The sun was shining on my last day in Bali.  A gentle breeze rocking the bamboo drapes.  “Is it ok if I take some pictures?”  My voice rose up above the excitable din in the shala.  Three of us were leaving that day.  It had that school-breaking-up-for-Summer-holiday feel about it.

“Yes, you can take some pick-tures”, Prem clipped his American to mimic my English accent, followed shortly by a deadly serious disclaimer, “not during practice though.”

I nodded my head, as if I would never have considered such a thing.  How was I going to get an action shot of Mr Buffalofolous now?  Or get photographic evidence of how ridiculously mental it is, when you have a second series student next to you, walking around – upright on their hands, with their feet wrapped up, like a bow, around the back of their neck?  It is MENTAL!  We are reminded regularly to focus on our own practice, not to get distracted by what’s going on around us…which is fine, in theory, but we beginners are still incredibly susceptible to the Jedi powers of advanced practitioners.  Especially when they have the same name as you, but are from Brazil, and pronounce it with a beautifully poetic rounding of the vowels, purring of the r, and the final – a – a softened breath disappearing into thin air.  This particular Jedi is a true inspiration.  The yoga way is to not gossip, and to not feel envy of others.  I’m prone to such negative displays of insecurity, as I think most people are at some point in their lives, and it was the moment that I met her, spoke to her, saw her, that I realised how far away I’ve grown from all of those things.  I guess she emanates the true yogic glow: a natural, radiant beauty, accompanied by a humbling awareness of self.  I put Prem’s advice into practice and responded with awe, not becoming overwhelmed.  One day…one day….

MY final practice was just as I wanted it to be.  I plonked down on my mat, in the far corner of the room, and was absolutely beaming as I looked around me.  7 whole weeks coming to an end, and what an incredible experience it’s been.  I’ve met such an amazing group of people, all of which have inspiring stories of their own – at points of huge transition, taking control of their lives, or simply letting go and watching everything unfold.  You’ve followed me through the pain-staking physical and emotional roller-coaster of a ride it’s been, and it’s with great pleasure that I confirm it’s all worth it.  Absolutely worth it.

Confronting the monkey thief in my room at 4am, journeying to the airport, coping with security, flying, immigration at the other end, baggage reclaim, taxi ranks, Bangkok’s traffic, and the semi-psychotic ranting of a recently dumped German lady I shared a taxi with – an absolute breeze!  An absolute breeze.  I smiled my way through the whole thing.  Not a single twinge of irritation, or dampening of spirits.  I was a wide-eyed child, peering through the window, wanting to absorb everything (except the fumes).  Too late for any real adventure, pleased by the fact that German lady had scarpered after I’d been shown to my room at the hostel, I clambered down the dangerously thin, wooden stairs and found a quiet corner in the restaurant to order some food, reflect, and put some thought into what’s next.

What do I want to do?  I looked around me.  Tattoed, bone-pierced, young bodies, smoking joints, drinking beer, smelling of sex and newly discovered freedom.  How did they manage to make it look like such an effort?  Next table, single American lady, trying to catch my eye.   Creepy man, tight greasy curls, staring at me, empty bottles stacking up on the table-cloth.  Quiet man, intent on i-phone.

I ordered a water…couldn’t help but notice the roll of the eyes…oh – how different this is from Ubud!  A Thai Green curry – you have to don’t you – and then read my book for an hour, before crawling back to my cabin-room, and turning out the lights.

Slept for eight hours straight – at peace with the world.

Namaste : )

Much love and thanks to Prem and Radha for all their patience, support and guidance.  I’ll never forget the things you’ve taught me.

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