Who, what, when, why, where: Yoga, me, Bali

I recently was asked by one of the gyms where I teach to put into words my Bali yoga training experience: why I went, who I studied under, styles I received training in, and info about those styles. I just sent this off in an email and thought it would be something great to put on here as well. Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions!

Why I went:

I recently spent 3 and ½ weeks on the island of Bali where I received 200 hours of yoga teacher training from the Awakened Life School of Yoga based out of New York City. My goal was to deepen my understanding of yoga, the practice, the history, to refine my own personal practice, and to strengthen my ability as a teacher improving my skills, technique, cuing, sequencing, and adjusting. I have been teaching for Shasta Athletic Club since April of 2011 and have sought training from various instructors since to improve my teaching but felt the time had come to offer my students more.

Who I studied under:

The Awakened Life School of Yoga was founded by Liz Carey and Chris Sabido both yoga instructors themselves with successful careers as corporate coaches, mentors, and business owners who have studied meditation, counseling, and spiritual enrichment. They brought in 3 other experienced yoga instructors: Basil Jones, Gabrielle White-Wolf, and Joe Miller. These 3 regularly teach in NYC, own studios, advise and teach celebrities, appear on national television programs, write for print and online yoga and health publications, and travel the world teaching yoga and yoga teachers. The training and influences of these instructors includes a master’s degree in anatomy at Columbia University, a PhD in biomedical science, membership with the International Association of Yoga Therapists, yoga teacher training at the Om Center in NYC, certification in Feldenkrais and Sanskrit, with extensive practice under Leslie Kaminoff, Amy Matthews, Tom Myers, Gil Hedley, Sean Corn, Sharon Gannon, David Life, David Swenson, Dena Kingsberg, Edward Clark, Alanna Kaivalya, Emil Endel, and Daniel Aaron.

Yoga styles I was trained in:

The bulk of my training was with Active Vinyasa Flow which has its roots in Hatha yoga. We also practiced and studied Slow Flow (a slowed version of Active Vinyasa), Restorative Yoga, breathing techniques (pranayama), and various meditation styles.

Info about styles:

Hatha is a Sanskrit word that means willful or forceful. Literally, “ha” means sun and “tha” means moon; symbolizing the balance that is inherent to the practice of Hatha yoga. This is a path towards creating balance and uniting opposites. Using our physical bodies we develop strength and flexibility while we learn to balance our effort with surrender in each pose. Hatha yoga refers to a set of physical exercises (known as asanas, poses, or postures), with the sequences of asanas designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones.

Vinyasa yoga uses the poses of Ashtanga yoga but links them to breath in a flowing, varying sequence. (Ashtanga yoga is a set series of postures that you adhere to each time you practice.) Active Vinyasa is a strong and fun class typically with upbeat music that begins with sun salutation poses, then moves to standing postures, balancing, seated and reclining postures, backbends, and core isolation and strengthening. Special emphasis is always placed on moving safely and correctly into proper alignment, using breath to move, and practicing quieting the mind to find and leave the class with more peace and calm.

Restorative yoga is a gentle healing form of Hatha yoga that is practiced with props to provide support for complete relaxation. Only 5-6 poses are practiced in an entire Restorative yoga class. These gentle poses create physiological responses that are beneficial to your health and can reduce the effects of stress and stress related illness. This is a slow class that is deeply nurturing and suitable for all ages. Breathing and meditation techniques are applied during the gentle, restorative poses that use bolsters, blankets, belts, blocks, and other props. A deep relaxation is gained helping bring the body into even more balance.

