kid on motorbike no helmet

What do downward dog and motorbike-perching have in common?

How many people can you fit on a motorbike?

Have you seen this video of what appears to be 6 Indonesians on a motorbike? The motorbike has two planks fastened to either side of the seat and women sit on either side of it, balanced. Strangely, they don’t look that precarious. They ride up and down hills into the great unknown, without incident. I sure hope it continues that way.

Creative hacks

Indonesian government employees make an average salary of about $200 a month, not to mention the high unemployment rate in the country. They say necessity is the mother of invention, right? If I made a similar income, I might consider creating this “double-decker motorcycle.” But I would mitigate risk with some helmets.

Indonesian busker and blue bus

A talented busker sings while passengers board a Solo-bound bus, Mlati, Yogyakarta.


city bus in Yogya

‘Watch For Thieves,’ the sign warns on the #2 bus in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. These older privately-run buses are dying out, as city-run buses with AC take over.

Gracefully navigating tight spaces

After living in and visiting many countries in Asia, I’ve seen some diverse conveyances. Bajaj, rickshaws, mini-trucks, songthaew, buses, the list goes on. Even more amazing than the vehicles themselves, is how people navigate the tight spaces so gracefully.

Living in Thailand as a high school student, I often visited Bangkok, which, at the time, was in constant gridlock. When people would get on the bus with shopping bags or a purse and there was only standing room left, they would automatically drop their belongings into the outstretched arms of the person sitting below them. When I first saw this practice, I thought the people must know each other. But it kept happening and I realized it was a collectivist approach to an uncomfortable, yet daily, situation.

Aside from the cooperation, I was also impressed with the physical grace people exhibited. Vendors would get on with a huge package, and then sit down with a smile. Other passengers would patiently walk around the bulky package, placed right in the middle of the walkway. Someone would perch on a tiny patch of seat. A kid would sit on top of the engine near the bus driver. A hot place to sit, but a place to sit nonetheless. Countless times, I would think there was no more space in a bus or a pickup truck. But I was wrong. Oh, so wrong.

taking risks is healthy

Family enjoys vying with passing motorcycles to drive their play car around the Southern Square in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Let your booty do that yoga

Your assignment? Work on balance so you’ll be ready to get on one of these conveyances. (You could combine motorbike riding and yoga, like this Chinese woman, but I don’t recommend it.) I do yoga about 5 times a week and have noticed my balance affected quite positively. Yoga with Adriene offers delightful, short, free routines on YouTube. Her philosophy is to “find what feels good.” She recommends doing yoga for as much or little time as you have. She is easy-to-follow, humorous, and positive. Google told me Yoga with Adriene was the most searched workout of 2015. I really recommend trying out some of her videos.

Bringing stretching and body awareness into your day

Since becoming involved Adriene’s program, I’ve brought yoga into free moments throughout the day. I’m aware of posture more and spend time stretching after sitting. I occasionally do yoga in the supply closet at work. Even better, when the kids in my English classes are getting sleepy, I get everyone to stand up and do a few yoga stretches. It’s fun and makes them way more productive. And me, too. A win-win, really.

If you’ve never done yoga, Adriene has a series called, Foundations of Yoga, which guides you through how the pose should look and feel. She also has a few 30-day yoga series, which you can follow in order from day 1 to day 30. She has themed practices for different situations, for example, yoga for when you’re feeling sick, yoga for when you’re angry, etc.

Trying something new is taking a risk, and taking risks is healthy

If you do try some of her routines, please let me know! What did you like about them? Have they changed anything about the way you use your body or navigate space? Most importantly, are you ready for an Indonesian double-decker motorcycle yet?

(This is a once a month series about the brave and interesting things people do, and how you can also add brave things and risk into your life as well, incrementally.)

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