An Interview with One of our Beloved Balinese SOSA Teachers

We are very happy and honoured to welcome Eka Kailash on the blog today: you may call him Eka, or Kailash, and in this life he currently takes the form of a Balinese young man full of grace, wisdom, and human-ness. His yoga classes at the famous Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali, and his healing sessions are profound yet fun, and we always feel very touched by his loving presence and solar energy. Eka shares with much wisdom and generosity his journey into living a mindful material life, while connecting to nature and God. Actually, you may experience it while reading, if you so desire: Mr Kailash is gifted with a wonderful ability, which is to bring us deep within ourselves, with the happiest kindest smile…

Dear Eka, how would you like to inspire people in this interview?
To come back to their body, to spend a little more time feeling their body. The more time we spend in the body, the less time and energy we waste from being lost in the train of thoughts and stories of the mind, allowing peace and joy to become more accessible in our day-to-day life. Because I believe the main source of our problems in life is the ego-mind itself. It’s like a black hole that keeps sucking for more, impossible to satisfy. In order to feel the body, one needs to slow down and eventually be still just for a few minutes every day. Only then we can observe bodily sensations, the flow of the breath, emotions and thoughts with clarity, and without attachments or judgements. In other words, less mind, more body, more peace and joy in life.

How would you introduce yourself to a group of people that are super stressed and who lost their smiles a long time ago?
“Hello, my name is Eka…”, and I would just put a big smile on my face for a few seconds until they are fully aware that I am smiling and they are not. Then I would pass some jokes about myself (I have a few that work most of the time) and (perhaps) say something about how serious they look. It doesn’t matter much whether or not they respond positively to my smiles or jokes. What matters the most is, am I smiling? Am I laughing? Am I happy? You can’t bring happiness to the table if you are not happy, or peace on earth if you’re still angry at your parents. I believe everything around us is our mirror. In this situation, I’m trying to mirror a part of them that they have forgotten or that is still hidden under piles of mind-induced problems.
It’s the pleasure of making that big smile on our face, and the lightness in the heart when we take life less seriously. But in the end it all goes back to me: Eka are you happy? (huge cheerful happy smile… we wish you could see it.)

Wow thank you Eka, you do have a smile that is very communicative!! So, what led you to teaching yoga?
Well, the owner of Yoga Barn forced me to teach. At the time they were looking for a local instructor. When they offered me the job, I was still a fresh graduate from a Yoga teacher training. At first I refused, but then I decided to take the opportunity because they said “if you don’t like it, you can give the classes back to us.” The first class was nerve wracking but I was able to go through it and enjoyed it very much, so I decided to carry on. I had no intention to teach Yoga, even after I completed my Yoga teacher training! I guess it’s just life… it’s filled with the unexpected…

Was yoga something that you did mostly for yourself?
Yes, it has been mostly a self practice! I started practicing therapeutic asanas (ie postures) and pranayama (breath work), because I had lower back pain due to stress and an unhealthy lifestyle. I had trouble sleeping, relaxing, let alone being still. When I was younger, I was always busy doing things, and worrying about pretty much everything. I was so caught up with work, studies, ambitions, and materialistic goals… It didn’t matter how much success I achieved, I wasn’t happy and I didn’t enjoy my life. Yoga helped me, and still does, to slow down and to come back to myself, and to see things that matter the most in life: our health, happiness, and peace in the mind.

What did you do back then, before being a yoga teacher?
I spent most of my time studying, from one university to another, doing media related researches. My study and research focus were mainly media and politics, public broadcasting, and communication and development. At the same time I worked as a broadcaster for a few years from playing requested songs, talking about celebrity gossips, to delivering current events news…

How did you meet the founder of Yoga Barn?
I decided to come back to Bali, after spending three years of studying, working and living in America. I felt I had enough. I had such a great opportunity to explore different worlds and lifestyles, to live my American dreams, my childhood dreams. I spent enough time in America to realise that those dreams were not my dreams anymore, and I was drawn more and more towards finding a better balance between material and spiritual life. Material life without spiritual life would feel dry and empty. I was in a search for a deeper meaning of life, something that is more significant and meaningful than material achievements such as career, success, money, prestige, power, etc. That’s what I felt lacking in my life back then: the balance.
I decided to move back to Bali, without knowing what to do. But I knew that I didn’t want to live the same life that I had been living for years, basically since I was a kid. Growing up in a poor family, we had to work very hard. The only way for us to meet our basic needs was by working hard, day and night. And I always wanted to study and to eventually live abroad, to get out of this poverty. The only way I could think of to achieve these dreams was to win a scholarship. But of course I had to pay for what I wanted with so much discomfort and pain in the body and mind for many years. It was a pretty bleak period of time in my life, filled with depressions and various health problems. At some point I decided I had enough of the suffering. I wanted to live a brighter, happier, and healthier life. So I decided to leave America and return home to start a new adventure.

