I’m currently in my villa in Bali writing to you from my queen sized bed in white sheets. To my right are full glass windows where I can see birds of paradise trees, fallen plumerias (the kind of flowers they have all over Hawaii) and my own private pool.
This is a vision I have been dreaming of for the last few months, if not years, but on the inside, I’m feeling lost and alone.
I’m grieving the magical, love filled community feeling I had in India during my yoga teacher training and am now feeling bewildered at what I’m doing here in Bali, alone.
I want to recap the last week of our yoga teacher training as it was filled with remarkable insights and so much family love.
The week started out as much more stressful than our previous weeks. Everyone was preparing for teaching their first lesson and stressing about the exam.
Even while others around me spent every single break studying or going over what they were going to teach, I took a simpler approach. I wasn’t too stressed about either, as I knew things would come to me in the moment and knew things like memorization come easily to me.
Instead, I would spend my breaks soaking up our limited times in the cafes, drinking chai and journaling and writing poetry and reading.
One morning, our pranayama class was cancelled and while my roommate went to study, another friend was going to the cafe to drink chai. I immediately jumped up to join her.
When we got to the cafe, we ran into an old friend of hers. He was in his 70’s and had a white flowing beard. When he invited us to sit with him, I silently groaned as I feel more comfortable just sitting and chilling rather than having to make small talk with a stranger.
What proceeded over the next hour that we spent with him, was nothing like the small talk I had imagined, but was in fact one of the deepest experiences I’ve had.
He claimed he was enlightened – that the divine mother came to speak to him 10 years ago, and he hasn’t been the same ever since. He said he sees in auras and is in constant communication with “the mother” or “god” or “his intuition” however you want to call it.
He went on and on giving us mini spiritual lessons with his words, showing us how we can have our own spiritual practice even when we have a full time job and a family.
He talked about the two types of people in this world – the home makers and renunciants. Some people feel called to do this work in total seclusion – example: moving to the Himalayas and meditating all day in the mountains, but for most people in this modern world, we can’t do that.
We still want partners and families and careers. Which is perfectly fine and can actually act as tools that further your spiritual growth.
I love this approach and teaching others how to incorporate this sacred practice into your modern, daily lives.
I also really felt the pull to connect with Lakshmi. I’ve been told by multiple astrologers and healers that Lakshmi is my goddess. It’s something I’ve always known but don’t have much experience with her.
Lakshmi, in Hindu culture is the goddess of wealth and abundance.
The man told me that one common misconception that if you pray to Lakshmi, you’ll receive financial abundance, but the key about Lakshmi is that financial abundance only comes when you are doing your dharma (your purpose).
I’ve always connected to my purpose more than anything else on this earth. I don’t care about much else and would never accept a high-paying job for something that sucks my soul. All I want to do is do what I came here to do.
I really felt like meeting this man was divine and encouraged me to start exploring my own personal relationship with Lakshmi and what that means.
Teaching Yoga and Discovering Our Gifts
Teaching my first yoga class (and taking the classes taught by my classmates) was a huge lesson for me in knowing that we all have unique gifts.
We all have magic inside of us.
I was a bit nervous for my lesson, but knew what when I was teaching, I would just be in flow, and that’s exactly what happened.
I realized some of my gifts.
One is my voice. Because of all my singing & acting training throughout my life (and my own intuitive knowledge) I know how to use my voice to affect the way others feel. I can create a vibe just by speaking or singing or even counting in numbers.
I have a gift in understanding feelings. I know I’m an empath/highly sensitive being which has been difficult to navigate at times in my life. A little story of how I’m realizing how much of an empath I actually am (I feel other people’s feelings)
Shortly after my class, I was sitting at a cafe with a few friends and I was reading Alex Franzen’s book and suddenly I felt like crying. My throat choked up and I was like wow why am I about to cry right now and then I looked up and saw that my friend was crying because she was in the midst of having her tarot cards read and something had hit her heart, and in that moment I was like woaaah I am def feeling her emotions and not my own. That didn’t come from me, that came from her!
Anyways, because I deeply understand feelings, I knew exactly what the people in my class were feeling and could guide them accordingly. Afterwards, people expressed that it was really nice and gave them permission to relax deeper into themselves.
If you’re reading this right now and you’re like cool, ley good for you, but I have no idea what my gifts are….it’s okay not to know. Life is about constantly discovering and uncovering them. Have faith and trust that they are there, knowing that they will continue to be revealed to you when the time is right.
