My guide to Yoga in Canggu, Bali

Ubud is known as the yoga capital of Bali, however when for this visit I didn’t have the time to head to Ubud. I needed to be nearer the city, and wanted to have a surf, so I knew Canggu was the place I needed to see. Naturally I looked into the places to practice as I wanted to experience new shalas and teachers.  Canggu is fast becoming the next stop on the yoga map for Bali.

I only visited two centres and practiced Mysore Ashtanga with KPJAYI authorised teachers in both. So this guide is somewhat potted, but if you are an Ashtanga practitioner then you will be interested in these two centres both with authorised teachers.

Serenity Eco Guesthouse

 

Serenity Eco Guesthouse Canggu Bali

 

This place is an eclectic mash up of cafe, chill out areas and a beautiful garden and grounds. It is close to the beach (Fisherman’s Beach) and also has surfboards for guests. They offer a packed timetable, and a range of rooms for all budgets. The guesthouse is laid back, with spaces to chill and relax, and has two shalas and a pool for guests too!

 

Mirror Wall at Serenity Eco Guesthouse Bali

 

What I liked best about the place was it’s Eco approach, and how things around the place were labelled so you knew what herbs were growing, what water filtration they were doing, etc. I didn’t see any of the rooms so can’t comment on those, and the shala I practiced in was with a tiled floor and a good size to fit about 15-20 people in.

 

labelled eco gardens serenity bali canggu

 

The vibe in the room was very relaxed, I think there were quite a few beginners. Fernando has a strong presence and gave me some good adjustments.  They offer all kinds of yoga classes all day, a single class drop in costs 100k (about £6) it gets cheaper the more classes you take.

 

Bamboo in gardens serenity eco guesthouse Bali

 

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Samadi Bali

 

it's not the way you look at it quote, samadi bali

 

cow facing shala at Samadi Bali

 

At the other end of the spectrum from the hippy vibe at Serenity is the beautiful ’boutique’ shala and centre of Samadhi Bali. An instagrammer haven. It is on a beautiful road full of rice fields and it is stunning from the entrance to inside. It has a beautiful, wooden floored shala with a modern architecture feel with nice little Indian and Balinese touches, a good restaurant and a wonderful shop (I literally could have bought everything in that shop!)

The grounds are landscaped with lush plants and foliage, and it also has luxury (but pricey) rooms and a spa. I didn’t see these but can only imagine they are as good as they look on the website.

 

ground of Samadi Bali

 

leading to shala, Samadi Bali

 

I took another Mysore Ashtanga class here with the owner, Damien De Bastier, who studied and was authorised by Sri. Pattabi Jois, he had a few assistants in the room so you got more attention for adjustments and alignment cues than at Serenity.

Damien has a wonderful nature and he was so active in the room, he was flying around helping every person in there. There was a lovely energy in the room and there was a wide range of levels from beginners to advanced practitioners.

 

Mysore Ashtanga practice with Damien at Samadi Bali

 

They also have a full daily schedule of classes, Ashtanga being the primary focus but also Hatha, Vinyasa, Yin and some Yoga for surfers sessions.

If I ever own my own place, this is the kind of place I want it to be – beautiful, relaxed, classy!

prayer tree at Samadi Bali

 

Places I didn’t visit but have heard good reviews about are:

The Practice – heard it has a stunning shala with views over rice fields.

Desi Seni – heard this place is very beautiful and good reports on teaching here.

I’ll report back on those next time!

The Yoga Retreat – Koh Phangan

‘Because I knew you
I have been changed for good’

(lyrics from For Good, Wicked the Musical, Stephen Schwartz)

So after my short holiday in Goa I hopped over to the Thai island of Koh Phangan where my good friends, Teresa and Kes Kennard, have a yoga retreat. They had offered me the chance to work on the retreat as a teacher and I had offered to help them with their online presence and social media.

The Yoga Retreat is a very special place nestled in the jungle in the North West of the island, but only a short distance from the beautiful bay of Haad Salad. When I say it’s a very special place I really, really mean this, not just because I work there or my friends own it, but because it has a wonderful energy and since arriving here in April I have seen it make such a positive impact on so many people’s lives that I feel it really deserves that accolade.

Focusing on Ashtanga Yoga the retreat offers daily Mysore style classes and beginner’s courses with KPJAYI Authorised teachers, so you can see why I took up the offer to work here with them, to continue to practice 6 days a week on the beautiful jungle shala with experienced, authorised teachers.

 

set up for yin practice

 

They also offer daily Hatha Flow classes (of which I teach on Friday’s) and Saturday’s and Sunday’s I teach a restorative Yin Class to work the connective tissue and fascia so to support people in their Ashtanga practice (let’s get those hip and hamstrings open!)

