Finding Bliss in Bali, Kundalini Style

wanderlustmalaI just recently was lucky enough to travel to Bali with my boyfriend for three weeks. In answer to your question, yes it was as dreamy as it sounds. Prior to jetting off, my mind was filled with the thoughts of beaches, pristine rice fields and breezy afternoons spent meditating (think, Julia Roberts, Eat Pray Love). Bali most certainly did not disappoint and I know with certainty that it is a place I will have to visit again in my life.

In my research leading up to the trip, it became clear that checking out a yoga class while in Bali was a must. Bali is the home to many renowned yoga teachers, schools and retreats. My boyfriend and I splurged and spent two nights at the gorgeous, Desa Seni Eco Village. Desa Seni is a popular spot for tourists and locals to enjoy organic meals, relax in authentic Balinese cottages and of course, practice yoga.

I carefully studied the yoga schedule, and decided to try a class I was not as familiar with. While home in Vancouver, I love a sweaty Vinyasa Flow or Hot class. I have only practiced Kundalini once, so decided Bali would be the place I would learn more about this form of yoga. Despite being intimidated by a sea of experienced yogis, I joined them for Kundalini on a beautiful Bali morning.

desaseni1Before entering into practice, our instructor gave us a brief introduction to Kundalini. This tiny, tanned, glowing yogi explained that Kundalini practice involves repeated movements and chants with the intention of awakening and strengthening the spiritual and physical body. She said that “if you aren’t feeling some sort of discomfort during your practice, you are probably doing something wrong.”

This discomfort kicked in almost immediately as I bumbled through chants (note to self: learn Sanskrit) and felt my arms nearly light on fire as we moved them up and down, in circles and every other which way for minutes on end. In addition to warning us of the potential for pain, our instructor explained that some people claim to experience a unique sense of euphoria during and after Kundalini practice.

As we moved towards the end of class, something funny happened. While chanting (I learned to fake it) and pushing my body through repetitive, taxing motions, I felt an energy buzzing through myself and the yogis around me. The more I leaned into the discomfort, the more exhilarated I felt after the posture was over. I left that class feeling amazing and alive.

desaseni4The post-Kundalini bliss lasted a few days and over that time I began to think about the parallels between this practice of yoga and travel itself. Like Kundalini, travel involves discomfort, uncertainty and sometimes pain. I experienced mind-numbing jet lag, was pummelled by a wave while relaxing on the beach and learned the hard way that my stomach and Indonesian pizza are not friends.

But, as I worked through these travel woes I also felt near perfect moments like watching the sunset on Lombok (an island off Bali), swimming in a pool, in our private pool with my lovely man and seeing countless Balinese people greet me with some of the most genuine smiles I’ve ever seen. These moments and my post-Kundalini endorphins would not have felt the same without enduring some discomfort beforehand.

These feelings of bliss may not always require some prior struggle, but in my experience they often do. Whether it is in travel, your yoga practice, or life in general, the good can sometimes come with some struggle. I wore my Wanderlust Mala, throughout my trip in Bali. Whenever I look at it, I am reminded of this beautiful contradiction. You don’t need to travel to Bali to experience this. Embrace the discomfort of a new job, yoga class (I highly recommend Kundalini!), or whatever feels foreign or scary to you. I guarantee you will get a least a little bliss out of it.

Liz works in Digital Engagement at lululemon athletica.  Books are her one true love, with Pinterest as a close second. Expressing her thoughts and wisdom through writing is what lights her up. Her goal is to one day work as a freelance writer. See what she is up to on Instagram, @lady__lizz. ?