By Natalie Thomas – May 2018
My time in Ubud, Bali during my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training
If someone would have told me at the beginning of April what the month of May had in store, I simply would not have believed them. As fate would have it, I wound up receiving an opportunity to travel to Ubud, Bali to earn my 200-hour Yoga Teacher certification through the Shades of Yoga program at Taksu Spa.
Throughout my time in Bali, my experiences on and off the mat are quite hard to put into words. For one, the idea of participating in a Yoga Teacher Training can be scary, even daunting. The long hours, new faces, remembering the sequences, and thought of teaching a class is a bit intimidating. Off the mat, the foreign destination, new home/environment, and strong energy of Bali can create a massive shift in everyday life.
Why are all of these concepts so scary? Because individually and collectively they all bring about CHANGE.
The definition of change means “to make or become different.” When we are settled in our daily routine, why would we want to incorporate change? Why would we want to personally be different? Why change your life and embark on a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training in just 21 days? Simply put: because change can transform us in ways we have never imagined.
During the month of May, Yoga Teacher Training ushered in new energy to help explore aspects of myself I did not know existed. While I have been practicing yoga for eight years and in-depthly studying spirituality for six years, I felt my personal growth accelerate throughout the entire four weeks, which I credit to the Shades of Yoga program at Taksu. During the intensive training I was able to challenge my mind through new concepts and meditation techniques, and challenge my body through “correct” postures and alignment. These new changes to my daily routine soon started to transform my life.
My experience in Ubud, Bali at times felt emotional and uncomfortable, yet cleansing and liberating. From the second I arrived at my guest house (Kunang Kunang) to the moment I boarded the plane back to Chile, my life had gone through a transformation. Thinking back, I would not have had the opportunity for such growth if it were not for my time at Taksu with Shades of Yoga.
Before embarking on my new spiritual, yoga journey, I had a few days to settle in to the Balinese way of life. Ubud itself is a magical place. There is an array of delicious, healthy restaurants, a plethora of yoga studios, and different wellness spas on every corner. The small city itself radiates with high vibes and spirituality. The Balinese culture is rich, and the locals greatly value their traditional heritage. I immediately felt a strong sense of peace and acceptance upon arrival in this magical city.
After a few days of some relaxation from traveling, I was ready to begin my Shades of Yoga 200-hour Teacher Training course at Taksu. I must say, the venue is absolutely amazing. When I first walked into Taksu Spa, I was amidst a tranquil, tropical jungle, lush in nature. From the entrance, a small pathway leads straight to the Shades of Yoga Shala. The Shala is where my classmates and I spent the majority of our time, whether practicing yoga or engaged in lectures.
Monday through Saturday I made my way to Taksu Spa where the day began with 30 minutes of mediation, 30 minutes of pranayama breathing, and a one-hour asana class. After breaking for breakfast, the rest of the day was comprised of lectures, self-practices, and/or learning the sequences, always ending with a second one-hour yoga class.
The Shades of Yoga course is more than a teacher training, but a life course guide to living one’s highest potential.
The program is designed to take you out of your comfort zone, providing the chance for all students to look deeper inside of themselves. In my experience with SOY, the regimented yoga and meditation practices began to release and uncover “blocks” or stuck energy I might have been holding on to, creating changes to how I think and feel. This process is cleansing, and causes life-lasting effects within your mind, body, and spirit. While change can be painful in the beginning, the benefits are astounding.
I began to feel more “open” and my intuition became stronger. I even started to have “ah-ha!” moments to questions that have bogged my mind for quite some time. I really felt a strong shift in just four short weeks.
Not only did yoga and meditation accelerate my self-growth, but the lecture classes played an important key to my development of self-awareness and inner knowledge. The May students and I learned about the Ennegram Personality system, Yamas and Niyamas, Chakras, Spiritual Philosophies, and Anatomy (to name a few). Our group was also lucky enough to experience an hour long sound healing session.
