13 April 2012

BALI SPIRIT FESTIVAL 2011 - 2012


Tri Hita Karana.
Harmony with God.
Harmony with the community.
Harmony with nature.



Bali Spirit Festival is an event for the Yoga lovers, dance and arts, where they can practice and get the science of Yoga from the Yoga teachers from all over the world, dance with various music and arts from various countries around the world.

I have joined the Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Bali for two times. 
Let me share my personal view about the event. Excuse me if any of my views is wrong.

The first time was in 2011, where I just took the weekend program from Friday to Sunday. Since I joined only three days program, then I could only learn from some Yoga instructors at the time. One of the Yoga teachers who took my breath away was Cat Alip-Douglas, someone who comes from the Fashion world who switched professions to become a Yoga teacher. She has touched my heart with the teachings of Jivamukti Yoga. It is a very down to earth Yoga practice. The teaching is not only about the spiritual, but also about the things that are currently popular now. Starting from the music used in the Yoga class, from the Beatles to U2, to the teacher's own profile, a sweet woman with a body full of tattoos. So cool!
Even in the middle of the Yoga class, she had a chance to rub my shoulders with massage oil that made me feel very relaxed. Magic came from her hands! 
Another teacher at the Jivamukti Yoga class is Yogeswari Azahar. Her teaching is similar to the teaching from Cat Alip-Douglas. Her teaching is very impressive, and again, her hands made deep impression on my shoulders as she massaged it at the last yoga pose, Savasana.
In this Jivamukti Yoga class, it was the first time for me that I could do a headstand (Sirsana). Maybe because Jivamukti Yoga class has built the very strong muscle at legs, abdomen and shoulders since the very beginning. So, when we do the headstand, we can easily lift up our legs, and the abdomen is also working to share the burden with the shoulder. And I was ready to fly into the paradise of the world! 
Thanks a lot, Cat and Yogeswari!

The next Yoga teacher is Twee Merigan. She is amazingly pretty and sexy! At the Bali Spirit Festival 2011, Twee teaches Prana Flow where we can use what we have in our body, including our body heat, to build up our strength when we practice Yoga. 
At that time, Twee was 4 months pregnant and she was still good! The most amazing thing was, as Twee was pregnant, she still taught the Yoga class as usual, kept doing Caturanga, and even jumped from Caturanga position. Fantastic!
At the Bali Spirit Festival 2012, I could not get into Twee’s Yoga class, but it was predictable that she becomes better and better. The first thing is that Twee had given birth last year. Secondly, I think Yoga practice has made Twee look beautiful both inside and out. I am really impressed with the beauty of this Yoga teacher! Dear Twee, can I exchange my body with yours? Hahaha!

Another Yoga teacher was Denise Payne who taught Yin Yoga. Her Yoga is a very slow and gentle, very good both for beginners and the advanced Yoga lovers.
Yin Yoga is all about the flexibility of our bodies and how we have to let go and surrender ourselves to the earth and the universe. With our surrender to the universe, then we will be more relaxed with the hustle and bustle of the world that is increasingly chaotic. The movement of Yin Yoga is very relaxing, perfect for people who are already in a state of exhaustion. One can relax their tensed and stiffed muscles in this Yoga class. It means we massage our own bodies. Hahaha!

I also joined the Yoga class from Indonesian Yoga teachers. They were Pujiastuti Sindhu and Olop Arpipi.
Pujiastuti Sindhu is a Yoga teacher from Bandung who has written a book about Yoga as well. Yoga books she wrote was the first yoga book that I had. After buying a yoga book, we were in touch through Facebook and Twitter. And finally, I met her at the Bali Spirit Festival 2011. I was so happy to meet her! Her face was very gentle, and her smile was so sweet. In her Yoga class, I was amazed by her gentle Yoga teachings, her gentle face and voice. It felt like I was not doing Yoga practice, but I was doing the ballet dance on my yoga mat. Yeah!

