Bali

mmYoga Superheroes: We're not so serious about yoga.

I've never done well with the 'serene' image of yoga. Serene isn't something that comes naturally to me; I do yoga to become more like that. Naturally, I am in equal parts anxious and silly. The happier I am, the sillier I get.

Which is not a bad thing, in my (cough) humble opinion. In same opinion, I think the yoga world has a slight tendency to take itself too seriously.

It's not necessary.

You can be plenty spiritual and still be happy/silly/have fun.

In fact, I'd be suspicious of someone who claims to be spiritual, but lacks a sense of humour. If you've ever seen the Dalai Lama speak (and nobody's going to argue about his spiritual cred) you will know that he's got a great sense of humour.

If you find someone taking themselves too seriously - or trying to get you to - you may need to call on a mmYoga Superhero to save the day...

Captain Sneaky (street name Karen Chow) 

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Superpowers: Sneakily getting you to work much harder than you expected by being cute and giggly. Helping people feel great again by means of Yoga. Dressing like a hipster & not being mocked for it.

Karen says:

Yoga is about finding balance, right?  So if we're serious 50% of the time, the other 50% should be not so serious. I like to teach that way too. Anatomy and alignment cues, I'm dead serious. All the lame jokes and terrible metaphors I use, not so serious. 

 

Ms. Awesome (street name Suzy Taylor)

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Superpowers: Reminding people how awesome they already are by means of Science. Helping people be more awesome by means of Yoga. Wearing knee socks and getting away with it.

Suzy says:

Once, I farted while teaching a class. OMG! Embarrassing?  I chose to laugh and say ‘well, sometimes that happens when we twist’, and just carry on with the class. From that moment on, I stopped trying to be such a serious yoga teacher. Yoga is a break from the hard grind of our daily lives; it's not about being rigid, or perfect or doing exactly the same thing as the person on the mat next to you. It’s about stepping out of what you think might be expected of you, and just doing what feels right for you right now (hopefully that won't usually be farting!)

Together they are: mm…Yoga Superheroes: the Retreat Crusaders.

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You will have so much fun with them on our Bali Yoga Retreat in November - it's still early bird pricing till Aug 31, and there are still a few rooms left - hop to it!

These two are definitely up to something...

These two are definitely up to something...

 

PS We'd love if you post your #mmyogsuperheroes pics on instagram. Not just Karen and Suzy, but other team members and students - join us? You are a super-hero too!

How I Learnt the Hard Way About Over-Packing For a Retreat

Yoga retreats are simple holidays: you really don't need much in the way of clothing. Some yoga gear (the RIGHT type, I'll get to that in a moment), a swimsuit or two, and a couple of floaty dresses. Plus some sandals.

Swimsuit and skirt from Kelsey Genna - see her full range  here .

Swimsuit and skirt from Kelsey Genna - see her full range here.

It's even easier for blokes: some shorts, some yoga gear, a t-shirt or two and maybe a collared shirt for night times.

I'm a light packer - I travel everywhere with carry-on sized luggage. And yet, the first time I went on retreat to Bali, I STILL managed to overpack. How, you ask?

Well, I thought I needed a bunch of stuff that I really didn't:

  • Shoes. It's too hot and humid in Bali for closed shoes to be a good idea. You probably don't need more than a pair of Havainas. But, since they play havoc with your foot mechanics, a pair of sandals that attaches properly around your ankle. Just the one pair. Not the three pairs of shoes I thought I needed. Do you know how much more shopping I could've done if I didn't have those shoes in my case?
  • Full-length nylon yoga pants. Oh, so much too hot. Full-lenth is okay, but go for cotton, or you will cook yourself. Or, shorts. If you can't face shorty shorts (and who can, past a certain age) try these cute bike shorts, still long enough for modesty.
Yoga pants to wear on a retreat. Full details for all garments  here

Yoga pants to wear on a retreat. Full details for all garments here

  • Multiple changes of outfit. If you are going to be spending your days doing yoga, lounging around a pool, and getting massages (with a bit of touristing thrown in), you really don't need 12 dresses and 5 pairs of non-yoga pants. I promise! 
  • Jeans. See above: full-length pants + tropical humidity = par-boiled yogi.

