This year’s Balispirit happened to be the first yoga related festival I had ever attended and wow, what an experience it was! I was excited for a very long time, both for the prospect of visiting Bali for the first time AND attending such a huge event consisting of all things commercially yoga. As I am making my flight back to Kuala Lumpur, I found myself reflecting on this trip. What have I learned from the cornucopia of different classes, workshops and sessions I had attended?
Surprisingly (and I may be a little ashamed to admit this) nothing too life changing that I would want to apply to teaching my own classes really. Thinking back on how this could be possible, because after all I was in the presence of so many respected teachers whose names are akin to what Google is to search engines and Facebook to social media. A moment of contemplation made me realize that I had been far too busy judging the teaching styles, the asanas chosen for the vinyasas, the conversation and what sometimes seems to me incessant unnecessary chattering in class. I arrived in Ubud with an open mind, excited to take part in only the biggest annual yoga event in this region. The minute my first session began, and unfortunately throughout the entire weekend, the open mind quickly switched to judging, evaluating, comparing.. and all those not so yummy habits that only resulted in me sitting here in the plane right now thinking, ‘so hrm, what new exciting things can I bring to my own classes now?’
And a resounding silence as my mind searches through every unturned corners of this experience for an answer.
What did in remember instead? I remembered the mental notes I made as a checklist of ‘things to avoid doing in my own class’. Why? Because I remembered the silent moments sending out mental messages to the instructor of the session begging him to stop talking already. Have you ever tried following a class, wanting to return to your inner self and quieten that self chatter only to have it totally replaced by the booming chattering of the instructor relating about something or other about his day through his clip on microphone?
There were 2 sessions which I appreciated though in one we were asked to attempt an udhiyana bandha and nauli (a type of Kriya which involves the individual freely contracting and relaxing the stomach muscles in a certain motion) less than 2 hours after lunch time. I hope no one had indigestion that night.
Perhaps a festival such as this really is to serve a ‘buffet’ of yoga to attract and cater to a large number of people. It allowed me to experience Kundalini yoga, Vinyasa (with rock music), Ashtanga yoga with influences of Shamanism, Hatha with precise scientific techniques borrowed from Tai Chi. And another session which involved a lot of running around in circles whilst doing Bhashtrika, an experienced which struck me both as different and close to some sort of insane version of yoga created by the western world.
Perhaps it is a gathering of like minded people celebrating the diversity within and outside of themselves. Although as a first time participant the like minded part seemed to be more about the staggering proportion of people wearing lululemons, and carrying either a Jade, Manduka or (surprise surprise) lululemon yoga mat. Admittedly, I was one of them too minus the expensive mat as my Manduka Eco mat was far too heavy for me to hand carry all the way to Ubud. Most of the time it felt like people moved in their own groups. I didn’t sense an open-ness but again, this was probably largely colored by looking through my judging lenses.
So what was my main takeaway from this entire experience? I learned that judgement closes the mind to accepting what is, to acknowledge the different things that are subtly present and most importantly it impairs your memory so that it selectively remembers all the unpleasant things and overlooks the ones that could be beneficial.
Not all was lost though as throughout the few days I was there, I come to understand the fascination that a lot of people have on Bali as I felt the pull and the need to pack up and call Ubud my new home. A walk down Hanoman Road brought me back to being right in the middle of Brunswick Road in Melbourne, minus the cold weather and plenty more sunshine 🙂 At the night music event where a lineup of talented international World Music artists, I was exposed to an awesome array of music, one of which was a song called Lullaby by OKA. Below is an excerpt of what one of the nights were like at this year’s Balispirit