Olop Arpipi is an Iyengar Yoga teacher from Indonesia who is also well known abroad. Olop’s  class was always full! And he taught Iyengar Yoga in his interesting way. For me, sometimes Iyengar Yoga could become very boring one. Iyengar Yoga poses are too detailed and sometimes, it needs us to hold on to one pose in a long period of time, which makes me feel bored. Maybe because I like the flowing Yoga poses like the ones in Ashtanga, Anusara and Vinyasa Flow which are flowing like water. But in the hands of Olop, Iyengar Yoga became something funny and interesting. And I forgot how long I held the Yoga pose! Yeah! 
This is where I learn that learning about the Yoga pose in detail is important, so we can do the right Yoga movement and avoid the injuries during the practice. Finally, I like Iyengar!
Thank you, Olop!

There were many other Yoga teachers in Bali Spirit Festival 2011 that I could not explain here, including Mysore Ashtanga Yoga class by Anthony Prem Carlisi and Heather Duplex Rada. Mostly because I forgot which Yoga class that I joined that time. Excuse my short memory, my beloved Yoga teachers. Hahaha! 



In 2012, I joined the Bali Spirit Festival again. This time, I joined the full program for 5 days from Wednesday to Sunday. And it is true that we should follow the whole program of the event, because the Yoga class of any Yoga teachers here will continue from one day to another like sequence of a cycle. There is the opening part, the middle part and the closing ones. 

In 2012, I found many new Yoga teachers who bring enlightenment in my life. I also discovered that I could have fun with Yoga! Yeay! 

I started the Yoga classes at the Bali Spirit Festival this year by joining the class of Tina James from Jivamukti Yoga. Yes, I entered this Yoga class with my old memories about Jivamukti Yoga class last year. Before I entered this class, I had cramps in the stomach and wondered if I could do yoga movements or not. With great enthusiasm, I went into the class. Tina James led this class with a unique way. The Yoga teaching of Tina was flowing like water, from one Yoga pose to the other. And the surprise was that the cramps in my stomach were gone when I attended this class. At the beginning, my stomach was upset at me, but finally it became relaxed and kind to me. There were folding and twisting poses at Tina James’ Yoga class, but my stomach was fine. Was it the magic of Yoga or was Tina James a very good Yoga teacher? Or maybe is it both of them? And I believe in miracles!
Thank you very much, Tina James!

The next class I attended was Ashtanga Yoga by Danny Paradise. Danny always starts the class with a discussion about Yoga. This discussion is interesting, because the knowledge Danny share is something new. His class begins with breathing exercises to cleanse our bodies and make our bodies ready for the Yoga practice.
In the class, Danny was assisted by two Yoga teachers who helped Yoga students to do some difficult Yoga poses. And I was fascinated with the help from one of them, a beautiful yoga teacher that has curly hair (sorry I forgot her name). She could raise my confidence to do the difficult Yoga poses. She always asked: "Do you want to do the Yoga pose? Do you need my help to make the move? Please try and do not be afraid! "
From here, I learn that Yoga is also about sharing and helping others. Happy is when we see other people can do difficult yoga poses because of a little help from us. In our everyday life, we are supposed to help others and be happy when people are successful because of our little help. 
Thank you, beautiful Yoga teacher!

On the second day, I attended the Vinyasa Flow Yoga class by Les Leventhal. I started to fall in love with Les when peeking at his class on the first day. I did not attend the first class because I had cramps in the stomach. When I saw his class through the window, I felt there was a call to learn more about Les and learn Yoga from him. And in the class, I found out that Les is the man with strong body, but still capable of doing extraordinary things. His body is strong and full of muscles, but it is able to do flexible Yoga poses. 
This is where I learn that behind the strength, there may be some tenderness. And vice versa, behind the gentleness, there may be flexibility and strength.
Les is a very relax Yoga teacher. He can turn the class into a relax one and full of laughter. Les’ Yoga classes consist of classes for beginners to the very advanced level. And even in Yoga classes for the advanced one, when he teaches the very difficult Yoga poses, he can still make us laugh. He always asks about our breath, if we are still breathing during the yoga poses or not. “How’s your breath?”, that is what he asks. 
The other great thing about Les is that he can sing very well! His voice is heavy and will accompany the participants to sing beautiful songs in the Yoga class. Singing becomes one of the important things in the Yoga classes, because it can train our breathing for the Yoga practice and gives relaxing sensation after the Yoga class has end. And finally, the Yoga practice becomes something fun! 
Les also teaches us that we should give more attention and love our body parts that are weak and have been injured. 
Then I learn that in my life, I have to give more attention to the people who are weak and have been wounded and also love them with all of their weaknesses and all the injuries they had suffered.
Thank you, Les!

