Yoga retreat ideas

I just came back from Bali, but mamma mia, what an inspiration for my own yoga retreat center 🙂 I have put all the ideas in a presentation, happy to share it with you! When I can help you with a brainstorm or assistence, don’t hesitate to contact me!

Review Serenity guesthouse

I stayed 6 nights at Serenity Eco Guesthouse and yoga in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia. Somebody recommended it to me as yogi’s heaven. In a review somebody wrote “Everybody is into yoga etc., not my thing ” so I knew I had to go there ! I definitely liked the place which has a good heart and can recommend it but with some changes it would be upgrade from good to fantastic.

It started with the booking. I have seen the availability on a famous booking site so I’ve sent a message to their WhatsApp to make a direct booking to save money for them (around 10-15%). After 20 minutes of chatting it turned out that I had to pay 3 nights in advance with a 3% credit card surcharge instead of paying only one night when booking via the booking site. Okay, if you want to loose money like that, not my choice.

The beds are good, my dorm room had 7 beds (2 more than expected, but maybe I didn’t read the description well). In the dorm I hadn’t a problem with noise. I have also seen a double room which looked very nice and cosy.

The guesthouse looks cosy, but it gives a messy (first) impression. It started with one house, then a second, then a third etc. And that is visible. Everything worked well technically seen and the daily cleaning was perfectly done, but… the esthetically maintenance level and deep cleaning leaves to be desired. Cables everywhere (why not put them into the bamboo structures) and unaligned, paint spots, dirty corners etc. Every sign (and they have a lot!) has a different (handwritten) style. A lot of small things which can be improved easily to have a better look and impression.

The staff was very nice, smiley and friendly, but when I asked for an extra blanket because I’m always cold with an airco on it was not possible.

I did one yoga class, which was a nice one. The first day somebody told me that the teachers were okay but not that special. But during my stay I heard that the most teachers were very good with doing a lot of adjustments. So for sure I should have taken more lessons to try it myself, but I was happy practicing on the beach with my own sequence. (Sorry, slightly brainwashed by my yoga teacher training teachers). One time I practiced in an empty shala were I could go to after just asking at the reception. The mats and props look good by the way.

The classes are 100k (5 x 450k / 20 x 1,5M / 7 days  900k / 30 days 2,2M) When you buy it at your checking you get reduction of 10%, but only when you decide at that moment and only for single classes and not for packages. People of other (partner) guesthouses can also get 10% so it’s kind of strange. In house guests should get at least 15% reduction for single classes and 10% for packages!

The location is perfect. When you leave the premises you see the sea already. You’re close to the popular beach Batu Bolong and her beach bars.

I wanted to rent a bike (30k/day). They look very rusty and old. In Holland you would not lock it in the hope it gets stolen, so you have a good excuse to buy a new one. 🙂 (okay a bit exaggerated but still, I would not dare to rent them out ). Nevertheless I took one but after ten meter I shifted a gear and it stopped working, so I returned it. I got my money back without a problem by the way. Luckily the guesthouse next to Serenity also rented a bike and I took one there.

The WiFi worked well in general, but you always had to re-log in with typing in a long password in your web browser after some time of inactivity. Pretty annoying and not handy if you are digital nomad.

The guests are all into yoga and friendly. I connected with some of them very well, but a lot are also just watching their screens in the lobby and restaurant. Almost everybody is to bed or room around 10pm. We analyzed it and we concluded that a lot of yogi’s are introverted and get their energy from books and screens. And some are just shy. Also the ladies might not be bothered by 35+ old men trying to make contact 🙂 After some days it was easier to get contact because they know your face and you exchanged some glances. So it’s definitely worth staying a bit longer than 3 or 4 days. There are nice corners to sit and hang around, maybe it should be better to have one larger single central place to promote contact, but that’s just a guess.

I spoke with the French owner who is a very friendly man who has a good heart for his employees. Also I heard that one of the managers talked to someone who left earlier so they definitely care for their guests. You can also see that in the responses on reviews on different sites. Maybe that’s why my expectations were high and maybe too high. Everything was definitely what it should be,  but I was missing that last bit of perfection and magic.

Nevertheless all the but’s I enjoyed my stay at Serenity Guesthouse, would recommend it and wished that I came earlier here, also to connect more with others.

