The Celebration and The Silence - A Once in a Lifetime Experience of Nyepi Day in Bali

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In 2018, I hosted a yoga retreat in Ubud, Bali. At the time I booked the retreat, I had never heard of this tradition. So it was a huge oversight on my part to “accidentally” (this was no mistake!) booked my retreat to end on Nyepi Day, Bali’s New Years Day. I eventually found out because students kept asking me why there seemed to be not a single flight leaving the island on the day we were to check out. I thought this was a mistake, how could no flights be leaving an International airport? Then another student asked and another. I checked for myself and learned that indeed, the airport shut down on this day to observe a day of silence. I told the students I was sorry, but they will have to book a night somewhere else and wait to leave the following day. However, no accommodation could be made on this day as it is prohibited to be on the streets, talk, or leave your residence on this day. Wow was I shocked! This day of silence was no joke, and no exceptions were not going to be made. I knew this was no mistake, so we embraced that we had to stay on the island an extra day and all chose to stay at the retreat center one day longer. Because of this, we were able, and I am not exaggerating when I say, it was one of the most unique and special experiences I’ve ever had in my life.

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The celebration began the evening before, and although there are many rituals practiced by the local people at this time that I am not fully aware of, I did get to participate in the Bhuta Yajna ritual and watch the Ogoh-Ogoh parade. Several days before Nyepi Day, each neighborhood gets together and create demonic looking papier-mache statues to chase away negative, malevolent forces off the island. In the evening, everyone parades around the streets following the ogoh-ogohs while banging on drums, and dancing. Then, all the ogoh-ogohs get set on fire as a way of symbolizing each individual burning away their own negative and malevolent forces.

What follows is a day of absolute silence: no talking, no wifi, no walking the streets or beach, no tv, no electricity. It is a day for practices such as meditation, self-reflection, and fasting. Airports and shops all close. Travel of any sort is prohibited (except for medical emergencies and yes that did happen to a participant on the retreat! She was treated incredibly well and lived to tell the tale). Everything shuts down to give us the opportunity to go in and reconnect with ourselves.

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The contrast of celebration and silence beautifully reflects the intention of my yoga retreat. On Luna & Sol, we are exploring the contrasts of life. The light and the dark, the sun and the moon, the joy and the pain, so these contrasts no longer remain separate but instead infuse into one. We come together, so we no longer see ourselves as broken, or bad, we can instead see ourselves in our entirety and learn to honor the wholeness of our human experience.

With two yoga classes a day, several group ceremonies, nourishing food, high-end jungle accommodation and immersing ourselves in nature and the local community, this retreat truly is an opportunity to deepen into yourself. And we have the whole island of Bali supporting us as we do so.

Join me on my next retreat in Bali! March 3rd - 10th, 2019 

There is no light without darkness. There is no sun without the moon. Our invitation is to learn how to live our lives without preferring one over the other. Our work to living a full, conscious life is to honor both sides and see all aspects of ourselves and the world around us. The shadow and the light. 

Join Steph for this transformative and alchemic week in the Balinese Jungle. Centered around Nyepi Day, Bali's New Year's Day, we will explore and honor the infusion and merging of the sun and the moon, the masculine and feminine, the fire and ice, the yin and yang.

Through our yoga practice, we will explore both vinyasa and yin yoga to discover the dynamic play of these two forces within our inner landscape. By celebrating the New Years Eve Festival and participating in the silent day that follows, we will see and observe the dance of the masculine and feminine in the external world as well.