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Kat's Spiritual Yogi Experience in Ubud - Day 1 & 2

INDONESIA | Tuesday, 1 September 2015 | Views [619]

My aim for the duration of my stay here in Ubud is to sample as many different types of yoga as I could without exhausting my body - especially those that I have never tried before. I aim to expand my knowledge of one of my discovered passions and to take on board the skills of many experienced masters and use the techniques that resonate within in my own classes that I teach back home in Australia.

With excitement, enthusiasm and curiosity on my first day, I set off to the Radiantly Alive Studio.

My first class for the trip was the traditional Hatha Yoga. I felt self conscious as I walked into the studio as there were many fit and flexible looking yogis doing their pre-warm up stretches. I felt my ego begin to doubt myself and compare my abilities to theirs. Seeing as I am now a teacher myself, I felt the weight of expectation of myself on my shoulders. As I began to warm up, my body felt tense and tight and I felt frustrated. I thought, I should be better than this. Rookie mistake. That's the sort of emotion that I thought I had let go of and that's the sort of emotion that leads you to injuring yourself. I knew better, I knew to listen to my body and honor my practice depending on the present moment. So not listening to my loving knowledge led to frustration with myself even more. See the cycle here? Identifying with the ego creates a domino effect of negative emotion and lowers your ultimate vibration level. The deeper you go, the harder it is to claw your way out.

However, the class itself was excellent. The teacher (Noga) was extremely knowledgeable and descriptive, the asanas simple but thorough and in depth, and it was forgiving to all abilities (as long as the ego doesn't get in the way). The studio was a beautiful Balinese room with bamboo, dark wood and big wide open windows looking out at the greenness and aliveness that is Ubud. I did however struggle with the hard wood floods on tender knees, and man, my poor head when I tried to do a head stand. Are you kidding? It's like concrete! The high humidity also took it out of me. (It took a few days before I embraced looking and feeling sweaty and dirty with oily hair. Don't fight it, you can shower 10 times a day and you won't escape it for long!)

Afterwards I had 2.5 hours to kill before my next class so I got comfortable on the couch at the Bali Buda Cafe. My shoulders and arms ached like I was experiencing growing pains. I put it down to doing a head stand when I wasn't in the right frame of mind to handle it. I wouldn't recommend trying to do difficult inversions when you are angry at yourself and your abilities, it wont end well! I went through the my mental checklist of how to cope with negative emotions - Accept it, Feel it, Forgive it, Breathe and Let Go. I was fighting the urge to lose motivation and go back to the hotel feeling sorry for myself. It's a balancing act knowing when to push yourself and when to stop. I'm glad I didn't give in as the next class was Yoga Dance. Being a former dancer, I was curious as how the two would be combined.

The 1.5 hour class was led by a guess teacher Kevin who had beautiful rhythm and heart. The class wasn't what I expected but it was exactly what I needed at that moment. We started off with sun salutations and then let loose and flung our bodies around to our own internal beat instead of focusing on the mind, bones and muscle. I'm more of a structured chereographed sort of person when it comes to dancing so it wasn't my technique of choice, but it felt so good to move and let all that frustration out. I had a moment of feeling self-concious as I'm sure we would have looked pretty silly, but then I embraced it. We then put together a series of yoga asanas combined with flavours of our dancing preferences (hiphop, balinese, classical, arabic etc) and turned it into a sequence which we repeated. Afterwards I felt a lot better!

I then walked to Yoga Barn (15-20 minutes away) and went to a free Self Realisation talk. It was led by Lucas who had a calm and peaceful energy and it was easy to take on board what he said, even if the content was far from what most humans would usually call normal. The concepts weren't new to me as I have read alot about it all recently, but I enjoyed hearing it come from a physcial person infront of me instead of just the written word. I would have loved to ask questions afterwards but as expected when spiritual discussions arise, everyone wanted clarity and time ran out. 

After dinner, I was exhausted and headed back to the hotel to enjoy a much desired shower and sleep.


Day Two - Sun Aug 30th 2015:

Wow, what a day this was. This day alone made the whole trip worth it. 

