Bali Yoga and Ritual Retreat JULY 6-14, 2025

Lea Bender, E-RYT 500 and Rachel Bowditch, PhD co-lead an unforgettable journey to Bali.

Bali is one of the more than 17,000 islands in Indonesia but its rituals and cultural practices are unique. Not only are the landscapes of rice patties, rainforests, and beaches stunningly beautiful, every aspect of life is shrouded in ritual and offerings.

We designed this journey for those that want to connect body, mind, and spirit while also experiencing the beauty of Balinese art, culture, and ritual.

For the Balinese, ritual and ceremony are a daily practice and mark every rite of passage from child birth and coming of age ceremonies to marriages and funerals. Ceremonies are filled with sacred masked and dance performances of Legong and Barong as well as Wuyang Kulit (Balinese shadow puppetry). 

The whole island is an active ritual. Every doorway has an offering. In every corner of the island are temples and altars of all shapes and sizes.

The Balinese have an energetic force field around the island that you can feel.


Every morning will begin with a meditation and yoga practice. We will also engage with the concept of rasa, a Sanskrit word that can be loosely translated as essence, or flavor.

We will lead you through breath, movement, and somatic explorations to explore the nine rasas or emotional states. This mindfulness practice, known as “rasaboxes” awakens a deeper understanding of our emotional states and how to navigate them through breath and movement.

Through the practice of yoga and rasa we create a container for deep exploration and reflection in our daily excursions through the sacred sites and temples of Bali.


Vira (courage)

Bhayanaka (fear)

Raudra (anger)

Adbhuta (wonder/awe/surprise)

Hasya (laughter)

Shringara (love)

Bibhatsa (disgust)

Karuna (sadness/compassion)

Shanta (bliss)


RACHEL AND LEA met on their first day of Theater class at Skidmore College in 1994. They have been collaborators and friends ever since. In 1996, Lea and Rachel founded the performance art company Vessel Project as a platform to explore, among other things, the boundaries between art and spiritual practice. Vessel Project is still in operation with Rachel as Artistic Director. Lea and Rachel collaborated on numerous performance events before diverging pathways brought them to their current roles as professor and yoga instructor. As lifelong collaborators, this retreat is the intersection where their pathways meet again. Both have traveled extensively and have a shared passion for exploring the unknown and cultivating a deeper understanding of self and other. 

RACHEL BOWDITCH spent the first 18 years of her life living overseas in Italy, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Singapore and Israel. She has a deep personal connection with Bali, growing up in Southeast Asia (Jakarta and Singapore) from age 8 to 16, where her mother taught art at the International School of Singapore. She visited Bali for the first time when she was 8 years and that experience changed her life and instilled in her a love of performance and ritual. She has been to Bali several times since, most significantly in 2016, where she spent a month studying traditional Balinese dance and mask carving with Nyoman Seitwan in Ubud as part of the Dell’arte program. 

Rachel holds a Masters and PhD in Performance Studies from NYU where her work focused on ritual and performance theory. For over 20 years, she has studied and taught Rasaboxes and is one of only seven core teachers of this work ( She is currently a Professor of Theatre at Arizona State University and is the author of four books including On the Edge of Utopia: Performance and Ritual at Burning Man; and most recently A Sourcebook for Rasaboxes and Other Exercises. She has presented her work and taught workshops nationally and internationally. 

LEA BENDER is a lifelong student of Buddhism and Yoga. She is also an avid explorer, teacher and skilled event organizer. Lea spent nearly 6 months in Ghana, mainly on the  mountain of Nkawkaw, where she lived with and wrote about the Okomfu – the spirit mediums and healers of Traditional West African religion. Second Sight, her show on the subject, was produced by Vessel Project and presented at numerous festivals. 

Over the last decade, Lea re-directed her energies to the philosophy and physical practice of yoga, eventually earning advanced certifications. Lea now teaches yoga full-time, offering workshops, classes and retreats near her home in the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains of NY.  She teaches annually at Omega Institute and collaborates closely with Sondra Loring in her work with MovingPotential bringing yoga into jails and recovery facilities in NY State. Lea also leads an annual yoga retreat in the Costa Rican rainforest. 


  • Ubud (where we are going) is the heart center of Bali, known for its deep roots in Hinduism and for its spiritual community.
  • Mount Agung is an active volcano on the island of Bali, it has erupted as recently as 2019
  • Bali has just about the same climate year round with only 2 distinct seasons; rainy season and dry season
  • Suk Suma (Soo-k soo-ma) is the Bahasa (Balinese) way to say thank you.

NOTE: Reservations will open in March 2024. We invite you to email us  if you are considering joining in 2025!  We are continuing to add content to this page until that time. Check back occasionally for additional information (packages/pricing are still tbd).