Learning Meditation and Yoga from a Fifth Generation Balinese Priest

Share with your friends...
Mangku Mastra and Paula JohnsonSo, after my profound healing experience with Mangku Mastra yesterday, he came back today to teach me his special Bayu Sura Yoga and Meditation. Since I don’t ‘do’ yoga (I find it extremely difficult and my back hates it so I don’t do it), this was going to be interesting…

Even though Mangku Mastra spoke pretty good English, we also had an interpreter with us – Agug, from Nirata Centre of Living Awareness, where I was staying, just to be sure.


We started out with Mangku Mastra sitting down cross legged in front of the offering altar in the middle of the room, with four sticks of insense burning in the middle, me sitting behind him with my hands in prayer position also. He recited some prayers to the gods, wishing for things to go well and be easy (thanks Mangku)!

I marvelled at the way he could effortlessly sit cross legged on the floor, getting down from stanging in one foul swoop. Knees and thighs straight on the floor and spine erect like a board – totally at ease. God I’d love to be able to sit like that! But the Balinese have been doing this since they were children – they don’t sit on chairs – they sit on the ground – always.

Once the prayers were done, it was time to get down to business.

Pranayama Breathing

Mangku Mastra then sat facing me and instructed me in the Pranayama breathing technique that was coming next – “Close eyes, visualise and count each seven chakras from top of head down back of body as you breathe in. Then at solar plexus chakra on front of body, hold breath for 28, in through nose, out for 14 through mouth – understand?”

All I could think of was how I was going to hold my breath for a count of 28!

And away we went. It was pretty hard holding for a count of 28 and the first few times I thought my lungs were going to explode, but after a bit it got a little easier and I got into a rhythm. I don’t know if I was doing it strictly correctly and I wasn’t counting slowly 🙂 but I just went with the best I could do. We did this for about ten minutes.

Let the Yoga begin

Now, I’m not going to give a blow-by-blow account of every single thing we did, but needless to say, it was very different from the yoga classes I have been to and I actually enjoyed it and didn’t find it too difficult – the gods must have been listening – thank you!

Mangku Mastra integrated aspects of the macrocosm and microcosm in his teachings, bringing in the energy of the sun, the stars, and planets and not forgetting positive and negative balance.

I loved the associations he made with the cosmos and things like holding crystal balls in the palms of my hands while outstretched, helping bring in the energy from the macrocosm. It was very cool.

So, there were five main postures done standing. The ones where I had to have my arms outstretched were tough. I had to hold them out (or up) for as long as I could and repeat three times. By the end I knew my arms had had a great workout!

Then it was time to move to the floor – uh-oh. But it was fine – really. He had me do a backward roll with my legs out straight behind me and hold…back down again…and repeat for three times in total.

My backward roll...

My backward roll…

Then he wanted me to do it again, this time putting my toes on the ground behind me – ah, no, that one wasn’t going to happen! My lower back was already screaming with what I had just had to do so I just repeated again and tried to go a little further – I’ve learnt my limitations and I certainly didn’t want to injure myself with another five weeks to go in Bali!

Then from a supine position on my back, he wanted me to lift my two legs together up off the floor and into a 90 degree angle and then lower them again (together) back down to the floor. Again, that was not going to be a happening thing. Once again I knew my back would not allow it and I will build up to that.

Legs to the ceiling please...

Legs to the ceiling please…

So, I just bent my legs with my feet on the floor first and took them up from there. That was much safer. On the last round (all exercises are done three times) I managed to bring my legs back down together straight and he was happy with that.

Then there was the boat pose. I knew this one was going to be interesting because I have no flexibility in my back at all. I did the best I could, hardly lifting at all…Mangku came along and lifted my feet for me so I got a bit more height but as soon as he let go I went back down to a plank again!

A very bad boat pose...

A very bad boat pose…

The last three exercises are common ones done by all sports people, at the gym, in pilates, and yoga classes. Sitting with one leg out straight at a 45 degree angle with the other leg tucked in tight to your inner thigh. Leaning out to touch your toes on the straight leg, hold for 10. Open both legs out, touch both feet and hold for 10. Then repeat the straight leg, bent leg sequence on the other side. Do this three times.

