Happy Yoga



I am at the RoundBar with K, in Ubud. It is writing day. It is writing day in that we are going to force ourselves to sit at a restaurant called the RoundBar and write. It is named thusly because it has a cool round bar and bicycle seat stools, and we with a pen in one hand and a notebook and a drink in another will actually get some writing done while we drink our Bintang, or watermelon mojitos, or whatever we so chose next.

It has already been a full day, and it is only lunchtime. Such is the time here, relaxed but never static- holding life, experience, and all five senses in wonderful adventures, all before noon. I ask for the wi-fi (wee-fee) password from the RoundBar bartender (who, seriously, is like twelve) and she writes it on a slip of paper for me. “Anotherround”. I like this place.

So. today. So far. A small trek (not like a Himalayan trek, more like an enjoyable wandering) to a yoga studio through the Penestanen cottages and fields that look like something from an Asian fable of yore, complete with dragons and peasants and sages in funny round conical hats.  I don’t know what this fable is about, but I think I might be the Hero! That sounds good. We will go with that, though I should possibly reconsider as a fable’s hero usually has a big lesson to learn.

And so I jalan jalan (walking, walking!) on mossy pavers, past intricately carved wooden doorways, red and gold and deep brown wooden and compound walls bursting with flora- moss, stag ferns hanging like trophy antlers, and bougainvillea in vivid pinks, white, and deep purple. I am Happy.

As it turns out, I am on my way to “Happy” Yoga. The space is un-parralleled, even on this trip, where the previous yoga platform was 30 feet from the ocean. It looks out over yet more rice fields, yet more bougainvilleas, lotus fountains, farmers taming the fields with scythes and hoes. Cranes, ducks, chickens. Flowering vines climbing like purple, yellow and red wildfire up every wall, tree, or post, so fast growing that if I stood still long enough, I may be shanghaied and bound in bloom. That wouldn’t be so bad. But I forget myself. I have “Power Yoga” to get to. :///. I am envisioning straps and blocks and balls. But not in the fun way.

And now, I am on the mat.

“Smile. Make space in your Heart,” says the small, calm, brown, grinning little Balinese man who sits at the head of the class, the smoke of a burning field rising in the distance behind him. I do smile. Because, really?

And then, somewhere between cobra and pressing into yet another warrior two, I am glad that he reminds me again.

“Keep smiling!” He says happily. And he is. Of course he is happy. The man can float. He is like a little dragonfly, ending a sun salutation by practically hovering about the floor, legs seemingly weightless and stretched out behind him. Warrior one, two, seven, crane pose or hovercraft pose, he will be smiling.  The rest of us ‘power’ on. Someone groans (could have been me). My thighs burn and start that embarrassing shake that sometimes happens. Like, when your body is telling you to ease the fuck up already because this shit is not natural.

“Keep smiling!” I tell my protesting quadriceps aloud through gritted teeth. The happy brown dragonfly bursts into laughter. The whole class does, in fact,  because hearing him no one can help it. Infectious. Like a joyful plague, is laughter. And then he offers something more.

“Control your breath, and you can control your mind,” he says, his voice floating past his gleaming smile. “Breathe into the pose.” Breathe into the pain, you mean. But it works. Ish. And then finally, relief.

“Turning your back foot to face front, and stepping into the dog that is being backward,” he instructs.

Haa-ah!!!!  I  do laugh. And I realize that for the rest of my life, I need nothing ever again for my happiness except to remember his voice saying “the dog that is being backward”, his balinese accent gentle and his face wrinkled from years of smiles and embracing simple joy.  Downward Facing Dog never again. Dog that is Being Backward. Every day.

And then. Pranayamasanacitihiti is all done. We have breathed, stretched, posed, relaxed, strengthened, contorted, and relaxed again. But we are not done. It is time for the laughing.

We sit, we breathe in. And then, in an Ohm-like technique, we laugh. We start, following his lead with a high “tee-hee, tee-hee-hee” until the hilarious chorus of hee-hee’s has us belly laughing, deeply and rolling on the ground, the Dragonfly more than any. As we all try to catch our breath, he releases us.

“Now. You have learned to Laugh. Go Practice.”

His benediction.

“And remember to smile. Make space in your heart.”


So how does the Fable end? Well, I guess I am the Hero, because I certainly learned a lesson. Power Yoga has nothing to do with steps and straps and kettle balls and blocks. It has to do with the Power of breath, simplicity, and smiling. It is the ability to know that we can create happiness in all circumstances.

Go on. Try a few tee-hee-hee’s. It’s good medicine. And for the Love of the Dragonfly. Smile.



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