The final few

I spent the week at Bali Goddess Retreats in Seminyak (Sunday to Saturday). I’d booked it several months earlier while I was in Jamaica and had really hoped to progress in my yoga practice before going, but that didn’t happen. Instead I’d been getting more and more fed up of yoga and my teacher in Dubai, knowing exactly what each class would entail and I was getting bored. So in the end, this retreat was going to make or break my relationship with yoga.

I was a bit nervous – I wasn’t even sure what kind of yoga we’d be doing or if I’d be able to keep up with the rest of the class. It turned out that there were only four of us on the retreat this week (they usually have between eight and fifteen women each retreat) so we all got a lot of attention in class. We had two teachers for the week – Ailise (pronounced ‘Aleesha’ – it’s Irish but she’s English) and Santi (an Indonesian from Java). They were both excellent teachers and after just two classes at the retreat I realised I was going to have to look for a new teacher (or yoga studio) when I got back to Dubai.

On Day 1, we had our first yoga class at 4pm. The yoga shala was outdoors (it had a roof but no walls) so it was pretty hot. Ailise explained that she was going to take us through one chakra in each class, starting with the root chakra or muladhara. I enjoyed the pace of the class and was able to keep up although ten minutes into the class I had to spray myself with mosquito repellent as I was being eaten alive. I really liked Ailise’s style of teaching – she explained what certain poses did for us physically and emotionally – it was nice to have some explanation rather than moving from one pose to the next without knowing why. The only drawback to the insect repellent was that it made my limbs slippery! Trying to twist one arm over the other, or one leg over the other, or even clasp my hands together was twice as hard as I kept slipping out of the poses!

On Day 2, we had our first class with Santi at 6.30am. The first thing that struck me was how ridiculously toned her body was! Her arms were so defined. It was almost intimidating actually – seeing as I’ve given up on having anything toned! It was a vinyasa flow class and it was tough. There was a lot of moving from one pose straight into the next, which I’m not used to – but it was good to do it. At one point she said, ‘Just kick up your legs and float back’. Erm, floating implies a certain amount of strength (and grace) which I don’t have!

Our afternoon class was at 5pm with Ailise. She covered the second chakra or swadisthana. It was a 90-minute class and we went through many hip opening sequences and several poses involving lunges. I had sprayed my arms and legs and exposed areas with mosquito repellent before the class, but by the time we’d finished I had three mosquito bites on my left hip/butt cheek and one on the right. The little f***ers had bitten me right through my clothes! Damn nyamuk!

On Day 3, we had an hour of yoga at 7.30am with Ailise. She went through the third chakra or manipura (solar plexus). We did some breathing exercises, including kapalabati breathing, to get that fire raging in our bellies. She also didn’t switch on the fan so we were really feeling the heat and were all sweaty by the end of the class.

That afternoon we had a class with Santi at 5pm. We told her we were all quite tired so she went a little easier on us (I still found it difficult). It was a 90-minute class – after a warmup of stretching, we did two rounds of sun salutation and then the rest of the class was active stretching. The second half of the class was so relaxing that I even dozed off during savasana.

On Day 4 we were supposed to have yoga at 7am – and we were all ready – but Ailise thought our class was at 7.30am and so we started late. We ended up having a 45-minute class focusing on the heart chakra or anahata. It was mostly a gentle class but I got really sweaty during garudasana (not to mention slippery from the insect repellent while trying to twist my limbs)!

That afternoon we had a yin yoga class at 5pm. I’d never done yin yoga before but I loved it. It was a very slow, relaxing class. It’s definitely not something you would do if you wanted a workout but for deep stretching it’s amazing as you hold each pose for about 5 minutes, if not longer.

On Day 5, we had yoga at 7.30am again. Ailise took us through a meditation for love and kindness, and we then covered the throat chakra or vishuddha. We did some chanting, fish pose, plough pose and shoulderstand (and other poses).

Our class with Santi was at 2.30pm that afternoon as we were all heading out early that evening. We did a vinyasa flow class and it was bloody hard. By the end of it I looked like I’d taken a shower with my clothes on. I suppose having the class at the height of the afternoon heat didn’t help matters much. Even though her classes were hard, she was an excellent teacher.