And that’s how you met the founder here at Yoga Barn, when you got back home?
Yes. A couple of months before departing to America for my studies, I had a sudden strike of severe lower back pain. After seeing several doctors, without getting any improvements, I decided to try Yoga. My first Yoga teacher, Linda Madani, who is also a healer, prescribed me a few therapeutic asanas (postures) and gentle pranayama. She also advised me to take better care of my body and mind. After practising for a few months and feeling the benefits of the practice, I continued my exploration through reading various spiritual books such as those written by Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Williamson, and other known spiritual writers.
A few days upon my return home from America, I made up my mind to deepen my explorations of Yoga. I contacted Linda Madani, who runs a beautiful studio in Ubud called Intuitive Flow, and asked her if I could continue my study of Yoga with her. She was kind enough to connect me with the owner of Yoga Barn, Meghan Pappenhaim, who was at the time looking for someone to help her with the marketing of the Bali Spirit Festival. I didn’t know that she also owned a Yoga studio. I excitedly took the job and she told me “Oh I have a yoga studio and you can take classes everyday for free, for as much as you need to” and I was like “Ok fantastic!” and that’s how I met the owner of Yoga Barn.

What was your dream job as a kid?
Ahhhh…. I had many dream jobs. I always wanted to be a doctor because doctors help people heal, that was one of my first major dreams, but then I let it go because I wasn’t very good at hard science at school. At some point I also wanted to be a priest. When I was a kid, my mother assigned me to make and do the daily offerings. From this I developed a deep spiritual connection with the spirits and nature of the island. Offering is an important part of our daily life as a Balinese, and I was very much into it and eager to explore the spiritual realms of Bali. So I thought maybe I should be a priest!… (laughter)… and I disposed that as well eventually (laughing…)
I guess in a way now I am doing those two jobs, but in a different way! The work that I’m doing now allows me to help people with their body, mind and soul, and at the same time keeps me connected with the spirits of nature.

And you also help people in your clinic, where you give sessions to help them heal on all levels, right?
Yeah, absolutely, I now have a healing clinic like other doctors… but a different kind of doctor (laughing) and a different kind of clinic… so yeah, dreams come true, we just have to wait and… flow…

Yes actually we were wondering: in Bali, when Balinese have something wrong in their bodies, what do they do? Do they see a doctor and take pills, go and see a priest, pray, take ancient natural remedies, or receive traditional bodywork?
There has been a big shift, a change in our lifestyle. When I got sick, when I was still a kid, the first thing that my Mum did was to give me a massage with special herbal oils that she made herself, which she learned from her parents. If needed, she would give me additional herbal medicines to ingest that she made herself from leaves and roots that we found easily in our garden. Modern medicine and doctors would be the last option. Resting the body and healthy home cooked food was also an important part of the healing process.
Unfortunately things have changed, I guess everybody wants the quick way, to get rid of illnesses as fast as possible. We see illness as an enemy, instead of a call for slowing down and resting. The sooner it disappears, the better. But illness is truly a message from the body for us to check in with our self, what is going on, what have we done wrong, why is this happening to us, how can we do better? It might be one of the reasons why western medicines and modern doctors have become people’s first option. Perhaps it’s easier, and faster. Better? I’m not sure.

So in Bali, in every house and in every family there is somebody that knows how to give massages, to prepare the remedies and heal with the natural oils and medicines?
Yes, at least my parents’ generation. Perhaps they were not taught formally, but it was how they were raised. These remedies are very simple and easy to make, and very affordable as well. Back then, Bali was not as developed as it is nowadays, therefore many lived simple lives and that’s perhaps one of the reasons why traditional healing modalities were the first option. Also we didn’t get much of modern-people diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, that require modern medical treatments as our lifestyle was much healthier than today. So yes, application of traditional home made healing remedies was a common practice. Especially for basic illnesses like a cold or fever or sore throat. My parents’ generation would know which herbs worked, how to use them, if there’s any kind of food that should be avoided, and what kind of food should be consumed to improve the health. It’s like knowing how to cook rice, it’s that simple!

Nowadays is it not passed along to children anymore?
Unfortunately very rarely. Perhaps the tradition is still passed on in some families, especially those who still live in remote villages, but again it’s diminishing and slowly fading away. At least among the Balinese. Yes it’s pretty sad… it’s an interesting phenomenon to observe, now the locals go to doctors and the westerners go to traditional healers!
I have a very good friend who is a very very good healer, an amazing traditional healer. Back then his main clients were mainly locals, but now there are hardly any locals coming, but he receives a lot of foreigners from all parts of the world! They come with various types of illnesses, often severe or terminal illnesses. He even took a few foreigners as his pupils. Perhaps the beautiful healing knowledge is not really disappearing, but is being transferred to different hands.

To be continued!

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