Les Leventhal on Life, Bali & Spirit
Since last years festival, Les has relocated to Bali.
But the road to paradise is not always smooth. Les spoke to Megan Flamer about his transition from life in San Francisco to life in Bali and how yoga, as always, is the perfect metaphor for life off the mat.
How are you finding living in Bali?
Bali is amazing…
It’s the absolute opposite of everything I thought living in Bali would be! It has an interesting way of challenging all the things that were super comfortable for how I lived in the States and illuminating my fears about things.
Culturally things are just so different and Americans, at least this one, are used to having things scheduled in a certain way. Bali just has this way of letting you know, time is not important and that everything happens in a way that flows in a way that is like nowhere else I’ve ever been in the world.
It’s allowed me to look at myself: my expectations of myself and others, my judgements of myself and others and my grand thoughts of how relaxed I thought I really was. I still have room to grow!
GASP! You’re human?! So what are you noticing about your reactions?
Quite human! I’m noticing those moments where I react really fast instead of just stepping back and thinking, “how does this affect me, how does this affect the people around me?”
It’s about taking those extra breaths before you even move a muscle.
I know you’ve moved house this week, so this Spirit Festival has come at a really busy time for you…
We’ve moved four times in the nine months we’ve been here! I’m a person who has always had home, at least since the whole recovery process started, I’ve always had this steady, steady home, an anchor.
Trying to find some comfort in the uncomfortableness of change in such a compact period of time has given me super crazy seeds and roots of things to practice and to notice where I’m stuck in my body and those differences – some not so good, like some injuries.
I have to teach that – I cant hide that – it would make me a hypocrite and I can tell you I’ve tried that path already and it doesn’t work.
What’s your favourite thing about Bali?
That’s easy. I can be having a terrible day – which I call cacasana – and all I have to do to change that is take a walk or get on my scooter and smile at any Balinese person. Even if they’re busy doing crazy work, they always smile back.
I can only imagine they make less money in a year than I even make in a month and all I have to do is smile at them and they smile back bigger.
It reminds me that all that stuff we long for in Western culture is just stuff. It’s an illusion and we want to attach to it – but there’s something about the Balinese culture that they don’t attach to that stuff so all that happiness just comes up, it’s it’s just there.
This is your fourth Bali Spirit Festival and you’ve taught some amazing classes this year, including your famous Rock and Roll Vinyasa. I’m assuming you have a new playlist this year?
What do I ask of my students in class? I ask them for everything, I want them to pour their heart out. For my playlists this year, I thought if I don’t make new ones and add some amazing things that really speak to what I’m rocking out about in my life, then what’s the point? So, I have new playlists.
Les’ Ubud Secrets
Yoga- Of course, come to Yoga Barn and see me
FoodI love my Indian food:
– Warung Little India: I love Siddhi, she’s full of heart and she makes everything from scratch.
– Queen’s Tandoori: because it reminds me so much of Indian restaurants in San Francisco. I almost cry when I go there. I remember when I took my first bite of the chicken Tikka Masala and the channa marsala, the spices are just perfect.
– Saraswati: also Indian food. I love it.
– The Ginger Lime Honey tonic at Sari Organic. It’s a concentrate so you’re supposed to dilute it but I don’t mix it with anything.
– Jammu (Balinese turmeric/lemon drink) from Angelo’s almost every day
– I’ve been coming here since 1999, I’ve had hundreds of massages and I still love Nur Salon. When I landed here, Christmas 1999, we dropped our bags, went straight there and I still go now. It’s amazing.
– I adore Nyoman at Blue Moon
– Ngurah at Yoga Barn – it’s a little more expensive but still so cheap by western standards.
Written by : Megan Flamer