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The Personal Journey That Led To Open a Yoga Therapy School

From a very young age, I questioned the meaning of life. I wondered how I should live, and how other people were living around the world. I wanted to know more about different realities and ways of thinking so I could make my mind up about how I wanted to live my own life. I simply wasn’t ready to live life the way I saw it in Canada, the only home I’d ever known.

 

We all have different stories, different questions. For me, it wasn’t that my life wasn’t good, but that the North American lifestyle didn’t make much sense to me. All around me, I saw people working themselves into the ground at jobs they didn’t even like. All for a huge house, a beautiful car, a lot of clothes, and two weeks of vacation per year. Some people are satisfied living that life, but I knew it wasn’t for me. I wanted to live a simple life, without having to fight for status and wealth. I needed to find something to dedicate myself to—a livelihood that would give me purpose and meaning in the world we live in. This is why after completing a course of study in physical rehabilitation, I decided to travel.

 

Working in the physiotherapy ward of Ziguinchor Regional Hospital in Senegal, I experienced culture shock for the first time. There, I saw people sharing everything, though they had nothing. People welcomed me as if I were their sister. I saw entire villages—not just parents—taking care of children. I met people who smiled even when they didn’t know how they would find a way to eat the next day. I saw people praying to a God I couldn’t see, people who had faith in life though it offered them few opportunities. I understood that there was so much more to life than focusing on material wealth. I could decide to live a life of abundance without having to sacrifice all my time to a meaningless job, instead dedicating that time to taking care of myself, others, and my environment. I understood just how lucky I was to have so many choices.

 

I continued my journey, alternating between working in physiotherapy clinics in Montreal and leaving for months at a time to travel through Asia, Oceania, and Central America. I was on a spiritual quest. Meditation was already part of my life, after I’d had a rough time coming to terms with my own family history. I wanted to go deeper within myself to find inner peace. I needed the tools necessary to deal with uncontrollable external factors.

 

That’s when yoga came into my life. At first, I didn’t even know that yoga was a way of living. I always thought it was like Pilates, just exercises in front of a mirror. I wasn’t interested in that. However, during my year of traveling, I ended up in Nepal and in India, where I hoped to participate in a meditation retreat. As I researched meditation centers, I found out I had the wrong idea about yoga, and I realized that it could actually bring together my knowledge of the human body and my desire to find peace of mind. Suddenly, I was excited to learn more.

 

In India, I went to a Yoga Teacher Training Course in Goa and a Vipassana retreat in Kolhapur, where I was taught about breath and consciousness. I learned how to move with awareness, how to maintain a clear state of mind, how to look inwards, how to let go, how to accept. When I returned home, I felt rich with all the knowledge I’d gained. I saw how my approach with my physiotherapy patients changed, and I began to learn all I could about yoga therapy, reiki, and conscious communication.

 

I felt I’d finally found a path that made sense for me, a path through which I could evolve in a personal, professional, and spiritual way. Three years after my first visit to Asia, I returned to India, where I met a beautiful woman named Rita. Rita’s life in India was miles away from my own, but somehow, our paths were meant to cross. We had the same desire to share our knowledge and experiences with like-minded people. We shared the belief in yoga therapy – a tool for preventing imbalances and restoring well-being. In founding Yoga Chikitsa in Nicaragua, we decided to make our shared vision a reality.

 

Today, I continue to remind myself that in life, change is the only constant. Things are forever evolving and transforming, which is why this school will be a reflection of the many beautiful souls that have passed through its doors, and all of the learning and life-changing experiences that have happened under its roof.

 

 

 

Josy is a Certified Physical Rehabilitation Therapist, Yoga teacher, Alternative Medicine Practitioner, Therapeutic and Energetic Masseuse, and she also practices Vipassana Meditation. She is also the Co-Founder of Yoga Chikitsa Nicaragua.

 

First Time Yoga Instructor in Nicaragua

Last spring, I signed up for Yoga Trade.

On my first day, I looked at the posts for volunteer and intern positions and I applied to three posts. I had an interview by the following weekend with a hostel in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. I Skyped with the volunteer coordinator there and we really clicked. We talked about yoga, volunteer positions, beaches and monsoon seasons. The next night, I was signed up for the job. It felt like fate!

In the summer, I completed my yoga instructor training in Bali. I was nervous about starting to teach, but I knew leaping into it was probably the best way to make it happen.

In August, I boarded the plane and headed off for Nicaragua, where I had never been before. I caught a bus from Managua, where the airport is, down to Rivas, and from there caught another bus to San Juan del Sur. The town was very cute—a few blocks of stone streets lined on both sides with colorful buildings. The hostel was a one-minute walk from the beach!
I met the manager and he showed me the yoga studio on the top floor, which moonlighted as a bar at night. The hostel had really cool artistic touches, like a murals on the floors and walls, recycled bottles as chandeliers and barrels turned into tables.

