Blissful Bali Yoga Retreats
Apr 12, 2011
Sitting gem-like in the string of islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago, lush natural beauty, rich cultural activity and vibrant spirituality make Bali the ideal yoga retreat destination. More than 93% percent of the population follows a unique form of Hinduism that views all things, animate and inanimate, as imbued with spirit. The air is fragranced by incense and fresh flowers several times each day as traditionally clad women make offerings of appreciation for the obvious blessing of being born Balinese.
It’s an attitude of gratitude and abundance that permeates life on their fertile island home. Massage, healing and meditation are part of the Balinese way of life completing a picture of support that makes Bali a haven for yoga practitioners, teachers and students alike.
It is into this world that yoga retreat guests are welcomed, a world that encourages connection with a deeper sense of self that has been taking a back-seat to the stresses and demands of work and family.
Carolyn is from Australia, she experienced the Bali Yoga Retreat.
“The Bali Yoga Retreat has been a wonderful opportunity to escape the stresses of our daily lives,” she said. “The daily practice in the midst of the beauty and sounds of the forest prepared us and opened our hearts and minds. In this state we fully appreciated the Balinese spiritual rituals.”
Take Care of the Body to Connect and Change Your Life
Often retreat attendees are at a crossroads in their lives. People come knowing they need to heal their bodies, make decisions or changes, or gear up to take on a new challenge. People come looking for refuge and relaxation, strength and new skills. Yoga lends itself perfectly to this purpose and the nurturing and supportive environment of a well planned retreat creates much needed distance from routine. Time spent in retreat is a time to place yourself as the thing of greatest importance in your life, a time to asses where you truly are, in that way you might clearly see where you are going.
At the physical level asana (postures), pranayama (breath-work) and meditation practices work simultaneously to strengthen the body and improve health:
- Calming the mind
- Stabilizing the nervous system
- Toning and strengthening muscles
- Cleansing toxins from the body
- Oxygenating the blood
- Regularizing the heart rate
- Improving circulation to limbs and joints, sending fresh blood and massaging vital organs
- Improving bone density
- Regularizing glandular activity
- Optimizing digestion and elimination
- Balancing hormonal system, endocrine system
Schedules typically feature two classes each day. Morning sessions tend to include dynamic movement to promote strength and flexibility, creating heat in the body and cleansing toxins. Afternoons focus on yoga in a quieter way, using props to assist in opening up and deeply relaxing into each pose. Known as Restorative or Yin, feminine complement to the masculine Yang, it has a replenishing effect on the nervous system.
By asking practitioners to look inward and to be 100% involved in the action, yoga firmly establishes the mind/body connection. In this merging, distractions drop away and habitual thought patterns are minimized and released. The experience of being integrated in this way is powerful particularly in such a supportive environment where the effects can be life changing. “This was a week of personal growth and development, an awakening of spirit and a deepening of respect and understanding of other people,” Cameron, doctor, said.
Choosing a Yoga Retreat
The guidance of an experienced teacher and retreat leader is essential. Observation and working with different bodies, each with its own history, is a great source of knowledge which can only be gained over time. A teacher with a depth of background creates a safe, fun and nurturing environment where all levels of the group are catered to. Beginners with little or no previous yoga experience can comfortably roll out a mat beside someone who has come to deepen and refine their practice.
A skilled teacher gives special attention to beginners or those with injuries and options to more advanced students so they feel they are working at their capacity, maintaining a sense of connection within the group.
“The retreat was an experience exceeding my expectations. As a novice to yoga, the classes were well paced and well instructed yet challenging enough for me to come away feeling inspired to continue and invigorated,” Leanne from Australia said. “I’ve totally and completely soaked up the serenity and beauty of this place and together with the group activities I feel like I’ve shared a special experience.”
To be sure it is a group experience, yoga retreats attract people from all walks of life and the atmosphere of friendly unity is an unexpected highlight for many. Differences melt away as new cultures, new thoughts and new places in the body are discovered.
According to Nicola, visitor services officer it gave him time to re-evaluate his life, body and spirit.
“I Have come out of it stronger in every way and more aware. This retreat will bring you back to yourself. Daily yoga, meditation, ocean swims and a great group all there to heal which makes it completely transforming” he said.
The rich environment of spiritual connection and personal growth that Bali provides draws healers of many disciplines and nationalities. In the free time periods optional Reiki and Intuitive Healing sessions are available for those who are interested in self-exploration or if you feel you need another type of healing such as physical injuries or emotional blockages, try Ayurvedic healing treatments with a good range of massage and spa treatments to nurture the body. More than ever people are looking for a place to replenish and rejuvenate at a deeper level.
At other times guests venture forth to explore the surrounding area. Bali is a small island with a diverse landscape, volcanoes, beaches, waterfalls or verdant rice paddies are never far away. Scenic bike tours are very popular, winding their way through villages and farms, moreover the visits to temples and other sacred sites are easily arranged.
Tropical locations which nurture the body with sun, sea, sand and exotic cuisine will always be popular but it’s the radiant smiles and gentle ways of the Balinese people that make Bali an unforgettable place, a place that visitors, whether students, teachers or healers want to return to time and time again.
About the Author
Sue Hawkins is a Senior Certified Yoga Teacher and is the director and founder of Byron Bay Yoga. Sue completed and intensive nine month teaching training with Yoga Arts Byron Bay in 1997. Since then Sue has taught in various Astanga and other styles of yoga teacher trainings, has held workshops, taught corporate yoga and private sessions. These days Sue’s passion is running Yoga Health Retreats internationally of about 10 retreats a year working with highly trained facilitators.
Practicing yoga for 26 years and teaching for 12 years Sue's experience has been enriched in Iyengar yoga and Ashtanga yoga gaining knowledge here and internationally from a range of highly respected teachers to create her own style of teaching.
Since her last visit to India which included having a Mantra initiation, her focus has become stronger than ever to provide benefits to others by teaching from her own journey and experience through yoga and to bring inspiration to students that the journey is a lifelong commitment that can be a life changing experience.