Saturday, 15 January 2011

Balu - Arambol


Before we went up to Purple Valley, S and I spent a week travelling round Goa, visiting a number of different places. On our short journey we spent a few days in Arambol which, if you haven't been there before is certainly something of an experience - a very lively place with an eclectic mix of ageing hippies, new age traveller cliches, dreadlocked fire twirlers and...yoga.

Whilst we were there, we were lucky enough to stumble across an incredible, lovely Ashtanga teacher called Balu. Balu has an interesting life story - he's been teaching yoga for 12 years, he spent 3 years training in the Himalayas, followed by 2 years in Mysore and now splits his time between assisting in Mysore and running his own little Shala in Arambol.

S and I took a led primary class with him and we found him to be a very inspirational teacher with a lovely, gentle nature and a constant smile. It was a really enjoyable class (he showed me a great alternative to Marichyasana D which I'm still nowhere near) and at the end whilst in Savasana I had a pretty amazing experience. As you're laying there Balu comes around and gently lifts and pulls on your legs before placing them back on the ground - he then does the same with your arms before raising your head, straightening your neck and placing your head back on the floor. He finishes up by running his hands from the top to the side of your head (like a massage) and touching you ever so gently on your forehead. It was the smallest of gestures but it had a very profound effect on me - I actually felt quite emotional at first, and then I had a sensation akin to shivers running right through my body which lasted for a good 30 seconds or so. I won't go on too much but suffice to say it was an incredible feeling and a special experience that I won't forget in a hurry.

At the end of the class Balu asked us to stay for Chai and cookies - every Friday he splits his earnings 80:20. 80% he gives away to a charity that helps out orphaned children and the remaining 20% he uses to treat his students to some tea and biscuits which I thought was a really kind and thoughtful gesture. It was lovely to sit and chat with Balu and some of his other students and he also got S and I to join in their 'play time' and try out some partner yoga (much harder than I thought it would be!). It was a brilliant morning and one that S and I will long remember...I'd strongly encourage anyone who's interested in yoga and heading to Arambol to look up Balu and take the opportunity to practice with a very special teacher.


  • Conversation started 17 June

Helen Eastwood

Hey Balu,

I just wanted to say a personal thank you for this 2 weeks workshop in Paris.
It has been lovely meeting you and practicing under your guidance.
It was very special also being able to practice next to my teachers here. Everyone, same level. This made me understand even more that in yoga there is no goal, no finish line, and teachers are still students, the learning never stops, and what gets us all in the same room is the love of looking deeper, and the sharing and the devotion.

I enjoyed very much the flow and the silence in our practices. The adjustments that need no words.
Your adjustments are very different from what I am used to. It has been some work to adapt, to accept. Slowly taste small changes.
What your adjustments felt like was more softening, warming, almost modelling the body into some shape.
What I am used to is more like building up, constructing, strenghtening...
I don't know if I am clear, anyway...

I enjoyed the fun in the workshops, the laughing. Sometimes I have a feeling it all becomes too serious inside of me, the path of yoga. So I liked the playful atmosphere.

I liked your little talks of how yoga has to be linked to our everyday life. I think this is one of the hardest parts : trying to apply in real life what you try to apply on the mat.

I loved the guided series, because I think I am a very obedient person and I am very happy to surrender my mind to some external voice and just follow the rhythm.

After the first week, when I think my body worked a little to get familiar with your method, then the second week I feel I experienced more distance, and that was greatly calming. Less trying to understand, and more surrendering to the moment.
And so then I felt it was easier to settle down, close my eyes, before and after practice. It was much more quiet.

What I understand from these days could be that yoga is both about learning, discovering.... but also un-learning, and forgetting. And this feels real good, releasing...

So, here are some of the main things that came through my mind during these past days.
Full of clear, warm light, but all so simple.

Have a nice end of stay in Paris, and a safe trip back.
Take care,
++ Helen

Tatiana Burstein

ps: I keep practicing my drop back bend, and it brings me so much joy.Now I have to focus more on Pranayama and Meditation.
Thank you again for sharing joy , happiness and awareness .I have changed ,thanks to you.
your student, Tatiana.


Pamela Levy

Hi Balu Thank you for coming toParis and teaching with such patience and generosity.

I have not been to India and do not know when I will have

the opportunity to go so for me it was very special I hope you

will come back to Paris next year I wish you happiness as well