I made my own schedule and posters for the five morning classes I’d teach each week. In exchange for the yoga classes, I got a room in the volunteer apartment up the road, daily breakfast (burritos or gallo pinto) and free shuttles to the surrounding beaches.

My first class was the hardest, of course. I went early to set out mats, blocks and straps. Then 10 minutes before class, a cleaner came to mop the floor! I had to pick it all up and then set it all out again. The manager’s girlfriend came for the class, which made me nervous. I realized later she just liked yoga, and wasn’t there to check on me. She told me later she never would have guessed that it was my first class ever.

Each morning, anywhere from 2 to 15 people came. The room was small so 15 was a stretch, but we made it work. It was always interesting to see the levels of the yogis who came too. A few times, I had someone for their first class ever and sometimes other yoga instructors who were traveling through came for the classes. Some yogis didn’t speak English so I had to be good at modeling the poses and alignment adjustments. It was difficult at first to try to make a plan for such a mixed group, but it’s a good skill to learn.

After a couple of weeks, another volunteer yoga instructor joined me at the hostel. We made a new schedule that included afternoon classes as well, which meant we could implement my idea for sunset yoga on the beach! Looking back, that was probably my favorite part! It was also really nice to have another instructor teaching classes that I could go to and learn from as a new instructor myself.

On the new schedule I taught two classes on Fridays and one class Tuesday through Thursday. That meant I had 3-day weekends so I made time to travel and see some other islands, beaches and cities around Nicaragua. I really enjoyed the local beach shuttles as well because there are so many gorgeous beaches near San Juan del Sur. I also had the opportunity to take Spanish lessons from another volunteer at the hostel. One night, I saw one of the hostel’s volunteer projects in action: helping the endangered sea turtles. I got to go to a far-away beach to see the babies hatching and making their way to the sea. We also saw some mother turtles laying eggs in new nests they were digging.

I’m really grateful to have had this opportunity to start teaching yoga in such a relaxed, fun way, and in a new, interesting part of the world!

 

 

 

Katia loves to travel and do yoga. She currently lives and teaches yoga in Mandalay, Myanmar. She also enjoys blogging about her experiences on katiayoga.com

Trials and Triumphs: My Experience as a Yoga Teacher in Nicaragua

I have always been impulsive, committing to doing things before I think the details through. Surprisingly most of my impulses have led to amazing memories and even the experiences that were not so amazing, still led to a learning event, or at least a good story. My first experience of teaching yoga abroad was an impulse decision, one that has changed the course of my life in a significant way and led to the fulfillment of living my ultimate dream.


I had gotten into an argument with a guy I was dating that left me fuming and eager to get away from the small island we grew up on. I was twenty- four and though I had traveled before, it was always with friends and while it was fun, these trips never left me amanda8feeling fulfilled. They left me feeling more of a desire to be immersed in the culture and to be a part of the community I had just visited. I got it into my head it was time to leave my hometown. There is only so much growth a girl can gain while living on an island that is only seven miles long and it seemed my growth had maxed out. I had already completed my first yoga teacher training and through that I had learned that I had a strong desire to travel and share my two biggest passions, surfing and yoga. Surfing and yoga (and running) are huge components to helping me manage my daily feelings of anxiety and depression. I got onto the computer that night and googled ways to travel, surf and do yoga. The first website that came up was YogaTrade.com. I clicked on the website and went into the ‘explore opportunities’ section. I spent hours sifting through all the different places that needed a yoga teacher. I narrowed my search down to places I would also be able to surf and emailed my resume and cover letter out to a couple different places. I went to bed praying I would get a response. When I woke up the next morning my phone was buzzing with emails, mostly from a spot in Nicaragua that was looking for a teacher within the next two weeks. I immediately looked up flights, confirmed a date with my new boss and booked the tickets.


As soon as I got the confirmation email from the airlines I started to freak out. I started doubting my self and the decision to travel to a new country alone, where I didn’t know anyone and barely spoke the language. I still hadn’t told my family or friends, or current boss that I had just booked a one-way ticket to Nicaragua so I started making calls. MyDSC_6303e mom was the first. As soon as she answered I blurted out, “ I have to tell you something but promise you wont get mad.” I could hear her inhale and exhale loudly. So I quickly added that I had just booked a one-way ticket to Nicaragua and would be leaving in two weeks time. My mom was silent for a while and then she finally started asking questions and once I explained to her what I was would be doing, she told me how happy and proud she was for me. Once my boss also said she was proud of me and excited for me, I knew I made the right decision about getting out of New Jersey. My lease was up at my apartment so timing could not have been better. I called my car insurance company and cancelled my car insurance, called Sprint and put my cell phone account on hold and went to the bank to put travel advisories on my debit and credit cards. I also set all my bills to auto pay over the internet. Then I had to convince my Grandmom to watch my cat, which was the hardest part of deciding to leave, I knew how much I would miss Bonzai. But I knew Grandmom would take good care of him. With all of that out of the way I started to pack and thanked God I would soon be out of Ocean City.


