I recently spent 30 days and nights at Serenity Eco Guesthouse in Canggu Bali, Indonesia. Where I participated in 72 hour and a half long yoga sessions over that 30 day time span. A total of 108 hours, averaging about three and a half hours of yoga a day! They offered any and all classes you could imagine, and of course I tried them all. Vinyasa, Aerial, Acro, Ayurvedic Therapy, Hatha, Ashtanga, Yin, you name it. If I was searching for anything, it was simply a new means of perception, a process by which I might be able to connect with my spirit on a yet deeper level. I had heard the rumors, met the yogi type enough times before, and my desire for such answers had finally matched my curiosity. So, what did I find?
For starters, Serenity is by far the most beautiful hostel I have ever stayed in. With an attached restaurant, outdoor pool, four yoga studios, and the most amazing accommodation you could ever ask for. From the restaurant staff and desk clerks all the way to the yoga instructors, every single person was very obviously filled with and protruding Love. The second you walk in to this place, and every second you spend within its walls, your soul is suddenly and undeniably light on fire. I had come to the right place.
I had zero expectations, having had done yoga maybe 15 times prior in my life, 10 of which had been classes on YouTube in the 3 weeks leading up to this. I didn’t want to master any poses, reach any magnitude of flexibility, or achieve enlightenment or anything like this, I just wanted to try.
The flexibility came quick. I remember the first time I touched my toes, maybe day six or seven. This voice inside my head was just screaming, “Holy shit guys look, I’m doing it! GUYS! I’m doing it!” But I had to remind myself, staying humble is a very intricate part of finding a deeper connection with my spirit. I simply smiled and enjoyed the moment with myself. The balance aspect was great as well, letting myself get all kinds of excited about all the different handstand poses. I was practicing these constantly and actually learned a rather valuable lesson in controlling my aggravation. I would say, hold one of these poses for 10 seconds or more, and then I wouldn’t be able to do it at all for the next two or three days. As you can imagine I found myself incredibly frustrated, confused. At one point I was expressing my concern to one of the instructors, and she just laughed, “Each day is a new day, you should not necessarily expect to accomplish again today what you did yesterday, just be grateful that you have allowed yourself the time for this practice.”
The instructors were always doing this, challenging me, both my spiritual intellect and my physical body. Asking me to breathe and to bend in ways that I swear are just literally impossible. Another valuable lesson in humility… I’m a rather fit individual and reasonably flexible but some of this yoga stuff is seriously next level. The instructors would go on to explain that continued practice and diligence were key, as some of them had been practicing daily for over 20 years. An incredibly valuable lesson in patience, twenty years?!
This art of breathing was something else entirely. Often finding myself not being able to take big enough breaths, and then likewise not being able to inhale and exhale fast enough. I was rather beside myself. But, as I patiently persisted, it soon began to click and finally I could feel the power of the breath. What’s more, these breathing techniques carried over into my CrossFit, and my slacklining, and ultimately into every corner of my existence. Elevating my ability to perform, enhancing my sense of self. Apparently the yogis were right, this practice is a lifestyle.
So yes, I’ve become more flexible than I thought myself capable of, and have developed a deeper strength in my physicality. But more importantly, my mind feels stronger, and I attribute this strength directly to a grander sense of calmness. Across all forms of yoga, you are encouraged through the significance of breathing, and I find myself rather dumbfounded by how such a simple concept can be so powerfully uplifting. Focusing on your breath, controlling it, forces one to focus primarily on one thing, the present moment. And through presence, we find ourselves more connected to our spirit then is possible in any other scenario.
I am walking slower. I am talking lower. I am talking less, and listening more. I find myself completely un-bothered by the passing of time, which ironically has made each minute longer then the last. The trivial stresses of life have diminished, nearly disappeared, and I find myself more capable than ever of acknowledging their arousal. Now knowing, that if such stresses ever become too much, I need only, quite simply, to reconnect with my present self. A reconnection easily attained via the practice of yoga