Isabel Dexter takes a solo trip to Bali to teach yoga and awaken her sense of adventure...
For a long time, I was one of those people who talked a lot about ‘my big adventure’, but hadn’t taken any steps to make it happen. I’ve always travelled – but never alone – and I’d never truly been out of my comfort zone. But one October I set off for Bali, where I was to spend five weeks in a tiny village near Ubud learning to teach yoga with locals and women from around the world, who’d all quit their jobs in search of adventure.
Overcoming my fears
In the beginning I was riddled with self-doubt. “Me? A yoga teacher?” We spent hours practising postures, and got involved in the community by helping to clean up the beaches after seasonal storms. Another day we took part in a cacao planting ceremony, allowing our good intentions to grow in fertile ground.
This isn’t something I thought I’d ever find myself doing. Physically, I am not your average ex-ballet-dancer yoga teacher. And as a girl who’s never been camping and favours five-star hotels, staying in shared accommodation was another step into the unknown. There were a lot of tears. When you’re shedding old habits, that’s to be expected. But there was also laughing. And dancing. Expressing all aspects of my emotions so outwardly and to a group of strangers wasn’t easy – I’ve never felt so British!
I see my life as ‘Before Bali’ and ‘After Bali’. I’m now braver, kinder and feel more connected; you can’t achieve that by staying in your comfort zone. As soon as the plane touched down here I felt at home. There’s such magic to this island, and the beaches are incredible.
Meeting the locals
On my first night in Seminyak, on the south coast, I befriended a local girl working in an ice-cream parlour. She ended up inviting me to her family’s house for dinner, and she showed me how to make the offerings of flowers, fruit and sweets that the Balinese place outside their homes and businesses. Look closely and you’ll see these intricate mini altars everywhere!
Our tutor, Cat Kabira, teaches from the heart and is a powerhouse of inspiration, encouraging her students to look deeply at every aspect of themselves. On the first day she said: “Your job is not to teach yoga. It’s to remind people that they are not broken.” Firstly, of course, you need to learn that yourself. Nothing could really have prepared me for the sense of self-love and appreciation for living that this realisation has brought.
The Ubud community
The community in Ubud was incredibly welcoming, while the landscape of this volcanic island, full of forests, inky black sands and sacred mountains, was breathtakingly beautiful. Feeling so close to nature was an inspiration. Back home I realise how reliant on electricity, roads, public transport and processed food we are, and how we take this for granted.
Teaching and learning
Teaching my first class was nerve-wracking but my fellow students were so supportive. We were all solo travellers and we connected over the shared experience; many of the women I met are now my best friends. These days I feel so much clearer about my values, what I want to achieve in life, and which relationships back home to nurture and which to forsake.
To find out more about booking your Escape to Bali, speak to one of our Travel Experts over the phone, online or in-store.