The Most Memorable Balinese Experience at Desa Visesa Ubud!

I can’t even begin to describe the experience I had at Desa Visesa Ubud! But I’ll try. First I must mention that at this point I was in Bali for almost a week, not having the best luck so far, and to top it all off, I lost my debit card right before heading to Visesa Ubud! Needless to say the staff once I got there made sure I was comfortable, and that if I needed anything to let them know and they would help me out! HOW WONDERFUL. I felt so much lighter already and they even had a beautiful welcome ceremony and tropical yummy drink waiting for me. I actually never stopped smiling from this point on, leaving the week I had behind me.

They led me to my One Bedroom Private Villa, which was GORGEOUS! I have never seen a place more beautiful than this. There was a private pool, my own outdoor living space and small kitchenette, with fresh fruit basket. When I went in, there was a big king size bed, and it is so comfy, and so are the pillows. Usually I will miss my bed when traveling, but this bed was WAY better than mine. I finally got some decent sleep that night. But not before taking a flower bath that Desa Visesa had ready for my arrival. I feel like when in Bali, a flower bath is a must haha.

Visesa Ubud is located slightly north of the Ubud city centre on a rice paddy field! There is a shuttle that goes into the city centre every 30 minutes or so, and it’s only an 8 minute ride with beautiful views on the way down. I explored the property a bit more and found gorgeous gardens and learned a little bit more about the rice fields at breakfast time. This definitely is a gorgeous resort and I could have just stayed there all day and relaxed.

My friends came by later that afternoon as we were going rafting in the river, and they wanted to explore the property too so we walked around and stopped for a drink at Lumbung Restaurant. The drink was yummy with luscious green views.

I went back later that night to have a yummy Indonesian Fine-Dining experience. And the food was INCREDIBLE. I sampled so many different things but my favourite was the tuna ceviche and the Binte Biluhuta soup was so yummy. I left feeling full and satisfied, and ready for the coziest bed ever.

The next morning I got up super early to do some yoga, and then take some photos in the beautiful gazebo in the middle of the rice paddy field. I HAD to do it lol. During my time taking photos, some of the lotus flowers opened up and it was magical to see. After yoga photo I packed up my stuff and the staff was so kind to let me leave my stuff at the lobby while I explored for the day. When I came back, they gave me another bracelet from the welcome ceremony, one for my friend. It was so sweet of them, she loves it!

If you are ever in Ubud, Bali, check out Desa Visesa resort! I really loved my stay there, and there were more activities they offered I would enjoy doing next time.  I can’t wait to go back again!

So you want to learn how to headstand?

Headstand / Sirsasana is such a fun pose to learn, but can also be a slow and rigorous process to get to. It takes dedication and time to safely prep for this inversion. Once you feel your feet up in the air and you nail that first real headstand after endless amounts of work – it feels magical. It opens something inside you that wants to learn more about the wonders of the human body, and a strange adrenaline rushes through your senses. It is the ultimate mind clearer – you won’t be thinking about anything else other than your body and how you feel while in headstand 😉

It took me a year or so to really start feeling the hips stack over the shoulders and my core engage, where I could safely pull away from the wall and overcome the fear of getting upside down. I practiced every day, sometimes only for 20 minutes. The key is persistence and commitment to working on the prep poses to properly build the foundations for getting into a safe headstand.

I hope you find this useful : happy headstanding!

BENEFITS

There are some major benefits to Sirsasana other than it being a fun pose to test limits and get upside down! Here are some of my favourite benefits.

Increases Blood Flow

When you are upside down, you are optimizing nutrient flow and sending extra oxygen to the eyes, head and scalp! It is said to aid in nutrient delivery to the hair follicles – but I really can’t promise you less grey hairs by doing a headstand 😉

Strengthens the Body

A major benefit to headstand is the amount of muscle being built in the shoulders, arms and core. Learning to activate those new muscles in the prep poses helps improve your upper body strength and muscular endurance. We use this new found strength to take the weight off of the head and neck, using the forearms and shoulders to push away the ground – it’s a major workout!

