Bali Spirit Festival: Pete Guinosso’s Happy Hour

30 Mar

I’m three classes in and I have nothing left in the tank, but I’ve been dying to experience Pete Guinosso’s teaching, so there is no way I’m missing his Happy Hour Yoga class.

meet-pete

Two hours later, as I bounce off my mat, drenched in sweat and smiling, I’m so glad I did.

Pete has been coming to Bali teaching retreats, but this is his first ever Bali Spirit Festival.

“Bali is something special,” he smiles. “It’s a whole culture of ceremony and offering and that fits into what my offering is, which is creating sacred space in every moment, creating ceremony in every moment.”

That ceremony involves loads of upbeat, punchy pop music: when I arrive to the workshop, Macklemore’s Thrift Shop is bouncing around the Main Pavillion. From there it ranges from Nina Simone to Lorde; Supertramp to Alanis Morrissette.

Pete opens the class with a quote from US poet Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself:

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”

These multitudes are what he brings to the practice. Who says yoga practice and fun are mutually exclusive? That popular music can’t support meditative movement? Can I be joyful and focussed? Dancing within a pose? Singing along? 

Pete believes exploring these boundaries fits perfectly with the Festival:

“Bali Spirit Festival takes it up a notch. We bring all these people and there’s such a strong community and there’s all this music and all these different offerings. It’s really a nice event that I think has an offering for everybody. That’s why there’s such an inspiration about it.
I love it because Ubud is a beacon for all these people to come and practice yoga.” 

Pete Guinosso’s  teaching is inspired by Forrest Yoga and his primary teacher Ana Forrest, something made very obvious by his encouragement into strong bound poses (revolved bound moon pose, anyone? How about lifting one arm and one leg in dolphin to create a dorsal fin knee pointed to the sky?) and intense one sided vinyasa sequences.

Presenter: Pete Guinnoso, Class: Cup of Morning Vinyasa

“Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry, but no matter what, we always work on building strength and flexibility. And we always sweat!” 

Pete’s multilayered approach really speaks to me. After class, he tells me about his Buddhist work (“Buddha and I are tight, we go way back,” he laughs) and how he draws inspiration from all aspects of life. It’s a good reminder to take life in it’s totality, rather than resist the bits we don’t like.

As I sink into a grateful savasana, accompanied by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ One Love, I almost feel teary. It’s surprising, when I had been laughing a moment before. Pete’s practice seems to encourage a rawness, where emotions are expressed.

“It’s nice to offer playfulness and serious yoga as well, depending on what is there in the moment.” he says.

His amazing assistant Amy Beley gives me a fantastic head massage that beautifully aligns my neck.

We finish class sitting campfire style, belting out Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing. Everyone was beaming at each other and making eye contact while they sang. (I’m not gonna lie. I did a couple of power ballad fist pumps.)

“It made me stretch into my boyish smile,” said Rodolfo

Megan was equally effusive: “Even after a long day, Pete’s class was a breath of fresh air . Yoga for the soul.”

I thought back to another quote Pete shared at the start of class, from Five Rhythms founder, Gabrielle Roth:

“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions. When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence? Where we have stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we have experience the loss of soul. Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves.”

Yup. It’s definitely happy hour.

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