The next Yoga class is the Bliss Yoga by Eoin Finn. I fall in love with the way Eoin Finn teaches the class with his humorous acts. I can laugh even by looking at his face. He reminds me of Dustin Hoffman and his smile is hilarious. Eoin will make a funny movement just to make the participants laugh and be relaxed for the next Yoga poses.
Eoin Finn also teaches us that the Yoga movement is united with the universe. In the middle of Eoin’s Yoga class, he will tell some wonderful words about the universe. 
From Eoin, I learn that if we love the universe, the universe will be generous to us and find a way for us to go. “Follow your heart,” that's what Eoin will say.

On the third day, I attended the Purna Yoga class by John Ogilvie. Something funny happened to the meeting with John. This John’s class is the early morning class, around 8 o'clock. Because it was still early, usually I visited all the Yoga classes one by one to feel the aura of those classes, whether they fitted with me or not. When I was at the back of the John’s classroom to peek, John with his sweet smile invited me to join in the class and filled one section in front that was still empty. So I told him that I still wanted to look around at other classes. That's what I did then, walked around to other classes. What happened then? I went back to John’s class and joined it! And in which section did I practice? Right at the empty space that John gave me earlier. Ah, is this a miracle or a coincidence? 
I believe that if that place is our place, then there is nobody who can fill that place except us. In this class, I felt that the universe specifically called and prepared me the place. Believe it or not!
John’s class is very interesting! Everything is about technique! All Yoga poses must have the right technique, so that we get to the right Yoga movements.
This is where I learn that in my life, I always want to achieve what I want, sometimes I want to arrive at the destination very quickly. But sometimes I forget that everything has its own way and technique. If I do it right, my goal will be more meaningful. If I do it wrong, then the destination will be useless.
Thank you, John, for your deep philosophy in my mind. Thanks, the universe, for securing a place for me at John Ogilvie’s Yoga class!

The next class is the Forrest Yoga Class by Erica Mather. She is extraordinary Yoga teacher, because she teaches the participants how to do arm balance! Yeap, standing with our two hands only! So the hands become the feet, the feet become the hands! Our feet can fly anywhere we want! Fly, fly and fly! The class was really full of sweat, especially when Bali is under the hot sun. The Yoga class really encourages and challenges us to do things beyond our limits. Go ahead and fly! This is crazy, but fun!
Sometimes, in my life, I really need to do the things beyond my plans and thoughts, and may seem crazy, just to challenge myself. I may get too tired to do the same thing every day.
Thank you, Erica, for the incredible energy you shared!

After that, I had a quick peek into Carlos Pomeda’s class.  Carlos is an expert on the Yoga philosophy. We must come to his class with an open mind, because the discussion with Carlos will be broken some of the common Yoga philosophy. The class from Carlos will make us think hard about Yoga and its true philosophy. Many interesting things reveal in the discussion hosted by Carlos, from the foundation of Yoga itself, to sex, and others. It is quite interesting for the people who are interested in Yoga, not only from its practice, but also the deep philosophy behind it.



On the fourth day, the first class was the challenged one! Yoga with Gina Caputo! In my impression, the personality of Gina is unique, open and cheerful. She’s funny and sometimes crazy! Almost in every Yoga poses of hers, there is always a joke that led to laughter. Not the usual laugh, but the laugh out loud! The energy from Gina is very high, so the participants can feel her energy too. I think by seeing Gina only, my body can turn to warm itself. Gina is hot! Hahaha!
In this class, Gina teaches us to fly with both hands resting on us. Arm balance! Yes, even the title of the class is: Yogi Airlines - Flight 1008. Fantastic! Hahaha! At the beginning, Gina will strengthen our core muscles first as the source of our balance. After that, then we can fly! Why can we fly? Because we have a strong core muscles! The ones that can make us fly, not only the hands and shoulders, but also the strong core muscles! We have to share the burden of our body at our head, shoulders, arms, abdomen and legs. Then, we can fly to nirvana! 
From this, I learn that one source of power is good, but it will be better if we have many more sources of power that can cooperate with each other. The result will be more amazing!
Thank you, Gina, for a very challenging class! And thanks for being a cheerful person. A cheerful person is sexy!