Image

Wrapping up my Bali experience

It’s over! What a trip it’s been. I am exhausted right now, understandably because Bali is 15 hours ahead of Redding, so I’m used to being asleep when I’m awake. It kind of hurts, to tell the truth, how discombobulated I feel. I was hoping to not sleep during the day so that I could reset myself, but I took a 2 hour nap yesterday and probably will do something similar today. I’ve slept for about 4 hours each night since returning. 😦

I went a little long on the video but with it being the last one, I wanted to share more of my experience and thank you for coming with me! I am still processing what happened during the 25 days in Bali. I think I will be forever processing, actually, and I will write more here about my revelations here in the future. I haven’t yet settled back in Redding life. I think that is partially why I haven’t been sleeping straight through the night either. I’m glad I took 4 days after the trip to explore Bali, relax, and reintegrate into more of a “normal” life. Four plus hours of yoga a day, on a tropical island, with no concerns other than classwork and which buffet food item to eat isn’t my normal and I’ve been doing that for 3 straight weeks from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm nearly every day. It was glorious. Now, I get to reintegrate into my normal life, and, as a new person. I am thankful for grace. Thankful that my friends, my family, my students, and my God give it to me, and that I am really learning to give it to myself. I am perfect. That is probably the biggest thing I learned while at the yoga training: that no matter how much growth I get to do, no matter how many silly mistakes I make, no matter if I offend people, no matter how happy or sad I make myself or others, I am perfect. This will be something I meditate on for years to come. I hope that you know how perfect you are as well. Just. As. You. Are. You and I couldn’t be any more perfect! Right here, right now, God doesn’t make junk. How wonderful. How mysterious. How magnificent. You and I are whole. Oh the complexity of it!!! And the simplicity.

I think I’m going to take that nap now. Bless you. Thank you. See you soon.

xoxo

Bali Yoga Trip: Day 23: Candidasa to Ubud

From the ocean to the city, I’m now in Ubud now that my yoga teacher training is over. Ubud is a yoga mecca of sorts. There are lots of yoga clothing, statue, and accessory shops here (along side the surf and general tourist stores). There are several yoga studios and many, many, energy healing centers here. It’s a large city, much different than Candidasa, but yet, there are still the farms (rice, I think mostly) within the city and we ate the Café Angsa tonight that overlooks a rice farm. It was beautiful. I am typing this in my new room at the Indra Homestay, sharing a room with one of my roommates from the yoga training, Joey. Our friend Nicole is also here, staying in her own room. We were at a resort in Candidasa, Puri Bagus, with room service, pool, bar, restaurant, beach, cabanas, spa, etc. This place is much, much different. We are paying 10,000 rupia per night (which is a little less than $10) which should give you an indication of the difference, but, I LOVE it! I will definitely make a video of this place to show you. It is SO Bali! I’ll save the details for then.

My plan tomorrow is to go to the Radiantly Alive Yoga Studio in town and take 3 classes: either the Radiantly Alive Vinyasa class or the Hatha class, the Roll and Release class (using tennis balls and other props to release myofacial tissue in the body), and the Flying High Yoga class (described as “using the aid of gravity and the Hanging Yoga Belt, learn how to lengthen the spine and increase your flexibility. The hanging Yoga Belt is a fantastic tool to perform restorative inverted poses, and to intensify ground Yoga poses as well. It relieves tension in the muscles, elongates and decompress the spine, and increase flexibility.”) It may sound odd to have just completed a 200 hour yoga training and then go to a studio to take more yoga, but I love it! This studio has a special day pass where you pay 15,000 rupia (a little less than $15) and you can take as many yoga classes as you’d like for the day. After the amount of yoga I’ve been doing each day, 3 classes will be easy in comparison! I’m thinking it’s a good deal and I want to increase my experience with different styles, teachers, and make the best of my time here in the yoga mecca. ☺

From underneath the most powerful ceiling fan I have ever experienced, I say goodnight and Namaste!

Bali Yoga Video: Day 22: graduation

It’s been an emotional day! Amazingly good, difficult, hard work, fun, celebratory, inspirational, and encouraging are all words I would use to describe today. This yoga teacher training is like a boot camp for the soul and the body!

Today we had our morning meditation and it was revelatory for me. I read an email before meditation from a customer of my online store (www.LaSaludOrganics.com) asking about the whereabouts of her order. To make a long story short, I couldn’t be of much help to her because of the time difference and I couldn’t find out anything for her until Monday. I did what I could, emailed her back, but was still stressed about it and felt a burden to do something else. I came to meditation really needing to chill out. This was the perfect way for me to see the value and power of it! One of our instructors here said that we should not be slaves to our minds but we should instead be in control of thoughts and actions and know that we have power and choice. This morning’s email was a perfect opportunity to put this into practice and what a difference I saw and felt after 20 minutes of meditation! I’m thinking I will be continuing some form of meditation once I leave, tomorrow! Ahhh! Which leads me to this video: me graduating!

