Sunday, April 28, was the day all of our guests were to arrive at the Ananda Cottages for our yoga retreat this year (2013) in Ubud, Bali. I had spent the last week preparing brochures, pamphlets, spa treatments, gifts, and more so that everything would be ready to go for the group when they arrived. I was extremely excited to meet everyone in person after months of emails and excitement leading up to the trip.
Everyone settled into their rooms and seemed pretty exhausted after their 25-35 hour trips to get to Bali, but nonetheless they all had smiles on their faces and were obviously excited to be here for this retreat that we had all been looking forward to. Our first night we had a welcome dinner at the Ananda Cottages, and when we walked up our jaws dropped at the beauty of this buffet. There was curry, fried rice, noodles, salad, soup, desserts; everything looked incredibly delicious and so colorful! We spent the evening eating everything (which was just as delicious as it looked!) and getting to know one another. I could tell right away that our group had a wonderful energy. There were so many different personalities and energies and it all seemed to fit together like puzzle pieces.
I made a short and not very elaborate speech illustrating my experience here in Bali. I had spent almost six months in Ubud over the last two years doing my 200 hour teacher training and assisting on another. This place was my home away from home, and I had a huge passion to share it with everyone. Brooke (my assistant) and Jason (my fiancé and adventure guru) introduced themselves as well, explaining their roles and their excitement to be sharing this experience with our retreat group of 11 people. We all finished eating and went off to bed exhausted but ready for what would come tomorrow.
Monday, April 29, was the first full day of our yoga retreat. Brooke and I headed to our yoga space at the Ananda Cottages. It is the most amazing studio I have ever seen. Set amongst the rice fields, nestled away from the main property, it was the perfect size for our group and had an energy that was almost palpable as you entered. We prepared our music, props, and cushions for all the retreat members as they entered the studio and were blown away by the very same feeling we had as we entered the space.
Class started at 7:30. I led pranayama followed by a grounding asana class. We wanted people to feel connected to the Earth and get the blood flowing through their joints again after spending so many hours traveling and in the air! The practice was a little slower but steady and strong. Brooke and I moved through the room giving people adjustments, helping them to feel more grounded and comfortable in different asanas. We finished our practice with guided meditation led by Brooke, and you could feel the group falling in and becoming more connected each minute.
Each day after yoga we had a breakfast buffet waiting for us. More delicious choices of eggs, vegetarian options, toast, and best of all: the fruit! Sonia was so excited at all the tropical fruit that was available I think she stuck just to that on the first day and ate about 14 mangosteens! This was a fruit I was not familiar with. You crush it open and inside the shell are white, soft pods that are sweet and absolutely delicious! I think they have the highest antioxidant quality of all fruits but I can’t promise that. We ate, and ate, and ate. Brooke ate her eggs with ketchup and a banana with jif peanut butter; as they say, “you can take the girl out of America but not the America out of the girl!” We dispersed from breakfast, many people heading up to Bliss Spa for one of their spa treatments, others just relaxing or going to the pool.
At 2 we met for our walking tour into Ubud. I had something up my sleeve and decided to take them the back way through all my favorite little restaurants in Penestanan to see where Jason, Brooke and I were staying, and to check out my favorite little pants shop called Wikan that my friend Nyoman owned. A few nights prior she had spotted me on the street and, even after not having seen me for one and a half years, called my name and ran out and gave me a big hug. Its great to feel so connected to the people here! Everyone was charmed by Yellow Flower, and when we got to Alchemy we had to all get goji energy bars and delicious green juices. I think Alchemy had never been bombarded quite like that before and it was quite a sight to see! When we got to Wikan the girls went on a shopping spree and Nyoman’s eyes lit up in excitement. She gave them “good price because you Heidi’s friend!”
From there we took cabs/motorbikes to the Market in Ubud, everyone was anxious to get there and we had walked quite a bit already. When we arrived we instantly got bombarded by the people selling everything you can imagine: clothes, trinkets, masks, souvenirs, oils, paintings, etc. I think we were all pretty overwhelmed after the civility of Nyoman’s shop in Penestanan, but I taught the girls how to bargain and it went something like, “300?! No, no, 100! Good price for you, good price for me, you happy, me happy, we all happy!!” Haha. It was a great time. We bought some clothes, bags, sunglasses, and Brooke and I got the most delicious cucumber and lotus flower essential oils that we used in Savasana for the rest of the retreat.
We all dispersed a little from there but some of us decided to go to a little place called Bar Luna. Its tucked away in a tiny alley and has wonderful food and great cocktails! We all laughed when Sandra ordered a Lychee Breeze and it came out a quarter empty (or 3/4 full?) but thats just how they do cocktails in Bali. We relaxed and chatted, had some snacks and some drinks. It was a great way to wind down after our busy day shopping. Jason, Matt and Justin were supposed to meet us here but they got lost in translation and thought we were meeting at CASA Luna; oh well, it’s Bali, and here we go with the flow!
Everyone was on their own for the rest of the night. I think some people got spa treatments, some went to the Yoga Barn, and some to dinner. Brooke, Jason and I went to Yellow Flower Cafe for dinner and reflected on the first full day of the retreat. We all agreed that we loved our group and felt more like we were hanging out with good friends in Bali than working. We left looking forward to day two, but sad that day one was already over, as we knew this week was going to fly by!