When In Bali Do As Balinese Do
I’m not a sportsperson. I don’t do meditation either. I tried doing yoga around 15 years ago, just out of curiosity, but it appeared boring and too static to me. If I decide to force myself to do any physical exercise, I want it to be energetic, preferably accompanied by music or another benefit, like when you go cycling and do sightseeing on your way. But I am in Bali. Life goes differently here. People pay a lot of attention to the spiritual side of life. In Europe we would say they waste a lot of time – on praying, making offerings to gods, relaxing with their friends and family, being unproductive. I want to try living here at least a little bit like locals. Not that I am that much into praying or praising god, but I love being unproductive.
Also, I came to Bali to start caring about myself a bit more, to indulge myself, to get rid of the stress that had accumulated over recent months. So when my flatmates told me abut a Brazilian girl giving Hatha yoga classes for free once a week in Nusa Dua, I looked up the place on the map, packed a towel to sit on, put on my leggings, and rode with the girls to Water Blow Park in Nusa Dua where the class was supposed to take place. Nusa Dua is located on the East coast of Bukit Badung – Bali’s southernmost peninsula.
Since I came to Indonesia, I have stopped collecting material things. My luggage was limited to 15 kg and my most precious purchase in Bali was a hairbrush. Finally, after two and a half years of using my fingers to brush my hair, it grew long enough to require this special equipment for 17,000 IDR. Instead of material belongings I decided to collect sunsets, sunrises, star constellations and phases of the moon. I couldn’t miss the chance of seeing the sunrise in Nusa Dua. Also, from Jimbaran, where I am staying, the closest beaches are dotted along the West shore. So this new place gave me the first sunrise observation experience.
Sunrise At Nusa Dua Beach
The sun rises here a few minutes after 6 a.m., so we had to get up at 4.45 to be at the beach on time. Luckily, driving in the dark is so much easier than in the daylight, when the traffic is heavier. And Nusa Dua beach itself, despite being a well-known posh tourist resort, was almost empty except for locals visiting the temple located on a little oasis projecting out into the sea. Sitting on the soft sand, waiting for the sun to rise, watching the sky change colour – from dark blue, through greyish shades of purple involving some pink streaks, to the final light blue partly covered with the dangerously looking heavy clouds – was my own kind of meditation. And it’s good I did it myself, as the yoga class was in the end cancelled because of the heavy rainfall forecast.
When we were disappointedly walking back, a clearly not local girl (bright ginger hair and fair complexion) came to us asking if we have been waiting for yoga. She was Nataly – the yoga teacher from Brazil that we had been hoping to have the class with (not looking Brazilian either). Because for yoga one should come with an empty stomach, after such an early morning and so many hours without food, I begged the girls if we could sit somewhere to feed my inner monster. I am not in the mood for anything when I’m hungry. We stopped at a warung, of course. I got gado-gado, which normally comes as a salad made of blanched vegetables floating in peanut sauce dressing, but this time it consisted of unidentified cubes made of either rice or potatoes. Still, the peanut sauce made it delicious. I filled my belly up with black Balinese coffee, tanpa gula – not sure if this is the correct expression for ‘no sugar’, but it always saves me from getting sugar syrup flavoured with coffee, which is how I would describe the coffee that I would otherwise be served with.
Soon, Nataly’s Javanese friend, Amelia, joined us and we set off to discover the shore a little and to find a place where we could practice yoga even when it’s raining – because the rainy season is coming. Within a 10-minute ride there was a pagoda that belonged to Pura Geger (Geger Temple), situated at a limestone cliff surrounded by the turquoise ocean. It was a perfect place for yoga — even I, a layman, could tell. The yoga class was automatically postponed until the next day and moved to the new location.
Finding A Secret Beach At Bukit Badung
After a short ride from the temple to the South we arrived at an almost pristine beach, reachable via stairs witch I believe were a thousand steps down, and a million of steps up (I swear, the way up must have been much longer although the optical illusion was that we walked down and then climbed up the same number of steps). Apart from us, there were two men hunting worms, taking them out with bare hands from the beach sand immediately after the tide was moving back, and also a couple tourists from the adjacent resort.
Our would-be yoga master told us about the programs that she is involved with here in Bali, how much she loves the island and how much she misses it when she travels around other countries. She had never missed home like this. I think I am dangerously quickly getting to that point, too. If I left now, I would already miss so many things, the top one being the sense of freedom and independence that discovering places like this by scooter gives me.
Getting Lost At The Very South Of Bali
Next day we woke up early again, to give ourselves some extra time in case we have troubles reaching the yoga place. We took this precaution because we decided to get to the temple via a different road than the day before. The one we took this time goes south from Jimbaran, and runs along the south coast towards the east. The time reserve was not sufficient though, because by mistake we went south too much, and ended up riding a curvy and sometimes very steep road between breathtaking limestone cliffs. The road had its so-called ‘dead end,’ but it was the most beautiful dead end I have ever seen. It ended at a completely empty beach which doesn’t even have a name, with high bright cliffs on both sides, where the ocean splashes into the rocks, and at the same time caresses the sandy part of the beach. Now, when I look at the map, I guess that the place we got to was between Melasti Beach and Green Bowl Beach. We also found a majestic triple gate and rode through it, and then rode up the road winding between the cliffs, trying to find the way to Geger Temple, as we had only 15 minutes until 7.30, when the yoga class would begin. Of course we were late.
Yoga Class Near Geger Temple
The small yoga group led by Nataly had been waiting for us. We began with visualisations and chanting. So there was me, sitting on the floor, imagining my body was a ball of bright red light and my heart was a small ball of blue light, while chanting. Then we moved to breathing exercises, then did visualisations AND breathing simultaneously, then did some stretching AND breathing synchronically, then did some exercises that set fire to my abdominals, when I died a few times. I was back to life thanks to the relaxing position which involves lying on the back with eyes closed, and, thank god, is an inevitable part of yoga. We closed the session with 12 postures, done one after another quite fast. I had never known that a human body, even mine, can do things like that.
I loved the yoga class. I reckon that for a 15-year-old girl this type of exercise could have been too static, but now, when I’m 30, I don’t mind staying static all the time. I still prefer being static and motionless in my bed, but yoga brings me something more than just simple rest. I left Geger Temple leaving some of my tension under that pagoda. I hope to attend these yoga classes regularly, as there is still a lot to release from my body and leave behind. And I consciously plan to get lost in Bali a few more times.