On Day 6, our yoga class was at 5.30am as two of the girls were leaving for their SUP class at 7.30am. Ailise covered the third eye chakra or ajna. I can’t even remember what we covered during this class – probably because I was so tired! I ended up going back to bed after breakfast for a couple of hours.

In our evening class, Ailise covered the crown chakra or sahasrara. We began with a meditation and a gentle warmup and were then put in pairs. I was paired with SS, who is only 5 feet tall. When I had to sit on her while she was in child’s pose, I was really worried I’d crush the poor girl! That was our last class with Ailise – she was such a good teacher and I really learned a lot from her.

On Day 7, our last day, we had yoga with Santi at 8am. It was a really good class. She taught us about nauli – an internal cleansing technique which tones your abs. She didn’t think her English was good enough to explain it (her English was fine!), so she showed us this video:

She said that nauli is what gives yogis their six-packs. We then tried to do it ourselves – it’s so hard! I can only do the first part – and not for very long… It’s like creating a vacuum in your stomach. I’ve been doing it every morning since I got back to Dubai but no sign of a six-pack yet (I think that’s a long way away)!

Santi also gave us tips about what we were doing wrong and what to focus on while we were practising yoga. I know that when I’m in chaturanga, my elbows come out like I’m doing a pushup rather than staying close to my sides. She picked up on this and gave me tips on how to correct it. Now why couldn’t my regular yoga teacher point this out to me? I feel like I’ve wasted time with her as my teacher.

Once I’d moved to the Sofitel, on the Saturday, I wanted to carry on doing yoga (or anything) and found out that the gym at the hotel had yoga classes every morning at 7am. I intended to go on Sunday morning but was so tired and I felt like having a lie in. I did make it to the gym though – and spent 30 minutes on the treadmill and then did Week 3 Day 1 of the Great Butt app:

  • Reverse leg lifts x 7 on each side
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Reverse leg lifts x 7 on each side
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Reverse leg lifts x 7 on each side
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Reverse kicks x 6 on each side
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Reverse kicks x 6 on each side
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Butt raises x 7
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Butt raises x 6
  • Rest

I also did Week 3 Day 1 of the Great Abs app:

  • Crunches x 7
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Crunches x 6
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Crunches x 6
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Side obliques x 8 on each side
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Side obliques x 7 on each side
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Reverse crunches x 6
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Reverse crunches x 6
  • Rest

On Monday morning I made to to the yoga class – the yoga teacher was called Mustika. The first half of the class was hatha yoga and the second half was swing yoga!

2015-12-14 06.52.39

Even though I’d tried it once before in Dubai, I still found it difficult. Also, there were three people in the class and only two hammocks so we had to take it in turns which interrupted the flow of the class.

At the end of the class I asked Mustika what kind of yoga they’d be doing on Tuesday. He said they usually did hatha yoga but someone had requested a swing yoga class – I asked him if I could join that class and he said it was fine.

I’m glad I tried it again, because I really managed to do some of the things I couldn’t do the day before! The other girl in the class and I were quite enjoying it – although the friction of the hammock against my skin really hurt at one point (and I later had bruises under my arms!). It was an extra long class – we didn’t finish until 8.30am as nobody was keeping track of time (in true Balinese style)!

And then once my parents and sister and grandmother arrived, I didn’t make it to the gym for the rest of my trip!

Low point of the two weeks? Once my cousin’s wedding started, there was a lot of eating and drinking. Not as much drinking as you might think – I hadn’t had a drink for two weeks before the wedding and was quite proud of myself. I stuck to vodka and soda during the wedding – no wine or champagne – and no hangovers!

High point of the two weeks? It was all amazing. I only felt sore one morning during the yoga retreat – and that was on Day 3. I really learnt a lot while I was there too…

Weight loss? I didn’t weigh myself while I was away, but I’d put on 1 kg by the time I’d come back home, even after all that yoga!

2015-12-08 10.52.05

Read more updates here.

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One thought on “The final few

  1. […] was up early on Sunday. I’d missed the swing yoga class but decided to go to the gym anyway. On my way back to my room I stopped in the restaurant, Kwee Zeen, for breakfast. I have to […]

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