After a few years of running retreats around the world, I've set my heart on my annual retreat being in Bali. Of course, there are obvious reasons why I've chosen Bali; it's unbelievably gorgeous, the food is fantastic, the people make your heart melt, and it spans from jungle to volcano to ocean. However these things are not unique to Bali, you could say the same about many places, and therefore, those reasons aren't enough to justify flying across the world, and taking many people over there with me. My love for Bali extends far beyond that. My love for Bal is wide and deep and ever unfolding.
The feminine is the dark, mysterious, wild and creative force that brings life and manifestation to this world (think Shakti and Kali). It is highly revered in Tantric Yoga as it is what gives life to all things. It's the dark to the light, the moon to the sun. However, the feminine is often seen in a slivered, fragmented way. Beautiful (if she looks the way society thinks is beautiful), powerful (but not too powerful), wild (not too crazy though) and mysterious (except when we want to know). And before you know it, we as a society have placed conditions and limitations on what the divine feminine is and should look like leaving us accepting only pieces of Her.
Bali is a dense jungle island full of abundance, potency, tradition, and culture. The land is vibrant and has a pulse that makes me feel more connected to the Earth than anywhere I've ever been. The air is sweet and silky. The people are generous and kind. The jungle and ocean are what dreams are made of. It's small island part of a much bigger country, Indonesia, a commonplace of natural disasters, human rights issues, and poverty. Things people don't think of when they go to Bali. The Balinese jungle is full of spiders, snakes and aggressive monkeys. It's hot as hell in the summer season and a completely different culture to the western world.
Bali, in my opinion, represents so much of what we love and so much of what we fear. We will take the beautiful, the easy, the fun, the cheap, the nice and then we will ignore or disregard the rest. "Bali is so perfect but not if I see a snake! Not if my room doesn't have air conditioning! Not if I have to pay more for something because I'm a tourist! Not if I get sick from the water!" A contrast gets created between the fantasy of the island, and it's reality. Much like how we regard the feminine - it's ok and safe if it looks a certain way, offers something we want and doesn't challenge our fears. So many people have come to Bali with an expectation of the island and forget that we have to love and accept it as a whole. It's not there just for us to say we went on a yoga retreat to Bali and check it off the list. It's there for us to be in relationship with it. What do we gain by being in Bali and what does Bali gain (or lose) by us being there? How do the locals feel about us? How do the animals feel when we come to their habitat and then get pissed that they are there?
When you visit a space, a home, a country, you are there as a guest to receive something and to leave something behind. What is the impact on us by visiting Bali? What is the impact on Bali by having us visit? What happens to us as a whole when we put conditions on our feminine? When we pick and chose and fragment Her potency?
So why do I love Bali so much? I have a lot of work to do learning to love the world around me and myself unconditionally. I continually work towards a deeper relationship with my feminine power and Bali puts that right in front of me to see. It holds me in a way that says "See me. See all of me. The light and the dark." It shows me snakes, spiders, intense heat and Bali belly (the poops!). It also shows me Nature at her finest, kindness in strangers and belonging in a foreign country. She lets me in, again and again, and reflects back to me the beauty, the power the fear I hold within myself.
To me, Bali feels like a gift, like an abundant, potent, magical land and to immerse yourself in yoga while in Bali really is something special. To spend a week deeply connecting to you and seeing glimpses of the all the potential relationships in your life, most importantly our relationship to nature and to ourselves, is an experience worth having.
Join me on my next retreat in Bali! March 3rd - 10th, 2019
This year we are doing something different! We will be spending an afternoon or two in service of the island doing a litter clean up in the rice fields. Bali is becoming ridden with plastic and we can absolutely make a difference to leave a positive footprint in exchange for being guests on the island.
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 soul and nature-centered week in the Balinese Jungle. Running in conjunction with 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 humbly honoring Balinese culture as guests of the island, we will participate and witness the New Years Eve Festival and the silent day that follows. Together, we will see and observe the dance of the masculine and feminine in both our internal and external world.