I had my mind set on returning to set-up something in Europe. But the Universe had other plans…

As I was applying, I thought, “actually I’d be great at this job. I want it!” but I didn’t hear anything back for over a month (Bali pace…), and I’d forgotten all about since I was busy travelling in Western Australia. Then, within a week of receiving a “we’d like to interview email”, I was offered the job and a whole new chapter in my life began.

Now I couldn’t be happier I am here!

Was life in Bali like you expected it to be?

I don’t really know what I expected to be honest. I have a tendency to just say yes to an opportunity and go for it without overthinking the detail! Someone told me that to live in Bali you have to be ok with the light and the dark moments and after nearly six months here I can totally resonate. My life here is slow and simple, calm and very good for my insides (my drinking days are long gone…) and it’s provided me with the space to focus on what I really want out of life. I learn so much here, meet lots of inspiring, creative souls and Ubud is full of new experiences. I am never bored, and I never have the same day: every day Bali sends me something magical. Now if only my best friends and family could move out here!

How do you get any work done living in paradise?

With a good routine, a to-do list and an air-conditioned office! Plus, I make sure that every day I have here includes something from “living in paradise” whether that be a yoga class at The Yoga Barn, a sunset walk through the rice fields, a Balinese massage, ecstatic dance, a dragon fruit smoothie bowl, scooting to the beach for sunrise. For me living and working in Bali has been about finding a work/life balance as in London that didn’t exist.

How would you spend your perfect “Ubud day”?

I’d wake up, meditate and have a smoothie at home. Scoot (I love scooting!) into town for an early yoga class at The Yoga Barn. Enjoy a massage then head for a coffee and catch-up with myself; journaling, reading, penning ideas for what I want to do…. Probably get talking to someone new in the café and have an interesting chat and swap stories. Meet a friend for some plant-based colourful nourishment, then either go to a meditative Sound Healing or super empowering Ecstatic Dance in the evening.

Ubud became famous from Eat Pray Love, does it live up to this reputation?

I was visiting one of the temples near Ubud and a girl asked me to take a photo of her, before I had a chance to answer she said; “I’m here on my own because I divorced my husband and came to Bali. And I met a man here, just like the film”… So, yes – it certainly does!

What is your go-to weekend getaway on (or around) the island?

I love going across to Nusa Lembongan for the weekend. It’s only a short ride from Sanur, and it’s a whole new pace of life. Ubud can be quite full on and super humid, so I make sure I get away as much as I can. Lembongan is proper island life. It’s so good to lie on the beach, sip coconuts and be by the sea.

What souvenirs do you like to bring back to the UK?

I am heading home for the first time later this month for a friend’s wedding, and I plan to take a few of those baggy jumpsuits as presents for my girlfriends. I love the art here, so I’ll be taking a lot of that home someday.

What do you always ask visitors from home to bring?

High on my list so far has been nuts, seeds, Pukka tea bags, must-read books and any products I’ve run out of!

What you do in your spare time?

  • Yoga & meditation
  • Teaching yoga
  • Eat in all Ubud’s excellent cafes
  • Writing
  • Being with friends and meeting new people – connecting with great people
  • TED talks, workshops and anything to gain more knowledge on this thing we call life!

Your Ubud tips quick list:

Best coffee:
Green Post (next to Outpost) – small, humble and oh so good

Best lunch:
The Thali Plate at Muse is currently high on my recommend list
And, I know I am a little bias, but the food at Garden Kafe is so tasty – their Tahini & Lemon dressings are amazing!

Best warung:
Buba on Jalan Penestanan for a Veggie Nasi Campur

Best massage:
Melya Spa for the Healing Massage

Best manicure:
I actually haven’t had one!!

Best pool to spend a day at:
Jungle Fish