Two years ago, Second Grade Teacher Paige Bloom completed her 200 hours of yoga teacher training and she has since been patiently waiting to see what would happen with her practice.

“I’ve been waiting for the right moment or opportunity to find my teaching voice, and Kindergarten Teacher Emily Bowditch suggested I travel to Bali,” said Mrs. Bloom. “I have never traveled much but I was open to new experiences. I also knew that my apprehension about being alone was holding me back in my yoga practice and other parts of my life, so I knew this journey to Bali was something I wanted to do, not only to deepen my yoga practice as a student and to find my teaching voice, but to conquer some personal doubts as well.”

Mrs. Bloom was one of two recipients who were awarded the 2017 Zekavat Summer Sabbatical, an endowment funded in 1996 by the Zekavat Family to encourage MFS faculty to engage in creative and challenging summer travel and study. The sabbatical seeks to contribute to the rejuvenation and education of faculty, to permit them to pursue personal growth and learning, and to offer them an opportunity to incorporate the ideas, experiences, and traditions of other cultures with students both inside and outside the classroom.

She spent two weeks of July in Bali, one in the spiritual epicenter of the Indonesian island, Ubud, and then at Seminyak Beach. Mrs. Bloom traveled independently and spent her first week alone in Ubud before her husband joined her for the latter part of her visit.

“I was always an anxious person and was fearful of traveling on my own,” said Mrs. Bloom. “But on the first day in Ubud, I decided to force myself to walk through town to get to the yoga studio I wanted to try, and I was able to get there on my own. Coincidentally, the theme of the yoga class was love over fear. So each day when I walked alone, I felt I was relinquishing my fear.”

After experimenting with a few different types of yoga, including Tibetan sound bowl meditations and Kundalini, Mrs. Bloom found a deep connection to Yin yoga.

“Yin yoga is about whatever feels right, that there is no right or wrong,” said Mrs. Bloom. “Your yoga practice is yours and that was eye-opening for me. I didn’t feel scared to teach anymore because I realized I didn’t have to worry about my students hurting themselves by doing poses incorrectly. Everyone’s body is different so each practice will be different.”

Along with her daily yoga sessions in Ubud, Mrs. Bloom studied the various Hindu gods and goddesses and food culture.

The following week in Seminyak Beach Mrs. Bloom visited many temples and shrines, but a highlight was a sunrise hike of Mount Batur.

“The sounds and smells of Bali were so peaceful and grounding, and the culture of not rushing through life allowed me to be more mindful of what is happening around me and focus on my life intentions,” said Mrs. Bloom. “I felt safe, ready to be vulnerable, and the healthiest I’ve ever been.”

When Mrs. Bloom returned from her travels, she serendipitously discovered Yin yoga classes being offered in Philadelphia and became trained to teach. She now shares her practice every week with faculty and staff at Moorestown Friends to translate her experience this summer to guide others through Yin and Vinyasa styles of yoga. Additionally, Mrs. Bloom will offer yoga and mindfulness summer classes for rising second through tenth graders through MFS Summer Programs.