When we truly KNOW ourselves and are aware of our gifts in this life, all feelings of comparison go away. You no longer spend time “wishing” you were more like someone else or feeling like someone is better than you.
You know that we all have something unique and special to offer, so trust in the journey. Trust in your own path. Trust in your own magic.
Also, now I just want to practice teaching more and more, so please let me practice on you, for free 🙂
The love & community of Indian Culture
We had a fun last couple nights as our training was ending, getting together as a group and hanging out since we didn’t have that much time outside of class to just hang out all as a group.
One night, we got some of the local cafe owners to drive us up to this camping spot in the Himalayas so we could gather and drink beer (since alcohol is technically forbidden in the holy city of Rishikesh). I did not partake in the beer drinking, but it was fun to just hang out and chill with some of the locals.
One thing I noticed and loved about the Indian culture is the sense of community. They treat each other like family and you can tell how tight their bonds are. They know how to have fun, not take life too seriously, live simply, and just enjoy, no matter how much or how little they have.
One of the cafe owners operates his cafe by day and when I asked him where he lives, he said, here! like on the same cushions I was sitting on. I kind of love the fact that we were sitting in his bedroom, as if he was inviting us into our home.
While it’s absurd for us Americans to consider sleeping in the same place we work (although I’m sure people work enough that they could…), to him, its the other way around.
That’s just his home and he happens to sell chai and smoothies out of it.
what india taught me
We all graduated and said our tearful goodbyes. I didn’t want to say goodbye to all of the amazing people and community we met. I truly had the best time in India.
India taught me more about living simply, connecting with myself, staying in my own experience, that there is magic inside all of us, contentment comes from connection, and just all love.
Yes, it was also dirty, and smelly, and loud, and I worried a lot about contracting Dengue and getting diarrhea, but it taught me more about taking what IS and not worrying about what ISN’T. Living more simply and in the present moment ❤
my personal history & relationship with yoga
I also thought about my relationship to yoga during this whole month. I basically grew up with yoga. I took my first class at the age of 14 when my mom moved my family and I across the country from Pennsylvania to California to live at an ashram.
At that age, I thought all of the spirituality and hindu stuff and yoga stuff was just alllll weird and I only started taking classes as a form of gentle exercise and something to keep me busy since I didn’t have friends yet in California when we had just moved…
My practice was very on and off for the last 10 years. I would take classes here and there, but didn’t like the commercialism culture (and all heated vinyasa flows) that exists in Orange County (where I went for college and when yoga was certainly booooming) and always felt more drawn to the spiritual side of yoga.
I tried heated classes and hated it. I felt more comfortable in studios where the incense was burning and they had pictures of Swami Sivananda or Ganesha on the wall and I felt like I was in a small sliver of home.
I had a “whenever I feel like it” home practice, which was basically never. Now, I’m grateful that I have the tools to do a complete home practice whenever and wherever I want and know that it will be integrated into my daily lifestyle.
It surprised me, but I never had any culture shock in India. Probably because of the unusual way I was introduced to yoga, it felt like I was coming back home. I reconnected with that spiritual side. I love yoga for all that it is. I can’t even do all the cool & fancy poses, but it was never about that for me. Sometimes this makes me feel like I can’t call myself a “yogi” just because I can’t twist in all the crazy ways or even do a handstand, but that’s the ego talking and not what actual YOGA is.
Would I recommend this program to anyone?
ummmm, heck to the YES. If you’re called to yoga, it is part of your responsibility to learn about the historical and cultural contexts of yoga. This is how you don’t culturally appropriate. It’s frustrating that in the states it is largely viewed as only a physical practice and a lot of the teachers don’t even know a word of sanskrit.
That being said, I’ve had to do a lot of digging in my own psyche about being a white person practicing yoga and how that can be viewed, but as long as you are doing your part and being responsible and educating yourself, then yes, it’s beautiful that yoga is being spread to the masses.
Also, the value of what you get is just unreal. I mean, 3 meals a day, rent, 2 yoga classes a day, the training, 5 other classes a day, and the amazing teachers all for $850…you really can’t beat it. This is compared to the THOUSANDS of dollars that you can spend on a studio back in the states.
If you can afford to take a month off of your life and you’re feeling the call then DO IT.
Okay, I will end this hereee, this post took me a while to write since I’ve been traveling and adjusting to a very different and new life here in BALIII but will update you all soon.
scenes from the REAL rishikesh (the non-tourist part)