Increases Focus

Ever hear the yoga teacher say “clear your mind” and you just can’t? Well, headstand is one of those poses that requires your utmost concentration so you really don’t have the ability to think about anything else other than your headstand and the burn in your abs. Getting comfortable in a headstand will also help reduce fear and worry, while improving your mind and keeping your attention clear and focused.

MISTAKES

Hopping up or donkey kicking

My number one rule when teaching a headstand is to never jump up! Walking the feet closer to the head and pressing in to the elbows to and lift one leg up at a time is much safer than hopping or kicking up, possibly injuring your neck or spine! This also helps train the body into feeling the hips above the shoulders by using the lower abdomen to keep them floating high.

Dumping into the head and shoulders

Distributing weight in the forearms and shoulders is actually what keeps you up and balanced in a headstand safely. Do not dump the weight on to your neck, push the ground away from you using your forearms, releasing the neck and head from the weight of your entire body. It is called a ‘headstand’ but so much of this pose relies on spreading the weight between your arms and not overloading weight on to your head. This helps to build the neck strength necessary to hold unsupported headstands in a more advanced headstand practice.

Head, Hands and Elbow placement

To avoid splaying out the elbows – place your forearms down on the mat, and each hand to touch opposite elbow. That should be the correct distance you need for a strong, supportive base. Interlace the palms together forming a triangle shape and keep the elbows hugging in, placing the head slightly down on the ground with the back of your head settling into the nook of your palms. Keep the shoulders pressing away from the ears or your back will round, allowing the possibility of rolling backwards. If you find the elbows keep splaying out, you can use a strap to keep them shoulder distance apart. If they are too tight then shoulder openers before headstand is always a good idea. 

Below is a video on arm placement for headstand! Also how dumping into the shoulders looks like vs. pressing them away from the ears to create space.

Banana Back

The sway back or banana back is a curved spine in headstand due to the placement of the pelvis and the engagement of the core muscles. Most beginners will load a lot of the weight into their lower back creating an arch, since they are mostly focused on not falling over and aren’t engaging the core. This could lead to spinal injuries and bad muscle memory for your inversion practice.

Holding the Breath

Not much to say for this one other than, practice mindful breathing and don’t hold the breath.

TIPS

Shoulders pressing down and away from ears.

Forearms pressing into ground.

Practice your Prep exercises and poses every other day. Consistency is key!

Always rest for 2 minutes in child’s pose after headstand.

PREP POSES

Downward Facing Dog

Forward fold

Plank

Navasana

Chaturanga

Dolphin pose

Crow

PREP EXERCISES

Plank curls

Using the wall

– To practice pike

– To practice L-stand

A great way to get over your fear of inverting and relying on the wall behind you. L stand builds better form for headstand!

Moving away from the wall

It takes a lot of guts to move away from our handy friend “Paul the Wall” – but moving from the wall early on helps train the muscles to rely on working to keep you up – building proper muscle memory. In the video below are some examples of ways we can start to get into headstand with the wall a lot further away from you.

You can prep for pike without the wall by using a prop like a ball or a block/wheel or anything really like a couch 🙂

In the video below I am using a somewhat deflated exercise ball to prep for pike.

Once you get the hang of holding your balance in headstand it opens up a whole world of poses to play with. Inversions are my favourite things to practice and I love how they make me feel strong mentally and physically!

Here are some fun headstand variations below!

Leg Variations

Tuck, Stag legs, Eagle, Splits, Twist, Lotus, Butterfly, Tuck

Arm Variations

Supported, Tripod, Hands to elbows ,Fingertip, Straight arms, No hands

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Remember to trust the process, sometimes it just takes a little longer than others and that’s ok! Don’t compare your progress to any one else’s – you are doing this for you 😉 The ego has a funny way of making us do things that can possibly hurt us, so don’t rush through and skip the prep. Take your time – it’s actually what helps you move faster than anything else and what has helped me the most.

Hope this helped you in some way! Let me know what you think in the comments below.

