Yoga in Paradise

IMG_20150819_142547There's a truth that we all hold deep within our being, a story of where we came from, a reality more intricate than our human minds are capable of understanding. The yogis and sages throughout history have tapped into these realities and have shared these lessons through many different lineages. Now, we are in the age of Aquarius, an era of conscious evolution, technology, universal peace, activism, and spirituality. This is different from the era before us, the age of Pisces, where the concept of religion was segregated and guilt infused. Do this, or else. My time in Ubud has been fulfilled with circumstances under the Aquarian mindset, opportunities to unearth the answers for myself through embodiment, intuition, and self-study. I'm grateful for my upbringing in Christianity, as it has been the foundation for my spiritual endeavors over the years. The truth is, I am Christian, I am Buddhist, I am Hindu, I am Jewish, I am a culmination of religions because in all reality, they are all teaching the exact same thing, so why segregate? I spend my days in Ubud exploring my spirituality at a place called The Yoga Barn, only a few minutes' walk from my house. I've been challenging my body with Vinyasa classes and Power yoga, I've been relaxing into Sacred Geometry Meditation and Tibetan Bowl Music, I've been making friends while I awkwardly stumble through Acro Yoga, and have been engaging my brain through Community Health Talks and Astrology courses. I didn't know how deep I was getting myself when I attended my first Shamanic Breathwork course but have completely transcended from my experiences there. DSCN3256The Yoga Barn is a collection of bungalows situated within a lush jungle of trees, with an organic garden that supplies all the food for their juice bar and small cafe. It has a very strong Burning Man vibe to the whole place, even with little Burning Man archetypes etched into the railing of the upstairs classroom. There are over seventy-five classes each week, allowing me to venture into so many untapped realms of physical, mental, and spiritual exercise. There are a total of four classrooms, only two of which I tend to use most frequently. One upstairs is an open-air studio that rests at the height of all the trees in the surroundings. It holds up to seventy students, with dark wood floors and vaulted ceilings, and with statues and paintings of Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, in the front and back of the classroom. DSCN3269I love this studio on rainy days, where we can watch the rainfall as we move through our practice, or when the sun sets during our afternoon Vinyasa class, getting to feel the shift from day to night. The classroom downstairs is just as peaceful, with the front of the studio having floor to ceiling windows that look out onto a pond with koi fish DSCN3275swimming and a beautiful garden in the center of it. When the sun hits the water just right we get an amazing reflection of the water on the ceiling, and I lay in savasana mesmerized by the peacefulness and sacredness this center holds.  It's amazing doing yoga with such a large community of people too. We come together, from places all over the globe, with our own individual practice, but in one collective consciousness. With classes this large, it makes the group chanting and group Om's incredibly powerful.

The teachers and staff are amazing beyond description. The front desk ladiesDSCN3258 all knew my name by the second or third day of attending, although perhaps it could be because I've basically been living there since I purchased my unlimited pass. Bex, one of the many teachers at the barn,  fills her classes with poetry and lessons that leave me pondering life for the rest of the day. Murni, who maintains a little more edge and MAKES ME SWEAT in her classes, will walk right up to you, "Why are you doing that? You're going to fuck up your shoulder if you keep doing it that way!" Then there's Les, who has a background of drug abuse is now world-famous and an incredibly inspiring yoga instructor. "Two Lives, One Lifetime," he'll say. He even wrote a book about it. Like I mentioned before, the Shamanic Breathwork classes that Levi teaches have opened a whole new world to me. Levi was actually born and raised in Eugene, OR so it's nice to have an essence of home when I'm so far away. He teaches the breathwork classes, along with Astrology, Pranayama, and Yoga asana. I feel like I spend most of my time trying to articulate what exactly happens during those Shamanic experiences. My friend, Annette, and I spend days emailing back and forth after each session, analyzing each and every piece of the journey. The visuals and physical sensations that occur during Shamanic Breathwork are unexplainable. These teachers I've listed are only a few. They have all been an inspiration and have all made my muscles and brain ache and expand in their own unique ways!

DSCN3248~2And then, of course, there's Bumi Sehat, the focal reason I chose to spend so much time in Ubud.  Bumi Sehat is a local non-profit birthing center, opened in 1995 by an inspirational woman, Robin Lim. She actually won CNN's Hero of the Year Award in 2011, allowing the world to hear her story and learn about the support that's necessary throughout pregnancy. I was a little star-struck meeting her for the first time, knowing what a great impact she has made in the birthing community. I love that I have been accepted in the space and able to offer prenatal massage and teach prenatal yoga two days a week. Because the center is already so full of helpful hands, it required me to be rather persistent to find my place there. I was hoping I could play the role of a doula, and although that has yet to happen, teaching and offering massage has been a wonderful way for me explore my talents in the birthing community. I have to admit that I was quite nervous teaching yoga here. Most of the women don't speak english and the first class that I taught felt like a disaster. I was timid to go back but chose to step into my fears instead of running away from them and, in turn, was confirmed that anything is possible. It was quite a learning curve to figure out an appropriate way to demonstrate the practice without verbal communication, but the class was at maximum capacity and each and every woman left the class sharing their gratitude through hugs and smiles, without many words ever exchanged. I feel good about what I'm doing here, and feel good that I can support these women, even if only on a small-scale. I'm grateful for these experiences that have allowed me to grow into the doula and healer that I'm trying to be.

I'm emotional to say that my time is almost up, this adventure is almost over and a new one is about to begin. It's going to be REALLY hard for me to leave Bali, really hard for me to leave this lifestyle, but I look forward to going home, to seeing friends and family, and getting back into the comforts of my life in Oregon. I have only two weeks left so will be continuing this self exploration through yoga, volunteer work, and of course, hiking up some of these breathtakingly beautiful volcanos. I'm hoping to make my final days here really count for something, whatever that may be, and trust the universe will provide me with what is exactly appropriate.