YepYoga’s guide to Canggu

It’s almost over. But first six days in Canggu

  • Yogaschools ! Prices are for a drop-in class in INR, 100k = 100.000 rupiah (ca. $7,50 / € 7,00), most schools have cheaper multiple class passes)
    • Serenity – guesthouse with single and double rooms and dormbeds offering yoga. Huge population of yogi’s. (100k)
    • The Practice Bali – beautiful studio with a lot of bamboo offering a wide range of classes (130k)
    • Samadi Bali _ 3 classes a day, a Sunday ecomarket and a wide range of extra activities. Also retreats, YTT’s etc. (130k)
    • Desaseni – a luxery resort offering yoga (140k)
    • The chillhouse – surf, mountainbike.. and yoga – (120k)
    • theCangguStudio – fitness studio which offers a couple of yogaclasses per week
    • Batu Bolong Beach  – at fridays acroyoga jams at Old Men`s Surfspot

Thanks you, anonymous lady in the ricefield

This anonymous lady in the ricefield opened a world for me…

When I was young we used to live in a rural area surrounded by a lot of farmers. We even had some baby pigs in our house who couldn’t stay with their mother. But until now I never realized all the effort mad to put my food on the table.

As kid I never understood why people prayed before eating. “But mom, you bought it in the supermarket and not God”. Still I don’t believe in the classical God, but I become more and more aware of the Universal Energy.

Now I’m here I South East Asia and see a lot of people working very hard for our food under difficult circumstances. The rice I see in the supermarket once has been yielded on a beautiful green rice field far away by people working their ass off literally in the mud.

In that bowl of rice can be found so much energy. Of the sun and nature which made it grow. Of the rain who brought water. Of the earth with all her nutrients. The farmer, the worker, the transporter. Of the food technologist who thought about how to process and pack it. The people in the supermarket. The chef in the kitchen, the smiling waitress…. and hey, even the bowl didn’t appear in my life without any effort.

Ahimsa

Ahimsa means no violence. Last year I stopped with eating meat and fish. Why would I eat something that I can’t kill myself? Something that also has been given life, and is part of the universal energy (this awareness came later). Also the circumstances and production methods play a role, as well as the environmental impact.

I am absolutely not the one to tell the others how to live or eat. Not at all. But it’s beautiful to see that the people around me adapt their self and eat less meat (at least in my presence). Be the change you want to see in the world. Who knows what to follows.

The seed has been planted

During my yoga teacher training my teacher Trupta planted the seed by mentioning this and now the awareness has grown more and more.

I’m not like, and won’t never be like the buddhist monks from my silent retreat who say that food doesn’t have to look well (bye bye #instafood) or even has to taste well. For them it has only the role of nourishing. (See their contemplation below). Many steps too far away.

But it’s good to realize that it’s not naturally that we can eat every day healthy and nourishing food. So many people in the world can’t. And yes, I have to admit that also I look at my phone during eating (as solo traveller and eater), but I intend that I will eat at least my first bite of the meal with grace and mindfull from now on.

And I’ll try to avoid spoilage of the food as much as possible. Because in every grain of rice is the energy of the anonymous lady in the ricefield….

Contemplation as seen in Warung 9, Ubud

I bless my meals with silent prayer and spoken grace

I send healing energy into all that I eat and drink

and I am nourished by spirit

The Five Contemplations

  • This food is the gift of the whole universe: the earth, the sky, numerous living beings and much hard, loving work.
  • May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive it.
  • May we recognize and transform our unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed, and learn to eat with moderation.
  • May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that we reduce the suffering of living beings, preserve our planet, and reverse the process of global warming.
  • We accept this food so that we may nurture our sisterhood and brotherhood, strengthen our community, and nourish our ideal of serving all living beings.

(*)

And this is the contemplation of the buddhists monks of the silent retreat in Chiang Mai

Buddhist contemplation on food (click for bigger)

Song meaning Occidentali’s Karma

This song won the San Remo festival in Italy. It’s about how we in the West use eastern philosophies:”It’s about the approach that we have in the West in searching inner peace. We try to approach the eastern practices and in doing so we are a bit awkward. For the other cultures we will always be a bit ‘tourists’“.

