Practicing Gypsy Freedom

Villa Gitana = Gypsy Villa

i arrived at Villa Gitana and almost immediately proceeded to do yoga. i haven’t done yoga (at least not in the traditional sense and certainly not as my normal daily practice) since i got to Southeast Asia…

my body was in pain from all the traveling, all the surfing and moto biking, from both running around and laying around, and everything in between without much attention being placed on conscious stretching and breathing.

it was really difficult at first. i felt so off balance. my recurring pain on the left side of my neck and back was throbbing. and my new wrist pain in my right wrist (from surfing? from moto? from typing?) was crying out.

i tried to center myself—shift my weight, breathe, release. none of it seemed to be working. so i just laid there after many attempts to move through something resembling a pose…

it was at this point that i just gave in. i let go of yoga. i just tried to stretch and breathe in a way that caused the pain to ease up. and so it did start to ease up more and more. it was letting go of the idea that i was going to do yoga in this beautiful paradise and it was there that i actually started doing yoga.

as i tried to release my back into the ground, my bikini top, knotted in the back, was pressing right into the hurt spot. i could have done two things to my mind (even though i am well aware that there were probably more options). nonetheless, i could:

1. Release into the knot.

2. Release it altogether.

i did the latter.

i took it off, even though i was fairly sure that the women cleaning the Villa were still here somewhere. i immediately felt my body release into the floor with this action, and i felt my breath drop into my center.

i checked periodically to see if the women were around the pool, more out of curiosity than anything else. it appeared as if maybe they left and that i was allowed to be as free as i pleased.

i realized that i freed the girls to go trekking, then i freed my own girls to the open air—now what other girls need to be freed?

as i was thinking these very strange thoughts, i also started to understand the appeal of naked yoga. that always seemed slightly horrific to me. who wants to see me or anyone else contorted into weird positions and why would i want to expose myself or be exposed to that? i certainly was not in the category of people who wanted any of that.

but doing yoga in the pagoda with no one around, in this beautiful Villa, i started to understand how freeing it is to be with my own body in its most natural state.

< as i sit here and write this, the Villa staff comes back—this time, it is two women and a man. the one woman asks me if they can clean my room. at this point, i wonder if i should put a top on, but it is across the pool area hanging off the diving board. when she comes closer, she realizes that i am not wearing one. she laughs. i ask her if it’s okay that i don’t wear a top. she laughs again and says “yes.” and we both continue on our merry way… >

so as i am half-naked and loving it, i went through a mental/physical journey in my mind and body of the story of my yoga practice. i always found it odd that i did yoga pretty much everyday for about 2-3 years alone in my apartment (to virtually the same DVD on repeat) before stepping foot in a yoga studio in NYC. i had taken classes here and there—in NJ that one summer with that woman Anne Marie who i waited tables with at the Mooring, in San Francisco in that couples class with Davi, a couple sporadic classes in Socrates Sculpture Park, and a number of one-time shots at doing yoga in various public spaces.

while living In Astoria, Queens, i found this amazing yoga studio called Yoga Agora that was really friendly and affordable. it took me almost three years to step foot inside it. i had tried, on many occasions, to put on all my gear and pack up my mat and go to a class, but for some reason, i would convince myself not to go.

how crazy is that?

i realize now that i’ve always had this kind of social anxiety. i panic doing things in front of people when i can very well do them when i am alone. it makes me appear awkward and incompetent at best.

Toshi astutely pointed this out as i was learning to ride the Moto (and likely not unrelated to my surfing style on the first day). i have trouble staying centered when i am being watched. how funny then, that i chose a career as a performer where that is basically the entire goal?

and i realized that as part of my own personal process, i need to give myself the time to learn to do things on my own before i can start practicing in front of others. (i also believe in practicing and delighting in “Being Bad” in public, but it is harder for me to remember to take time for my self to feel confident and centered just as often.)

how fitting that i sit here alone (with the exception of the staff cleaning but are far enough away and discreet enough not to care), exposed in the open air, and gearing up to head out into the Bali mountains on my own tomorrow?

i feel as if i am being called out there for reasons unknown. and whatever it is that i am being called out there to practice, i feel so relieved that i have given my self the time to do so.

and this is why i started practicing yoga (and have recently even embraced meditation) so far in advance of this trip. if i had come to Bali when i wanted to a year and a half ago, i wouldn’t have been ready to practice here on my own. i also wouldn’t be here if i didn’t start practicing. and i wouldn’t have started practicing if i wasn’t always supposed to be here.

the story of this journey is far from finished. i will just have to keep practicing, by myself and with others, in order to get there…

: Shedding my Skin in Search of one more Expansive

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Written by lobsterbird