The next class is the West African dance class. At the beginning, I was hesitated to go to this class, but my friends forced me to join the class. Hahaha! First, I can’t dance. The coordination in my body is not really good, so that sometimes I can’t follow the movements of the dance. That's why I chose Yoga as my exercise! Secondly, I thought that I wanted to do yoga at the Bali Spirit Festival, so why should I have to dance? I just didn’t want to embarrass myself. Hahaha! 
But the energy from this class was very strong. It kept pulling me with its music that comes from the percussion and drums. Finally, I was in the class! And I swayed to the direction of the dance teacher, Aby Niang. My whole body didn't want to stop dancing. I danced following the rhythm of the music. Aaaahhhh! What a pleasure! My body was sweating and my feet were sore, but it was awesome and fantastic! Hahaha! The pain on my feet was just a pain, because I was happy to do the dance! Yeah!
The dance class was closed with the free-style dance by some of the participants. They went crazy with all of their own dance styles, but they were so good! Great dancers! Their expression is reflected in the dance that they did. Fun, crazy, and sexy!
Sometimes, in my life, being crazy and mad is fun and makes me happy. It excites the life in me and I feel alive. Yeah!
Thanks, Aby Niang and Hamanah Dance and Drum, for giving different sensations beyond the Yoga exercises. You guys are amazing!

Other classes are hosted by the duo AcroYoga, Pau Castellsague and Alexandra Ruiz. Ale is sweet and flirtatious, and Pau is a bit naughty and silly. Hahaha! But they make a great team! I think the couple really catches my eyes. Just the right combination! 
This class began with participants sitting in the lap of others, together in a circle. Since this is a matter of teamwork, then when a participant falls, then the other will fall too. Hahaha! 
The other opening session was that the participants had to drive the other participants by closing the eyes and pushed their partner around the grass field where we practice this AcroYoga. For some reason, because I thought it was funny, I laughed out loud during this driving session. And suddenly, Pau caught my ankle! I was shocked, then I opened my eyes and laughed again. We were both crazy and silly! Hahaha!
AcroYoga is an exercise for two people or more. The first person acts as the base and the second person acts as the flyer. Sometimes there will be the third and the fourth people that will take position as the guards, just to keep the first and the second people at their right position and do not fall to the ground. It is all about team work! 
Some people may think AcroYoga looks easy, but it's hard when we do it! The first person that acts as the base has to hold the body of the second person who rests in the first person’s hands and feet. While the second person must keep the balance in order to fly above the first person without having to give too much weight to the first person. Both of them must have good coordination and communication. If not, they will fall to the ground! Therefore, the third and fourth people are sometimes needed to watch over the first and the second ones. If the second person falls, then there are two people who will catch the person for not falling off to the ground.
For me, being the first person as the base is a very difficult thing. Because my ankles are weak and my feet can’t hold on to the weight of the second person. But since the other participants encouraged and motivated me to try both sides as the base and the flyer too, so then I tried both positions! As the flyer, it was fine. But as a base, I was a bit scared! But finally, I was able to do it, although my legs were trembling. It was because of the assistance from the others that held the body of the second person for not adding so much weight on my feet. Yeah!
From this, I learn that I have many flaws, and I really need someone else to cover my weaknesses.
Thank you, Ale and Pau, for opening my eyes and show me that my weaknesses can be covered with someone or some people in my circles. Yes, again, it is all about togetherness as a team.