Below an interpratation, translated from Significato Canzoni.it

Continue reading “Song meaning Occidentali’s Karma”

Intuitive flow – Ubud

In Ubud there are around ten yoga studios. Intuitive Flow is the smallest of the big three and has been recommended by one of my friends. Intuitive flow is founded by Linda Madani. Her lineage is yoga pranala (“a combination of asana, pranayama, meditation, mudra pranala (Balinese qi gong) and yoga nidra”), gentle with a clear spiritual side which can be seen in all the classes I have followed.

The studio is situated in the Penestanan area, a beautiful green area in the West of the center of Ubud. If you don’t bother for city life and being surrounded with a lot of restaurants, I definitely recommend you to take a guesthouse there when visiting Ubud. It’s a twenty minutes walk from the centre with a slope downwards and later on upwards. Unfortunately Ubud has grown out of her clothes, which means that the main road leading to the studio is often congested and you inhale a lot of exhaust fumes. The distance is not too long (1,6 km/1 mile from Ubud Palace), but sometimes it’s just mentally too far to get yourself of the couch, especially when it rains or starts to rain (“tomorrow a new day”) and indeed if it rains, you will get very wet.

The walk in price for the class is 120.000 rupiah. (€8,43/$9,00) (the more you go, the cheaper: 5x / 400k, 10x / 600k, 15x / 825k). This school is the cheapest of the ‘big’ schools here. Surprisingly, if you are Balinese, you pay less than one tenth (10.000). (Indonesian citizens and expats pay 90.000 by the way.) At the first sight it feels like a rip off of the Western people and very strange to have such a huge gap, on the other side I calculated that the minimum wage for per hour here is only 12.000 rupies (less than one euro/dollar based on 40 hours/week but I’m afraid that they work more), so count your blessings – and be happy that Linda makes yoga accessible to all.

The maximum number of students is 22. When they are all there, the shala is pretty packed, but it only happened one or two times. At some other schools the classes are way much bigger (without assistant teachers), this is one of the main reasons why I chose for Intuitive Flow.

After arriving you put your name on the classform and go to the shala with one of the most beautiful view you’ll ever have during your yogi’s life. Since the studio has started small and there is no place to (re)build, there is only one toilet and no shower or dressingroom. Quit a miss when you’ve done a vinyasa class in almost Bikram like temperatures. Changing yourself can (unofficially) be done in the stock room. In the shala there is (complimentary) water to hydrate yourself. The mats are not new but in a very acceptable state and sometimes they look dirty while I’ve seen that they are being cleaned carefully in between the lessons. They have a relief so some dust can be stuck and due to the material the lines of the movements can be seen. I don’t know how often the props and blankets are cleaned, but they look okay and I almost always took a little towel and my own strap with me.

The lessons and teachers

I have followed seven lessons until so far. The teachers vary between good and excellent.

I have followed two lessons with Kay. She’s very friendly and warm and technically seen she’s absolute an excellent teacher (good cues, original poses, a lot of attention for the physical problems by giving alternatives, nice flow and adjustments). But for me personally she talks too much during the practice. I’m sure it’s not to show off her knowledge but I prefer only to hear the essential information when I’m in a (yin) pose. At some moments it felt more like a challenge of pratyahara (withdrawal of senses, one of the eight steps in yoga) for me than a asana class. But I emphasize that it is my personal opinion, I’m sure other people like to listen to it.

Purnama is a kind and amiable teacher who connects and interacts very well with his students but there were some illogical things in his flow, also he likes to talk and I thought that some of his adjustments were tricky (eg. moving the upper hand in poses like trikonasana without holding the shoulder)

I liked the class and energy of Nina. It’s really a pity that she has only one class per week, I absolutely would like to have done more.

Of the teachers I have visited, I resonate the most with Robyn. Maybe it’s the last name ;). I only had to get used to the chakra excercise at the beginning, but she has absolutely beautiful classes with good cues, original but logic flows/sequences and a lot of interaction. She said things that I’ll absolutely use in my own teaching like her way of setting the intention at the beginning and the use of the sweet spot.

