Yoga School Wrap Up

Yoga school was intense and since I am really more of a directly-after-the-moment kind of writer it is hard for me to look back to five days ago and convey what all has transpired so I will just stick to the highlights to fill in a few gaps.

Monday I woke up sick. It started as a headache and a low-grade fever and by 5pm it was a super high fever and every joint in my body was screaming out in pain. I skipped the evening’s outing, ordered in room service and settled in to the fetal position for the night. A few hours later and my fever broke, and by broke I mean I almost drowned in my own sweat. The next morning I woke and I was fine. This has now happened to me twice in my three weeks here. My body is being cleansed like never before and the release of decades of bad behavior is coming out in one-day fever doses. It’s crazy to experience.

Tuesday morning was my turn to teach. During the last week of training we all had our practical exams. This required that we be prepared to teach a 75-minute Vinyasa Flow class. The classes were broken into four sections, opening, standing poses, sitting poses and closing. Each day four of us were chosen and we were told as class was beginning which section we would be leading. I had gone over my lesson in my head dozens of times, I knew every posture by its Sanskrit name, how to lead my students into and out of the poses with their breath, I knew the modifications, I was ready.

In fact, I’m not sure I have ever been less nervous for an exam. Marco our Italian/Croatian director/Guru came to me after meditation and asked if I would open the class. I was elated!!! If I had had my choice, opening is what I would have opted for. I led my fellow classmates in chanting a mantra all about how we are our own teachers, a theme I kept throughout the warm-up stretches and five rounds each of sun salutation A and B. And just like that, it was over. I realized afterwards that I had pretty much meditated my way through. I felt so at ease and comfortable in the seat of the teacher.

During my evaluation Marco, who to me embodies yoga, gave me the most amazing compliment. “Rachel, you absolutely were yoga when you were teaching.” I felt again like I had during “my moment” of the first week – I felt joy and love.
As part of the closing of our course we had an evening where everyone brought something beautiful to share with the group. Many brought flowers or poems. Irena, a yoga teacher from Holland brought a hand written note for each of us. Mine said “thank you for your peaceful grace”. Wow. Me graceful… me, the eternal clutz? This is what yoga can do.
As our time together began to wind down there was a decided lack of tears. Everyone seemed ready to move on, to begin their own practices and to incorporate yoga into their normal lives. Not wishing our last days away, but ready for the next step. We were all detached little yogis, living in the Now. During one of our last lessons our teachers gave us all some pointers on how to fit yoga into modern life. Satya called it being an urban yogi. I decided that I don’t want to fit yoga into my life. I want to fit my life into my yoga. This is the order of priority for me now and I intend to live this way for the duration.

I officially graduated yoga school on Wednesday evening, which also coincided with Galungan a high holy day here in Bali. We were all treated to an amazing graduation/Galungan ceremony performed for us by a Hindu priest, complete with blessings and cleansings, it was one of the most amazingly powerful things I have ever experienced. Actually, my entire time in Bali has been like this – each day brings some new wonder I could not possibly have dreamed of before.

Thursday morning all of the students gathered at our own pace in the smaller shala to enjoy one last Mysore practice together before each of us headed off in our own direction. When I was finished with my practice I began humming, I wasn't even really aware that I was doing it until I heard Taylor, the 23-year old who went to Wayan's with me, humming too. We simultaneously raised our hums to soft singing and then together we sang the Anusara Invocation, the same one I had led my class with. Another reminder that I am now and have always been, my own teacher. Taylor and I softened our voices until our humming drifted off and we returned to our individual silences. It was the perfect ending to yoga school.

That night my yoga school roommate (Mary) and I were treated to an amazing graduation dinner by Mary’s boyfriend Ed. It began with cheese and fruit in this gorgeous villa overlooking the river canyon and rice fields of Ubud. I should explain the absence of cheese from my life for the last 21 days so that you can fully grasp how amazing a block of finely aged blue was to me.

Then Ed proclaimed that we needed to toast our accomplishments and he produced a bottle of Dom Perignon – one hell of a way to reintroduce alcohol into my life. And from their we went to Mosaic which is a sister restaurant to French Laundry in Napa and where I had one of the absolute finest meals of my life – every time a new course came (all eight of them) I had to proclaim that it was the greatest thing I had ever tasted! What a way to reintroduce meat into my life.

We stumbled home well past our yoga school bedtime laughing and generally enjoying each other’s company.

All in all I cannot believe my good fortune. I chose this yoga school because it was Vinyasa/Ashtanga based, because it was in Bali and because it fit my time line. What I received was the teachings of three amazing Gurus, the education of Mysore with 17 amazing souls, the peace and prosperity that comes with a dedicated practice, a few life-long friendships and a vastly improved sense of Self.

Coming here was one of the best decisions of my life.

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