Super-Hot Power Yogis in Ubud, Bali.

“Today we are going to begin the class with Genesha’s mantra, a deities’ who’s power removes obstacles and clear ones path for a new beginning.” Said Emily Kuser our yoga teacher at Taksu studio, teaching the Vibrant Living class.

aum gang ganapata-ye namah” she sang and we repeated three times after.
Come to stand in Tadasana with the hands in a prayer position at the heart. Inhale – Bring the arms out to the sides and up to Urdva Hastasana. Exhale – Swan dive down, hinging at the hips, bringing the palms flat on either side of your feet to Uttanasana. Inhale – Come up to a flat back bringing your peace fingers tips to the floor. Exhale – Bring the palms flat, forward bending again into Uttanasana.

With clear open mind we enter Ubud a capital of artists, home to good restaurants, healthy people and unique shopping. A place where a weekend getaway becomes a week, a week can easily become a month turning into a year, and a life style. Emily enjoys living this calm, away from chaos, and among Hinduism. Where she teaches yoga, practices yoga and I am sure has a calm and fulfilling life. I love meeting people who are happy to be where they are, it’s so inspiring.
With a hidden intensity she continued to motivate us deeper. Inhale – Bring the right foot to the back of the mat, come up on to the finger tips into a low lunge. Exhale – Bring the left foot back to meet the right coming into Downward Facing Dog. Hang around here for a bit, see how you feel today, send energy to the area that needs it most and make it comfortable.
After finding a comfortable room in the Bali Springs away from the main street, we quickly settled and felt at home. Bali Spring was quite different from our previous place on the Gili Island. When we entered we found our self in the middle of a temple style living space, where a working family went on with their everyday tasks. Each section of their living corners was out in the open. Their “living room” with a TV and other accessories was in the middle, out in the open air. Each member had a separate room as bedroom, and the kitchen was detached as well. Initially we didn’t think this was any kind of hostel, hotel or space for rent as their clothing and kid toys were scattered everywhere. Kids running around, mothers breast feeding and the entire family’s generation was sitting around. However, the place had a character, and the owners had a smile with a positive energy. We take it. Our living space was quite different, new room, new bed, new part of the building, with AC and a bathtub all for $16 a day, plus breakfast included.
Inhale – Come forward to a Plank position. Exhale – Lower down to Chaturanga Dandasana. Inhale – Come forward to Upward Facing Dog. Exhale – Back to Downward Facing Dog. Hop or step your feet to hands. Inhale – Bring the arms out to the sides and up, reversing the swan dive to Urdva Hatasana. Exhale – Come to stand in Tadasana with the hands in a prayer position at the heart
With the heart beating fast and the heat sneaking in we continue up the Campuan Ridge Walk, an 8km walk that took us above the lush river, through the rice fields with amazing views of the Campun village. It was truly like Lonely Planet said “Fantasyland of coursing waterways and good views among the rice and villas.” But the heat just kept on coming on stronger, made the sweat run down from my head passing my neck and straight down my chest. Iza always likes to point it out to me “Damn you are freaking sweating!” Really?? no shit, I am like a fat kid now, I don’t know what is wrong with me, but I am sweating alright. So I wipe myself with my red material bag that I got from German Dress. Somewhere in the middle of the walk we came across one of Ubud’s many galleries, the artist was painting his eggs. No, not his personal eggs, but an egg shape painted in Bali style. “Ohh this will be perfect for Easter, I should get one.” I though. So I did, I got an egg with Genesha my first souvenir from Bali.
aum gang ganapata-ye namah
I repeated in my head to slow my breath and comeback to reality, while Emily continued to intensify and correct our poses. Inhale – Bring the right foot forward next to the right hand as you come into a lunge position. Make sure the toes on your right foot line up with the fingertips on your right hand. Pivot on the ball of the left foot, dropping the left heel down. Bring the arms up to Worrior I. Inhale… Exhale.. Inhale… Exhale. Take 3 more breaths. On exhale, open the arms while pulling the left hip back, coming into Worrior II.
I ain’t no worrier when it comes to pain. “Ouch, this hurts” I hear my muscle screaming while a tiny Balinesian girl is rubbing and digging her tiny fingers into my thigh. We can’t move after everyday yoga classes like Vinyassa, Vibrant Living, Power Yoga, Ying, and the Forrest Yoga make us use different muscles we’ve never though we had. Iza and I decided to check out the Orchard Salon and Spa located near our place for a Traditional Balinese Massage, a deep tissue massage. Rejuvenation of our body with Bali’s own traditional massage which is handed down through generations sounded like the right thing to do. It is designed to reduce tension and stress, plus it improves blood circulations. Not the most fancy spa we’ve been to but the massage was as good as any other and it cost us $7.
Bend your knees and lay down in Child’s pose.
Waking up with a dazed look from the massage and feeling like too much Yoga, I though of the book “Eat, Pray and Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Or some people might recognize it as a motion picture with Julia Roberts with the setting in Bali. Either way is a very popular book read by many woman who then come to Ubud to relive the experience and find their meaning of life. They stroll the streets with a look of self-satisfaction and too much yoga. Hoping to meet Felipe, a rich Brazilian who will bed them silly for an entire month. I think the chances are very rare to meet Mr. Felipe as there are more MISS Felipes in Ubud then the fantasy Felipe from the book.
