I was actually a bit hesitant about writing this blog because in all honesty, it’s difficult to find the right words to describe just how magical my time in Bali was! It’s not very often that you find yourself surrounded by like-minded people, accepting, non-judging, supportive and full of love and gratitude. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything like it before, and if I ever experience again then I will call myself a very blessed individual!
Of course, day one I was pretty nervous. I sent my husband a text saying, “I’m not sure I’m ready for this!”. To which he replied, “I don’t know anyone in the world who is more ready for this than you.” So I took some faith in his words and I walked in with an open mind, and an open heart, and it turned out I was totally ready for this experience.
So let’s start with the facts. 28 women, no men. Could have been a recipe for disaster with all that oestrogen flying around, but it turned out every single soul there was amazing to her core. We slept in fairly simple lodgings. Some of the girls were lucky to have real beds, in rooms with real walls, and some of us (like me!) were even luckier to get treehouse-style bungalows with open walls, bamboo floors and mattresses on the floor. I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I can honesty tell you that I loved it! (But I am a bit of a hippie, so sleeping that close to nature totally appealed to my hippie tendencies).
My roomie, who I’d never met before, was about two metres away from me on another mattress. As it turned out she was awesome and we became friends immediately – either that was a major stroke of luck, or the course organisers knew we’d be good together. In any case, it worked out. We were a similar age, we’d both given up the booze (and had a couple of wild nights together eating raw vegan desserts and drinking kombucha because that’s how we sober people party!), and we talked into the night about politics, the health industry and our wild pasts. Oh, and by ‘into the night’, I’m talking 9pm. Yep, like I said. Wild.
Our day started at 5am with a wake-up call from the roosters, chickens, and wild birds of Bali. I’m convinced there is no better way to wake up. At 6am we were on our mats for meditation, pranayama, and yoga – some days it was easy, some days it was hard, but every day it was soul-enriching. This was followed by a morning smoothie and a workshop or group discussion on the inspiring topic of the day, and I swear I learned more in these discussions than I probably did in all my years at school!
Life, the Universe, mindfulness, love, compassion, looking inside ourselves, seeing ourselves for the first time, being present. Becoming aware of the ways in which we see and interpret the world and events around us. Learning the philosophy of the ancient yogis and how we can translate that in our modern world. Learning how to treat others, and how to treat ourselves. Chakras, energy, healing. These were all discussed, and so much more. It was mind-expanding. I felt my spirit soaring daily (and it wasn’t just from the raw vegan desserts!).
And of course, we taught yoga. All afternoon we learned postures, sequences, explanations. We learned from our trainers, and we learned from each other. We each brought our own unique lives and experiences into the group and it was appreciated and adopted by everyone!
So the days were long, and they were sometimes hard, and we relished in one of our only luxuries – FOOD! I have never been around a bunch of girls that like food so much! Now, I like to eat, so this was heaven for me. Finally – people who like to talk about food and eat food as much as I do! When we weren’t talking about our latest meal at the retreat centre (which became lovingly known as ‘the compound’), we were heading into the glorious town of Ubud in our breaks to eat at one of the many raw, vegan, or health-conscious cafes that line the streets.
(Actually, I have to stop here and mention the one devastating thing that happened during this journey. A café that we fell in love with, from its delicious cashew milk smoothies, to its Mexican dishes, to its snacks and raw chocolate, actually burned down in the last week of our training! We visited this place so often we called it our second home, so its demise was heart-breaking. Clear Café – we love you!)
Of course there were a few other luxuries. I mean, I was in Bali right?!? I had $8 massages, yoga shops in every direction, green rice fields sprawling into the distance, and sunrises that can only be described as dream-like.
But the real luxury in all of this, like I mentioned right at the start of this blog, was being surrounded by these incredible people. People who shared intimate stories about themselves, and were prepared to put themselves out there in ways they had never done, and allow themselves to grow and change and learn. People who truly listened to each other and kept their minds open to all the new ideas being offered. People that welcomed each other with love and compassion at every step of the way! At one point I was thinking, do people really act this way?? Is there really this much unconditional love in the world??
And yeah, turns out there is.
So a week ago, I became a yoga teacher and I am so ridiculously happy and proud of myself. I can’t wait to share my knowledge and my love of this path with the people I meet along the way!
And I also became a believer in the goodness of humanity. I wasn’t convinced before, but I am now. If 28 women from all corners of the world can come together for three weeks and show each other nothing but love, then there is hope for us after all!
My yoga teacher training is something I will never forget. It changed my life, and me as a person. Thank you to everyone who made it what it was – my trainers, my peers, my roomie, my friends. And thank you to you for reading this, I hope it has inspired you to jump into something you’ve been thinking about doing but were too scared to try! I thought I wasn’t ready, but I was more ready than I could have imagined. I bet you are too!
With love and a soaring soul,