“The Only Thing that is Constant is Change -” Heraclitus
Those of you who are coming to the Yoga Room regularly are aware of the many changes. Along with the personal changes associated with the ongoing practice there is the evolution of the space we are practising in… the storage/shoe rack has changed and there are two fans (very useful now the warmer weather is upon us).
Also, Daniela has left the Yoga Room. We wish her all the best for her future. Sarah and Maurice are teaching all the classes now, see the timetable for details.
This newsletter has a great article about the 2015 Bali Yoga Retreat and lots of other good stuff.
Video of the Month – Alan Goode- Abhyasa & Vairagya (Iyengar Yoga practice)
Article of the Month – Bali yoga retreat with the Yoga Room June 2015
Upcoming Events; Summer Yoga Intensive, Bali Yoga Retreat
Yoga Students “off the mat” – Gail Tagarro
Patanjali Yoga Sutra of the month
Quote of the Month
Practice and detachment, the two pillars of Yoga according to Sage Patanjali, are key concepts in the teachings of BKS Iyengar. Senior yoga teacher Alan Goode helps us explore these challenging yet fundamental aspects of any authentic practice.
by Gail Tagarro
I’d always wanted to go on a yoga retreat. I’d been on a spiritual retreat way back in the 70s in rural England, a silent retreat, but last year, circumstances and mindset finally aligned and I was able to commit to the 2015 Bali yoga retreat. It was also my first trip to Bali.
Arrival in Denpasar, Bali
At Ngurah Rai airport, we were met by Made (‘Marday’), Maurice’s driver friend. All of our transfer and transportation needs were included in the trip and ably taken care of by Maurice and Made. This included airport pick-ups and drop-offs, transport by car from our Sanur accommodation to the boat, boat trip to and from Nusa Lembongan, car trip to and from Sidemen. Not needing to concern ourselves with transportation made the travelling experience worry-free.
On our first day, I was struck by the distinctive Balinese architecture, and it was pleasing to see that even many modern buildings – including the tollgates on the new highway – were built in the Balinese style with that characteristic Balinese roof.
Maurice is a gifted and dedicated teacher, as all of us who practise at the Yoga Room know. As we were a small group – there were just four of us – it was a unique opportunity to receive so much individual attention. All of us learnt a lot and benefited tremendously.
The yoga program
The retreat consisted of 10 days of yoga classes, twice daily. We rose early each day for a 6 am start. The class always began with guided breathing exercises, followed by meditation. We began with 20 minutes and gradually built up to 35 minutes over the fortnight. The breathing and meditation were a gentle way to begin the day, especially for someone like me who isn’t naturally an early riser. After this part of the practice, we had a tea break (or Bali coffee, which we all developed a taste for), during which we were encouraged to remain quiet to benefit further from the breathing and meditation session. The one-and-a-half hour yoga class then followed. At 9 am, it was time for breakfast. I’d wondered before the trip how I’d cope with getting up so early and not having breakfast until 9. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one! We were so focused on each aspect of the morning’s practice that there were no rumbling tummies. Having said that, we always enjoyed breakfast, with the sort of pleasure that comes from having first put in some hard work.
The afternoon yoga practice began at 4 pm. In the first hour or so, Maurice introduced us to yoga philosophy, new for most of us, and then we’d do an hour’s practice, usually forward bends and ending with a headstand and shoulder stand before savasana. Both our morning and afternoon yoga classes began with chanting three oms followed by the invocation to Patanjali. Only one of the attendees knew the words before she arrived. By the end of the first week, we were all confidently repeating each line of the invocation, and during the second week, we were able to repeat the full invocation without referring to the sheet. Another area of progress, apart from the asanas themselves, was in learning a fair few of their Sanskrit names, thanks to Maurice’s forbearance in repeating them a zillion times each practice.
If you’re wondering if you would be able to keep up with the program – rising before 6 am, yoga twice a day – I’d also wondered this. Before the trip, I’d only been going to yoga classes twice a week, and hadn’t been doing any regular practice on my own at home. After the first two days on the retreat, my muscles felt pretty sore and I was physically tired, but after the third day, the aches settled down. I had no hesitation in sneaking in sleeps during the day if I needed them, and I wasn’t alone in that. After all, chilling out is what holidays are all about. In summary, I managed just fine – and I’m one of the Yoga Room’s more ‘mature’ students 🙂 I’d also had a hip replacement one year previously. That’s the beauty for me of the Iyengar style: no matter your age or your physical limitations, you are guided to work within your limits while at the same time constantly challenging those limits.