My first morning waking up in Nicaragua was a bit of a culture shock. I didn’t know anyone and felt lonely and scared. I couldn’t help but think I was missing out on things at home and I didn’t expect to miss my friends and family so soon after my arrival. After crying for a little but I opened my door and stepped into the sunshine, ready to explore my new home.


I have been living and working at SOLID Surf & Adventure for the past four months and I love what I do. Everyday I get to share a part of me with someone and in return I get a piece of him or her whether that is through yoga or surfing. One of the hardest things I amanda2am finding about teaching abroad is that you only have a short time to practice yoga with students. Most people are here for a week at a time and I never thought I could get to know and miss a person with in that short amount of time. Another challenge I have faced is meeting students where they are in their own yoga practice. I have to admit it took me a little while to adapt to my students needs rather than just reverting back the style of yoga I was used to teaching at home. Some other things I still find difficult is learning the language and the currency exchange but I am confident I will get it one day. It is all a part of stepping out of my comfort zone and finding the growth I wasn’t experiencing at home. Of course I still have days where I am home sick and miss my friends and family but it is easy to face time or send an email or text and generally just stay in touch.


I have only been at SOLID for a short time but have already learned a lot about myself and other people. You tend to make really strong connections to anyone you meet while traveling, I think it is because most people who travel, surf, do yoga and anything elseamanda6 adventurous all have the same mindset. I have noticed that every time I meet someone new. People are eager to find genuine connections in this world and have real experiences not just seen on the tv or movie screen. There is a desire to learn from other people and to share with other people. We had a group here recently that won a scavenger hunt put on by the Rachel and Jackie Foundation, a great foundation that focuses on improving access, quality and relevance of education for youth in Central America. While that group was here I had one of those life altering conversations you can have with someone you just met. This conversation opened my eyes to my many strengths and weaknesses but helped me solidify what I wanted to contribute to the community of El Transito. I had three ideas of what I wanted to do that will be put into motion once the kids return to school. We are starting surfing program after school for girls, a lot of the boys here surf but none of the local girls do, they love to ask about it and seem interested. We will also be doing two programs with yoga, taught only in Spanish, one for kids after school and one for women after work. I am excited to share with this community something that has improved my general well-being and can’t wait to learn from this community as well.


Through out my time here so far as a yoga teacher in Nicaragua, more than learning to adapt or be able to point out my strengths and weaknesses, I’ve learned to not rush life. Some of the most memorable experiences have been surfing at sunset with the local kids and having conversations that are spattered with both Spanish and English and a little hard to understand. The endless smiles prove that the best things in life really are the simplest.

 

 

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Amanda learned to surf in Ocean City, NJ, where she gave surf lessons at a local surf shop. Amanda later found her passion in Yoga and has since completed over 400-hours in teacher training with HotBox Yoga and Grace & Glory Yoga.

Connect with Amanda here:

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Travel “Eco”

Eco-travel is an excellent way to travel with a purpose. We should all think about ways to make our travel sustainable, mindfully connected with local culture, and present. Here we catch up with Los Cardones Eco Lodge co-owner, Anne-Laure Sitton. In 2001, Anne and her husband followed their dreams of adventure and searched for locations between Mexico and Costa Rica. They found it in Nicaragua and Los Cardones was born. Not only do they offer amazing surf/yoga/eco holidays, they give back to the local community in many ways, and offer visitors enriching experiences to get involved. Next time you travel…..Travel “ECO”!

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What does “Eco Resort” mean to you?

The vision for our eco lodge is to offer a place where one can feel in harmony with oneself, with others, and with the environment.

What projects are you involved with to help your local community?

We run a library in the local village, we host a weekly art workshop with the local kids, we organize health workshops with the women of theloscardones3 community. We save endangered sea turtles from extinction, we raise awareness here and abroad, we hire locally, and buy locally.

Do you offer work exchange/volunteer opportunities?

We offer a yoga teacher and customer service work exchange opportunity. It is a monthly commitment to share a loving yoga practice with our guests.

What kind of yoga do you offer at Los Cardones?

We offer ashtanga and vinyasa flow yoga, with a focus on our unity with Mother Nature.
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Learn more about Los Cardones here:

http://www.loscardones.com/

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