The human connection to crystals and stones spans time, cultures, continents and religions. Ancient Sumerians included crystals in their magic formulas; Egyptian pharaohs had their headdresses lined with malachite in the belief that it helped to rule wisely; while native American shamans used them for divination and healing. Their curative properties are mentioned repeatedly in ancient Vedic Hindu texts and referred to in the Old Testament of the Bible; while the mysterious black stone at Mecca (possibly a meteorite) forms an intrinsic part of the Islamic pilgrimage.
The Black Stone of Mecca
In 1880 Jacques and Pierre Curie discovered the piezoelectric property of quartz – when squeezed or stretched, a voltage is produced across the crystal’s face. These days crystals are utilized in almost every form of technology. Liquid Crystal brings us the clarity in our computer screens, quartz keeps watches ticking, and electronic grade crystals are used in cell phones, clocks, games, television receivers, radios, computers and navigational instruments. But although science readily accepts the vibrational qualities of crystals, when it comes to the less tangible realms of crystal therapy, the suggested positive vibrations of gemstones is often relegated to the fringe of ‘new age;’ even though it is a tradition that is about as ‘old age’ as you can get. We have been communing with stones in one way or another for as long as we have roamed the earth. Continue reading →
Chocolate truffles at Alchemy, photograph courtesy Suki Zoe
A few years ago my friends had a ‘decadent dessert party’ and we all took along a dessert of our choice, not surprisingly there was a lot of chocolate – including my own triple chocolate cheesecake. What had started as a very chilled affair suddenly turned into a mad crazy night of dancing, Continue reading →
It is said that eyes are the windows of the soul, and the first thing I notice about Daniel Aaron are sparkling blue eyes that radiate calmness, compassion and knowingness. As the creator of Radiantly Alive, he aims to uplift our world through unique and powerfully transformative yoga experiences. But if you are picturing a white robed, long haired guru in sandalwood beads speaking in mantras, think again. Daniel is very much a modern day yogi (he prefers “human potential guide”) who also happens to make awesome raw chocolate, delves in astrology, runs yoga teacher training programs, and facilitates raw food chef courses. Continue reading →
Fivelements, Puri Ahimsa sits at the end of a narrow country lane surrounded by rice paddys and fields of ripening corn. Thatched circular buildings with conical roofs reach for the sky, the gardens are filled with lush foliage, and the gushing of a fast flowing river intermingles with birdsong. It is the ideal setting for a healing sanctuary and from the moment I enter the spacious grounds I am immediately aware of a shift of energy, a kind of higher vibration.
I have a traditional Balinese healing treatment that is a mix of reflexology and chakra balancing with Pak Dewa, a wonderful and powerful energy healer. At times the session is painful and I shed tears, but by the end my spirit is soaring. Afterwards I sit on the verandah drinking ginger tea and reflecting on my life and my need to restore balance.
This led me to Desa Seni a boutique resort/arts village in Caggu that offers a variety of yoga classes. I have practiced yoga in many beautiful places around the world but the Desa Seni experience is unique. Traditional wooden houses from all over Indonesia have been transplanted into a fairy tale like setting with pretty vegetable gardens, lush tropical foliage and an atmosphere that creates a sense of well being from the moment you enter.
I float in the infinity pool perched over a steep gully; a pair of hands support my head and back, dappled sunlight spills across my face. This is the Watsu aquatic healing session on day one of the Bali Spirit Festival, and already my spirit is soaring. Continue reading →
Just minutes from the hustle and bustle of Ubud, Satyagraha is an oasis of peace and serenity with organic vegetable gardens, a tea plantation, dense banana groves and a magnificent sprawling wantilan house that is available for rent. It is part ashram, part education facility that brings the benifits of yoga to children. I visit to write about their kids programs and stumble across the class for village elders. Classes take place in a spacious open air pavilion surrounded by tropical foliage and stone statues. I visit late one afternoon, one by one the elderly Balinese trickle in, dressed in tee shirts and tracksuit pants. Some arrive on foot, others have ridden by bicycle from surrounding villages and their ages range from around 60 to 95. It is clearly quite a social gathering and the pavilion is soon ringing with the sound of laughter. Deborah arrives, a tall blonde American with a huge smile and everyone becomes silent as she leads them through a series of asanas. She is considerate, patient and gentle and I am impressed with the agility and strength of the group as they twist and stretch. Towards the end of the class she divides them into partners where they face each other, hold hands and plant the soles of their feet together then attempt to straighten their legs. Laughter erupts as some of the topple over, although quite a few of them manage to hold the position admirably. When the class is over everyone sprawls around the floor chatting and giggling.There is a great sense of fun and camaraderie and joining the class has been such a positive and happy experience that my jaw aches from grinning so much. After the class everyone huddles around Deborah to say thank you, it is obvious how much they like and respect her, and she them.
Made, a gentle, kind heardted and well respected village leader started the yoga classes because he wanted to see the elders “happy and healthy” in their final years.Deborah tells me how wonderful it is to see them turn up week after week with, “Great gratitude and enthusiasm,” they tell her stories of being able to eat rice again with their hands, of feeling stronger, more balanced, happier, and more open in their hips and shoulders. Deborah and her husband have been involved with the village for over twenty years and also run Yoga Adventure programs which incorporate ‘Yoga for the Village People’ on their trips to Peru and Bali. She tells me that, “Every time we have had the opportunity to share yoga with someone who had no access to yoga in remote villages, the benefits were profound and the word would spread.
A few weeks later I meet with everyone again at the Bali Spirit Festival where Deborah is leading a workshop entitled ‘Yoga for the village people,’ and 100 of the senior citizens turn up. Afterwards many join the Kundalini class led by the inspirational Rebecca Pflaum. At first they just watch, but are soon joining in, putting many of us much younger practitioners to shame with their agility. Mid-class Rebecca calls out “Its time to dance,” and cranks out some hip hop and the elders are the first on their feet to throw some funky shapes. It’s a wonderful moment and one that really captures the essence of Bali Spirit. Afterwards I spot some of the elders playing Djembe in the West African percussion class and a few of the more adventurous have a go at hula hooping.