A Yoga Retreat in a Sacred Land: Ubud

I came back to KL Wednesday night after the yoga retreat, and to be honest I didn’t want to come back. If it wasn’t from some workload I needed to take care of, I would have stayed until Sunday and completed the 7-day yoga retreat.
One of the most powerful messages from yoga is “The answers you seek never come when the mind is busy, they will come when the mind is still”. That is precisely what I was looking forward to learn in this yoga retreat: to keep the mind still.
We are so focused on the day to day, a natural thing of the human being, that we forget to listen to ourselves. We forget to take a few minutes a day to listen to our body, listen to what we really need. We focus so much on thinking about what has happened, what will happen (as if we could read a crystal ball) that we forget to think about NOW! And I confess that I am just that: thinking about what is going to happen, what I am going to do, that I have to “stop” and simply think about the now.
Going to a yoga retreat has always been like a dream, and I put it in my resolution’s list this 2018. When I realized, it was already the end of February, and the time is flying by! So not one more day passed, I planned my trip to Bali, starting the retreat on a Sunday and leaving from Friday to relax.
Arriving in Bali at noon on Friday was wonderful, totally sunny, with the sound of the sea and the sound of the trees following the movement of the wind, it was something that I definitely enjoyed from the moment I arrived. The Mulia succeeded my expectations with its perfect architecture, tall windows, decorations, and spectacular chandeliers… the ocean views from the pool, the food in the many restaurants they have, and these amazing statues that marvelously decorate all the pools around the Resort and Hotel, definitely make it the Best Beach Resort in Asia (By Conde Nast Traveler-Reader’s Choice Awards ). 

Seeing the pinkest sunsets I’ve seen, the brightest sunrises with the sun shining in front of you were a plus, and it was definitely the best way to start my relaxation plan!

On Sunday, I went from Nusa Dua to Ubud, the jungle on the island of Bali. It is totally different from where I was, with its narrow streets, with green rice fields on the road, temples and houses that you lost sight of and that are repeated all the way. The Villa where I stayed at Blooming Lotus Yoga had three separate bedrooms around the pool, sharing a kitchen/living room, with a beautiful view from the hill and from where the river was clearly heard, nothing more … the cars were not heard, nor the people, even in a point nor my thoughts.
The first thing I did when unpacking was to leave the phone on the bedside table. It was a few days to listen to the nature and disconnect a bit from the outside world … Ofcourse, before leaving the phone behind, I told my family I had arrived well! 🙂 … The afternoon went by with total calm, book in hand and sunbathing, until dinner time was announced and I met the people who like me were going to “disconnect” and look for something beyond . Already at 9pm I was in bed, and with windows open and listening to the night sounds I completely fall asleep.
At 7am sharp, the sound of the bell was heard to call us all to start the day. We all met in the central courtyard, where each one of us introduced themselves and shared a little of each one. Something that impressed me a lot was a woman who together with her husband went to the retreat. She mentioned how happy she was to be there, but above all to be able to see the Sun “after spending so many months without seeing it”. This couple came from a Nordic country and in winter they spend months without seeing the Sun! I am impressed because it has never happened to me, I have constantly trusted all my life knowing that I will see the Sun, and how cannot I see it living in Maracaibo almost all my life?… The first practice of yoga and meditation was to “establish ourselves”,  to have an idea of how the next days would be. Also, to see how amazing it is to do an outdoor practice without a mirror in front of you, without seeing the position you do, simply by following your body and “listening” to what your mind tells you it is better to do . There were no complicated movements, it was not making the perfect position, it was about starting to put aside everything that keeps the mind busy and wondering around.
After each yoga practice, we did a meditation practice. I had never really done a meditation practice, without taking into account the moments I listen to the guided meditations to sleep. But they never showed me techniques to make these meditations part of my day to day … They showed me ways to sit in a way that is so comfortable that my posture cannot interrupt my meditation. After this, it was fruit and cereal breakfast, nothing heavy. From that first practice of yoga and meditation I could observe how the movements were slower, we were all quieter after the practices, it was as if we were all internalizing what we had felt in those two hours that had passed. Not only did we have yoga and meditation classes, but also general yoga techniques and how to easily incorporate yoga to our day to day in a practical way.
From noon to 4pm, we could do any activity we wanted. Since I had a few days in Bali, I decided to go to see the famous rice terraces. After a car tour of approximately 30mins we arrived, and I am very happy to have gone. The green of the terraces was like the green crayons that come in a box, with all the greens aligned… The place is surrounded by restaurants and cafes, all lining up to see the rice terraces. More than one enjoying a coconut water! Wonderful!… It is one of those places where you could spend hours and hours.
 
After hearing how Luwak Coffee is made (the same one that was featured in The Bucket List movie), which is considered the most expensive coffee in the world, I did a tea tasting (best teas ever!) while having the most beautiful view of the rice terraces. From there, you could see the famous giant swings and I couldn’t miss my chance to have this great experiencie! The sensation is just spectacular and the views are just incredible!
**Side note here about the Luwak Coffee: it is coffee that included part digested coffee cherries eaten and defecated (yes! You read that correctly) by the Asian palm civet.
I returned to my Villa, and there I rested a little more before going to the next practice of yoga and meditation. Being just the second class, the practice became more fluent, and with every movement and inhale/exhale, I enjoyed it even more. After that, a delicious vegan dinner! It was one of those meals that you enjoy because of their taste and it was so light, that you felt satisfied but without having the need to eat more… After dinner as I was in such a “stressful” environment (sarcastically saying of course!), I went to get a massage in the spa from where you could hear only the river flowing – So Relaxing! After this day, falling sleep was something more than automatic.
The next day was the same, practice yoga and meditation … and this day even more “submerged” in everything, especially in the sounds. One part of the practice was “listening to the sounds inside the place and then listening to the sounds outside” …. Incredible!  
One of the things that I take the most in my heart after this trip is to know that it’s okay to be emotional, that it’s okay to be sad at times, that it’s okay not to be happy with a smile all the time, and that it’s okay not to be strong always. To be grateful for what one has and to feel these emotions, does not influence that overall gratitude that is given to life. It’s good to be grateful for everything, and still be a little confused about how things have turned out.
I’m only grateful of how lucky have I been to practice yoga among this nature, on this sacred land where spirituality is so deeply rooted into daily life. You can’t help but feel in awe with life! I have left Bali with fully heartfelt vibes!
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