Abbott and Costello. Fish and chips. Emily Kuser and Bex Tyrer. Two of these are already established as great double acts. The other is still up-and-coming. “Someone told me that these two are the most under-rated teachers at the festival”, a friend confides to me. “I think that’s true”.
This class was originally named “Storytelling for twists and binds”, but the title was altered in case that seemed a little … well, twisty and bindy. Instead, it’s modelled after Emily’s High Vibe retreats, a regular fixture at Michael Franti’s Soulshine villa in Ubud. The name change eliminates the possibility of confused yogis arriving with the expectation that we’ll be telling one another stories, too. For a high proportion of BaliSpirit participants, English is a second language – an illustration of the festival’s diversity (and its geography).
- Now that’s what I call teamwork. (Photo credit: Ulrike Reinhold)
“Everything resonates with a vibration”, Emily declares. It’s true. Sound is a vibration. For the trivia fans among you, that’s how snakes can hear without ears. Even different environments resonate at different frequencies. Consider the impact on your consciousness of a frenetic trip to a major urban centre as opposed to an afternoon walking in the woods. The smoke, the noise, and the stimulation, as opposed to the sway and swish of nature, the crunch of your feet on fallen twigs, and dappled sunlight shining through the branches of trees.
- What Emily looks like when she’s not teaching a class. (Photo credit: Ulrike Reinhold)
“We are such sensitive beings, and so often we choose to numb out our sensitivities”, Emily continues. That’s not the case in this class. We get down and dirty with our sensitivities. First we engage in a walking meditation, making and keeping eye contact with the people we’re sharing the space with. Then we find ourselves imitating various fearsome beasts: lions, wolves, and, er … locusts. The jury’s still out on exactly what a locust sounds like.
While wandering around the festival yesterday, I heard one yoga teacher (I’m not sure which one, I’m afraid – there are so many; maybe one of the triumvirate of Simons) comment that around 40-50% of yoga poses are named after animals. I think that’s a key clue both to the intentions of the ancient yogis and to the source of movement in yoga. Have you ever heard a cat, a dog, or a zebra complain of tight hips or lower back problems?
At various moments during the class, Emily and Bex encourage us to sigh, whoop, groan, and laugh. Yoga classes can be so noisy. All this oral expression has the effect of releasing tensions in the body and creating what I can only describe as a positive vibration in the studio. “You’re all so serious”, Bex comments at one point. As we assist one another with handstands and spine stretches, the mood lightens palpably.
A gentle breeze rustles the coconut fronds and submersion in the cooling waters of the pool beckons. I wonder how I shall maintain this state of ease and grace once I leave this festival and this island, and how I shall create peaceful vibrations in less salubrious circumstances.
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Written by : Robert Wolf Petersen