Since my Power Living yoga retreat finished five days ago I’ve avoided blogging about it. I like to think of myself as something of a wordsmith – albeit an amateur one – and have struggled to get into words quite how incredible the week was.
To say that prior to starting the retreat I was dreading it is an understatement; fearful of the thirteen hours days, the sunrise meditation, the three hour yoga practices and the journey of self discovery we were about to embark on, I convinced myself – and everyone around me – that I would return, the ultimate anti-yogi, and destroyed in body, mind and soul.
How wrong I was. The retreat started on Sunday evening with a mixture of teacher trainers from Australia and New Zealand, as well as a number of people taking part in an open retreat – and thus not involved in the afternoon teacher training. We started the retreat with a practice led by Duncan, founder of Power Living, followed by a pretty powerful talk on what we could expect from the week. We then did a group exercise introducing ourselves to our fellow yogis which involved standing up and speaking, before making and mainting eye contact with everyone in the room. The experience was surprisingly confronting and brought about a lot of emotion in the wider group.
I went to bed that evening tired yet intrigued, with the intention of remaining as open minded as possible during the coming week. What followed was among five of the best days of my entire life. While the morning meditation was a challenge, walking through the rice paddies as the sun rose made the early morning start entirely worth it. The three hour sessions, while daunting to begin with, actually flew by, and both the accompanying music and the sounds of the Balanese jungle around us made them both inspiring and invigorating on a level I didn’t know possible. The Power Living teachers we had on retreat – Duncan, Jason, Emme, Lisa and Cassie led unique and powerful sessions and were all completely at ease commanding a room of 80 fatigued yet eager students.
The post-lunch teacher training was often tough; I was lucky to practice with some of my gorgeous friends from Bondi – Maddy, Nat, Rosie, Lulu and Sarah; as well as new friends from New Zealand Ben and Tanya – and as the week went on the teaching slowly but surely got easier. The afternoon and evenings were spent partaking in a combination of community based activities from dance-offs to group massages (set to a soundtrack of Barry White and Al Green it was as surreal and hilarious as it sounds) and one night we observed muna which meant remaining silent until the next day’s meditation began.
By far the biggest highlight of the retreat took place on Friday. Shortly after I started my teacher training I discovered that Jase – one of my the best yoga teachers I have ever come across – used to be a singer in The Lion King. I asked at the beginning of the retreat if he could sing Circle of Life to us while in Bali and, worried that he might forget, on Thursday during supper I wrote a polite note reminding him before asking everyone to sign it. When I handed it to him he didn’t look overly impressed but Duncan seemed fairly amused and said he’d take care of it. And thus, after our Friday morning practice, I was lying in Savasana, already hugely emotional knowing that this was the beginning of the end of our retreat. I hadn’t wanted to get my hopes up in case Jase decided against singing for us, but as I lay holding hands with my beautiful friend Nat, the room silent and still save for the Balinese wildlife outside, Jase began to sing. I genuinely cannot put into words quite how special that moment was; nor how much I was moved. Suffice to say I spent the whole song in tears and it is a memory I will take to my grave with me.
And so the retreat began drawing to its end; in the afternoon I shared my story on what brought me to yoga (another blog, for another time) and that night we had a closing ceremony which was both sad and joyful in equal parts. The next day we had a final practice led by the gorgeous Lisa, and then the teacher trainers from New Zealand surprised Jase by singing him Tutera Mai Nga Iwi – a traditional Maori song. He leaves Sydney is December to open a Power Living studio in his native New Zealand and when Jeannie ended the song by saying ‘Welcome home Jase’, most of us were in tears.
And so it was over. Five days of yoga, led by five of the most incredible people I’ve met. Standing relationships from Sydney were solidified; new friendships formed, tears were shed, muscles stretched and strengthened, and oh, what fun we had. In Duncan’s opening talk he said that the retreat would be one of the best things we ever did. How right he was.