I nearly started crying when I opened this email from Kelly Blainey. She came to my yoga retreat in Bali last year & I’d asked her (because she is a writer) whether she’d be willing to share her experience.
I didn’t tell her that this week was Body Image Week on the blog, but she seems to have tuned in to that anyway.
I was the fat girl in the daggy tracksuit pants and singlet, in a sea of toned bodies and shiny new gym gear. But none of that mattered: I was the one who got the most out of the retreat. At least, it felt that way. I suspect we all gained so much, but Nadine has that way of making you feel special, like you’re the only one who mattered.
I certainly gained a lot. Yoga gave me the space to reconnect that I hadn’t given myself in years. Bali gave me the time to reflect. Outside of the twice-daily yoga classes, others shopped while I wrote, perched on my lovely verandah drinking hibiscus tea. The others went sightseeing while I floated in the stone-paved pool, Master of No-Mind after another insightful yoga session.
Whatever kind of retreat you wanted you could make for yourself: easy, hard, fast, slow, in your body or in your heart and mind. Or all of those things combined.
I cried a lot in Bali, and not just because I was sharing a room with my mum. Doing 10-odd yoga classes in a week tends to have that affect on sensitive souls like me. For some, the yoga was a purely physical pursuit – how far could they stretch, how long could they hold that pose.
For me it was about what was happening in my heart and mind. What the chanting triggered in me. What the different poses opened up for me. How I felt when I finished meditating.
The beauty of it was that Nadine welcomed people at every stage of their practice – physical, emotional, spiritual or beyond. There was no right or wrong, only what was right for each person. I didn’t feel self conscious because I couldn’t bend as far as some of the others; I knew what worked for me, what I needed to work on, and had Nadine’s support in that.
For someone like me who’s been practising yoga on and off for ten years with no real regularity, the retreat was perfect. Yet I could see for someone like my mum, who’s fairly new to yoga but fit, sporty and hyper-competitive, it was perfect for her too.
Bali is what you make it. I am happy to say I made it all mine.
If you think you are too new to yoga, or too big, or too inept, to come to a yoga retreat, I hope you take heart and realise that yoga REALLY IS for everyone, and this kind of immersion will bring you change.
You will come home feeling better, feeling more yourself, and knowing that you can let go completely and be safe.
Kelly’s mum, who is an equally inspiring woman, shared her experience with yoga on video here: