The retreat always starts out with an opening ceremony where a Balinese priest blesses the participants with flower-scented holy water. There are usually musicians at the ceremony and this week- two of my favorite people- Francie Fishman, yogini extraordinaire, and the powerful shamaness Malaika Darville, both of whom are leading classes at the retreat, used their unique sound vibrations to entertain and welcome guests. A firefly joined us in the wantilan just as Francie sang “We are opening up in sweet surrender to the luminous lovelight of the one.” He was encouraging all of us to shine! By the end of the ceremony, all guests had danced, sang, left something symbolic on the altar and set their intentions for the week. I left slightly sweaty from hooping, with delicately scented flower petals my hair and rice grains on my third eye.
I have 4 more days to enjoy the grounds of Ananda Cottages- the place where the SC is held. Ananda is a sprawling property set amidst jungle, rice paddies and manicured ponds and gardens. One feels extremely in touch with nature when gangs of ducks and the odd rooster stop to watch the humanoids hooping in the wantilan. Sometimes frogs will hop alongside students as they meander through the vine-covered pathways. The air is abuzz with dragonflies and butterflies playing in the sun. I often take time in between classes to drink in the colors of the sunset or to do a bit of stargazing or moon-bathing. Having such a natural setting to hoop in really brings you closer to God/Source.
The first day of hoop training was intense for me, as I had neglected my hoop to focus on tribal belly dance last year. In all movement arts there are similarities. One needs to be able to watch another person and transmit what they are seeing to the cells of their own bodies. That process can be very different for everyone but our instructors Gail O’Brien, Caterina Suttin and Babz Robinson each had unique explanations to enable students to learn the moves they presented. Gail’s class was about balancing the hoop on different body parts. Caterina taught isolations and body wraps in an innovative format that took us from the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly. Babz presented a fun, high-energy class that included snappy hoop tricks with jumps, duck-ins and pops. Thank God for the morning yoga classes so I can stretch these well-used limbs. My body may be fatigued from all the activity but my soul feels thoroughly energized!
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