A yoga retreat is the first point to embracing a holistic lifestyle. Taking in the exotic natural settings of a seafront or hilltop resort, and under the full guidance of certified yoga teacher, you get to spend 7 to 30 days, depending on what you are looking for to imbibe the practices of yoga. It is basically a holiday concept dedicated to improvising your lifestyle for better health and happiness. It also is perfect for de-stressing and rejuvenating, leading to the adaptation of a holistic lifestyle after you return to routine life.
December 2019, I hopped on a plane to Bali by myself. I left everything I have ever known behind, and all I knew in that moment was that for a month and half, I would be living on an Island I have never been to, practicing becoming a teacher in something I never thought I could ever enjoy before, and my spirit was willing and ready.
I elucidated on my previous blog entries that my reasons for wanting to go on a yoga retreat in Bali was because they have an excellent reputation for wellness, including silent retreat, Meditation, yoga, and prayer. Did I mention that it is also a perfect holiday destination? The mountain town of Ubud has an incredible spiritual atmosphere and abundance of healthy restaurants. This feature is a haven for people like me who are suckers for eating out (though my relationship with food is kind of toxic, I am working on it). Whether you are a vegan (like me), vegetarian, flexitarian and meat eater, they have the most amazing, beautiful spaces that will offer you satisfaction and pleasure. Experiencing the yoga centers amid rice paddies, I felt like I was finally home, a perfect place for my holistic journey.
Anyway, back to December 2019, arriving in Bali. The retreat center arranged for a cab to pick me up from the airport, which helped in getting to the retreat center just in time for a quick shower before the opening ceremony. I also would have somewhat struggled navigating the place and traffic, considering the minimal traffic we experience here at home, Botswana. For the opening ceremony we wore all white, which looked regal on all attendants, if I do so say myself. We began with introductions, then a meditation session before devouring the scrumptious Balinese vegan cuisine.
The next 30 days where characterized by waking up early in the morning at 06:00 am for a power-packed session of asanas and meditation, followed by yoga anatomy and breathworks until 19:00 hours. There were doctors, Ayurveda and yoga professionals guiding us at every stage during the retreat to train our minds and bodies holistically. Meals served at the retreat were organic and vegan, to cement the importance of the type of food we consume at the retreat and beyond. Ayurveda: the yoga of food, teaches us that what we consume can solve the dis-ease diseases within us.
The retreat was also packed with engaging recreational activities including nature bathing, pottery sessions, mindful breathwork, cooking demonstration, Bali Swing, Balinese water purification ceremony, lots of Ayurveda therapies and spa, (The spas were my absolute favorite).
My highlight on this trip was learning and doing the holotropic breathwork. Holotropic breathwork is a therapeutic breathing practice that is intended to help with emotional healing and personal growth. It produces an altered state of consciousness. I went into the breathwork having absolutely no clue on what to expect or what I was going to encounter. Because I generally knew how much heaviness I carried in my heart, I was somewhat frightened of the demons and scary monsters that might come my way during this practice. The process involves breathing at a fast rate for a period ranging between minutes to some hours. I did my session laying on my bed, and the guide started of by playing music I was not familiar with. It sounded like it was all over the place and largely weird to my ears. It surely would disturb your monkey mind. My first day doing this breathwork body buzzed with electrifying energy, I began rolling on the bed I was lying on, and visions began to emerge from the unknown void within my body and psyche. I cried uncontrollably and my mind quickly brought me back and I stopped crying. Over the years, I had built a defensive wall around me, mainly to protect myself from being hurt. While doing the breathing exercise, the moment my mind realized that I was giving in to vulnerability, it quickly switched back to survival mode, the only thing it has mastered. (Weird! but such a vulnerable moment).
The second time I had powerful emotions during the exercise, I remember experiencing overwhelming pain in my heart and I began to cry so hard. I literally saw my younger self wearing a pink dress and sitting nicely with her legs crossed and not wanting to touch dirt. A flood of emotions poured as I was looking at this little girl. I wanted to reach out and tell her many things. I remember immediately after, holding her tightly, and feeling the warm love of my inner child moving into my heart and telling her how much I love her. I wanted to reassure her that whatever experience she had in the past is past and gone. I wanted to continuously chant ‘You are free, let everything go now, you are safe now, you are growing in this love frequency and it is fulfilling’
Watching that little girl made me understand how my childhood conditioning resulted in the issues that still exist and manifest in my adult life. Once I realized this, I released the energy and created a new positive self-image of myself which has allowed me to move forward in a powerful way in my life. The first two days of me in this breathwork was me crying, processing, shedding old skin and letting go of everything I have ever known, releasing the pain and childhood traumas. The third time of breath work, I had an overwhelming feeling of love and gratitude for everyone in my life, my mother, my dad, my siblings, my daughter, and my friends for sharing this life thing with me. I began to feel a pure love for myself after that and I cried what felt like liberating tears. Finally, I was able to see myself and my life clearly after so many years of despair. In that moment I felt that I am an awesome being made from love.
This experience helped me access a different state of consciousness – a state that allowed me to view my life from a culminating perspective. I started seeing my challenges as blessings, and I saw and felt love all around me. It was amazing going through this experience and feeling these vulnerable yet liberating emotions all invoked by breath and music!!! I am learning, to hold myself, hold my heart and hold my spirit; a lesson well received from my Bali experience!