Someone said to me recently, “Isn’t going to Bali a retreat in itself? The beautiful beaches, the wonderful landscapes and the extraordinary culture, the deep jungles.”
Without a doubt, the island has one of the most unique environments in the world. As you walk along the streets there is evidence of their hindu spirituality everywhere. The practice of offerings to the gods is a daily event to the Balinese, and it is the very same kind of personal ceremony that we practice when we do yoga.
What happens is a unique and quite natural blending of these two types of rituals, which gives retreating in Bali a richness, and somehow strikes a chord in us that takes the yoga experience to a deeper, more profound level.
Of course there is just the sheer beauty of the lush tropical forests, the Balinese people who are gentle and kind and a world that is so far removed to what most of us experience living in cities and that alone opens our senses and our minds.
In the conundrum of our daily lives, no matter what our occupation, we often acknowledge there are times when we need to step away from our responsibilities and usual surroundings and refresh ourselves. We recognise this mostly when we are under stress, sitting at the desk trying to solve problems, running around overloading the days with an endless to do list. We daydream, we wish and we put it on the “to do one day” list.
We know that it’s vital to take time out and view our life’s direction to seek what we may need to resource or preserve in ourselves to keep going – to navigate our lives with a fresher perspective in the hope of discovering other ways of thinking and being. Our bodies ache, and we know that sooner or later something has to give. As a yoga teacher this is what I hear from many friends and students. They need time out for themselves.
This is not to say that everyone is burnt out and needs time out. Some people are looking to elevate their practice so the chunk of time on retreat is ideal. Others simply want to nourish themselves and reinforce good habits. Within the frame of a retreat so much is possible.
Whatever the need, when something comes along like a retreat, our eyes widen with possibility and we know it would be good for us on so many levels, and we want to make it happen.
Arriving to do yoga starts quietly in the mornings with some sitting meditation where we simply observe the breath for some time. What is noticed is that at first, getting up early in the morning is not what our minds and bodies are prepared for as we are more in a holiday mode of sleeping in and doing not much.
As the days go by this sitting in the morning becomes quieter and the yoga practice steadier and a state of peace starts to blossom within us.On day 3 everyone wanted to start the days even earlier to absorb more of the cool and pristine quiet surrounds. Words over the morning cup of tea become softer and sweeter, a letting go of our ambitious and self preoccupied minds gives us a sense of relief.
Then the early morning yoga class starts in the cool part of the day with a fresher mind. Each day the group explored a different range of asana. Sometimes a soft practice was better, other times we shook it up and stood on the edge of something we had no idea we could do and our minds flew open. I say our, because as teachers, we experience the journey in the same way. Breakfasts after were met with healthy appetites that’s for sure!
In the later afternoons, restorative is on the yoga menu. Some afternoons I taught individual sessions where we spent time exchanging questions and working more specifically and individually.
After the week, once the final class was over, and we were waiting to go home, something inside had bonded with the life force again. Our hopes seem possible, the dream to be in the cradle of yoga and on retreat from the world of our usual lives had been realised.
Then we know what our true responses are by having that time to feel, think and what it is to feel love again.
One of the women who came last year wrote…
“I cannot thank you enough for all the love and support afforded to our small group, with such care and thoughtfulness, you exceeded my expectations for my first yoga retreat. Personally I grew in strength and was able to succeed in my practice that I previously felt unable to do due to injury. I have not felt that good on so many levels in a long time.”
What was important to the retreat students last year was time spent with the practice and space to think about what was happening in their lives. The retreat is a week of resetting our physical, mental and heart consciousness. To be in the realm of what yoga has to offer and to be nourished by the tools of this very practical practice is transforming. A practice which reaches many facets of our physical, mental and emotional being, giving us a look at how things are and how we can be.
Suzi Chin Silicz
Read more about the 2018 & 2019 Bali Iyengar Yoga Retreat in Ubud HERE