Retreating in Bali


Pilgrimage Narrated by Caroline Coggins
Video works by Simon Tonini
from the 2019 Annual Bali Retreat


Our little village where we stay has thickened, there are  more rooftops, less rice paddies. Yet arriving in the night, the fragrance is in the air and the quiet penetrates. I feel welcomed.

I wait to start, first with the teachers who are training, and then the retreat proper. So a day later we begin, early in the soft morning light, the sounds of waking birds dense. The ducks, now happily freed from their night resting place, plonk into the pond, splashing, playing and then shaking their little tails, spreading their wings, nudging each other, always together, never just one.

We too are freed from the normal life. People are tired from travel, but there is a lightness too. We start by opening the windows in the body, making some space to move into, looking for some freedom. We move quite quickly, negotiating the inner barricades looking for ways around and not into. Finding the thread of the energies.. going with them, letting them loose. Where is the support?  What windows are needed to be opened, the groins, side body, arm pit chest… what else?

Beginning to taste some freedom, our eyes lift  higher. We can listen, respond to the inner process of  negotiation.

Five days later the retreat begins, bringing fresh new blood, a mixed group, no longer only teachers and trainees. The old and the new working  together. It takes some negotiating, it is always a bit overwhelming a new group, everyone seems to take up so much room before they shrink into the size of a mat. We all have to arrive again, begin again and we often exhilarated by what we learn from each other.

Isn’t it the time now for these dialogues? In yoga, yes, in the different spiritualities, religions, countries, homed people and those without. Men and women. I am always amazed to see animals of different species ready to look out for each other, use and enjoy each other. We need the other, they take us out into the wild, wooly yet graced life. Nothing is fixed, isn’t it wonderful, how yoga wants to stretch us?

Caroline Coggins
July, 2019



If it is chariots or sandals,

I’ll take the sandals.

I like the high prow of the chariot,

The daredevil speed, the wind

A quick tune you can’t

Quite catch

But I want to go

A long way

And I want to follow

paths where wheels deadlock.

And I don’t want always

To be among gear and horses,

Blood, foam dust.

I’d like

To wean myself from their strange allure.

I’ll chance

The pilgrim sandals.

– Denise Levertov

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