Sunday, December 14, 2014

Living a life you are proud of

by Anna Rhein, Zuna Yoga 500 hour YTT graduate

Recently I exchanged emails with a good friend. We were chatting about our current life situations. She is NYC in her final year of grad school and was expressing how much this last year has already taken out of her, and how all the hard work is about to pay off. One more semester and she will be done with this chapter, moving into another as an Occupational Therapist.  It has been very inspiring to watch her as a student over the last five years, gradually developing into a woman with such passion for what she is doing in life.  

I let her know that I intended to stay in Bali now that my 300 hour yoga teacher training was over, to explore the possibilities of what life had to offer on this side of the world. I too had been living in NYC. However, unlike her, I was in a job that I had little passion for, just going through the motions to pay the bills. I admitted that living in another country was something I never would have imagined for myself, but that a lot of my old ways of thinking had changed during my teacher trainings. My experience helped me see that I had been holding onto past behavior and relationships that no longer served me. It provided me the physical commitment to my body that I love, and also the space and stillness that I needed to hear this inner voice clearly. The entire experience, from the asana practice, the intense meditation to the time alone in a different country had opened my eyes to so much: new friends, new ideas, and a confidence that I was lacking to create this new life.  

Self-discovery during yoga teacher training
She was very excited for me and said, “I had a feeling you would find your groove over there this time. We will miss you, but I am happy you are living a life you are proud of.”  Those few words really hit that place in me, you know that place that makes you instantly tear up, right in the center of the soul.  Not only did the words hit home, but also hearing them come from a person I had been admiring for all her hard work was also very emotional.  I thought -  wow, I am in the midst of living a life I am proud of and others can see it too, how lucky am I! So here I am beginning a new chapter in Bali, making new friends, learning Indonesian, living steps from the sea, using the yoga tools I’ve learned in the last few months to steer my vessel and hopefully inspire others to live a life they are proud of. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

A day of cleansing

by Anna Rhein, Zuna Yoga 500 hour YTT graduate

Bali is an island full of beauty, mystery and spirituality. Recently I made a day trip with friends to the holy water temple, Tampak Siring. It was a short 40 minute motorbike ride from Ubud, and even though it started raining heavily we continued on our journey, and I'm thrilled we did. Riding through the rice paddies, entering into little villages along the way, we stopped to wait for our group and stumbled upon a shop that had beautiful pieces of carved wooden art and jewelry. We all found at least one handmade treasure to take home and agreed the trip was already a success, but we had no idea of the beauty that still lay ahead. 

After the brief stop, we were only 10 minutes away from our destination. As we walked through the entrance, we were all given sarongs to wear, and were shown where to enter into the springs. We were greeted by a spiritual guide who began to tell us how the temple was designed to be enjoyed. 

Tampak Siring temple in Bali
First, we were given an offering and told to sit overlooking the springs while he talked us through a meditation. The sound of the water flowing enveloped us all and we were quickly made aware of how special a place this was. One by one we entered the water, which was waist height. Walking up to each spring, we were told to splash the water three times on our face, sip it in three times, and then sit under it, allowing it to run over our heads while chanting OM for as long as we could before moving on to the next spring. 

Walking from spring to spring, I was unaware of anything else around me. The feeling of the water running over my body, blessing and cleansing, was so powerful. After the first set of springs, there were another two by themselves, which I was told release any negative promises or regrets from your life. The final set of springs were said to clean and clear your chakras, allowing for better health. Even though the water was cold, it was so refreshing and made me feel lighter immediately. After the springs, we were given a tour of the temple and allowed to make additional offerings if we wished before we made our exit. It is the most beautiful temple I have ever visited. I tell anyone I can about it, and hope everyone can some day visit this very special place. I can't wait for my next adventure in this Bali wonderland.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How to prepare for your Bali Yoga Teacher Training

Have you already signed up for a Zuna Yoga teacher training, or are considering signing up? Here we offer practical tips on how to best prepare for the amazing journey of self and spirit that lies ahead. 

