Andrea – Studio Owner’s Path

A dream came true

My Path in Co-Creating a Yoga School

By Andréa Drottholm

I’ve been in the service industry ever since I started working. I started out as a waitress, worked in hotels and later the tourist and travel industry. Serving has always come naturally to me as I love seeing people happy and content with what we offer them.

In 1999 I moved to Barcelona and four years later started my first business in tourism. It was so exciting to meet people from all over the world and so gratifying our services enhanced their holiday. That same year I found  

my first Ashtanga teacher, Diane Bell, and was hooked.

By 2006 I was ready to get more serious with my practice and took my first trip to India. It may sound clichéd, but I came back a different person. My job serving tourists was not so fulfilling anymore. I needed something deeper, still to serve people, but with something more meaningful.

Tony Robbins was in London, I joined his three-day course, and he ignited my desire to become a life coach. As I studied to become a life coach, my yoga practice along with this became rather serious given 3 hours every morning, followed by private lectures given by my then teacher Nick Evans. To find a teacher more fired up and devoted to Ashtanga I think would be difficult. He is devoted not only to his own practice but very much so to his students. I watched him interact with students, guide them outside of the mat, with the “stuff” that would emerge in life, perhaps due to the intense practice.

This is where I for the first time got inspired and realised the depth of the practice. Why? I noticed not only changes in myself but how Nick was able to hold that space for people to get deep inside, feel what was happening and arising and not run away from it.

Teacher Trainings were not really heard of back then, we just kept practising, showing up and flying to Mysore, to practice under Sharath Jois. My intention was not really to become a teacher, I was simply inspired and intrigued about the process.

One day my teacher asked if I wanted to assist in the shala, it was an honour and my years of assisting began. It took another five years before I got authorised to teach.

In the meantime, I had met my then partner Damien de Bastier, he was an already authorised teacher. We shared the same visions and dreams, to one day have a space to teach and share our passion of this practice.

The vision was to have a place somewhere exotic, we wanted to build a community and have a space where people could come and stay and deepen their practice fully.

We landed in Bali.

Bali was already popular for Yoga, but not so much for Ashtanga. We decided this was the place we were to build our dream. Everything fell into place, the visualised location for the shala materialised. Samadi Bali was born.

We were fortunate enough to be near the surfer beach Echo Beach in Canggu, teachers like Mark Robberds came down with his students the day we opened doors to practice and surf.

It was magic the shala never had a day where we did not have any student show up to practice.

But there were days we would teach very few students, living from our savings and the company was going into red.

I worked 15 hours a day as we had a restaurant and a small shop as well.  I was cleaning dishes, accounting, sourcing suppliers, creating new recipes for the restaurant, marketing, and of course, teaching.

Back then Canggu did not have a large community, “commitment” was like a swear word on our laid-back tropical island. People would drop in and out of class, a few became regulars.

The most important thing for us was to build a community. To connect with people. We would create dinner nights, movie nights, workshops, farmers market, and much more.

The community started to grow.

What we hear from our visitors and students, is how much they appreciate our presence not just in the yoga space but also out of it. We hang around the café to work and chit chat with those who were eager to talk.

We meet our students outside Samadi for birthdays, Christmas, weddings.

We have had couples meet, get married and even have babies at Samadi. The Doula was one of our yoga teachers.

I feel my life coaching skills have kept me open to my students, hear them, question their emotions and support them as they grow.

Yoga is asanas and also self-enquiry to know ourselves better. The process can be difficult, and we encourage students to stay on the path when the tough gets rough, and stay with the emotions rather then avoid them.

Today, Samadi Bali has daily classes, a Mysore programme, and other styles of yoga asana, chanting and meditation. We have workshops on a wide range of topics and therapies to support our students’ journeys. Our food is 100% vegetarian and our shop sells fairtrade, artisanal products.

We show them some smaller changes they can make towards a healthy, conscious and sustainable way of living.

We started with very little money and invested our hard earned savings. Samadi has grown organically with the support of our community, friends, fellow Ashtanga buddies.

Of the four founders, none are marketing wizards, but we managed to get the message out there about who we are, what we do, and what we believe in.

The four of us are all healers and teachers. We do this for one reason, to share our own life styles, to introduce a balanced way of living.

Money has never been our motivation. Rather to be authentic and keep to our path and mission with clear intentions, supporting our community, supporting the local farmers for our organic produce, our staff which are like our extended family and keep inspiring our community.

Life is too short for gossip, shopping ventures, small talk about the weather! We only have now, so let’s go deeper into our emotions. Like Gandhi so famously suggested, if we want to see change in the world, first change has to happen within ourselves.

This morning, like most others before, I got out of bed at 3:15 am, did my yoga practice, taught yoga, and then tended to the rest of the business. It’s not easy, but for me it’s a wonderful sense of service, that what I do and teach matters. I am so grateful for this life.