The Shades of Yoga program is extremely well-rounded, providing the students with the most top-notch teachers in the field. I felt humbled to have found a curriculum that tapped on so many different subjects. The program was also extremely supportive, providing one on one guidance and personalized attention to each person partaking in the course.
While the Shades of Yoga program is amazing in itself, the cherry on top was the serene, peaceful venue known as Tasku Spa. Taksu is not only home to SOY, but is both an exquisite restaurant and state of the art wellness center. Taksu offers an organic breakfast, lunch, and dinner made only with the finest, freshest ingredients.
For Shades students, breakfast is included in the training, and I must say, this was one of my favorite parts of the program! After morning meditation and asana practice, we were given a one-hour break to indulge in the breakfast buffet. The Taksu breakfast included fresh, tropical fruit (my favorites were the papaya and dragon fruit!), granola, oatmeal, yogurt, spring rolls, sushi, coffee/tea, and an array of hot food (I definitely got hooked on the coconut yogurt). It was such a great perk to the teacher training.
Not only does Taksu Spa offer healthy, delicious meals, but top-quality spa services as well.
During my time in Ubud I was lucky enough to experience the amenities and relaxing treatments Taksu Spa has to offer. For example, during lunch after a particularly physically challenging day, I was able to squeeze in a reflexology foot massage. Immediately after booking my appointment, I was lead down a cobblestone pathway to a tranquil spa house – all located right next to the Shala. Not only was the foot massage exactly what my body needed in that moment, but the session was conveniently located. During my two-hour lunch break I was able to decompress for a full hour, with time to spare to eat a healthy lunch outside at Taksu.
Aside from my reflexology treatment, I had the chance to decompress for two hours deep in the jungle for another rejuvenating
spa service called The Royal Mandi Lulur. The Royal Mandi Lulur is a (highly) recommended treatment consisting of: aromatherapy Balinese massage, full body scrub, and soothing bath filled with fresh flowers. When I checked into Taksu Spa for my Royal Mandi Lulur appointment, I had the option to choose which aromatherapy scent and scrub I wanted for my treatment. From there, my masseuse lead me through the lush forest to my room – surrounded by the vibrant energy and the soft whispers of nature. Taksu is uniquely designed and sits on a small hill in the jungle. The walk to the spa is also quite beautiful.
Throughout my treatment I truly felt like a queen! The staff was beyond friendly, attentive, and extremely professional, and the atmosphere gave me a sense of relaxation, peace, and ease.
With all of the changes my mind and body were experiencing, I felt extremely thankful that Taksu Spa is home to the Yoga Teacher Training venue. The space proved to be healing and nurturing, a great outlet for both myself and the other students.
As the Shades of Yoga Teacher Training came to an end, I realized how much change I experienced in such a short amount of time. Life is comprised of one change after another, some external or internal, some changes we facilitate, some out of our control. Moving forward, how do we deal with these changes when they arise? How can we break out of fear mode? How can we use change to our advantage? From someone who likes to control situations, I learned to let go and trust. Divine timing is always perfect.
Change is the catalyst to growth, which facilitates positive transformation, which pushes us to living our divine potential. Without change, how would we reach our goals? Our dreams? How would we ever fulfill our heart’s (authentic) desires? We must know the dark to experience the light. We must believe in ourselves as we shift out of our mundane routine into a space that is foreign and new. I know for a fact that positive, yet uncomfortable, situations can lead to new friendships, better ways of living, and experiences not even imaginable.
Opportunities we never thought possible all of a sudden come into fruition once we embrace change.
I want to thank both Shades of Yoga and Taksu Spa for providing insight, healing, and tools as I go about my day to day life. Thank you for all of the support during my month of change! Thanks to my time in Bali, I am a different person for the better.
Whether or not teacher training is YOUR calling, I hope that everyone reading this can welcome change with open arms. Buy the plane ticket, embark on that adventure, start a new project, or sign up for Shades of Yoga 200-hour YTT! Your life is not in the past or future, but this exact moment. Now is always the perfect time, embrace it.
“IN THE END… We only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.” – Lewis Carroll