Saturday, 15 January 2011
Balu - Arambol
Before we went up to Purple Valley, S and I spent a week travelling round Goa, visiting a number of different places. On our short journey we spent a few days in Arambol which, if you haven't been there before is certainly something of an experience - a very lively place with an eclectic mix of ageing hippies, new age traveller cliches, dreadlocked fire twirlers and...yoga.
Whilst we were there, we were lucky enough to stumble across an incredible, lovely Ashtanga teacher called Balu. Balu has an interesting life story - he's been teaching yoga for 12 years, he spent 3 years training in the Himalayas, followed by 2 years in Mysore and now splits his time between assisting in Mysore and running his own little Shala in Arambol.
S and I took a led primary class with him and we found him to be a very inspirational teacher with a lovely, gentle nature and a constant smile. It was a really enjoyable class (he showed me a great alternative to Marichyasana D which I'm still nowhere near) and at the end whilst in Savasana I had a pretty amazing experience. As you're laying there Balu comes around and gently lifts and pulls on your legs before placing them back on the ground - he then does the same with your arms before raising your head, straightening your neck and placing your head back on the floor. He finishes up by running his hands from the top to the side of your head (like a massage) and touching you ever so gently on your forehead. It was the smallest of gestures but it had a very profound effect on me - I actually felt quite emotional at first, and then I had a sensation akin to shivers running right through my body which lasted for a good 30 seconds or so. I won't go on too much but suffice to say it was an incredible feeling and a special experience that I won't forget in a hurry.
At the end of the class Balu asked us to stay for Chai and cookies - every Friday he splits his earnings 80:20. 80% he gives away to a charity that helps out orphaned children and the remaining 20% he uses to treat his students to some tea and biscuits which I thought was a really kind and thoughtful gesture. It was lovely to sit and chat with Balu and some of his other students and he also got S and I to join in their 'play time' and try out some partner yoga (much harder than I thought it would be!). It was a brilliant morning and one that S and I will long remember...I'd strongly encourage anyone who's interested in yoga and heading to Arambol to look up Balu and take the opportunity to practice with a very special teacher.