Today is Hari Raya Galungan.  Not entirely sure what all the intricate details are, but from what I understand, its one of the most significant celebrations of the year – symbolises the victory of Dharma over Adharma (Good and Evil).  For the past couple of days I’ve been watching my homestay family construct a “penjor” – a massive bamboo pole wrapped in red velvet at the base, and then decorated with all of these coconut leaves, woven into looped  shapes.  They’re taking it very seriously.  I cheered as I watched them hoist it up yesterday morning, just outside the front door – it was like a slow Mexican wave – all the penjors rising up down the street.  The older men celebrating with Bintang, at a surprisingly early 10 am.  Ubud is filled to the brim with creativity and art.  Watching all the generations of families all across the town working so patiently and collectively in making these beautiful displays is incredibly uplifting.  Haven’t seen any squabbling or signs of kids packing it in and saying, “I soo can’t be bothered with this.”  I think back to our Christmases, back in the UK, and all the effort my poor mum has to put in to just making us want to decorate the Christmas tree.  Perhaps next year I’ll take the time, and the effort, might even suggest a bit of creativity of our own…one homemade bauble each.

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In terms of yoga, it feels like I’m on a bit of a roll this week.  Made it onto the floor Paschimattanasana A and B to Purvattanasana – I don’t actually know all of these names yet.  I write them all down in the hope that I’ll begin to remember them over time, but for now I refer to them as things like the “Flamingo pose”, the “forward-bendy one”, the “bad one!”

My hamstrings are finally starting to ease up, but now my inner and top of thighs are beginning to swell and mutate.  Strange lumps forming, just like those “tumors” in my stomach all those months ago.  Who would have thought that my thighs didn’t have to actually rub together when I walk?

Last night we watched live music at the cafe down the road, absent any alcoholic beverages.  Truth is, I didn’t really want to drink.  Every now and again I’m sure I’ll have a beer or two, but it just seems counterproductive at this stage.   I want to make progress, and any backward steps due to a hangover will only fill me with disappointment.  Same with smoking too.  Well, smoking is probably the WORST thing you can do with yoga. Remember all that breathing stuff I was talking about?  Well, I’ve packed it in.  3 days now, and feeling really positive about it.  Anyone who’s read my previous blogs will be fully aware of my ongoing battle with nicotine.  3 failed attempts to quit in two years.

Will this be it for me?  Getting an email from Matthew Sweeney the other day asking us to own up to any bad habits/addictions was enough to push me from the thinking-about-quitting camp, into  actually quitting.

When I was training for the marathon I reached a stage where I had to  make a choice between having to walk a lot and joking about how I managed to get round as a smoker, or pack it in and give the marathon the respect it deserves.  Just like this experience.  It’s a once in a life-time opportunity – why compromise?

Anyway – we’ll see how it goes.  Feels quite positive and easy right now, but that’s because I’m embarrassed about the volume of sweat I’m emitting – which is linked to toxins in your body, and the tickle in my chest and throat – the cilia coming back to life.

I like the whole purging scenario.  Get rid of stuff.  Toxins, bad memories, frivolous belongings, destructive relationships….just get rid of it all.