Like many people visiting Bali so recently after all the media attention over the Bali executions, I had some apprehensions about the safety of travelling there. However, in all my travels so far, I have never known a more serene and peaceable and patient people than the Balinese. In the metropolitan areas, the traffic is dense – with more motorbikes than I’ve ever seen on the roads, as well as an increasing number of cars, vans and trucks – and yet we never saw an instance of road rage or impatience. The traffic seems to flow endlessly, never seeming to stop (unless there’s a traffic light), but slowing down to allow pedestrians to cross and other traffic to change lanes.
The places we visited
On the main island of Bali, Sanur is about 45 minutes’ drive from the airport. From what I could see, it is essentially a long, narrow road containing many shops, cafes, restaurants, money exchangers, and massage places, with the beach and beachfront walk containing more cafes and restaurants just one block away. All five of us had opted to stay at Swastika Bungalows for the two nights before the retreat began. The accommodation was very pleasant, located in lush grounds with quiet bungalows and three different swimming pools. It was good having a couple of days to wind down before beginning the retreat.
Nusa Lembongan (Mushroom Bay)
The boat to Nusa Lembongan departed from Sanur on the morning of Monday 15 June. Seeing the crowds gathering on the foreshore, we wondered if we were all going to fit in the boat. We did. We had a giggle watching a group of beautifully dressed and made-up Chinese girls screaming to avoid getting wet with the not-insignificant swell as they clambered into another boat, but when it came to our turn, we also had to wait between swells and then make an undignified dash for the boat. After the 30-minute boat ride, we arrived in Mushroom Bay and walked up the sand the few metres to our beachfront accommodation, Tanis Villas.
At Tanis, we were greeted with a welcome drink, a lovely custom on arrival at all Bali accommodation. Then we were shown to our rooms, some of which had that delightful Bali outdoor bathroom (completely enclosed and private, it just has no roof, perfect in a warm climate). After unpacking, we were free to do our own thing the rest of the day, meeting Maurice at 4 pm for an informal yoga practice, the first of the five-day yoga sessions commencing the following day. While on Lembongan island (‘nusa’ means ‘island’), we did two trips as a group. The first was on an outrigger canoe with a local fisherman who took us around the whole island at a placid pace, stopping in two places so that we could snorkel and enjoy the abundant reef life. The second was a short walk from our accommodation with our group to view the sun setting over the sea, a spectacular sight, with huge waves crashing onto the rocks below, after which we all went to dinner together at a restaurant located dramatically on the oceanside cliffs. This was an ‘upmarket’ place where dinner and drinks cost us about $23 each instead of the usual $5 to $8. That’s one of the things about Bali: it’s still very cheap for Aussie travellers, despite tourism having claimed Bali for its own.
After breakfast each day, we did whatever took our fancy: sightseeing around the island by motorbike or exploring on foot, swimming in the ocean or in the pool, having a massage or a manicure, or simply catching up on sleep. You never realise how tired the year makes you until you leave your familiar environment and habits and begin to slow down your pace.
There is no shortage of eateries in Mushroom Bay. In the six days we were there, we could have had lunch or dinner at a different place every day. My favourite was the hilltop restaurant with a spectacular view over the ocean and the bay, enjoying the fresh juices and meals, the cool breeze, and the chance to spend a couple of hours happily practising photography.
Departure day from Nusa Lembongan was Sunday 21 June and after meditation and an earlier breakfast, we were boarding the boat around 8 am for the trip back to Sanur. Made, our trustworthy driver, met us on Sanur beach with a second car and driver for our luggage. On the narrow road to Sidemen, winding through the countryside, we saw a local farmer wading calf-deep in his rice paddy, planting rice. The trip to Sidemen took approximately two hours, with a stop at a village called Klangkung to visit the local markets. They were authentically local, as we were the only westerners.
Going through the village of Sidemen by car is a don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it experience, although we visited it on foot several days later and found there was more to it than we’d realised. Sidemen and surrounds is rural, rice paddy fields everywhere, and as authentic as encroaching tourism has allowed. On the outskirts of the village, home stays and rural villa accommodation is springing up, along with some local tourist attractions like weaving, and small tourist offices offering tours to places such as Mount Agung, the sacred mountain.
A special event marked our arrival in Sidemen. It coincided with the first-ever International Yoga Day, the idea for which had been promulgated by BKS Iyengar himself, although Iyengar didn’t live to experience it. Our classes formally began the next day, but Maurice suggested an afternoon practice to mark this special occasion.
Nirata Centre where we stayed, located about 2.5 km outside of Sidemen, is a haven. Especially set up for retreats, it is located in expansive grounds with its bungalows widely spaced apart and separated by individual garden ‘rooms’. A river rushes by in the valley below. Nirata overlooks rice paddies and fields, the river, and the surrounding hills. The only sounds we ever heard were the lowing of cows, and the chanting of priests accompanied by the percussive gamalan. Nirata’s staff, ever industrious from early morning onwards, and always with ready smiles, were gentle and obliging. The (mostly vegetarian) meals were all included and so delicious that Maurice became concerned the food might overtake the yoga in our priorities!