On the fifth day, which was the last day, I only did one class, but the class was the deadly one. It was called Yogamala, where participants were invited to perform 108 times of Sun Salutation movement that was guided by all the Yoga teachers in Bali Spirit Festival 2012 (Daniel Aaron, Gina Caputo, Copper Crow, Eoin Finn, Tina James, Govinda Kai, Les Leventhal, Simon Low, Leza Lowitz, Twee Merigan, Danny Paradise, Rebecca Pflaum, Louisa Sear, Ronan Tang, Daphne Tse, and Punnu Wasu).
To imagine how deadly the Yogamala class is, let me describe one round of Sun Salutation: hands up, fold the body down, then go to down dog (inverted V position), then go to the plank pose to push up, then to push the heart up front, then back to the down dog position, jump in, fold the body down, and raise your hand and close the round with the standing pose. That's just one round! And can you imagine to do it for 108 times? Yeah! Can you feel the pain on the shoulder, abdomen and buttocks when the class is finished? Hahaha! 
But, in the reality, the Yogamala class was not that deadly! Because there was music by John deKadt played at this class, and the Yoga teachers also make some funny coaching at the class and asked the participants to dance, so the class became a fun class! 
In this class, I did not stop doing the 108 times of Sun Salutation rounds because I did it with happiness to do Yoga, while dancing and singing too. Yeah!
The Yoga teachers dedicated their own Sun Salutation for their own wishes, hopes and prayers, starting from an appreciation to us, a present for our loved ones, and an appreciation for our Yoga teachers, and others. In the middle of the class, one of the Yoga teachers dedicated the Sun Salutation for our parents. Suddenly, I was touched and cried in tears. I also saw that the other participants next to me were crying too. Apparently the three of us were thinking about our parents. Yes, I love you and thinking about you, my Mom and Dad. And I really hoped that the energy of the Sun Salutation that I did could cure the sickness in my Mom and Dad. Amen!
This class was closed with the Chakra Meditation and Healing Mantra Circle by sitting around in a circle and singing with the live music played by John deKadt. For the participants who thought that they had the ability to heal, they were welcome to sit and pray while singing and asking for the healing for anyone who is sick. For the participants who felt sick or wanted to become the connector for the treatment for their loved ones who are sick, they were welcome to lie down in the middle of the circle to receive treatment from the people who sat in a circle. This ritual was very emotional! We did not know each other, but we tried to heal each other and didn’t refuse to accept treatment from others. It was magically amazing!
In this session, I saw a participant who rested her stomach on her knee like a baby. Suddenly, I was motivated to give a massage on her shoulders and head. She didn’t refuse to accept my treatment and enjoyed it. I felt very flattered by the acceptance. Not everyone will accept such treatments. It is all about trusting and letting go. 
The very end of the session in the Bali Spirit Festival 2012 was the Thai Massage class by Gwyn Williams. In this class, we have to massage the other participants using the Thai-style massage. We have to give the massage with compassion, love and prayers to heal the person. There should be a trust that the massage will cure the person. In this session, I was asleep! Maybe because I was so tired and enjoyed the massage. Hahaha! 
From this, I learn that sometimes we need to learn to let go and surrender, and trust the treatment from the others. We also need to be sincere when we give something to others! The art of surrender is that we have nothing to worry. How wonderful! 

The Yoga Teachers I mentioned in this story are only some of the Yoga teachers in Bali Spirit Festival. I can’t mention all of them because I don’t remember the details anymore. I think five days for practicing Yoga is not enough to gain knowledge from all these great Yoga teachers! They all have their own expertise and uniqueness, so it's not fair if I compare one Yoga teacher with the other ones. What I can do is to open my mind to recognize and accept the teachings from all of them. And I feel grateful and proud to learn from them!
Thanks to all the Yoga teachers, both in the past and the present, who has taught me all things about Yoga and all the philosophy behind it. Yoga has turned me into a better person and I became more aware of who I am and what my strengths and weaknesses are.

One of the Yoga teachers that I forgot the name said that Yoga is fun and should be something fun! Yoga should not be taken too seriously, because Yoga is supposed to make us comfortable and bring happiness to the practitioners. If anyone wants to be serious, they should go back to the office and do their job there or maybe deal with their tax problems too. Hahaha!
Yoga should not be something that harms and forces us. If we can’t do the Yoga poses today, we can try it tomorrow or the other days. Don’t push ourselves too hard! We must always listen to our bodies and how our bodies feel. There's always tomorrow to practice the Yoga poses. Try and try again!

The whole series of experiences in Bali Spirit Festival 2011 and 2012 make me learn that I should give back what I took. I've learned the Yoga practice from many great Yoga teachers and I have to give more to others, maybe by doing something good for others. Or maybe, someday, I will be a Yoga teacher for others. And I hope that I can become one someday.

Namaste!




Please feel free to send your comments and questions to: astrid_amalia@yahoo.comIf you wanna see my blog in Bahasa Indonesia version, please go to this link: http://astridamalia.blogspot.com

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