On an exhale, come into a Extended Side Angle Pose by drawing the right arm forward and dropping the right hand down inside or outside the right foot. Inhale…Exhale… Inhale… Exhale. On an exhale, straighten the right leg coming into Triangle Pose. Soften the right knee and bring the left hand to the left hip. Move the right hand about 18 inches in front of the right foot. Kick the left leg up into Half Moon Pose. Straighten the left arm toward the ceiling and bring the gaze up to the left hand.
Iza extends her left hand wile turning left on our rented Honda scooter towards Besakih. We are focused and flying through morning traffic, hundredths of local scooters and cars on the way to work. My scooter skills came in handy from NYC, where I learned how to maneuver through the big city of yellow cabs. In Bali, or in Indonesia there is no rules, first come first goes. 1.5 hrs later and we arrived to Besakih Temple, Bali’s most important temple in fact it is extensive complex of 23 separate but related temples. The largest and most important being Pura Penatarn Agung. Non practicing Hindus are not allowed into the temples. Being Christian we walked around and viewed the temples from outside, checking out the structure and people. We got lucky the night before was a full moon and they had a ceremony. Once a month during the full moon Hindus have a big ceremony, many people walking around with baskets of food and flowers on their heads. One of the local guys explained to us a bit of the Hindu religion, you do good and good things will happen to you. I love the idea and I wish everybody would have that mentality. No robberies, no killings, just one big happy world. We enjoyed seeing the temples, but more so we enjoyed the ride to and from the temple. Flying on the scooter we passed many small villages surrounded by rice fields and funky art. One village was known for wood carvings and everything else wood. It was few kilometers of just wood shops and stores, further down we came across Hindu statues and when we got closer to Ubud the art galleries over powered.
At this point in the class if you have an inversion that you like to practise please do so, otherwise I will walk you through the Shoulderstand.
Can’t help but bend the rules of no more shopping by walking into all the small boutiques and look around. The best shops in Ubud are on the Hanoman street and Dewi Sita, where we found the coolest original jewelry, fashion and art boutiques. Our favorite was SOA, a funky little boutique with designer clothes and accessories, we end up upgrading our wardrobe a bit with some new fashion. I also bought a small souvenir, a ring neckless with Genesha and Iza got a “Shanti” ring. As of now Ubud and Argentina have the coolest shops. Cool funky clothes, with unique accessories.
Take the legs out into a wide straddle position. Flex both feet and press the legs down strongly, coming into Upavistha Konasana. Forward bend to the center, extending the spine on your inhales and deepening the pose on your exhales.
Ohh my god look at this monkey, what is she eating?” Iza pointed. While a little monkey standing a meter away is licking an energizer battery. “She is getting energized.” We visited the famous Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, this cool and dense swat of jungle houses three holy temples and the sanctuary is inhabited by a band of gray haired and greedy long tailed Balinese Macaques, who are not like the innocent looking doe Monkeys on the brochures.1 They will steel, anything you have, forget about food, it will be gone. The sanctuary has a temple of the dead and it has a real Indiana Jones feel to it.1 Not the biggest place we have visited but impressive to see all the monkeys running around freely. Of course we didn’t bring any food, just watched as other people got scammed. Smart creatures they are.
Spend a few minutes resting in Savasana to let your body absorb the benefits of your practice, lay flat on the floor with your legs and arms wide open and close your eyes. Let your mind go, feel the release of muscles and let your mind wonder into relaxation.
My stomach is growing while I lay down in Savasana, my belly wants food, breakfast would be perfect. Ubud’s cafes and restaurants are some of the best in Bali, it’s a good place to try authentic Balinese dishes as well as Asian and other international cuisine. Many places have breath taking views and settings over the rice fields. They serve organic, healthy and creative display on banana leaves. Our favorite cafes in Ubud are Kafe, Sari Organik, Sopa, Bali Buddah, Warung Igelanca and Soma a high vibe organic café that serves all vegetarian plates with the focus on raw food. Raw food diet is very popular in Ubud, it’s a plant based diet of fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds which is becoming a trend and obsession. Raw food died claims to give you clear eyes, glowing skin, vibrant energy and hearts opening natural high. I think I am ready for ‘Elixir of Immortality‘ a shake made with the best earth has to offer. Did I mentioned that we have became vegetarians, no meet for over 2 weeks.
Slowly begin to wake your body up, deepen your breath, wiggle your toes and fingers, hug your knees to your chest and roll over to your right side. Take a few breaths and when you are ready come to a comfortable sitting position. Close your eyes and lets “om” together.
om, om, om.
“Thank you for allowing my body to have the opportunity to experience and flex, and for allowing me to be able to practice my mind body and soul”
Photos from Indonesia.