I loved the way he counted these ones. When I was holding my toes, he would count, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, ok 10 – I guess you had to be there 🙂

Then finally there were some fast circular hand movements done over each knee, fast for 49 times and then big circular arm movements from the front of my body swinging around to the back and then back to the front again – that was hard work for 49 times I can tell ya!

Energy circles...he's keeping a good eye on me...

Energy circles…he’s keeping a good eye on me…

And then we finished off with corpse pose – ahhh…

Now this I can do...

Now this I can do…


With the yoga over it was now time for meditation. With the help of Agug, he led me through a couple of different meditations. The first one was checking in with the body, relaxing through the various parts. Then there was a forgiveness meditation, using the Ho Oponopono words and visualising people that had hurt me in the past and vice versa.

Ho oponopono Meditation: I love you, I'm sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you

Ho oponopono Meditation: I love you, I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you

Then the final meditation – looking at myself in a mirror, visualising me smiling back and saying “I am Paula, I am Paula, I am Paula”. Asking (silently) “What are you doing?”, and replying: “I am still practising yoga and meditation every day” – haha, that made me smile 🙂

Then Manku Mastra said, “Remember your name, keep it in your heart, belief in yourself” – that made me cry…

The session was over two hours. There was so much to try and take it and I’m sure I’ve missed bits. But for the days since, I have been doing meditation and some of the yoga poses – especially the standing ones, connecting with the sun, stars and planets – I really like those ones…

I’ve done no exercise for two weeks – just three days of doing some of these yoga exercises and some meditation – but I was absolutely delighted (and surprised) that I had good energy for the trekking I did today – over four hours walking; through the river, rice terraces, up tracks, up the road, down again, all in the heat of the day and I didn’t struggle at all. In fact I felt GREAT!

This is where I walked from today, and then continued via the aqua ducts for another 3 hours

This is where I walked from today (the peaked roof on the right is my room), and then continued via the aqua ducts for another 3 hours

I think there could be something in this Bauy Sura yoga and meditation and I intend to keep doing it :-). Thank you Mangku Mastra!

Me and my Balinese Guru - Mangku Mastra

Me and my Balinese Guru – Mangku Mastra

I love this photo but the quality is not great...

I love this photo!

Read about my other Balinese healing experiences:

My Balinese Healing Experience – No. 2

My Balinese Healing Experience


Retreats in Bali 2016:

Writing Retreat

Share with your friends...


  1. Hi Paula!
    I have had 2 chakra massages with Manku Marta and in a few hours meditation and yoga.
    I had read you post after the first massage.
    He is a wonderful man.
    Thank you.
    Smile on my face ( and in my heart)

    • Hi Jessica! Yes Manku is wonderfully delightful – I’m so pleased you enjoyed his sessions and thanks so much for dropping by and adding your comment – it helps others immensely 🙂
      Take care and enjoy your travels in Bali x

  2. Haha! Loved the ‘non-blow-by-blow’ account from someone who doesn’t ‘do yoga’.

    Personally I LOVE yoga and it was great to read the benefits you’ve noted above as they reinforce my thoughts and feelings about yoga. For me yoga has been one of the key things that has helped me maintain alignment, balance and sanity in my life – particularly now as a mum 🙂

    • Ahhh Kylah, you yogi you! I know so many people that just LOVE yoga and one of my best friends is a yoga instructor, but try as I may, time and time again, I just don’t connect with it…I much prefer Pilates :)…although now I’ve had this instruction from Mangku Mastra, I’ve definitely connected with the standing poses and their deeper meanings and will continue to do those for sure 🙂

  3. jan madigan says:

    Paula I so enjoyed reading about your yoga and meditation sessions oh and also the massage. It all sounds wonderful. You look lovely and full of joy.Thank you for sharing your journey 🙂

  4. Cherie Milne says:

    You are glowing in the last photo and I am sure that was due to the wonderful experience that you had just had. Sounds like it was very special and you made the most of the opportunity.

  5. Kathryn Price says:

    Amazing! What an awesome experience. x

Speak Your Mind