While at Nirata Centre, most of the group did a four-hour hike together up into the hills accompanied by a guide from Nirata. We crossed the river – that means through the river – and then passed through villages even smaller than Sidemen, walking through rice paddies and fields planted with crops such as chillies, sweet potatoes, water spinach, and peanuts. There were a good many tree crops as well, including bananas, cloves, coconuts, jackfruit, and mangoes, all pointed out to us by our guide. While the appeal of the hike was in exploring the area generally, the principal destination was a temple at the top of the hill, Pura Bukit Tageh. I call it a hill, but it felt like a mountain, and it is a foothill of Mount Agung, so we’ll go with mountain. Once we reached the top of the mountain, the guide said, “There’s 300 steps to the temple,” and being optimistic, I thought, good, just 300 steps more. However, he meant that after we’d tackled another not-insignificant uphill path, we then reached the steps leading up to the temple at the top, which he said numbered 300 but which we were certain were more like 1,000. However, as with all such things, the sense of achievement in reaching the top was worthwhile, and then the temple itself and the view of the surrounding countryside were a bonus.
We were all sad to leave Sidemen, departure day being Sunday 27 June, having adapted to the slow and serene pace of life, the twice-daily yoga practices, and the daily luxury of our housekeeping and meals being taken care of.
For two of our group, leaving Sidemen meant returning home. The remaining three of us (including Maurice) had booked a night in Ubud. Ubud has been attracting tourists since the rise of mass tourism in Bali in the 1970s. I wasn’t sure what I’d think of it, as mass tourism isn’t my thing – its often disastrous effects on the environment and local economies, the shabby practices that arise from locals fed up with dealing with tourists – however, although it is far from ‘typical Bali’, I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the numerous healthy/organic/raw cafes, shopping in the markets, and purchasing a couple of items of silver at very reasonable prices. The Balinese are superb artisans.
My idea of a retreat is taking time out from everyday life to slow down, reflect, hopefully come away with something I didn’t have before – in a non-material sense. All this and more were the outcomes for me of the Bali retreat. My practice generally and my understanding of alignment in the postures improved. I learnt the invocation and the Sanskrit names of some of the asanas. Being on retreat helped me discover the benefits of following a regular routine, getting up early, and going to bed early. I have continued with breathing exercises as needed and yoga practice at home. It took going away on retreat for me to realise the value of this practice. Five months later, I generally sleep better, have had only one migraine, and my anxiety has diminished to the point where I dare to hope it’s gone for good.
Thank you, Maurice, for the opportunity of going to Bali and for your teaching. I hope to be able to go again in 2016.
When: 7th – 24th December, 2015
6 – 7.30am every day (except Sun 13th and 20th)
Where: Yoga Room, Burleigh Heads
The Summer Solstice Yoga Intensive not only celebrates the change in season, and the longest day of the year, it gives us the opportunity to bring 2015 to a neat completion.
This 16 day intensive is designed to systematically challenge and develop perceptions of alignment, while building strength, stability and stamina.
Book now! Places are limited. Call 0438 837 244, or email
When: 13th to 25th June 2016
Retreat practice gives you the time to rest and to let go of your normal day to day routine. It gives you an opportunity to nurture yourself, restore a sense of balance and well-being.
In this new section of the newsletter we introduce Yoga Room students showcasing some of the amazing things they do off-the-mat and encourage you, where possible, to support their endeavours.
Gail was introduced to yoga in her early 20s and has practised on and off since then, with the ‘off’ times sometimes being longer than she’d like to admit. She’s been attending classes at the Yoga Room for about 5 years. She trained as a journalist after leaving school, travelled overseas for several years, returned home and became a ‘mature’ uni student in her 30s, emerged with a Masters in Arts that didn’t seem very practical out in the real world but which eventually opened the door to a 15-year career in technical writing.
Having essentially worked with words most of her life, in 2008, she qualified as an Accredited Editor. After many ups and downs and working in ‘day’ jobs to support the family and pay the rent, she finally managed to leave the rat race mid-last year and now runs her own editorial services business, helping authors achieve their dreams of being published.
See Gail’s website editors4you.com for more details.
Chapter 1 Verse 12
“Practice and detachment are the means to still the movements of consciousness.”
BKS Iyengar. Light on the yoga sutras of Patanjali Pg 57.
“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion”
Yoga Room Burleigh Heads
+61 438 837 244