Interview with Putu Kusuma on Balinese living – Kutilang Wellness. Co
August 8, 2018
It’s amazing. Stepping foot onto a scared land of mountains and rice plantations.
Every nook and corner represents a part of Bali’s philosophy of good and evil, the balance of the universe and the faith of the people.
In this exclusive interview with Putu Kusuma, founder of Kutilang Wellness Co. We spoke about the distinction of their retreats from the rest and the inspiration of the retreats held in Bali.
Q1. How did Kutilang Wellness Co / Off the Grid Yoga Retreat come about and what do you guys offer that is different from other retreats?
Our passion is promoting the concept of a wellness holiday beyond the idea of self-care. We want to reinvent ‘holistic wellness holiday’ as an embodiment of the wellness of our environment, the community, and our being.
Imagine a truly relaxing holiday that improves not only your overall wellbeing, but also the wellbeing of the environment and the local communities you visit. Simply book a retreat with us and follow our program as you work your way to wellness. Each trip you book with us will:
Help you improve your overall physical health and mental wellbeing through relaxation, spiritual and physical exercise.
Help the local communities by staying in small family owned hotels/resorts instead of international chains to ensure the money you spend stays in the community.
Help the environment with a percentage of our profit going to community projects.
Each of our tour directly connects travellers to positive changes on this tiny island. Designed from the ground up, all of our tours are purpose built to benefit not just the travellers, but also the local communities they visit. With a percentage of our profit going directly to social projects in Bali supporting women’s empowerment, every retreat booked with us sends a ray of positive hope to our society.
We decided to focus on women because in a patriarchal society like Bali, unskilled women face a multitude of challenges in achieving independence and autonomy. Unskilled women in Bali also face gender bias, with most families prioritising their boys to get an education when the family’s resources are limited.
With significant experience organising holidays in Bali and first-hand knowledge of the region, we know what makes for memorable holiday experiences.
Q2. What was the inspiration to create a retreat of this sort?
I come from a line of Balinese Spiritual Healers. My great-grandfather was a revered healer in his village and one thing he left for us, his descendents, was a sacred manuscript of Usadha Bali, which is an ancient Balinese healing technique and prescription. The Balinese believe that the position of the self is between good and evil, positive and negative, sacred and profane or in coexistence with them.
Thus, according to Balinese philosophy, one does not destroy ‘evil’ to achieve ‘good’ but rather aims to seek an equilibrium or balance between these opposing forces. This notion of harmony and the importance of proper orientations of social relations are often cited not just as major features of Balinese culture, but also as the underlying theme of the Balinese concept of health and sickness.
Unless the self can orient in this universe of ‘balance’, it will always be in disharmony with its environment and the forces of good and evil within it. Because of this cosmology, the concept of being healthy denotes not just the physical state, but also the spirit or mental state of a person, and therefore to be healthy is ‘a-way-of-being-in-the-world’ which embodies a mind that predicates good action, good expression and a proper moral judgement.
I migrated to Australia in 2006 and in 2015 I finished my Bachelor Degree of Social Sciences at the University of Adelaide, during which I learned that health and wellbeing is not just an absence of disease and injury. But rather, it’s a complex combination of a person’s physical, mental, emotional and social health factors. This is exactly what we, the Balinese, have been told since we were kids! Furthermore, a research conducted in 2016 in the UK found 66% of respondents reported that their level of wellbeing reached its highest when they’re on holiday.
As a Balinese, I was also taught that the mountains are the dwelling of the Gods. We consider mountains to be sacred and highly spiritual, which is why we choose Alassari Plantation, a luxurious boutique resort that is located on the slope of Mount Batukaru as the venue for our Off-the-Grid Yoga Retreat next year. Mount Batukaru’s distinctive landscape makes it Bali’s most unique rainforest mountain trek, with rainforest protected from populated areas, preserving its pristine natural setting.
Largely undiscovered, Mount Batukaru is ideal for visitors who prefer to avoid the ‘touristy’ areas and attractions, and offers the perfect combination of culture, nature and spectacular views. I can’t think of any other place better suited for those who would like to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life while reconnecting themselves with nature and working their way to a balanced state of wellbeing.
Q3. What advice would you give to someone attending a retreat for the first time?
Keep an open mind and just listen. Listen to your instructor, listen to your surroundings, and most importantly, listen to your body.
Q4. How in your opinion would a retreat at Kutilang Wellness Co/ Off the Grid Yoga Retreat benefit a tired and stressed out soul?
Imagine this: 8 magical days on the slope of Mount Batukaru amongst the treetops away from the crowd where you could focus on just you. Waking up every morning in the rainforest to the sound of birds and local wildlife, you can hear the gentle murmur of the creek down the valley.
As the day heats up, the butterflies come out to play and the sun rests above the trees. You will start your day with a rejuvenating yoga class in the open-plan bamboo yoga shala, followed by a sumptuous breakfast. From there, you can choose from taking time out at the reflection gazebo, pampering yourself with luxurious massages or spa treatments, or having a wander in the 1-hectare plantation and swim in the creek at the bottom of the valley. At sundown we’ll gather for a restorative yoga class and meditation, and savour a delicious dinner overlooking the beautiful lush plantation and majestic Mount Batukaru.
You will also immerse yourself in cultural excursions where you can learn about Balinese culture and spirituality. But don’t worry, there will be plenty of free time to enjoy a swim in the pool, read a book, have a massage, have a walk around the lush plantation, and take a time out for reflection.
Q5. One place to visit in Bali
Apart from Mount Batukaru? West Bali is highly underrated and yet it is a hidden gem where you can still see raw Bali and experience genuine cultural encounters just like Bali of old.
Q6. If you had to eat one meal, every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sample delicious foods from many different parts of the world. But if I have to choose one, it would definitely be Balinese tempeh and tofu curry. This dish really sums up my childhood growing up in Denpasar, Bali. I remember helping my mum in the kitchen making this simple dish numerous times and my dad would appoint himself as the food critic. Happy days.