Namaste friend. I recently returned from a yoga retreat in Ubud (apologies for the shameless spam on the socials) and I will now prefix every comment with, ‘in Bali…this would only cost…‘. I had a wonderful time. There is something about travel, even to a destination familiar to every man and his downward dog, that gives you a new perspective on life and puts you out of your comfort zone and routine.
Dealing with discomfort: I felt permanently hot-hot-hot and extremely sweaty-Vetty. I am envious of this effortless throw-a-dress-over-a-bikini and a-leg over-a-scooter-caper of many yoginis. The swimwear I’m most comfortable in is more wetsuit than bikini. My pasty skin requires a constant coating of sunscreen, a sensible hat and layers akin to a sheet. My nana driving is not a viable option. I was constantly wet. It rains, there was always a pool or a body of water to dip in or someone standing by with a bucket of holy water to tip over you. What else can you do but embrace it all? This too shall pass. We loved it when the rain came and cooled down our jungle home but, as our lovely yoga teacher Ti pointed out, what do we say in Melbourne when it rains…swear words. The discomfort should be accepted and acknowledged as fleeting in the same way the comfort of catering, coconut juice and outsourcing your laundry is too.
Cycle of life: Bali was teeming with life. It was on display from the bustling market places, the Jenga-like stacks of families and things on motorcycles, the rice-fields and the mountains, the humans and the animals and the bugs. The way the people shoo the cats who chase the gecko who catches the mosquitos. The way that night follows day and sunshine follows rain. I had another reminder about the importance of cycles when we went to a temple to bathe in the holy water. I had my period. Which in our culture means…not a lot. The less said about it the better and don’t let it stop you from horse-riding in a white leotard. But in Balinese culture, women are not permitted in temples or holy places while menstruating.
Aunty Flo has never had the best timing and when I realised that meant I couldn’t take part in the ceremony, I felt disappointed and embarrassed about having to play the role of the photographer rather than that of a participant. Tears pricked my eyes and a fake smile pinched my cheeks as I stood on the sidelines (but hey it WAS that time of the month so I was probably emotional as well as impure) feeling uncomfortable and yes, hot and sweaty. HEY EVERYONE I HAVE MY PERIOD! I may as well have been shouting. Bloody hell! If anyone needed a blessing right now it was bloody me! Looking for the silver lining with a microscope, I eventually thought “this is good because…it means I want to come back to Bali to bathe in these waters without Aunty Flo in tow“.
The next day, I found myself sitting outside another temple, after raising my hand when our guide asked if anyone was menstruating. It stung less this time. I mean, my cycle was now a matter of public record. It was my turn to sit outside temple today, it might be your turn tomorrow. I got to thinking, maybe we could stand to acknowledge and share our cycles more in our culture. After all, it is a time when me and many other women feel a bit different. A bit more headachy and crampy and tired and cranky perhaps. I might take to announcing it before entering rooms in future but for now I was ‘the moon queen’ as our lovely yoga teacher Jules put it so poetically. There was nothing I could do about it and I would attempt to accept it graciously and use this time for quiet contemplation as this too shall pass.
Love and light and more Bali blogs to come. They cost a fraction of what a blog here does xxx Yvette
Deep bow to my teachers and suksma (thank you) to my fellow yoginis and hosts.
Join me…pretty please
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