I Went to Bali and Turned Into a Hot Mess

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As I sit here and write this, I have white dots all over my face and chest – ladies, I know some of you know about “pink” dots. White dots are actually the same thing as the pink dots – a chalk substance use to heal breakouts. In my case, maybe a breakdown. I came to Bali to refresh, rejuvenate, practice yoga and get a tan. Instead, my body totally broke down. Within a few days of being here, I am quickly reminded of the importance of balance in life.

I booked this Bali adventure over 9 months ago to practice yoga with a teacher that I adore, Ashley Albrand. I came here early to disconnect from my NYC life and to spend time getting stronger in my yoga practice. I was so excited to refresh. What I got instead was way different.

I arrived on a Friday evening and spent my Saturday recovering from a very mild case of jet-lag (thank goodness). I embarked on my first yoga practice at the Yoga Barn Saturday afternoon. It was a fun flow class with a teacher named Emily. Level 2/3 really means level 2/3 here. Within the first 30-40 minutes she had already led us through 2 arm balances, a forearm stand and a hand stand. I came here to perfect my hand stand so I wasn’t put off at all, just a little frustrated because my energy felt low. Blame it on the “jet-lag”, I thought.

By the end of the evening, my energy was really low and I crashed out. To my dismay, I woke up in the middle of the night coughing uncontrollably. I guess there is something to be said about those funny face masks Asian people wear to ward off germs. Dammit! I was sick on my first day!

I hire a driver to take me to the EPL* healer, Wayan. She graciously agreed to see me on her day off. I left after a few hours with some leaves wrapped around my belly, a bag of medicine and an appointment for the next day. I was committed to practicing yoga, so I ended my day with a beautiful restorative practice.

I woke up on Monday, feeling a little better – well at least my cough had subsided a bit. Still a little bummed about being sick and unable to practice at “my level”, I headed to a Level 1 Vinyasa and Pranayama class. It actually turned out to be just what I needed. I headed back to Wayan’s for my treatment and got another leaf scrub down and some other healing treatments. I decided to walk and guess what happened? I seriously stubbed my toe (dripping blood stubbed)- S#!t! How am I supposed to practice yoga with a stubbed toe? After I got to Wayan’s I noticed some red bumps appearing in patches on my chest and face. Thinking it was nothing I ignored it. An afternoon nap and an early evening restorative practice did me well. I was feeling a little better.

Then Tuesday came! I had an unfortunate restless night of sleep due to coughing and congestion. I repeat the same yoga regimen – Level 1 morning practice, restorative evening practice. More efforts to take care of myself resulted in a spa day. I did notice the rash on my chest was getting worse, but trying to ignore it, I just plugged along. Here I am by the end of the day on Tuesday, hacking cough, stuffy nose, stubbed toe, and red rash spreading all over my chest (I think it started climbing up my neck by this point). WTF!

What I may have failed to mention was that March was one of the busiest months in recent history in my business. I was working (because I include working out as work) from 630 am to 11 pm every day during the week and at least 3-4 hours a day on the weekends. I was totally out of balance. I wasn’t taking great care of myself. I wasn’t sleeping well. My diet wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either. Needless to say, I was totally out of balance.

Reality-check sets in and my body says – you can’t keep working so much and doing so much. Literally, my body shut down to get back in balance. I sit here, with a rash that is spreading to my face (now determined to be an allergic reaction to the herbs that I was given for my cough), a severe cold and a stubbed toe. How am I supposed to engage in an advanced practice in less than 3 days?

Can you say wake up call? I am getting mine loud and clear. I am actually really surprised that I am not totally bitter. This time has given me a huge opportunity to grow. Here is what I have learned (loud and clear I might add):

  1. Running around with my head cut off constantly and working nearly 24-7 is not doing me any good.
  2. Becoming a beginner again offers the hugest opportunity for growth. Slowing down made me to go deeper and allowed me to learn from these new teachers. Restoring in my practice helped me to heal.
  3. A cold is a warning sign that you are not taking care of yourself very well-duh!
  4. A rash (actual or metaphorically speaking) is a warning sign to check in and listen to what is really going on instead of brushing it off to the side.
  5. A stubbed toe is a reminder to live more consciously and be aware of being in the moment (I was wandering off in my head to some other place when I stubbed my toe).
  6. Sometimes a breakdown is a good point to take stock of what is really important in your life. Where are your priorities? Are you living the life you want to live? Are you walking through life from a place of love? Are you aligned with your values or just trucking along? How can you be your best you?

As I mentioned earlier – I am really surprised that I am still happy to be here. I could choose to be bitter and irritated (well, my skin is irritated but you know what I mean), but instead I am choosing to learn the lesson and make the best of this situation, white dots and all.

I still have 10 more days here which will be no less than brilliant I am sure.

I would love to hear from you! Has there been a time in your life when all of your plans have gone awry and things just aren’t going as you hoped? If so, did it help you learn to find balance in your life?

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P.S. *EPL stands for Eat, Pray, Love


  1. jen on April 26, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Oh, Tracy! A tough lesson, but good that you “got it” and will enjoy the rest of your stay. xo

  2. Shireen on May 9, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Thanks for sharing this, Tracy. Most people would not be open to the lesson or be willing to admit it. It makes me think about a dilemma I often struggle with: mind over matter vs. listening to my body. It’s a delicate balance and you’ve balanced it beautifully. 🙂

    • Tracy Matthews on May 9, 2012 at 10:42 pm

      Thanks Shireen…I can’t wait to see you soon. I am back and ready to teach you whenever.


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