Bali Spirit Festival, Ubud Bali May 7-11th, 2025

Yoga Dance Music Healing

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The Resistance of Capoeira, the wisdom of the Rastas: The Power of Africa

Today blew my mind and my body followed. For me it was the best day of the festival and a huge testament to the quality of teachers and positive vibrations that are bursting out of the venue, Punarti. The one theme that jumped out at me was the roots of what has left me feeling high on life and embodying a new vibrancy. That theme runs through the culture and power of Africa.

After a night of dancing to the power of Kevin James’ kirtan I woke up late so jumped straight out of bed onto my bike and made it in time for Mestre Bira’s second capoeira class of the festival. It was an incredible way to greet the day as we lunged and kicked, cart-wheeled and danced. I found myself (pandiero in hand) in the middle of the batteria as we provided the beats for the Roda to play. Led by Noko (from Zungu capoeria in Seminyak) the music lifted the spirits even higher and everyone was invited to play, tasting some of the power and magic that the Rodabirths. We closed with another Roda de Samba with some of us having a little more confidence today to jump in to dance a different kind of dance, with less to do with fighting and more to do with expression.

Next stop was Nadine McNeil’s awesome workshop entitled: One Love The Marley Melody. Intrigued by the title and kind of in love with Nadine, as she is a woman which embodies an attitude of action as well as a clear love for the practice of yoga, I was once again blown away by her presentation of her passion.

Nadine began by drawing comparisons between the Rastafarians and the Yogis. With everything from a devotion to ritual, meditation, music and God, and even going so far as to compare the dreadlocked Rastas of Jamaica with the Baba’s of the Ganges. Both growing their locks as a sign of their religion – a statement of who they are and in a way in opposition to the status quo.

Her class was amazing. The best yoga class I have been fortunate enough to enjoy at the Festival so far. The sequences was simple and accessible to all levels, the playlist in full support of the name of the workshop with Nadine frequently stepping off the stage and yoga mat to encourage us all to swing hips and shake pelvis’s in a way which might have even made Bob proud.

Nadine was followed by Baba Karuna, who is another personal hero of mine. Baba is not only the MC for the evening performances but also a formidable African Dance teacher. Joined by a team of musicians, his percussion passionate son included, Baba led us through two beautiful dances. The first a dance of the fishermen from Guinea, where men and women were separated to face each other and share separate but complementary dances. Even though (as is always the case at yoga festivals) the women way outnumbered the men, the men did us proud and danced their catch in with high energy and vibrancy, which left the women with no choice but to return the gift.

For the second dance we sang and stomped our way down the Main Pavilion, quickly learning some easy choreography that brought together an incredible timelessness which is birthed when one is able to step into the trance of the drums and power of the movement.

A huge personal thank you to each three of these teachers – Mestre Bira, Nadine McNeil and Baba Karuna – who each excel into their passions and have the ability to transfer a little of their art – each one combining magic, music and movement. In gratitude.

Written by : Bex Tyrer


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