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Soulshine Yoga Retreat Center in Bali

I know I have not written in a month. Which is a shame because I have had so many things to write about such as the yoga studio, Deep Art and Yoga, that I managed and taught at closing it’s doors and the space, along with me, taken on by Yoga Shala.

I could also have been writing about my new found love of Ashtanga yoga and how it has transformed my body in just a few weeks.

And the biggest thing of all that I could have been writing about is my trip to Bali that I was preparing for and where I am writing to you from at this very moment at 7 in the morning.

So here I am, in Ubud, Bali at the Soulshine Yoga Retreat Center owned by Michael Franti and Carla Swanson. I am here until October 11, as the house yoga teacher, teaching Monday-Friday at 9am. The amount of support and the synchronicities that occured for me to be here are truly magical.

I am in paradise. The retreat center is gorgeous. It’s beauty only slightly dwarfed by the lush surroundings.

Yesterday morning I had an opportunity to meet and chat with yoga teacher, Les Levanthal who was just ending a yoga retreat here at Soulshine. In the short time I have been here (36 hours or so) I have already had so many incredible experiences. The staff at Soulshine are so sweet and helpful. The food is delicious.

I am getting ready to teach my first yoga class here in a couple of hours in the 3rd story, open air yoga studio. If you are in Bali, come on down to Soulshine and take a class with me!

I promise to write more while I am here. In the meantime, here are a few Facebook notes I wrote yesterday…

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Bali, Sunday, September 4th, 2011

I am writing this at about 6:15 am here in Ubud, Bali…

When I arrived here yesterday evening there was a 40 minute drive from the airport to Soulshine Retreat. In that short time I was astounded, and in awe. I don’t know how to describe Bali to you in words. I am not even sure one thousand pictures worth one thousand words could capture this place.

There is the most beautiful art everywhere you look. There is a feeling of poverty that is not impoverished of the joy of life, like all of the smiling Buddha statues along the roadside. It is paradise with open sewers. There is the craziest traffic I never could have imagined as there seems to be no real traffic laws. Everyone is so incredibly friendly.

When I arrived at Soulshine in the glow of sunset I was led down a lamp and candle lit path, surrounded by the lushest, greenest, tropical vegetation and in between rice terraces and a rushing stream, which I can hear clearly as I write this. A group of young boys waved hello as they bathed naked in the water and old man was lighting incense before a small temple surrounded by a lotus pond. I looked at a particularly large and strikingly, pink flower growing up from the mud and water, realizing I have never actually seen a lotus before. I understand why it is so highly regarded now as I have to admit I felt it’s presence in my heart. There are koi fish, tree frogs and the sounds of monkeys and birds that are usually only heard on rain forest relaxation CD’s. It is only slightly humid here and the air smells sweet from the temple offerings, though not as sweet as the taste of my first cup of Balinese coffee sitting next to me now. I can not imagine drinking any other kind of coffee again. I keep loosing my sandals.

The sun is starting to rise and with it a full day of new.

Bali, Sunday September 4th, 2011 (Later in the day)

After 4 lovely women made me the breakfast of my choosing, I left my the comfort of my own private paradise this morning on foot. As I started walking it became very clear to me that the retreat center is not in a tourist area of Ubud. I walked along the side of the street on sidewalks made of garbage with vehicles and motorbikes rushing by precariously close as the stray Bali dogs, of which there are many, followed and barked at me every few minutes. I kept on, determined to find…something. Fortunately as I headed in the general direction of central Ubud, things started to become much more pleasurably intoxicating and fascinatingly beautiful. The sidewalks eventually turned to cobblestone, though I still had to watch my step as I walked past the artisan shops, trying to be mindful of not stepping on the shop merchants colorful morning offerings to the gods as well as paying attention to the cobblestones that wobbled under my feet in the places where they had not already broken and fallen down into the sewer below. I found the merchants and taxi drivers seeking my patronage to be friendly and outspoken but in no way pushy or intrusive. After about 4 hours of walking around aimlessly I started to make my way home and decided to stop for a snack and a 1/2 hour foot massage, which cost me about 75.000 rupiah ($8 or so) total. Refreshed, I decided to go back into the heart of Ubud and walked another 2 hours. I walked by the monkey forest as people fed bananas to baby monkeys and eventually ended up strolling over bridges spanning lotus ponds on the garden grounds of one of the larger temples in the area. At the door to the temple the sign read that all who enter must wear tradition sarongs (among other things) and that women were “forbidden” to enter during menstruation.

Eventually, I found taxi driver to take me back to my villa, who was delightful and rather amazed at my walking to town from my location and how long I had been walking for. He called me a strong woman and said I must be able to do such things because of all the yoga I practice. He asked me to teach him something, so I taught him how to breath long and deep through his nose and into his belly. Back at Soulshine I choose a  meal of spring rolls and fresh mint juice. Now I am going to go swimming, then practice yoga in the 3rd story open air studio at sunset, then fall asleep in my air conditioned room below the 2 lizards on my ceiling.

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The Wandering Yogi