You know the worst of it? Because of the over-packing, I ended up with no space to stash any shopping. And Ubud is known for its shopping. What? Did I mention my shopping regret already? Oops...

Don't do like I did: be smart & take these suggestions from Yoga Journal:

Ps: Only two weeks left of early-bird pricing for this year's retreat, so book soon! Also, Retreat. Yoga. Love. 

Rice pudding for breakfast at a yoga retreat? Yes, thanks.

Confession: we don't do 'detox' style yoga retreats. Mostly because we believe in enjoying one's holiday, and it's hard to do that when you are hungry. 

Also because:

So it will come as no real surprise to you that our yoga retreats are somewhat about the food. Ok, a lot about the food. Sunday mornings on retreat in Ubud are my favourite: black rice pudding for breakfast! Yes, dessert for breakfast!

What, I've earned it, I did yoga before-hand.

I've even found a way to recreate the yum at home in Melbourne. This wonderful gal has a recipe for the good stuff on her blog:

Yum. I wonder if Karen or Suzy will smuggle some back for me from this year's retreat?

 

PS: 5 Ways Eat Pray Love Lies about Yoga in Bali. 

5 Ways Eat Pray Love Lies About Yoga in Bali

I've been to Bali - and Ubud in particular - three years in a row. It's no understatement to say I love it. And yes, perhaps (cough) I was slightly influenced to make that first trip by Elizabeth Gilbert's 2006 memoir, Eat Pray Love. 

But it's not quite as the book (and indeed, the movie with Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem) would have you believe. These five things, for example.

1. Bali is not peaceful

Or rather, it is not quiet. It's plenty serene, but the life of the island starts early - and noisily - with the roosters crowing in the dawn. And sometimes the dusk. And also every hour of the day. The roosters were a real shock the first time I went to Bali - they featured heavily in this article I wrote.

But it's easy to remember the place - Ubud especially -  as being very quiet and still, because it's got such a laid-back vibe. I always come home from Bali super chilled out. 

2. It's less of a love place, more of an eat place

Let's be honest, ladies and gents. It's just not that likely you are going to meet your Javier Bardem. I mean, it MIGHT happen. And if it does, you better discuss with your partner how they want to handle that... but for now, let's just appreciate the amazingness that is the food of Ubud, shall we?

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3. There's not really any place to meditate in the buff

In the book, Liz Gilbert slips out of her lover's bed, still naked, to blissfully meditate first thing in the morning. Yes, you could do that too. Except: first you have to find the lover with the perfectly remote house (and possibly you have to dispatch of the roosters).

But who has time, with all the food that needs eating, the cocktails that need drinking, and the massages that need having? Not to mention the morning and evening yoga.

4. You won't be stuck with just the one black dress

Given that she's just spent the best part of a year travelling, our heroine doesn't have much for formal wear, so she just wears her one black dress every night to go on dates with her hot latin lover. 

She really didn't need to do that, because: shopping. Ubud is a mecca for fabulous quirky designer wear, usually ethically made. You just have to stroll down Monkey Forest Road one afternoon and you are likely to end up with three new pairs of yoga pants, some art, jewellery, and an amazing new frock. All for less than half what you'd pay in Australia.

5. Healers probably won't give you a portend that comes true. But you will probably find healing

In the book, GIlbert visits a healer who tells her she will be coming back. That turned out to be true - because she made it true, of course. 

Like this Time article says: 

Today, the ladies all are "very lucky." They will each live to be one hundred and ten. In fact, most days visitors to Ketut can expect the same reading, with minor variations, but few mind. Ketut Liyer is not just a healer famed among locals, but a leading character in American author Elizabeth Gilbert's 2006 memoir Eat, Pray, Love, and his bamboo mat is an almost necessary stop on Bali's increasingly popular spiritual tourist circuit.

Doesn't matter though. Ubud's people are among the friendliest I've ever encountered, and after just a few days, you will feel like family. Add that to the morning offerings to the gods, the daily yoga, and the warmth and ease of the place, and you are likely to find you didn't need a healer to be healed.

PS: Early bird pricing for our July retreat ends 31 May - book now