You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube – follow me for more posts like this <3

September Yogi Surprise Box – Love of Yoga

One of my favourite times of the month is when I can come home and find a little purple Yogi Surprise box waiting for me! It is always filled with so many hand-picked items with the yogi or health nut in mind. This months September YS box is full of everything I love, and celebrates National Yoga Month – so you know it’s going to be gooooood 😉

The items in this box are meant to enhance our practice and help ground us in this transition to chilly autumn days. For the love of yoga, let’s get to it!

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The best part is opening the box and just seeing past the Packing List at all the goodies inside. Knowing you get to pull each one out, one by one. It’s like a never ending birthday present, but tailored to my lifestyle! Right off the bat I saw food… brownies to be specific… brownie BRITTLE to be reaaallly specific!! Yes, Yogi Surprise, you know me too well.

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You know it’s going to be a good box when you kick it off with Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle! I’m not going to lie, I opened these immediately and started munching on them. WOW. SO. YUMMY. I had to stop myself from eating the whole bag and quickly packed it away, saving it for my Teacher Training this weekend as a good power up snack.

Underneath the Brownie Brittle was a beautiful geometric designed yoga strap from Yoga Design Lab and Scentuals Yoga Mat Spray. Super handy to keep in my Yoga bag for my Teacher training as well. We started using straps like this one so it definitely came at the right time and in an extra long length. Also, it’s so pretty! Next was a 100% beeswax candle in a cute tin from Barefoot Lake. It has a yummy lavender and peppermint scent and it is going to accompany me the next time I take a bath. It is meant to help slow down and soothe creating a tranquil space between body and self.

I kept digging through the box to find an aromatherapy incense sampler made from a blend of natural essential oils and hand rolled by local village women in South India. 25% of Auromere’s incense profits go towards supporting education in rural India, so go check them out!! Also included at the bottom of the box was a book by called Yoga To The Rescue: Ageless Beauty. It talks about some key poses that help keep the body rejuvenated, somewhat slowing down time. Such a handy little book! I always love when there is food and something to read while I eat the food in my Yogi Surprise Box hehe.

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“Is that box empty yet? I want to try and fit”

I went through my Yogi Surprise Lifestyle box, but the fun isn’t over yet! I also got the Yogi Surprise Jewelry box! A cute little box that has two pieces and a snack.

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Opened it up and saw my beautiful friend Alexzandra Peters on the insert. SO that was awesome already. Just after I spotted a gorgeous mala, with deep and dark colours I knew I would love right away.

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Made from African Turquoise and an accompanying Jade beaded bracelet. What a gorgeous set, and the quality feels incredible! Love the matching tassel as well, the pop of colour is stunning.

If you want a discount on your first Yogi Surprise – be sure to use the code YOGILOVE at checkout! You won’t regret this purchase, treat yourself – this one is WORTH IT! <3

Eleuthera 2016 – Surreal Beach Yoga Experience

So we didn’t really go on this trip so I could do yoga on the beach, but squeezing it in to our relaxing time in Eleuthera, Bahamas was not so bad, especially since it felt just so RIGHT! The warmth of the sun on your skin followed by that sweet salty breeze is the most wonderful experience. Especially when the beach is at low tide and the sand banks appear – yoga right in the middle of all that water, where you can walk for miles before it reaches your knees.

Mala pictured above is from Seed of Intention where you can use the code ASANAVANESSA10 for 10% off. I am also wearing HEAT Swimwear in the above photos. We had this idea that we would explore the entire island, and see every single beach. Well, we didn’t see the whole island, no matter how deceivingly small it may seem – we would need months to discover every beach this beautiful island holds. We did manage to see the top beaches on the island, with the above photos being from Alabaster Bay – one of the highest rated beaches on the island. Gaulding Cay was also one of the nicest beaches we went to (pictured below), but only because it gave us an awesome first time snorkelling experience to the island. I would highly recommend making the treck out to this beach just for that alone.

Bikini by @wetchic_beachwear

Speaking of top rated beaches, one of the top in the world belongs to this tiny island – famed for its coral coloured sand. We had to see this beach. So we woke up early and made the hour long car journey to the docks to take a small ferry boat over to harbour island. We had to rent a golf cart once we got to this tiny little island to make it to the famous beach, but that was so much fun as it is how the locals ride around. Every golf cart to themselves riding around in the sun on narrow roads, where you have to remember to drive to the left! Feet in the sand below, can you see the hues of pink in this sand?