I am now an official Yoga Alliance 200 Hour Yoga Teacher! Along with graduation, to wrap up the training, our facilitators had us write words to describe what was the biggest thing we learned (I wrote that I am perfect, regardless of what “changes” need to still yet be made. I am God’s wonderful, beautiful, magnificent creation just. Like. I. Am.), we shared as a group what we would want everyone to know as parting last words, so-to-speak, we had a 2 hour “tell the person what you love about them” party, and then we ended the day with an incredible dinner out with dancing, a live band, then DJ, and Christmas trees! It’s the first big Christmas tree I’ve seen this year!

Overall this has been an incredible day: one of many tears, lots of encouragement, positivity, and hope. I am happy to say that not only am I stronger in my yoga asana practice, but I am also stronger in my spirit and mind as well. I’m looking forward to some assimilation over the next few days before I fly back to the U.S.

Until next time, Namaste! Xoxo

Bali Yoga teacher Training: Day 20: teaching!

Today was the big day: my group of 7 taught our 2.5 hour Vinyasa yoga class! I was only able to get these 2.45 minutes of my teaching, but it at least gives you a great look into what I have been doing and the scenery over the past few weeks.

I taught the peak pose section and led the students into visvamitrasana. It’s quite a challenging pose and I picked it purposely so that I could get some real feedback on my teaching cues, adjustments, and style. I, admittedly, was a little nervous. I felt mostly confident, but I taught to an entire class of yoga teachers and was being critiqued by skilled and long time teachers of yoga teachers. It was great, but I’ve definitely been celebrating that it’s over.

The feedback from my instructors was good! I was told that I picked a really complicated pose and that teachers of 10+ years wouldn’t have cued it as well as I had. I was complimented on my attention to breath, my adjustments, and sequencing. The biggest suggestions to my teaching are: to describe exactly what to do when people are holding the pose (alignment ad what to do with the breath: I kept repeating inhale extend, exhale deepen, I think out of nervousness) and change/better the cueing for the straddle to inner thigh stretch pose.

We have only 1 more full day of class! Tomorrow is a half day and Sunday is a Vinyasa class and some wrap up time. Some of the girls and I will be traveling to Ubud on Sunday and leaving Wednesday evening. I am really sad that this training time will be ending! Something really special has happened within me and among us all here. I’m going to savor these next few days. I’ll start by going to bed right now and then tomorrow it’s meditation at the ocean.

Thanks for reading. Until next time, Namaste!

Bali Yoga Training: Day 19: half day off!

Again I’m sitting on my bed listening and chiming in with my goofy roommates and laughing hysterically. It was a much needed half day off today and I had a goal of creating a creative video for you today, but instead I happily took some down time by the pool, in the restaurant, and via a massage before I practiced with my group for our 2.5 hour Vinyasa Flow yoga class tomorrow morning. Now, as my roommates are settling into their beds for our 5:30 am wake up and 6:30 am class, I’m typing via the bright glow of my computer amidst the darkness.

It’s coming to an end, my yoga teacher training program. It has been an incredible time. It feels like it’s been so long, yet we just arrived. I have made some really great friends and as we get to spend some down time, find each other on Instagram and Facebook, and share our hearts as we lead the yoga classes, I’m learning a whole new side to these people who I’ve meditated with, explored around the island with, and sweated and groaned next to on the mat.

This video is from one of the past few days’ explorations. It’s from the traditional Balinese dance performance a few of the girls and I went to here in Candidasa. This time, it’s me on the stage! Enjoy my first time ever attempting this art and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Namaste!

Bali Yoga Training: Day 18: health

This video is a little wordy, but if you stay through to the end you’ll hear the point. I really like yoga, in case you didn’t already know that. I love moving to my breath, I love challenging myself, I love the mind, body, spirit connection, I love the people that practice, I love the clothes, the sweat, the ecstasy like state you get while you move and breathe and feel and be. It’s a state of being that is so alive!

