During my trip to Europe last year I, of course, booked a Yoga Retreat to Bali for the start of 2017. Although not ideal booking a trip in advance and during a 6 week trip, all I knew is that I needed to go on that retreat and I would find a way to make it happen. The trip was run by my local Yoga studio back in Australia. Never having been keen on traveling to Bali before, due to my perception that many see it as a cheap place to drink alcohol. That was something we didn't do on the trip, drink. It was a trip for yoga, relaxation, experiencing the Balinese culture and learning the importance of taking time out for yourself.
I left for my trip after a few weeks of looking after a friend's flat and a timid cat named Karen in Melbourne. I arrived at the airport to be greeted by my two yoga teachers who had a lot planned on this journey for me and the other woman on the trip.
One of the women who joined us told me about her love for travel and the many places she had been since she herself had lived in the UK when she was 19. The expression and the enthusiasm she gave about traveling reminded me of how excited I get about the things that make me feel alive and one of them, of course, being travel. Although I tend to worry about travel before I leave, I always that when I travel it's always the right choice and listening to her talk about her trips, helped to push me into taking that leap and continuing to explore.
After arriving at the lovely resort, Ubud Aura, we had one of the first of many meals at the local Kafe. This was one of a few many health or yoga inspired living restaurants that had the most delicious and healthy food and drinks. My favorite would have to be the pumpkin pie dessert which I had nearly every day. I decided to be vegetarian for that week, I have to admit that it wasn't hard with the choice of food.
The next day and the first day of our retreat began with yoga in the morning and a massage at the Yoga Barn. After my massage, I couldn't believe how relaxed I was as I sipped my turmeric tea, in the tropical temperature and listening to the flowing river right in front of me. I think sometimes when we are actually to able to stop and notice how we are consistently on autopilot or stressed out we are, until we have a moment where we feel completely calm and peaceful.
The itinerary included a bike tour to visit the rice patty fields and the local villages. It was great to experience the life of the locals and riding through the countryside by bike. One of our stops along the way was at a local primary school. We were greeted by smiling and cheerful faces and showed around the school by the children. During the journey, our tour guide pointed out the trees covered with cobwebs and spiders, which we stopped to have a look at. One of the tour guides stopped to pick up one (non-poisonous of course) and offered it to a few of the women for a hold. For some reason, I was one who placed out their arms to hold this spider about the same size as a mouse. The spider decided to crawl along my arm and made its way to my head and at which point, I knew it was time for my new friend to go back to the tour guide (I only squealed a little). It was the strangest feeling, it was like tiny little needles touching your skin. I think its funny how whilst traveling you tend to do those things that normally you wouldn't try. Travel definitely takes you away from your normal environment and tests you. I didn't realise that this moment of courage would push me to conquer a bigger fear that night.
After a meal, the remaining of the group walked back to the retreat staying a little later than normal. As we walked we heard music playing from a local bar and decided to go in and have a listen to the musician. Before walking in I just knew my Yoga teacher had something planned. After listening to the musician perform, he had us as his cheering audience, singing along to his music as he played. It was not long until he started requesting songs from us. My teacher, of course, volunteered for me to join in a duet. I had on many previous occasions sounded like a broken record and told her how I want to perform in front of people, so I believe I had set myself up for this one.
I decided this was my moment and most of those in the restaurant I would never see again, so I stood up and sang. It was the best feeling after, and although not brilliant, I knew that I would get easier with practice. I know that this experience has given me the courage today to attend Jam sessions in London.
“Yoga takes you into the present moment, the only place where life exists.”
One of the many highlights of the trip was the local Yoga Barn right next to where we were staying. It had much to offer the many travelers and yogi's who came there to visit, from the many yoga, meditation and other wellbeing classes run throughout the day. It offered a Sunday night movie session where they would show a documentary or movie that would be around world issues, such as climate change. I remember one day talking to a girl as we both were sitting at the cafe there and drawing, she told me how she was studying illustration. The Yoga Barn was a little community which you could feel right at home in, you could keep to yourself reading and having a meal or interact with fellow travelers to hear their own stories of travel and yoga.
The morning and nightly Yoga sessions took my practice from weekly sessions at the studio to a new level. I felt the full benefit of bringing my yoga practice to my everyday life. I believe its the healthiest and fittest I've felt in my life. Watching my teacher over the past few years and especially on the retreat has encouraged me to continue with Yoga and helped me in making the decision to undertake my Yoga teacher training course. It is her ability in helping so many people through yoga and her general nature of caring that made me see the importance of Yoga and of course just being a kind person. I know Yoga has helped me on a personal level and I notice the difference when I skip a practice or go a few weeks without doing yoga. My thoughts race, my body aches and I feel a general sense of unease and feel like I am searching for something to make me feel better. It is not until I am back on my mat that I find my focus, I turn inward and feel happy in a sense of just being calm and content. It's what I want to give other people, how I want to help people.