At the risk of sounding like I’m writing a review, the food on the retreat is some of the best food I’ve eaten. EVER. Deserving a post of its own, and definitely stealing some recipes for my health and nutrition posts, they offer vegan, vegetarian and raw options for the health conscious yogi…..cacao bowl breakfast, hummus salads, vegetable wraps, cacao and avocado mousse, raw pad thai, I mean seriously good stuff…mmmm I’m getting hungry and I only just had my cacao bowl!! (Have I overused the work cacao here?!)

 

veg wrap

 

So, yes the yoga is phenomenal, the food outstanding, but the real thing I love about working here? The people I have met. This is the joy of not only yoga, but travel, like-minded people from all over the world coming together and firm new friendships being made.

I have connected with people here who I hope to be friends and stay in touch with forever. A yoga retreat is a very transient business, which can be hard as you are always saying goodbye to somebody. You have to rejoice in the fact that you met in the first place, and that somehow you have made a positive impression on each others lives. And of course, now we have social media we can keep in touch with each other all over the world daily so in fact they only ever leave you in a physical presence.

 

run and jump bottle beach

 

the gang at sunset july 31 2016
*photo credit Fee Saxby

 

looking out at sunset happy beach

 

If I have tempted you with my story, then you can find out more about the packages on offer ‘change your life yoga’ here

 

Yoga – the beginners guide

So, if you have read some of my previous posts you will know that I am currently attempting to be an ‘Ashtangi’ meaning I am studying the asana from the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series, along with trying to guide my life through the Yamas and Niyamas, adding in a sprinkling of Pranayama and topping it with a tiny sprinkle of meditation (or Dhyana). So that’s me, and I will go on to write more about the eight limbs, what they mean to me and how you can introduce them into your daily lives in further posts.

But what about if you are new to ‘yoga’ and are confused with all the different options and styles available to you at your local yoga centre/gym/community centre etc?

Well I will try to explain the more popular, or well-known styles so that you may be able to make an informed decision if you want to start practising yoga. But right here right now I will state that I strongly encourage you to START practicing yoga. It may be the best decision you ever make. Don’t worry too much about the types of yoga styles, just find a class and go to it!

‘I really regretted going to that yoga class’ – said no one, EVER!

Yoga is both a physical and mental practice, and also please remember that it is called ‘practice’ for a reason…there is no end to it, you are always practicing and working towards something, hopefully that something will be your improved physical and mental health and a new outlook on life and becoming a better person, ergo making you life have a positive impact on the world.

PLEASE NOT THAT FOR THE REST OF THIS POST I AM REFERRING TO PURELY THE PHYSICAL SIDE OF YOGA, THE ASANA, OR POSTURES. This is just the start of the ‘yoga’ journey but as it’s the start, it’s a pretty good place to begin.

 

opening chant

When you first start to research yoga and it’s forms, you will come across the terms ‘Hatha’ ‘Vinyasa’ ‘Yin’ and of course ‘Ashtanga’ also maybe ‘Jivamukti’, ‘Forest’ or ‘Anusara’ Plus many more self-made styles which hopeefully the studio provides a descrition for (I’m talking Slow Flow, Power Vinyasa, Funky Flow etc) so it can be extremely confusing.

Everyone needs to start somewhere and I would recommend that your entry-level class needs to be a ‘Hatha’ or even may simply be called ‘Beginners’ yoga. The term Hatha in itself is confused, sometimes referred to as the physical or ‘asana’ side of yoga. It is these postures that prepare the body and mind for meditation (yep, that’s the real reason we are all doing this) and so therefore ALL types of physical yoga can be refered to as Hatha.

Generally if a studio is advertising a class as ‘Hatha’ you will learn the basic yoga positions and become familiar with the Sanskrit terms of those positions (asana) in a slow-paced class that focuses on less asana and works at a steady pace, making it perfect for beginners.

Vinyasa yoga, or Vinaysa Flow is using the basic principle that ‘vinyasa’ essentially means linking breath with movement, so these class will generally work more with flowing poses (asana) together with the breath, sometimes working on up to five postures or more on one side of the body before you repeat it on the other side. These classes are a bit more physically challenging than a Hatha class and are great for stepping up your yoga practice, trying out more challenging postures and will also appeal to somebody who likes a more cardio based workout.

 

dancer close up

 

Ashtanga is the most physical of the yoga styles, and I will post many more entries about this style. I do believe it can be adapted for the beginner but don’t be alarmed to realise that it is a very physically challenged set of asana and it may have helped you to have tried the other two styles (Hatha and Vinyasa) before you try this style.

