Bali Yoga Retreat Criticized for Cramming Over 100 Tourists in Room Together

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A yoga studio in Bali has sparked outrage for packing over 100 people for a “celebration of bliss” and then lying about the event taking place when criticized by the public.

What happened: House of Om, a popular Balinese yoga business, organized an event to raise money for its local employees currently out of work due to pandemic.

  • It ended up breaking COVID-19 protocols with Western yogis not wearing face masks nor observing social distancing, ABC reports.
  • Founded by a yoga instructor from Dubai, House of Om held a yogic chanting evening at its treetop studio on Thursday night.
  • The business invited the public to “invite as many friends and family as you want.” 
  • The call attracted over 100 people, who are mostly white.
  • For several hours, the Western devotees sang and swayed together, without wearing face masks or observing social distancing.

The backlash: When images from the gathering surfaced online, it sparked a furor on social media for risking the spread of COVID-19. 

  • The business backpedaled and tried to deny the event took place amid a pandemic. 
  • Days later, screenwriter Jenny Jusuf, who is a yoga practitioner, came across the event and exposed it on Twitter. 
  • She posted images that the House of Om posted on Facebook and a screenshot taken from the original ad.
  • She also shared posts from people who had been to the event.
  • Organizers from House of Om claimed the event had happened back in December and the images were posted for promotional purposes.
  • In press statements, the organizers claimed the criticisms were an attack on the business by “envious people” with “law vibrations” who were trying to shut them down.

Indisputable proof: More evidence surfaced, including a high-quality video on YouTube uploaded by a photographer friend of the organizers.

  • One of the attendees also posted an Instagram Story, thanking the business for a lovely evening and showing the crowded room.
  • On Monday, just 24 hours after claiming the photos were from 2019, the House of Om confessed they indeed hosted the event last week.
  • “It was a big and unreasonable mistake that happened in this difficult time,” co-founder and CEO Wissam Barakeh wrote in a post. “We apologize to all Balinese people for our less responsible actions.”

Bali amid the pandemic: As of this writing, the confirmed number of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia has reached over 47,000, with more than 19,000 recoveries and over 2,500 deaths.

  • In Bali alone, the number of cases is now over 1,1oo, with 600 recoveries and nine deaths.
  • Local health authorities have urged the public to wear face masks, maintain a six-foot distance from each other and keep away from crowded places to curb the infection.

Feature Image via @JennyJusuf

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