WASHINGTON, D.C. – In collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Indonesia, the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia invited two American yogis, Jessamyn Stanley and Sean Phelps, to experience “Wonderful Indonesia Yoga Retreat” in Yogyakarta and Bali from October 23 to November 2, 2017.
Jessamyn Stanley of Durham, North Carolina and Sean Phelps of Los Angeles, California are yoga instructors who have taught yoga classes and workshops in the United States and abroad. Both of them are also active in social media (@mynameisjessamyn and @seanphelpslife) promoting yoga and wellness.
The two yogis meditated during the mythical sunrise in Borobudur Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the world and then practiced yoga in Prambanan Temple, one of the biggest Hindu temple sites in Southeast Asia. They had only heard stories about the temples and as yoga practitioners the experience gave them deeper level of respect and reference. “Before coming here, there is so much context that I was not getting. I hope this feeling of reference doesn’t just stay here. This is something that I need to carry for the rest of my practice,” said Jessamyn.
The 2017 International Yoga Day in Yogyakarta was attended by 1,200 enthusiasts, despite being held during the holy month of Ramadhan when Muslims refrain from eating and drinking. This shows that Yoga community in Indonesia is growing. Yoga First, for example, was started with only two students. Today it has 120 active students who buy yoga equipment and fashion from the United States.
During the sharing session with Jessamyn and Sean, Yoga First students shared that more Indonesians feel the benefits of yoga in their daily life. Yoga makes them healthier and helps them achieve inner peace.
In Bali, Jessamyn and Sean stayed in Ubud, an area known for its breathtaking nature and that certain yoga vibe. “It is a very blissful experience”, said Sean when asked about his yoga session in the paddy field.
Bali has a more established yoga community. There are myriad of yoga studios offering yoga classes from Ashtanga to Vinyasa. Jessamyn and Sean had a chance to join classes in Taksu Yoga, Five Elements, and Ubud Yoga Centre. The class in Taksu Yoga was conducted in Balinese. In Five Elements they experienced a healing journey through the mystic culture of Bali, while in Ubud Yoga Center they had a sharing session with the yoga community.
Whereas in the USA yoga classes are often conducted in a studio, in Indonesia the classes are mostly organized in an open space. When asked about how Bali is different than any other places around the world, Jessamyn said “Bali has the special energy for yoga practice. It is deeply embedded in spirituality that makes it profoundly different. Bali is perfect for yoga.”
About 296,000 American tourists visited Indonesia in 2016, making the US at the 12th place of Indonesia’s top 20 foreign visitors. The government of Indonesia has set a target to increase that number by 25%. “We need a more strategic approach to achieve that target, and that is why we cater the specific needs of specific tourists”, said Ambassador Budi Bowoleksono. Moreover, he said this program is expected to place Indonesia in the map of international yoga trip and attract American tourists to visit Indonesia.
Think yoga trip, think Wonderful Indonesia.