Yin Yoga, created fairly recently (late 1970’s) compared to other styles, as a perfect fit to the more ‘Yang’ styles of yoga above it works on the fascia, or connective tissues that lie over the top of the larger muscles and postures are held for anywhere between 3 and 20 minutes and therefore can be used to help with flexibility and also works the para-sympathetic nervous system bringing you to an almost meditative state during the class.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg, as in these modern consumerist times we are always conjuring up new terms and styles to catch the ever distracted population’s imagination. So, you may have to wade through the studio’s website to find out what kind of yoga exactly your ‘Slow Jamz Funky Floor Flow’ class is.

There are of course many other different styles of yoga and you can google away at your heart’s content to find out a style that appeals to you, but this is meant as a beginner’s guide and as I have already said, I hope if you don’t already tread it, this guide will help you take your first steps on the path of yoga. Your welcome 😉

 

thanks to bizarrocomic.blogspot.com for the image
thanks to bizarrocomic.blogspot.com for the image

Woman Has to Leave Sight of the Shore

Or Man, it’s not gender specific. But I recently posted this quote on my Instagram account and changed the gender – just felt like having a feminist moment.

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to leave the shore. A quote by Andre Gide. The sentiment is there, you cannot discover new things in life until you can let go of the old things, the routine, the norm. I suppose this quote can be related to life in general and not just travelling. I found it perfect for me, especially when I was leaving sight of one shore (job, home, family, friends) and heading out to discover the new oceans out here.

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It’s so easy to stick with what you know, but you know, what you know will still be there should you wish to return to it after you have done a little, or a lot, of discovering. I’ve been away almost 5 months and I really feel I haven’t actually travelled that much! MY plan was always to study in Mysore for a month, go and check out Goa (as in my previous trip to India I didn’t get there) and then…well, there was no major plan, but it involved getting a job teaching yoga somewhere in the world, and if I could also get some surfing done, even better. Well fate had me end up in Thailand for now, where I am teaching at the wonderful Yoga Retreat, and having a ball. As I sit on my balcony with a view of the Gulf of Thailand across to the mainland I think how lucky I am to be ‘brave’ enough to have left the comfort and security of the shore. And how there is so much more out there yet to discover…..

All Those Who Wander Are Not Lost

Since I was young I have never settled in one place for too long, my parents moved about quite a bit, I went to lots of different schools and lived in many towns before we finally settled so I could stay at the same school for my secondary education. My parents moved away when I was 16 and shortly after at 18 I moved to London alone to take my higher education at Laban Trinity in London. This upbringing was probably what gave me the wanderlust, and also makes me very independent at the young age of sixteen.

I did manage a whooping 12 years on and off in London, sliced up with my first living and working overseas experiences in mainland and the Greek isles, Portugal and Japan. I knew I was different from many other people in my approach to getting on like a local when I arrived in Japan and my colleagues ordered pizza rather than try something Japanese, I was horrified and ashamed.

At the ripe age of 32 I had met a like-minded soul and we went off on our travels together, South America, New Zealand, Indonesia, South East Asia and India before returning home promising to leave as soon as possible. It’s only taken 11 years and thankfully I am on the road again, this time as a solo traveller, and also trying to fund my way to foreign lands with my career in yoga teaching.

The thing is I see the world as one big massive adventure, I can’t recommend travelling enough. And I want to immerse myself in local culture and traditions, learn from my experiences, and as a massive foodie I want to try everything that the country I’m in is offering on a plate, or indeed bowl (within reason – I am now a vegetarian, although not strict)

red sunset

For some, there 2 week package holiday, if you’re lucky, a couple of times per year is enough to satisfy their wanderlust. For me, I want to get my teeth into the heart of the country and experience them for that little bit longer, maybe see if we fit together or whether we are to have fleeting romances and I’ll be off again to the next one.

This hopping about doesn’t mean I’m on a massive mission to ‘find myself’ at my age I’m pretty clear about who I am. Yes, my month in Mysore was like one long therapy session, but I can find that on my mat every morning, no matter where in the world I am. No, I’m referring to the quote by JR. Tolkien that I have quoted in the title, not all who wander are lost, it’s just we see something bigger than one town, and are happy being nomads, travelling and experiencing new things all the time, not stuck in the groundhog day of western society.

We are happy to settle down in one place, but not be afraid to admit that it’s not working out as you expected it and it’s time to move on, or it is working out well, but maybe, just maybe you might find your forever home at the next place?

I can only hope to inspire you reader to go out there and experience more than your own town, village, settlement, four walls, don’t be afraid and don’t think what if, just find out.

Wander on, and don’t get ‘lost’