Stay curious

If you’ve set your sights on a yoga teacher training, you’ve probably already been practicing for a while. And you probably already fell in love with yoga, for one reason or another, and are eager to learn more. Remember that yoga is a big word, and means different things to different people. It’s a good idea to shake up your routine and try different classes and styles with different teachers. Read articles and books to learn new perspectives and philosophies. The science of yoga is a vast library, and your teacher training is just a chapter in a book in that library. A broader exposure will prepare you for the new, unexpected (and often mind-blowing) ideas you’ll be presented with at your teacher training.

Get the books

Zuna Yoga students are required to get the assigned reading for their 200 or 300 hour training in advance, as well as write a book report for each work to demonstrate understanding and reflection on a personal level. Only upon submission of these book reports and class assignments - either during the training, immediately afterward or in the months that follow - will you receive your certificate of completion. You can find a lot of other great and inspiring books on yoga on our website to expand your knowledge. See above on staying curious!

Get immunized

We follow the CDC recommendations for immunization. Personally, we err on the side of caution and are vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, rabies, yellow fever, measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, and the flu. Some of these require multiple boosters over time to be effective. Check with your doctor. Ultimately, you should do what feels right for you. 

Malaria is extremely uncommon in Bali and Lombok, so the need for taking the prophylactic medication for that depends on how deep into the jungle your travels will take you. Dengue fever, on the other hand, does happen on occasion - that goes for most tropical regions of the world. But there is no vaccine or prophylaxis for that. Instead, we all need to be vigilant about not getting bitten by mosquitoes in the first place, by wearing repellent 24/7. This is the most important thing you can do to safeguard your health while visiting the tropics. The mozzies are particularly active at sunrise and sunset. All the beds at our lovingly selected venues have mosquito nets, which is of course a very protective barrier. 

Get your visas

If you plan to travel in Indonesia before or after the training, we recommend applying for your 60 day tourist visa in advance with your local Indonesian consulate. You'll avoid the trip to the immigration office in Mataram or Denpasar for fingerprints and photos that is now required to extend the 30 day visa on arrival, an inconvenience that could disrupt your attendance at the training. If you are an American citizen, the consulate will request a letter of invitation from your host to issue the visa.

Check your passport

Please ensure your passport will be valid for at least 6 months after your arrival date in Indonesia, or your airline will deny you boarding. This really happens! Take a look at your passport now to make sure. If you need to renew or add pages, start that process at least a month in advance to avoid the stress of waiting for the bureaucratic machine to send the passport back to you. 

Research your destination

Rather than spending your time in Bali on your smart phone looking for things to do, start investigating online before you go. There is so much to see and so many amazing things to experience in just an hour or two’s drive from Ubud. Read up on the history and the culture, as well as etiquette and social do’s and don’ts. The Balinese culture is truly fascinating: rich with ceremony, spirituality, creativity and tradition.

Book your flight

if you’re looking at a long flight and a major change of time zones, try to arrive at your destination a few days early. Many students who arrive last minute say they wished they had planned a few extra days of buffer. Sometimes, flights get delayed or even cancelled, and you don’t want to miss the start of the training. Long flights can be dehydrating and taxing. Give yourself time to acclimate to the warm weather and the time change, so you’ll be fresh as a daisy on day one of the training. It’s cheap to stay in Bali, so you won’t save a lot of money by arriving last minute. Take advantage of getting away to this beautiful destination and soak it up for a few extra days.

