Surf and Yoga in Bali

Posted Wed, 26/08/2009 - 5:48pm by Bel

Ariane Fricke
Manly, Sydney Australia
Aug 2009

Day 1
As I get out of the airport after a late night arrival, I get a warm slightly moist hug from the Balinese air - welcome to one week of surfing and yoga! My aim is to finally surf beautiful small green waves and stop being afraid of the waves/the ocean/myself ... I was so much looking forward to it, although right now I am more looking forward to a good sleep. The hotel in Legian for the first night is lovely. And our surf coach and organiser of the tidal Dreamings Surf and Yoga Retreat, Bel must have the magic touch in matching up roommates - D. and I see each other and continue to chit chat for the next few hours. A 'dangerous' match that will challenge our housemate C. for the rest of the week ;-)

Day 2
Staying up late and talking was probably not a good idea ... At 6.30 I sit a bit tired with the other 8 girls in the hotel lobby, ready to hit our first 'Indo' waves. Surfing seems to be ageless and my initial fear of me being the granny of the surftrip is not true. From early twenties to mid fifties the combination of surfing and yoga seems to attract all age groups. What seems to be common to all of us is that we want to go out there and do it!
Our first surf session in Legian is a quick warm up before we all scramble into the bus that will take us to our home for the next week. The next 2,5 hours we drive through terraced rice fields and lush green forests - together with 100s of scooters and cars and honking and noise and and and. This is the contrast that makes Bali - but even the noise and the dirt can't stop me being completely charmed by this island.
When we arrive in Balian Beach Break we are just speechless when we see our accommodation - a lovely Indonesian Bungalow in the middle of a magical garden by the sea. We can even see the ocean from the top room!
Luckily it is also just a few steps to the beach and within a few minutes we are already on our way to the next round of surfing. Looking at the waves I am not so sure if I made the right choice - I am supposed to go out there? Well, there is always the choice not to go out ... But after Bel's surf session we are all eager to challenge the waves and nothing would have stopped us. I'm still struggling with the green waves, but we just go for the waves again and again and again.
It rains a bit in the evening and we have Yoga in a covered area nearby. Surrounded by clicking, cracking, humming noises of the local animals and insects and with candles lit in the room you almost forget the intensity of yoga and the surfing before.
Food is delicious that night but after the evening meditation my bed seems like heaven. Surrounded by the noises of the local animals and insects I fall asleep almost instantaneously - dreaming of waves and surfing ..

Day 3
Sunrise and stretching on the beach. The waves still look challenging but Bel just gets us out there and going for it (and Luke, the second surf coach, does not let us get away with just hanging out in the surf either). What does she mean I was not committed paddling for that wave??? Of course I am! I will show her! And again and again and again ... My arms are tired, my back hurts, I have swallowed so much salt water that I feel like I'm salted inside out - but I have a big smile on my face. The ocean, the sun, the waves, my board and surrounded by all these amazing girls give me no reason to feel otherwise!

Before this trip I was no Yoga regular, but Georgie makes sure that we all get into the experience. Today I might still be struggling but who knows, in a couple of days I might actually look forward to downward facing dog ... No, that will never happen!

At each meal time we are all just starving. The food is great, and with the focus on healthy food for the week, digging in does not make me feel as bad. And all the exercise we do give a good reason to go for seconds ;-)

Day 4
Surfing, yoga, surfing ... Sunshine, waves, great company, the right amount of 'kick in the a#$%' to get us going ... What more can you ask for? And then it happens - I focus, I paddle, (yes Bel, I am committed!!!), and suddenly it all comes together and I get up and I actually surf a green wave. All the work suddenly makes sense. High on happy hormones I continue going for the waves. But nothing compares to this first moment :-)
The evening meditations manage to settle and relax my body. After being physically active the whole day the daily half an hour of meditation is the perfect balance. I actually tend to relax a bit too much ... I know, I know that I shouldn't snooze off but I just can't help it sometimes ..

Day 5
How many boards can you fit onto one van? After spending the last days surfing Balian it is time for a new challenge: Medewi, a point break a good 30 minutes away. The new environments and unknown surf conditions make us all a bit quiet. Instead of going into the water from a sandy beach we have to scramble over rocks and paddle out avoiding hitting some of them. Like duckling we tag along behind Bel, intimidated by the perfectly forming waves and the guys that seem to get onto them without any problems and surfing them until the end.
We sit at the very end of the break waiting for the little waves that nobody else wants ... well, there are not that many that nobody wants ;-) I am enjoying the scenery and watching others surf and tea bagging away for a while, when Bel wakes me up. Is this what I came here for? Do I just want to sit in the water on a board? Do I want to do this or what? Bel picks the waves and gives us the mental push to go for them .. and again and again and - whoaw, what happened? Did I catch a nice little wave or what? Big smile!!! And luckily I have a picture of this moment (not the moment of me smiling, but of me surfing I mean ;-)). The guys taking pictures on the beach and selling them to the surfers actually took one of ME surfing a perfect little green wave. Well, this will surely make my Facebook profile for the next few weeks!

Day 6
Today is a plank yoga session - at least that's what I call it - from one plank to another plank and slowly down and upward facing dog and then downward facing dog .. What a relieve to have a moment to rest in downward facing dog! Wait - did I just think that? Me, who did not like that posture at the beginning of the week? What a difference a week can make :-) My body feels so much stronger and flexible and energetic now. Just amazing!

Day 7
The last day. It just went by way to quickly. One last surf session at our (!) break, a last yoga session and then it is time to pack up and head back to civilization. We sit around the lunch table - the nine of us all tanned and fit, with shining eyes and big relaxed smiles on our faces. Did we achieve what we came here for? Did we learn something about ourselves? Yes, yes, of course we did! What a great week!
Coming back to Legian for the final few hours I am suddenly surrounded by the rush of the daily life. Scooters, cars, people everywhere. My mind is still in relaxed mode and has problems coping with the intensity of my surroundings. Saying good bye to everyone is sad but with the amazing experiences from the last week I know that I am taking something important back with me. I hope the energy will stay with me until next year - and the next surf and yoga retreat :-)