My conclusion

Also handy to know is that the active classes are given in the morning and the passive classes in the afternoon. So if you like active classes AND sleeping long (the energy has to come from somewhere) you have a problem (or the choice of going to bed earlier ;)), but this limited also the number of classes that I followed. If you look (also) for things like poweryoga, Intuitive flow is not the studio for you, also the teachers redirect you to one of the other schools.

By the way, there are some nice restaurants to go after your class

  • Yellow flower (next to the studio)
  • Elephant (have to test this one)
  • Lily and Lala (not totally vega(n), but maybe the best price quality ratio)
  • Alchemy (hip, raw and vegan but expensive and lacked vibe when I passed by)

I definitely recommend Intuitive Flow but you have to like their choice and philosophy of having mostly gentle classes and resonate and like the style of the individual teachers. This said, I think  it’s a very nice school with a good heart, vibe and teachers.

Traveling, packing and spending money – what did I learn

I already talked about my lessons in the spirit,mind and heart while traveling. What did I learn about logistics and financial? Not really yoga related but still might be interesting for other and future yoga nomads

Packing

Packing too much: I’ve seen someone with one backpack of 25 l. She had met someone without luggage, with litterly only his passport in his pocket. Wow. If you want to know how, the Google search is no bag travelI couldn’t do that, my backpack (65 + 10) was 18 kg when flying to Ubud.

No, you dont need to take three tubes of Sensodyne toothpaste with you. You only need one in three months and they sell it in the Seven Eleven for even a cheaper price. You don’t need to take two extra in-case-of phones (+chargers, +cables) with you. Extra wallet. Hipwallet. Didn’t use it. Ducktape, tierips and other McGyver stuff… didn’t need it and everything can be bought. (Happy though with a rope and clips to hang my clothes on)

In a lot of countries in Asia it is not done to wear sleeveless shirts/tank tops. So they are mostly unused. Instead take white shirts of technical sportsmaterial (nylon, with little holes, like running shirts) with you (if you have a Decathlon around: buy them there for a couple of euros.)

Spending money

First rule: If I lunch cheap on a day, I can dinner more expensive. And vice versa. A cheap lunch was 35 bath for a plate of rice and vegetables. My average price was 80-100 bath for diner without alcohol. A pizza costs 250 bath, and one time Ive eaten for 600 bath after walking for hours in Bangkok’s Chinatown and not finding a vega restaurant. Alcohol is expensive, 60 bath for a beer, 120 bath for a glass of wine. (Thats why the average is higher than 100. Not that I drank that much :-))

Second rule: keep track of your expenses. Set a day limit (for me 500 bth excl. hotel) and don’t spend more than that… on average. You can, but the next day you _have_ to spend less. And don’t forget, a lot of small amounts is a big amount.

See everything as a percentage of this limit helps also to keep the discipline. You see that I have spent two bath too much a day. Three euro for all the period, not bad for a big spender like me 🙂

Last rule: dont get obsessed with the rules. Enjoy!!

How much did you spend? Do you have other packing tips?

Continue reading “Traveling, packing and spending money – what did I learn”

YepYoga’s guide to Ubud

It’s because of Rosalina, one of my yoga teachers in Paris that I’m here in Bali now. I had never heard of Ubud but she told that enthusiast about it that I googled it and thought: I have to go there one day. And here I am 🙂

Of course I checked out all the flyers and posters in the city for yoga schools. Also my friends Chloe and Amy gave me a lot of names of restaurants. I will check them all 🙂

This list is an ongoing work and will be finalized when I’m gone. So come back regularly in the following weeks. Don’t hesitate to give me even more tips and info!!