Shop for supplies

Since you’re coming to a warm climate, you can get away with packing light. Our practice space is open-air, and it gets warm. Bring several changes of your favorite yoga clothes, and remember that laundry service is cheap in Indonesia. You can also pick up some new outfits once you arrive. You might want a long sleeve shirt for layering during the occasional cool evening. For a long intensive training, you’ll enjoy using your own mat, for comfort and hygiene. These are also available for purchase in Bali - but the selection isn’t huge, so if you have a favorite, bring it with you. Stock up on hard to find personal medications. Check out our complete recommendations for your pack list here

Stay in shape

If you’re coming from a regular workout schedule straight to Bali, great. You’ll be physically prepared for the intense practices at the teacher training. If you plan on traveling before the training, it’s easy for your routine to get interrupted. Even if you can’t maintain a daily yoga practice and do a bunch of sun salutations, try to keep those hamstrings long by doing some nice forward folds every day. Sneak in a few push-ups and planks to maintain your core strength. Downward facing dog will stretch the back body, shoulders, hamstrings and calves, as well as giving you the benefits of an inversion. Stay limber and maintain a healthy spine by moving it daily in all three directions (lateral, twisting, forward folding and backbending). Even the smallest hotel room has enough space for light stretching. And very importantly, don't worry about having the best practice in the room or being the skinniest girl in yoga pants. Just maintain your usual active baseline, and you'll be fine.

Stay healthy

Stay as active as you can while doing your best to avoid injury. Now is not the best time to try skydiving or wakeboarding for the first time. If you’re traveling, don’t drink the tap water, and don’t brush your teeth with tap water. Look into packing a LifeStraw, a portable water filter that turns even mucky pond water into safe potable water. Be careful where you eat - avoid uncooked foods unless you know the kitchen is clean. Pack some active charcoal to help detoxify and battle tummy bugs. Consider taking a probiotic supplement. Wash your hands often. Most people find that a major change of time zone, climate, diet and schedule will disrupt their digestive system. Eat lightly and drink plenty of water to help the body adjust. 

Having all your ducks in a row will decrease any sense of anxiety and increase your focus and determination. All of this preparation, mental and physical, will ease you into the experience of your yoga teacher training. You've got an amazing journey ahead of you. And putting a little effort into planning will free your mind of the mundane, and make space for true transformation that's waiting for you.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Student guest blog: Looking back and looking forward

by Guest Author Anna Rhein, Zuna Yoga 300 hour teacher training grad

It has been two weeks since we completed the 300 hour teacher training, and as much as I am enjoying my time to do as I wish, I can honestly say I miss everything. Yes, even the 5:02 am alarm. As we entered into the final week, I told myself: "Drink in as much as you can, savor every last word," recalling from the previous year how much I would miss it all once it was over. Even though being able to sleep in and have my days back to myself sounded so sweet, that moment would come sooner than I really wanted it to, and I should make sure to enjoy every last minute. 

Anna immersed in practice
 Looking back now, I know I did just that. Each morning, even though I was physically tired, I fully immersed myself into the student-led practice. Instead of eating by myself, I made it a point to eat breakfast with "the Zuna Tribe, knowing soon I would miss their smiling faces, the laughs, the conversations regarding the practice we just shared, listening to stories of their lives, hearing about plans for the future, and most of all feeling the love that flowed so freely from everyone at the table. I took more pictures, started getting contact information, planning trips to see them in their countries, giving more hugs, receiving more hugs, letting go and seeing what being courageously free was really like. I was in the bubble and I loved it! 

Parting is such sweet sorrow
Then just like that, it was over. The closing circle, the last supper, the last breakfast and then actually leaving Ubud. Unlike some others who had to leave this Bali wonderland immediately and go back home and/or back to work, I was lucky enough to move to the beach and to relax and allow it to all soak in. I gave myself two weeks to do nothing but play in the sun, surf and the enjoy the hours upon hours of freedom. It has been wonderful, seeing old friends, staying out late, sleeping in, practicing when I want to, being back in the "real world," out of the bubble.

Now here I am, trying to find the balance between the two. I realize it's all about attitude, and my attitude is one of getting closer to the truth and finding the way that works best for me. The month was a moment, one that I will never forget, where my fellow students and teachers provided me a safe place to dive into this truth. It is now up to me to use the priceless knowledge and tools gained and delve deeper into this life, my practice and creating a space for others to gain awareness and ultimately adding to the tapestry of humanity.