This teacher training is an intensive, comprehensive, 200 hour Yoga Alliance Teacher Training within 3 weeks time. That’s a lot of info and work to do in a short amount of time. We start at 6:30am and end usually at 7pm but have homework and group projects and teaching in between it all. Yes, we have breaks during the day for breakfast and lunch, and we have half days off but as you have probably seen from pictures and past videos, I want to get off the property to explore, not just because I’m in an amazing foreign land, but also for sanity’s sake! All this to say, that sometimes a person, me, can get blinded to the obvious.

I am thankful for people in my life to help me see clearly. I hope this video, these blog posts, and my life helps you become awakened, as I am becoming each and everyday.

We have a half day off tomorrow! Yeehaw! I haven’t decided what adventures I will partake in outside the yoga and group teaching project work, but I’m sure I will tell you about it. Good night! Until tomorrow, Namaste!

Bali Yoga training: Day 17: peak

This is the final week of my yoga teacher training! I can hardly believe it, yet it does feel like it’s been a long time. I’m very, very happy to be here, in hot, humid, sweltering Bali while there is SNOW in Redding! God is so perfect. I am not opposed to snow, at all, but it does present a challenge to leading/teaching a stand up paddleboard yoga class with On Water Yoga when the lake is frozen. I actually hope that it begins to warm up for when I return! I would love to be able to take my new skills to the water, but one step at a time, which leads me to this video.

I am scheduled to teach an active Vinyasa Yoga class this Thursday morning with my group of 7 (8 total including me). We will be the last group to teach and so far we’ve seen 2 groups go already. It’s been really nice to slowly take our time, practicing, gaining insight via what other groups have done, continue to learn adjusting techniques, sequencing, alignment, etc. I am really happy with my group, our choice of poses, intention, meditation and opening, and the peak pose I picked and am leading. Each of in the group teaches 15 minutes of the 2 hour class.

A Vinyasa Yoga class is designed around a “peak” pose so that the warm up and middle of the class is designed to prepare one’s body to be ready for the most difficult, or the peak pose. I picked one we haven’t done yet here in Bali and one I have introduced to my land yoga classes in Redding, but would like more guidance and skill at teaching, particularly the modifications. When I asked my yoga instructor Gabrielle about the pose and it’s name she said, “Wow, you’re not messing around! Going straight into it!” Well, yes! Yes I am! It’s been a good challenge for me and the group to think how to structure for something we haven’t done in class and which no one in my group has ever done before, yet, it’s been easy at the same time. I am really happy with the way my group is working together, being supportive, open, and up for the challenge. There was really no questions asked, just an ok, let’s do it attitude!

There has been an overall sense of things starting to wind down and come to an end, along side the energy around us teaching classes. Today Chris, one of the co-founders of the Awakened Life School of Yoga, talked about meditation after our training is over and suggestions for how to integrate it in to our everyday lives. I have to admit that when we first started I wasn’t that interested in the meditation component as was presented in our pre-work assignments, but I can really see and feel how meditation can be used to tame the wildness of the mind and let our spirit be our guides. Before this yoga training, I had only done contemplative prayer meditation (choosing a verse, some words, or other such inspirational teaching and turning the mind repeatedly back towards it for a set amount of time) but now I’ve done several different types of meditation here, maybe 5 or 6 different ones. I’ll probably write more about this in another entry. It’s late now and I’m starting to fade, but to touch on it briefly, I am beginning to think about how I can incorporate more meditation into my life back in Redding.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for supporting me. Thanks for praying for me! I pray that you are encouraged, enlightened, and that you experience more freedom and happiness in your life from reading this.

Until next time, namaste!

Bali Yoga Training: Day 16: perfect

This has been day 2 of sitting out of asana practice. ☹ My arms have been tingly and somewhat numb for a little over a week, progressively getting more so as the days have gone by. I mentioned in an earlier post that I had an acupuncture treatment because my wrists hurt and that it relieved some of that pain, but it has slowly crept back on.