  • Yoga schools
    • Yoga Barn – They have the most classes in the week (12+ a day!) and unfortunately also the biggest numbers of students per class. I’ve read about 50-60 persons in some classes. The teachers seem to be good as I have heard. I have walked around there for fifteen minutes; lot of beauty but it lacked warmth and friendliness – not one staff member greeted me or gave a little smile. (2,1 km)
    • Intuitive Flow – see my review here Six classes a day (1,6 km)
    • Radiantly alive– school most close to the center. Six classes a day (750 m). Afternoon classes seem to be less busy
    • Ubud Yoga House – expect a beautiful walk in the rice fields to get there (1,2 km)
    • Ubud Yoga Center – Maybe the most beautiful building. 5 classes a day, of which Bikram (as it is not hot enough here at Bali 🙂 3,5 km from Ubud Palace
    • Taksu yoga – in a calm location, but in the center.  Small classes. 3 à 4 classes a day (700 m)
    • The Seeds of life – Ashtanga yoga with Ian Grysak. Mon. until friday (7-10am) Mysore style, Saturday led class (7-9am)
    • Ashtanga Yoga Bali Research Centre Mysore style class, Sunday through Friday , 8-10 am, only welcome to join if you have already at least 3 weeks daily self-led practice. (No classes on Saturday or moon days).
    • Under the Banyan tree – New yogaschool in Penestanen, follows Sama Yoga from Sweden consisting of “Hatha Yoga, Kriyas, Qi gong and heart opening mantras”
    • Astudiom – aerial yoga,  vinyasa flow and yinyoga
    • Casa Luna / Honeymoon – Guesthouse who offers one or two classes (gentle vinyasa flow or yin yoga) a day
    • Swasti eco cottages – 2 classes per day
    • Body Works – apparently the yoga is given on another location (Omam hotel???) and very good. More information follows when I have found it.
    • Ashtangazone – Kirsten Berg and Mitchell Gold stay some months a year in Bali to teach self led classes
    • Mudyoga at Desa Visesa – daily 4-6pm, 155k

  • YTT – very expensive here at Bali
  • Meditation and (silent) retreats
  • Yoga mats, -props and books – don’t worry, there are a lot of shops, especially in Hanoman road. And now I know where my Thailand friends got their clothes from :). Every (big) yoga school has also an in-house shop.
  • English Bookhops – surprisingly the bookshops don’t have a lot of yoga and spiritual based books,
    • Ganesha – a lot of second hand books, also in German, French and Dutch
    • Periplus bookshop – new books, packed in plastic so impossible to view them. 2 different stores in Ubud
  • My favorite places (in rough order of pfeference) and other places where the yogi’s go (apparently)
    • Clear café
    • The seeds of life
    • Atman Kafe
    • Soma – in the evening people gather to sing kirtans and make music
    • Mudra
    • Kafé
    • The café on the site of Yogabarn
    • The café near Radiently Alive
    • Yellow Flower, near Intuitive Flow
    • Alchemy (I was there once, but it was calm and lacked a good vibe)
    • Sage
    • 9 Angels and Warung 9, community and donation based vegetarian buffet restaurants
  • To eat (work in progress)
  • To drink  (work in progress)
    • Laughing Buddha – with very good live music!
    • Bamboo bar – Reggae
    • LOL bar – Reggae
    • CP Lounge – for party after 11pm. Not very yogic, but it’s all about balance 🙂
  • Specialty coffee

Ubud center.

Penestanan and the ricefields
Restaurants in Ubud. Click for bigger. See the last version here, choose restaurants and zoom in on Ubud

Thanks to Chloe and Amy!

 

In March will be the Bali Spirit Festival with a lot of yoga, dance, and music

Lessons of Chiang Mai

One week left in Chiang Mai ! A pretty sad realization, but I’m also ready for the next step, a month in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. It’s a good moment to reflect on what I discovered the last two months. (by the way, the inspiration to write this down – at 2h00 in the night – came after seen this video)

As you might know the plan was to travel around in Thailand. I started with five days of Bangkok and the plan was to visit four or five days in Chiang Mai. But at the third or fourth day I visited the park with people doing (acro)yogam slacklining and jugling. I got hooked and will stay around seven weeks (with a break of four days in Pai).  Maybe I’m less a traveller (and less die-hard regarding (lack of) luxuery and comfort) than I thought I was, but that was certainly not the most important lesson. Continue reading “Lessons of Chiang Mai”

On my mat I’ve learned

I’ve learned so much on my mat. In the yogaclasses of Bikram Yoga Arnhem, Affordable Yoga Paris, RYoga Rome. At my yoga teacher training with Samyak Yoga in Mysore, Inda. During my self practice at home, in hotels and outside in parks.

Of course I’ve learned about how to move my body into a posture. How to hold it. Steady and comfortable as it should be but also sometimes unsteady and uncomfortable. I have learned how to teach, to adjust, to assist.

There is so much more to learn.. but until now….

Continue reading “On my mat I’ve learned”