by Bianca Hoogland, 200 hour Bali yoga teacher training student
Week two is already over! After a wonderful day off in Ubud, we were back on our mats on Sunday morning at 6am.
Waking up here is so different from waking up at home in the Netherlands. Usually I snooze for a long time, but here within a few minutes I jump out of bed. I do my oil pulling, get dressed and drink a lemon water while gazing at the stars, seeing the sky slowly turn from black to indigo, hearing only the sounds of nature. Slowly I am waking up and feeling the peaceful vibe at Azadi Retreat in Ubud.
The teachers chime the bells to call us all down to practice in the yoga shala. I roll out my mat and make my way to a comfortable seat. Then I close my eyes. I let myself be guided by the teachers through Kapalbhati, Maha Mudra, and the chant of Om. I connect with my breath, deep down in my foundation. I feel peace. When I open my eyes, the sun starts to rise and that light shines through the leaves of the palm trees. I inhale and gaze out over the jungle beside me. Good morning, Bali.
As we move and breath through the amazing Zuna Yoga sequences, a lot is happening underneath the surface. I feel a range of emotions—calm, bliss, love, contentment, gratitude. And sometimes in certain postures more uncomfortable thoughts arise, hidden worries rising up. But I know what to do with them: just breathe. My breath can carry me through any challenge I face.
Savasanas are getting deeper. Every single time I feel the energy rushing through my body. It feels like something is shaking my body, horizontally, vertically. I feel the fire across my spine and contractions in my body from my own intense energy. I am going deep and I feel my body tingling. It almost feels like I am floating. It sounds weird, but I love it! Some days it takes me a while to get back to my body, which feels heavy, like a ton of bricks as I walk back up the stairs to my room. This probably sounds strange too - but I see it as a sign of positive change, showing me how much energy and strength I have. It's a reminder that my soul is infinite, connected to the universe. And that my body is a tool for this life here on earth.
This whole week we prepared sequences for our own practice teaching. Divided into small groups, discussing which words to use, how to get into a pose, how to explain bandhas, how to lead people in meditation. It has been so beautiful to help each other and learn from each other.
And then we learnt that our group will be the first to teach the whole class on the last day of this week. English is not my native language, and at first I was terrified. After a reassuring hug from my amazing roomies, I felt at peace again. It's going to be okay! I am going to rock this sequence!
Meanwhile we are enjoying the most beautiful food here, enjoying the sun, the breathtaking sunsets and sky colors, swimming in the pool (or jumping in and splashing as much water as we can) and laughing until we cry with my beautiful roomies and yogis. Listening to each others stories, giving someone a loving hug when he or she needs one.
A highlight of this week was the Yoga Nidra. AMAZING! Haven’t tried it? Try! I felt like I was floating and my breath stopped. My breath stopped? Isn’t that dangerous? No it’s not, because when the breath stops, the mind stops. Calm, quiet. No worries, I am still breathing and nothing bad happened, but tasted that brief moment of stillness and peace.
And then suddenly it was Friday. My first teaching day. I was so excited and yes, nervous.
Before our class started, I took a moment in the Shala by myself. I sat down on the edge and gazed out over the jungle. I saw the palm trees moving in the wind, felt the afternoon breeze on my skin and I closed my eyes. I directed my mind to the Universe, asked the Universe for calmness, strength and peace for my first class. When I opened my eyes, I saw the most beautiful butterfly on Bali fluttering before my eyes, with big, bright, blue-green wings. I knew it was a sign. It is going to be okay, so enjoy this moment!
All my fellow yogis arrived in the Shala, I got some loving looks from a few of them and then we started. I took my place on the mat and asked them to flutter the eyes open. 44 eyes looked at me and I smiled. I taught the second part of the sequence, which was a lot of flow. I looked at the group, connecting to them, to their rhythm and their breath. I talked slowly, gave my cues, used the Sanskrit names, and took my time. When I let the yogis do one series on their own, I just stood and watched. They were all moving together at their own pace and I was their teacher. I smiled and was amazed by this view. I totally forgot that I should be moving through the room while they were practicing, but hey, I am still learning!
When I was done, I was elated. I was so satisfied! As the next member of our group took over the teaching, I continued to observe and adjust. Finally, we came to the floor for savasana and meditation. It was so peaceful to watch everybody, I had never had the chance to do this before. I got tears in my eyes, I was so happy, so fulfilled and felt the love in this room. I looked at everybody and had the feeling of being so blessed to share this beautiful moment with these amazing people. The beautiful connections I've made so far, the safe feeling in the group, feeling welcome and able to open up.
After our last chant of OM, we got a round of applause that made me burst into tears. My fellow teachers and I hugged each other. We did it! We did it together and did an awesome job. We taught a class!
A few years ago, I hated public speaking. So this moment was such a victory for me. I did it, something that really scared me. I can now let that fear go. It was beautiful to do and I love it! Thanks Zuna Yoga for this opportunity, thanks fellow yogis for this practice and thanks to me, for rising to the challenge to learn, to grow, to get out of my comfort zone and shine.
Looking forward to next week!