Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The dance between the light and the dark

by Katie-Alan Calhoun, September 2015 200 hour Bali yoga teacher training student


Hanoman Street
I step out of the taxi, cradling all the belongings that I've packed for the next month. As the cab zooms away, it hits me: I have arrived in Ubud. It's late in the evening and Jalan Hanoman is alive and busy. People rushing to grab drinks with friends, mopeds whipping by, loud noises, bright lights and unfamiliar smells. If there is such thing as a culture shock, this is it. What in the world was this little mountain girl thinking? Grabbing my overly packed bags, I made my way through a dark alley to find my hotel. A local gentleman, seeing me somewhat distressed, asked if I needed assistance. "No, I've got it", I replied, as I looked at him, probably looking very much like a deer in the headlights. Did I really "have this," though? 

I finally reach my room and start to unload, literally and figuratively. All of the stress of traveling had finally reached its boiling point. I'm alone in a foreign country, trying to wrap my head around the month ahead of me. It's dark, unfamiliar and I'm completely spooked. As I curl up under my covers, trying to escape reality, I receive a message from a friend back home. Knowing I was in distress, they send a consoling message: "You're going to be okay. Everything may appear scary now, but tomorrow it will all look different in the light."Holding onto these words as if they were my mantra, I somehow manage to sleep through the night.

Bali courtyard
I roll out of bed the next morning, feeling the heavy hand of jet lag. I take a quick look in the mirror and quickly regret it, cringing. Thirty plus hours on a plane is not a good look for me. I slowly make my way around the room, trying to let go of the unease of the previous night. Suddenly, I hear a noise outside my room, and a voice: "Miss?" I open the wooden double doors and am stunned at what I discover. "Wait, where am I?", I think as I scan my surroundings. I'm looking out at a beautiful courtyard. Birds are singing, the sun is shining, and the aroma of flowers and incense fills the air. I'm in such a state of shock that I completely forget about my little visitor. "Miss, would you like tea and breakfast?" he asks. Tea?! Yes! That is exactly what I need.

How could this be? I'm suddenly enjoying my breakfast in a completely different place than I had entered the night before. Fortified with fresh fruit and tea, I muster up the courage to begin exploring. Ubud is awake and ready for the day. This is not the Bali I had encountered the evening before. Walking the streets I'm becoming familiarized with my surroundings. Smiling faces, wonderful food, shopping, culture, and monkeys! This isn't scary, I think to myself, this is amazing! Day one in Ubud and I have already come to the realization that this is exactly where I need to be. My heart is filled with excitement and yoga teacher training hasn't even begun.

Katie-Alan
Amy Jirsa put it quite beautifully when she said, "Yoga is the dance between the light and the dark within you. The light is what brings you back to the mat and the darkness is what you uncover there. Don't be afraid of this darkness. These are only shadows, and though you'll have to walk down some pretty dark alleys, remember you are grounded in the light, and the light will set you free."

By practicing yoga, we are bringing light to the darkest places within ourselves. Much like my first night in Bali, the dark can be a scary, unforgiving place. It is where your inner demons reside. Your fears, doubts and worst nightmares. But have faith in the light, whether it's  the light inside you or the rising sun of the next day. Our journey in life is all about perspective and how we view our reality. With a little light, our perception can change, just as I began to see my adventure in Ubud very differently.

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