Tag Archives: Bali Spirit Festival

Bali Spirit Festival: Praying At The Church of Feeling Good

22 Mar

“…We have come to be danced
not the hold our breath and wallow in the shallow end of the floor dance
but the meeting of the trinity: the body, breath & beat dance
the shout hallelujah from the top of our thighs dance
the mother may I?
yes you may take 10 giant leaps dance
the Olly Olly Oxen Free Free Free dance
the everyone can come to our heaven dance…”
– Jewel Mathieson.

Jocelyn Dance

Jocelyn Gordon and Lisa Goettel can’t even remember when they decided to work together: they just had an instant connection. “It was so sweet,” says Lisa. “I’ve never experienced a better collaboration. We call it our elevated partnership.”
The pair have been working together for about three years, Lisa based in Monterey in California’s Bay area and Jocelyn recently relocating to Bali more permanently.

The idea behind their Bhakti Boogie® Yoga & Rise Up Singing experience is to encourage you to release barriers between you and your most authentic, joyful expression.  I’ve been privileged to study vocal technique and had years of singing lessons but all that training means I’m best in controlled circumstances. Jumping around in a wet, muddy Lawn Pavillion with 50 other sweaty, effusive festival-goers is the perfect way to shake up my singing practice. And shake it up, we do.

After a brief explanation – “Dancing and singing are two of the most natural human expressions” – Jocelyn Gordon and Lisa Goettel lead us into a few breathing and simple movement exercises. But after initial warm ups and a bit of tapping, we got straight down to business. The business, that is, of tapping all over our partners. We slapped and pounded each other’s backs, buttocks and legs, leaving our bodies tingling and alive.
Nothing says icebreaker like a good ol’ slap of someone’s booty.

Within the first few minutes, Lisa had us clapping in time and singing simple melodies before we were placed in groups and did the same in four parts. Anyone who’s been involved with a choir knows that can be a difficult process, but Lisa led us with a simplicity and ease of someone who really wants it to be fun.
“True hedonism is rare and I don’t think we allow ourselves to feel good enough in our lives,” says Lisa. “So we teach this to feel good and to help people feel good. I call it “praying at the church of feeling good. I feel like that’s what’s going to heal the world.”

Dance with your Demons

I felt really self conscious during the first dancing portions of the workshop, especially when there were a dozen people standing at the periphery with cameras and mobile phones, filming and snapping away. It’s a testament to Jocelyn and Lisa’s ability to hold the space that eventually, I forgot about the cameras and let go, throwing my arms, legs and body about in joyful abandon.

Jocelyn dance 2

The highlight for me? Discovering my inner diva and belting out Madonna’s Like a Prayer came pretty close. But scooching in close to my new sweaty dance partners and singing I’m Gonna Let It Shine to close our practice was joyous and beautiful. To create that level of love, trust and community in just 90 minutes really takes something – and judging by the sweet voices and enormous smiles of the people in that circle, it’s something Lisa and Jocelyn have in spades.

Bali Spirit Festival: Returning to Source with Tara Judelle

21 Mar

I’m working as a blogger for this year’s Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud…
So I thought I would share some of my thoughts with you here, too.

You can read more and find out more about the festival here

It’s my first class of the festival.


It’s Nicola’s, too. She’s come over from Australia and as newly qualified yoga teacher, she’s relishing the opportunity to be “be a student again.”

As we walk into Tara Judelle’s 8am class, Nicola is buzzed: “I’ve watched Tara online and done her classes, but never in real life! I’m super excited to be here!”

The theme is Madhya: Journey to the Centre. Tara explains Madhya is the space between things: from sunset into night, or the dawn to the day.

“It’s the space between the in breath and the outbreath or the space between thoughts. The space at the centre of the body, the space from which you grew.”

She links the shushumna nadi, the body’s central energetic channel, to this idea of space and returning to centre: “If you were an apple, it would be your core.”

Strengthen Core

Throughout our practice, we return again and again to this idea; returning to our centre, to our core, both literally and figuratively.

“When we go back to source, origin or ground, we naturally start to embark on a journey that seeks wholeness and wellness.”

Tara Judelle is certified in the Anusara method, but has a background in dance, Tai Chi and movement improvisation. Her sense of breath, flow and focus are exquisite – whether she’s teaching you a class online at yogaglo.com or in person, her commitment to vinyasa is unquestionable. I never feel lost with her breath cues and always leave her classes feeling a part of something bigger.

After attending her class this past weekend at Desa Seni’s Yogathon fundraiser, I was excited to learn more from her in person. She’s one of those rare teachers who can drop in complex anatomical terms when describing alignment and biology without sounding completely pretentious.

Today’s class ranged from discussion about Caroline Myss’ Anatomy of the Spirit to the sense you get when you’re entering the edge of consciousness to the other name for the pineal gland (the epiphysis. Who knew?)

For those of us used to a more dynamic practice, this was a beautiful, calming class. Tara encouraged us to move into a space of softness, with soft, wide eyes and soft movements. Despite moving into dynamic poses like koundinyasana or ardha chandrasana, we moved with softness and quiet purpose, always leading from the centre.

As we moved deeply into eka pada rajakapotanasana (pigeon) with a long twist, Tara invited us to dive into the space, the Madhya, where all things merge.

“Be the canvas,” she said. “Co-create with the elements as they exist.”

We were surrounded by activity: music from a nearby Zumba class throbbed beside us, chanting filled the air and the chatter of passersby. But as we breathed through rounds of kapalabhati pranayama and settled into a grateful savasana, I couldn’t help but think it was the perfect practice to begin the festival.

A masterclass in finding your centre amid the colour and the noise and always, always being prepared for sweaty surrender.