Letter from Bali XIII – Yoga One
It’s a tantric letter this one – at peace with the universe, body and soul, all work and no play, Venus and Mars, Sonny and Sher, yabba yabba yabba… and if my arse didn’t hurt so damned much I might be better able to attain my inner space of oneness, my eye within the storm, my cream within the eclair, the fortune within the cookie, the whatever the hell it is one is seeking to attain other than the ligament damage one is truly, sincerely getting… this was week one of yoga and this is Letter from Bali for 2011, a new year full of resolutions. Focus on your breathing…. focus… in through the nose, out through the ears… now bend!
We’ve got white rice and brown rice here, red rice and sticky rice too, rice wine and rice flour and it doesn’t end there. Bali has a lot of rice going on. My experience is that there is a direct correlation between the variety of rice on offer and the amount of Yoga in the air. Add in a catalyst of rich foreigners and this recipe congeals – it becomes a certainty. Some people talk about the hindu thing but I’m convinced it’s the rice. Either way Bali has a lot of yoga going on.
Yoga is meant to take you somewhere between nature and consciousness – about two beers worth then? Surely a worthwhile cause. Really though, to live in this place for a year and never try yoga? It would be like going to the desert and never seeing the sand – what is the point? I had never ever been to a yoga class before in my entire life. That was corrected this week.
A wise man called Wiki once said that the word ‘yoga’ itself means control and contemplation. “Control” as in trying to keep a fart in while your hips are rolled to a place they should not be outside of child birth; “Contemplation” as in what the room of nubile lycra’d women (and one man – ponytails all) might think of you should you fail, and shamefully let fly a Vedic duck. Focus, focus, focus! Remember to breathe, remember to breathe, at least while the air is still good.
I’ll let you know how it goes. They say it is a ‘journey’. I love that! Part of the fun seems to be to try different instructors, to get you to the one who touches the real you… I’m guessing this is yoga speak for he/she with the cutest bum, but I’m still at the cynical stage and have yet to let go, have yet to embrace my Yama Dhyana ding dong. I look forward to the challenge.
The first week was good fun. By lesson two I had managed to touch my toes, that was two days ago. Today I can barely touch my knees, my body has gone into shock. I have the children hold my arms and lower me onto the toilet because I can’t bend anymore. They thought this amusing at first but now they don’t come when I call to be lifted back up… the young can be so cruel!
My favourite pose so far is the Savasana. It’s the one you get at the end. They call it the ‘burial’ pose because, well, you just lie on the ground like you’re dead. The hard core Yogi’s call it the most difficult of all the poses, the hardest to master. The deal is you must kill your mind as well as your body, or something like that, and that is ostensibly difficult for some people. As I assumed my Savasana on Thursday it was a natural for me, I had reached the zenith of enlightenment after only two classes. The torture was over and my mind cleared, utterly empty but for two words small words… “Thank f**k!” Someone released a duck.
We made up our minds over the holidays. Plans are taking shape. Bali had always been a year, we are not working and you can live on love but it doesn’t pay for the air conditioning. We were always moving on. Now where the hell are we going to go next? Our resident visas expire on June 16th, this is handy in the Indonesian sense of the word because the children are in school until June 17th, and the house is paid for until June 19th. Luckily Indonesian bureaucracy is all a matter of filling brown envelopes – our overstay of a few days should mean nothing more than a donation to immigration and then we’ll be off… but to where?
The answer is in. We go to the UK to live; two years at least. We had considered Australia – I thought the place was great and that the family would like it a lot – but considerations of my own extended family and giving the children a chance to know them have become increasingly important… do I declare that with age I am becoming sentimental?
The company I used to work for has three port terminals in the south of England. We’ll try there first. “Hello Jock!” I can’t wait. England is also in need of teachers and having seen the salary schedule I can see why – you get as much in Canada waiting on tables. I regret only that we will miss the Royal Wedding on April 29th, it would be a great chance for the children to wade into the cultural curiosities of that small, wet island…or maybe I don’t.
Making plans for what comes next is natural – we are now over half way in our Balinese trip. Bali was about books too, the writing of them. I think the next letter might be about my experience with that experience. England has, of course, a long and strong literary tradition and one on which both of us draw daily inspiration.
A bit of yoga, a bit of writing, a bit of naked basketball around the pool… a beer until the thunder storms pass. If it is all about balance then things are ok right now.
My New Year resolution for 2010 was to complete a 360 degree man tan and ended up 270 degrees to the good. My tantric juices can live with that just now. 2011 has started well.
Breathe in through the nose and up through the crown of your head, transcending that third eye! Pass the bottle opener. Namaste.