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My Yoga & Meditation Journey So Far

‘The quieter you become the more you can hear’

Meditating, or in my case just sitting still, was easy when I was in Bali. There was no stress, no outside noise, no washing or dishes to do and kids to entertain, no classes to teach and basically no external barriers to sit still and just breathe. For the first time in my life I actually managed to go through twice daily 30-40mins meditation practices and really enjoyed them. I still couldn’t fully switch off but I sat there and felt so much better for it (sometimes even dozing off and waking up with a little snort 😝)

I’m back to the real world and I’m not going to lie – it is so much harder to do in here. But I do it nevertheless- 15 mins every morning sometimes burning my incense sticks and candles – sometimes without.

I have a little meditation space with crystals, a candle, incense sticks, holy water and some other bits and bobs there. I don’t think you actually really need all that to meditate, but it makes me happy and helps me with my daily ‘stillness’

I did try meditation before but I wasn’t persistent and there was always something/someone to blame for not doing it. I was restless and couldn’t compose myself. Walking meditation worked better for me but it wasn’t enough.

I truly believe that meditation is the key to a happy balanced life. I still can’t fully switch off and on those days when I just can’t get into it at all instead of letting all those thousands of thoughts running through my head I practice gratitude and breathing (pranayama).

I also only do it for 15 mins for now up until I feel I’m ready to increase it. It’s getting easier and easier from day to day but I know it’s going to take me many more months to learn to control my thoughts.

An interesting fact is that physical Yoga asanas (poses) were actually initially introduced to make you stronger in order to be able to sit still during meditation practices. Yoga then evolved into many various practices.

It’s perfectly fine to have your meditation practice separate from a yoga one. Breathing (pranayama) is an essential part of any yoga practice (or at least it should be!) and it is the first step to mindfulness and relaxation. I like a good strong yoga session, but I also do enjoy a more gentle and restorative practice with loads of breathing, relaxation and a long Savasana.

My personal practice has evolved from purely physical practice with no Savasana to incorporating more breathing exercises and actually staying for Savasana to all of the above plus more mindful approach to teaching and practicing yoga and pranayama to incorporating daily meditation, external and self education and evolving my practice daily.

Mindfulness and meditation isn’t my strongest point. I wouldn’t teach meditation or narrate Yoga Nidra because that would just be fake and pretentious. But I would explain it to people and use a recording of Yoga Nidra narrated by someone who is really good at it. If something has worked for me and I learnt it from a source I would share it, but up until I feel I’m proficient at some certain practices I wouldn’t teach them.

I do like working with breath and coordinating breath with movement – hence flow yoga is by far my preferred practice. I like alignment and functional aspects of Yoga asanas, but I also grew to love restorative practices.

The moral is: do what you like and don’t feel you have to become a Buddhist monk and meditate for months avoiding a physical yoga practice because it’s ‘trendy’ nowadays. There’s time and space for everything: both of them are just fine as well as any other forms of physical activities.

It has actually been proven that meditation facilitates a better lifestyle, reduces stress and anxiety and promotes clearer thinking. The same can be said about exercise and a physical practice.

I’m still only starting my meditation journey so can’t really give you any solid advise on that, but taking time for myself, painting, walking and meditating has been really making a positive effect onto my life 💕

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My Bali Adventures. Food & Flora..and a Bat

Food, Fruit and Flowers

If you don’t like coconuts then maybe Bali isn’t a place for you :)) Almost everything there is either cooked with coconuts or made from coconuts! They grow everywhere and you can either drink coconut water out of a young coconut or get a ‘normal’ coconut!

Cows are sacred animals in Bali (Hinduism). When I asked the driver why they were sacred he said that cows were like mother figures, taking care of all the people so you obviously wouldn’t want to eat your mother ;)) There’s not much cow milk on the island, mainly coconut and soya milk, that’s why ice cream is all exported from abroad and costs pretty much the same as in the UK. You can get local yummy coconut or fruit lollies made with coconut milk a bit cheaper though.

I spent most of my time in Ubud and as I’ve mentioned before, many places there were vegan or vegetarian. You could get delicious fresh juices and smoothies of all kinds as well as alcoholic drinks (I wasn’t drinking while on the retreat).

Food was delicious and no wonder it was so easy to be a vegan over there: it didn’t cost a lot and the choice was amazing!

I would say that £12 would buy you a very decent almost 2 course meal and a drink. Some people stay away from ice and salad when in Bali as they might be washed in dirty water. I had both and was ok, but I also did eat in good restaurants. Maybe when it comes to street food and suspiciously looking places avoiding ice and salads could be a good idea.