I was wearing all JVRNEY swimwear on this day. So comfortable and I loved the white top with the green palms and floral on it. Felt perfect for this setting and practicing on the softest sand ever. We even had some of the best conch on the whole island in a salad as we watched the sun start to set. It was perfect. Conch is not my favourite but the way it was prepared for this salad was divine.

We did a lot more beach exploring after this, of course. Beach after beach after beach… but I’m not complaining. memorable moments include eating food, snorkelling, tanning, floating, eating food, drinking, tanning, snorkelling, eating food. So ya know, it was awesome.

We visited the Marker bars by Schooner Cays in the first photo above. just miles and miles of sand banks in the middle of the ocean between Eleuthera and Exuma Sounds. We stayed close to the small town of James Cistern where I had to strike a pose on the dock (the locals loved that haha). And one of our personal favourite beaches in the last photo above called Ten Bay beach. Such an awesome spot where the water is like a big clear pool at high tide.

I had to do some underwater yoga at South Palmetto Beach as well. We saw a shark soon after this so that was the last photo taken before moving it on to the beach for the rest of the day!

What is amazing about the beaches of Eleuthera is how private they are. We rarely bumped into anyone on these beaches so if thats your thing then this place is for you. You have an entire beach to yourself every day – all day. It truly is magical and breathtaking place. Since it is so empty all the time and the roads are hard to drive without a 4×4, if you get trapped at a beach, then you have to wait and hope someone drives by 😀 That’s why we always packed enough food and drinks in this AMAZING Sol & Selene bag that came so handy for this trip. We stuffed it full of everything we needed to last throughout the day – I am so happy we brought it.

Bag by @solandsolene 😍 Use the code ASANAVANESSA15 for a discount at solandsolene.com

Bag by @solandsolene 😍 Use the code ASANAVANESSA15 for a discount at solandsolene.com

Other than beaches we visited the Cliffs in James Cistern – just for a little adventuring. The pools behind me in the first photo below were full of crabs and sea urchins. It is also where the Atlantic ocean crashed against the edge of the cliffside. The second photo below was a rainy day where we visited Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve and learned about the various insects and plants of the Bahamas and Eleuthera. We also got stuck in the pouring rain but made it to this lovely tower within the park, so it wasnt so bad.

Last photo is one of my favourites. From the land of pineapples we had the juiciest little ones in Eleuthera. The most delicious pineapples live here and you need to sample these babies.

We had to visit Spanish wells as well, noted as one of the most beautiful beaches. As it was super beautiful but our taste had grown quite high after Harbour Island and Ten Bay beach – this one was beautiful, but very windy and full of larger bigger fish which we couldn’t see because of murky water. That freaked me out a bit so not too much snorkelling happened. It is home to Lobster island though so we had to sample the local cuisine – SO YUMMY.

Of course I had to do some underwater yoga, taken at our most favourite beach – Lighthouse Point beach. I think if we had seen this beach from the beginning and not save dit to last, we probably would have just come here every day. WOW. It is so incredibly breathtaking. The sand is soft and pink, there is adventuring to be done with the hike up the the Lighthouse and around, and plenty of amazing snorkelling spots in deep water close to shore. this was by far my favourite spot on the entire island. You can see how clear of a pool it is below.

The white bikini pictured is from Bikini CN which I loved for cheeky tanning 😉 The top also felt like a rash guard so it was great for snorkelling. We spent the entire day from morning to night on this beach, we came prepared to do just that because this one was the hardest road to drive to get to this beach. Super bumpy for 20 minutes on a slow ride in. But so worth it.

Thank you Lighthouse beach for a last magical perfect day in Eleuthera. I had my mermaid moment here too, pictured above in my fave dress from Red Carter Swim. You can see how crystal blue the water is – I will remember this moment forever. 

Extra special thank you to my main muffin photographer for documenting some of my yoga experience on the island. love chu!