It’s an interesting place to be: at a yoga teacher training where we are doing yoga daily, sometimes twice a day, and not able to participate physically. I was pretty upset about it yesterday, but it was a powerful moment. One of the many things Awakened Life School of Yoga is good at is cultivating a space to let one sit with and work through stuff. Chris, one of the co-founders, let me cry, laugh, cry, and process these feelings of disappointment, frustration, awareness, pity, realization, and then enlightenment. He did such an incredible job of lovingly sitting beside me, but not stopping the process. “Getting a tissue” as we have jokingly yet realistically called it. I saw, yesterday, that it’s not a big deal if I don’t complete every single yoga asana class! I realized that it’s not normal for people to have tingling and numb arms. I realized that I had been pushing through this just for the falsity that I “needed to keep up and be like or be more advanced” than the other students in the class. When I realized that, I laughed and laughed, and then cried some more. I told Christ though, that I wanted to create a new normal. His response: “You will.”

Today I had a 1.5 hour “healing massage.” I’m giving myself some more time to determine how much help this has been, but there has definitely been some shifting. He did some good work with pressure points, muscle, myofacial tissue, tendons; it was intense, yet relaxing! My body is settling into this new alignment. We will see how things are in the morning. I’m hoping, and expectant, for a miracle. One of the yoga instructors told me yesterday that I need to take a break from yoga asana practice until I don’t feel pain, then slowly ease back into it, determining which poses are bothersome. I think it all stemmed from shoulders stands, which I am pretty sure I was actually doing as neck stands; however, as I was sharing with both Chris and the yoga instructor yesterday, I have been through a LOT of trauma, surgeries, near death experiences, chemotherapy, organs removed, chemo, broken bones, falls, etc. And as the yoga instructor so eloquently stated, things are all interconnected. With my abdomen having a lot of scar tissue, it can create a pulling forward of my spine and tension on my neck.

In tonight’s Restorative Yoga class, we ended the class with some chanting and contemplative silence. As I was sitting there, I began asking myself the question “when will I be fixed? When will I be healthy?” What immediately came to me, almost audibly, was: “you are perfect just as you are.” It rocked me. It was so freeing! I am absolutely perfect, right now, right here! There is no “fixing” that needs to happen! I am free to be me.

Enjoy this video. I hope it’s not too shaky. I obviously took it while walking.

Thanks for reading. I hope you are inspired to keep on moving forward, regardless of your past traumas, pains, hurts, and to stop, be vulnerable, be real, honest, and open, and realize that you are perfect: right now, without changing a single thing. You are loved.

Namaste!

Bali Yoga Video: Day 15: Balinese Dancing, Culture

The Internet here at the resort has not been working for a few days now so I haven’t been able to upload, check emails, check Facebook, or return texts with any consistency (for my iPhone friends), etc. Hopefully it will get settled soon, very soon.

Today was a really good day. This video is AWESOME and from just one of the day’s amazing adventures. There’s so much that happens in a day, it’s hard to sum it all up.

For now, I’ll just talk about this video. We had a half day today: meditation, yoga asana, an essential oil lesson, and yoga nidra. My Yoga Teacher Training program includes 2 days of tours and I took my second one today. We went to a Royal Bath/Swimming Pool, a Royal house, and the small native village of Tenganan, know for geringsing double ikat textiles. After the cultural tours, a few of us then adventured into Candidasa for a traditional Balinese dance and dinner. IT WAS SO GOOD! I loved the music. I loved the dancing. I loved the costumes. I loved the instruments. I loved the makeup. I loved the expressions. I loved that they pulled us up on stage and has us dance with them. YUP! My phone ran out of memory so I don’t have a full video of myself on stage. One of my friends recorded it, so I’ll have to get it from her. I hope that you enjoy this and get a good taste of this culture. We were the only ones there tonight! It’s definitely the slow season right now in Bali. It was nice to have the whole place to ourselves, honestly. I am quite a big fan of local life and not many crowds. God is good.

There is so much more to say, but I still haven’t read emails from my Mom and sister and I need to go to bed so I can be rested for more yoga stuffs tomorrow.

Thanks for reading. Have a good one. Enjoy. Live fully. Namaste!