The most popular fruit are dragon fruit, mango, jack fruit, papaya, little bananas, snake fruit and of course coconuts! Needless to say they taste way better than the ones from UK supermarkets.

Jack fruit

The Bali flora is totally amazing! So many colours and shapes and smells! I don’t know the names of all these flowers, but they were all stunning!!

Oh and I also came across a bat size of a dog while in Ubud. It was the freakiest most unusual creature I have ever seen! The wings looked so artificial and when it was moving and yawning it looked like a fox! So bizarre!

Bali is very green and reminded me a bit if Scotland (minus weather!). To see secluded untouched beaches you would need to travel to the neighbouring islands, because most of the southern beaches are too noisy and touristy.

Having been once I know now what I would like to see next time: I would definitely travel to the nearby islands to swim with turtles and to snorkel; I would take a trip to see a magnitude of waterfalls in the jungle and I would also probably crash in Ubud for a few days to do yoga, dances and eat delicious food and meet some like minded yogis!

If you have been to Bali and have any recommendations please post on here – I’d love to hear from you!

Up until next time,

Love and hugs,

Natallia xxx

clean eating, gratitute, health and fitness, self help, travel

My Bali Adventures. Day 6

Monkey Forest in Ubud!!

The place was on my list of things to see before I even left for Bali! Saying that, I changed my mind numerous times whether I wanted to go there or not as I was a bit scared of the monkeys!

I had no vaccinations done before going to Bali so was very aware of all the animal world of the island! Talking about animals, I haven’t met many cats there at all and Bali dogs were totally Zen! Whether it was the smells of the incense sticks or the prayers or the heat.. or the combination of all of them.. they were totally harmless and wouldn’t even move out of your way either out of laziness or the heat!

Monkeys though were a completely different kettle of fish! The sign at the entrance stated to have no jewellery, no glasses, no food and warned against looking them in the eye! So you can imaging that when we entered the jungle I was a bit on edge.

It all turned out to be pretty safe. There were hundreds of monkeys in the jungle of all sizes, ages and shapes. Baby monkeys were super cute and it was really cool to observe them eating, playing and having fun!

The jungle was amazing though! It has a little river and a mini waterfall, as well as loads of beautiful trees!

The whole experience was great and it was so good to see monkeys living in the wild with no cages or restrictions! I’m not a big fan of Zoos as I don’t like seeing animals locked up in cages – it was a completely different story seeing them run around free and happy and it felt good to be there!

It takes just over an hour to go around the place. There are a couple of temples in the jungle, loads of paths and loads of greens! It is very safe as long as you don’t feed the monkeys and there are a lot of staff all over the place as well.

Monkeys also come out of the jungle and you can see them on the cables above your head or out and about munching on fruit and whatever else they can get hold of!

Another fab experience and a great day out!

https://www.monkeyforestubud.com

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My Bali Adventures.

Hello everyone and thank you for expressing interest in my Bali adventures and my Blog. I have tried to be as informative as I could about my travels in Bali and hope you will find the stories informative and somewhat entertaining.

When I was going to Bali I read through a lot of Blogs of people who have visited the country and I found them very helpful.

The blogs cover most of my days in Bali, but there were a few days when we were just chilling, doing yoga and exploring the surroundings so I did not write on those days.

Enjoy the read and let me know if you like the blogs or not,

Natallia 

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My Bali Adventures. Day 11

On my last day in Bali we went to a yoga hub of Ubud – the Yoga Barn. We had breakfast and lunch in there, as well as tried out a Yoga session.

It was like practicing Yoga in a Yoga Paradise! The place was like a mini Yoga village with cafes, massage and spiritual practices places, vegan and raw vegan food, statues (even a Yoda Statue 🙂 and fountains, and with loads of green outdoor space!

There were a few studios there. The one I was in was an indoor one with a floor to ceiling window overlooking the green trees and statues. The rest of the studios were pretty much outdoors.

The timetable had a huge variety of classes and events. I could only manage 1 Power Yoga class due to having to leave in the afternoon.

It was so nice to just sit there and soak in the atmosphere of the place!

I can’t quite describe the feeling and the atmosphere in there except for I knew I would have to go back there and have at least a full week experience of being in that place.

We have had all the yoga sessions at the retreat held outside overlooking the jungle and surrounded by sounds of nature (and occasional bees and not so occasional mosquitoes ). So nice to be able to practice Yoga and meditation outside – very relaxing!