It started off with an early 1.5 hr intense Vinyasa Yoga Class led by the founder of Radiantly Alive - Daniel Aaron. He is very popular, and I can see why. The class was rammed with roughly 40 people, if not more! He didn't need to demonstrate; he directed us with his clear and descriptive voice while walking around adjusting everyone and encouraging us to challenge ourselves, and making us feel that anything was possible. He told stories and jokes along the way which kept us engaged and motivated while our muscles screamed for mercy. He reminded us that if we focus on the pain and muscles that we were only exercising (which if fine if thats enough for you), where if you focus on the breath and surrender to the present moment, then it becomes a much more spiritual experience.

Straight afterwards I went to a 1.5 hr Restorative Yoga Class which is a series of asanas supported by props such as blankets and bolsters so that no muscles are straining. The purpose is to remind ourselves to slow down, relax, be still and let our minds and bodies heal and rejuvenate which we rarely do in this go go go attitude of the world today. When our existance is filled with stress and constant action mentally and physically, the body releases hormones that trigger the 'flight or fight' response which can lead to problems like infertility and disease. The body needs to reach a balance (homeostasis) which can be achieved when the nervous system equally experiences "Rest and Digest".

After a quick lunch I attended a 4 hour Transformational Breathworks Workshop. And wow, transformational indeed. I have friends who have done this in the past and they have said it was an incredible, intense, and life changing experience. I was curious to see what it was all about. How can breathing in a certain way produce such profound effects? The human mind is unable to comprehend... 

The workshop was led by Daniel, Leanne and Giten. The first couple of hours they talked us through what the breath was and how we use such a small percentage of the lungs capacity. They explained the spirital / healing aspects of breathwork and what to expect. Everyones experience is differant but essentially it is a way to release blocked energy and repressed emotion such as fear, anger, grief, shame etc that is damaging our subconcious and the way we live our lives.

We lay down with our eyes closed and began to breathe as instructed. At first I thought, this is a lot of effort, how can I keep this up for a whole hour? Then the sensations began. My body started to tingle, my throat and neck began to tighten and my mouth felt like it became a tight O shape making it a struggle to breathe deeply. My lower back began to arch up with each breathe. Then my legs and arms began to stiffen. My hands and wrists contorted into horrible angles and I felt paralyzed. My hands and wrists began to hurt so bad that I started to cry and I was at the point where it was too much. Daniel, Leanne and Giten were walking around directing us and supporting us throughout the experience. When I reached this point, one of them massaged out my hands and said things like “You’re doing great, there’s a lot of emotion being released right now, forgive yourself, you can handle this, it’s ok to feel, keep breathing, surrender, everything is perfect”. We were told to let out noise if we needed too. I could hear moaning (or toning, should I say), whimpering and yelling all around me, then I realized that some of that was coming from me too. It was all very traumatic and frightening.

Eventually though, my breath evened out again, my muscles began to relax and I could hear my inner self repeating positive calming compassionate messages about lifes purpose and it all seemed to make sense. As I slowly sat up, every cell felt alive and electric and my senses were intensified ten fold. Moving my body gently felt incredible, my mind was clear and filled with wonder in the world and I felt intense love. It seriously felt like I was on drugs. At the beginning of the session during the pre-talk, I had trouble getting comfortable on the floor and trying to keep my back straight for so long. Afterwards though, every muscle felt strong and stable. My posture was perfect and I felt completely comfortable and at ease. We discussed what we experienced for an hour and I have to admit, I felt pretty emotional and vulnerable; especially talking to Daniel, Leanne and Giten because they saw my pain in an incredibly raw state.

By the time our session was finished, I felt normal enough to face the outside world, and I could walk again without looking like a space cadet. What just happened? Was it hyperventilating? No, it’s oxygenating. Was it dangerous? No. Was it healing? At this point I would say most definitely, Yes. I don’t truly understand the science behind it all without further research so I won’t try and defend or preach that which I don’t have sufficient knowledge of, but I trust in the knowledge of the Radiantly Alive teachers, and from personal experience, I can agree that it truly was transformational for me.

One day I would like to do it again to see if I can reach a higher consciousness and spiritual plane that some of the others managed to do now that I have let go of (hopefully) a large portion of my repressed emotion. But I definitely wouldn’t do it on my own yet and I’m not ready for it again anytime soon!! However, if you ever stumble across the opportunity to do this, especially at RA in Ubud, Do it. And remember, no matter what, you will survive it and it will be worth it. Just – keep – breathing.






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