Beautiful experience and amazing memories of the place!

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My Bali Adventures. Day 10

The most beautiful end to one of the best weeks I’ve had in a long long time 😇

On Saturday we went for a water purification ceremony to a Pura Tirta Empul – a water temple built around a holy mountain spring in the village of Manukaya.

The temple was founded in 926 A.D. and is dedicated to Vishnu, who is the Hindu god of water. The name of the temple actually means ‘holy water spring’ in Balinese.

The Jaba Tengah is the most famous part of Tirta Empul temple. This section contains the two purification pools. The water in the pools is believed to have magical powers and local Balinese as well as millions of tourists come here to purify themselves under the 30 water spouts that feed the pools.

It was such a wonderful experience! The water was cold and we had to go under quite a few fountains. It was very cleansing and almost magical. If you can imagine just being in a temple and admire its beauty, you can multiply it by 1000 – that’s what it felt like being there under the holy springs.

Needless to say I wore loads of jewellery, all my malas and even managed to fill up a tiny bottle with water from the springs 🙃😆

So much piece and quiet in the temples here accompanied by scents from incense sticks from the offerings and prayers of the local people.

Beautiful place and amazing experience!

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My Bali Adventures. Day 5

Blooming Lotus Yoga Retreat

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When we arrived to the retreat the first reaction was ‘Wow’: the place was beautiful, calm and felt very safe and ‘at home’.

On the arrival they served us complimentary green coconut pancake things that tasted delicious!!

We all had different accommodation either sharing a smaller or slightly bigger room or having a whole private villa. I shared a more spacious room with an American girl and we had a few neighbours, and a kitchen/sitting room area with a pool.

Every morning we had a fruit bowl and granola with coconut milk for breakfast and a selection of teas and coffees. Coconut milk was freshly made and was delicious!

Lunch was not served at the retreat and we mostly had it in Ubud, but dinner was included into the retreat package. Every evening it was something different and delicious!

The views from the villa and from the yoga studio were mesmerising: overlooking the jungle and a temple. We witnessed quite a few local ceremonies at the temple accompanied him music, singing, and praying.

The retreat was mostly mindfulness focused rather than asana (postures) based. There were loads of breathing and meditation practices, yoga nidra and various workshops covering different aspects of yoga and mindfulness.

We had a session every morning, then breakfast and a workshop just before noon. Every day there was a free shuttle to Ubud – the nearest town and the Yoga/Art/Mindfulness/Vegan Food Mecca Of Bali. Then we had an evening 2 hour Yoga/Meditation session and dinner.

The group was very multi national and the whole vibe, energy and atmosphere of the retreat was very powerful: loads of stories, laughs, tears and revelations came up during the time spent there. People who wouldn’t normally cry – cried and unburdened themselves from the emotions deeply buried inside for years. Everyone had a story and everyone had a reason to be there.

I met many lovely people at the retreat (and before) – some of them have become friends and we will hopefully keep this friendship going for a long time. 

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known a person. It is so easy to communicate with people on the same page as you, people who share your passion, interests and whose inner world is somewhat similar to yours.

The retreat has taught me a lot, has opened my eyes on many things and I’m hoping to stay on this path for many years to come.

The most difficult part is to take all this experience into the real world. Being there was different. I found it so easy to switch off and relax without any effort. The smells…The energy.. The atmosphere – all that was contributing towards the overall ‘zen’ factor.

I loved every minute of it: the retreat, the people, the exploring of the country and it’s delicious food and drink! I miss my daily fix of dragon fruit, coconut based dishes and yummy vegan food! I learnt to play Polish Poker, watched The Autobiography of a Yogi Movie, penciled down loads of book recommendations and had so many dragon fruits and dragon fruit juices that I was wondering why I didn’t turn purple! 

I managed to stay vegetarian (well, maybe pescatarian as I had prawns twice and a bit of tuna;)) for 7 days and only had chicken once on a plane as was starving! Apart from that I’ve still not had any other meat and it’s day 11 now. I’m not quite sure if I am going to stick to a no meat diet for a long time, but I am going to give it a good go or considerably reduce the amount of meat I consume.

Loads of good memories from the place! I loved it and will hopefully be back there for more mindfulness and yoga in future!

Many thanks to Ashley and Anisha, the awesome teachers who made the retreat so special and all the Balinese staff from the retreat!

Up until next time,

Good bye and Namaste!

Natallia

https://www.blooming-lotus-yoga.com