A Better World

This is a repost from our friend Liz Clark and her blog at Swell Voyage. Thank you so much Liz for your bright light, for being an outrageously inspiring adventurer, teaching us how to “live yoga”, and for sharing these tips on how we can help to make a better world.

You can find the original blog post here: http://www.swellvoyage.com/inspiration/a-better-world-what-we-can-do/

1. Spread Good Vibes!  Simply be nice to each other!

Life can be testing, but being negative only makes things harder for you and those around you. Try not to loose your cool. Keep kindness and good vibes flowing through you and to those you encounter throughout the day. Positivity is contagious, healing, and unifying. A peacefulliz1 world starts in our own hearts, so our job as individuals is to check ourselves when negative emotions arise and take another direction before they become overwhelming and cause harm to ourselves and others. In a better world, we must treat each other and ourselves with kindness, compassion, and integrity!

2. Your dollars are your Voice: Buy Organic, Local, Non-toxic, and Mindfully.

Let your purchases speak to your eco-values. We can make a positive impact everyday by supporting brands and people who love the environment as much as we do. By doing so, we tip the demand toward sustainable and eco-friendly goods. Buying local offsets carbon. Supporting organic farmers helps reduce degradation and pollution of our soils, waterways, and oceans not to mention our bodies. Boycotting brands containing GMO ingredients tells Monsanto we disapprove of Big Ag, Round-up ready varieties, and their monopolizing of our seed banks! Opting for sustainably-sourced wood and paper products can help preserve biodiversity and the Earth’s remaining forests. Refusing to buy chemical-based shampoos & body wash, laundry & dish soaps, toothpaste & cleaning products means fewer toxic chemicals end up in our bodies and waterways. Do a little research, beware of fakes, read ingredients and labels, and look for minimal and recycleable packaging! Check out Patagonia, Mizu, Zeal Optics, Eco Flex Moss Research Surfboards, Avasol Suncare, Enjoy Handplanes, to learn more about these highly mindful, authentic brands who love our Earth!!

3. Reduce, reuse, recycle & refuse SINGLE USE PLASTICS.

Our oceans are becoming plastic soup. I find plastic debris lining the beaches of tropical islands thousands away from any trash source. This plastic never biodegrades, only breaks down into tiny toxic pieces that pollute our ocean ecosystems and enter the food chain–killing wildlife ranging from plankton to seabirds to whales–and rendering seafood toxic. It’s time we demand and implement non-toxic plastic replacements and stop using something that will last forever–plastic bags, bottles, straws, etc—only one time!? It makes no sense!? 50 billion plastic beverage bottles are produced each year. At least 40 billion of them end up in our oceans and landfills EVERY YEAR, not to mention a stream of other plastic bags and trash. Let’s stop our single-use plastic addiction and lead the way toward a world of biodegradable plastic alternatives. Get a reusable water bottle, install a water filter in your home, bring your own shopping bags, dine-in, refuse plastic straws, avoid brands using excess plastic packaging, and speak up with friends and merchants about this important issue! Check out Mizu’s stainless steel waterbottles and campaign to #protectwhereweplay!!

4. Eat less or no meat!  Animal agriculture is killing our environment.

Why do they keep telling us to ‘turn off the lights’ and ‘carpool’ to help save the planet when eating less meat & dairy for a week could decrease liz2your personal eco-impact more than carpooling for a whole year? Animal agriculture is the leading cause of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change, soil degradation, water pollution due to animal waste runoff, ocean acidification, rainforest clearing, and extinction due to habitat loss and destruction. The energy and water that go into meat production are astonishing. It takes an average of 660 gallons of water to produce a single hamburger!? Despite that the meat and dairy industries have us thinking animal protein is necessary for our health, studies prove otherwise. Meat and dairy are proven to cause cancer, hormone imbalance, high blood pressure, obesity, and a host of other unpleasant effects. Plus, we’ve sadly overlooked the horrifying treatment of these sentient animals in America’s factory farms. Fish and shrimp farms are generally extremely environmentally taxing and their end-products lack nutrition. After switching to a plant-based diet in 2012, I can assure you that I feel SO good that the thought never enters my mind to go back!! If you’re not ready to give up meat entirely, try to choose wild, sustainably-caught, or humanely-raised meat, poultry, and seafood. Check out the documentaries “Cowpiracy“, and “Earthlings“, and read up on The China Study!!

5. Support alternative & free energy solutions

Free, clean energy is absolutely possible and available to us, and has been so for a long time. It’s just not in the interest of the very powerful people who prefer we stay dependent on buying their fossil fuels. They are destroying the planet just to get richer…it’s rather short-sighted and selfish, no? So where we can, let’s go off-grid, use solar and wind-power, drive more fuel-efficient cars, demand better public transportation, walk, ride a bike, and support alternative energy systems and free energy solutions! Watch “Thrive”!!

6. Dedicate yourself to personal growth & self-awareness!

A better you makes a better world, and I believe we cannot truly be fulfilled without making a constant effort to grow and evolve into a better version of ourselves. It’s easy to point fingers at everyone else and blame our problems on the other guy, but this helps no one. Going within takes courage, but the rewards are unlimited. Even small positive changes in our negative behavior patterns can improve our lives and relationships drastically, and inspire others around us to do the same. Don’t wait for someone else to change, change yourself. Find where you can be more open, kind, loving, positive, flexible, courteous, patient, forgiving, honest, humble, etc. We all have our issues, our struggles, our hardships. We can either use them as stepping-stones to our greatness, or allow them to make us bitter and victimized. Choosing the latter leads only to further darkness, so we must use our adversities as opportunities to grow, learn, and move closer to the Light!! Check out my Reading List for helpful book recommendations in this department!

7. Get Outside and connect with Mother Earth!

Whether you just stop & take a deep breath and look up at the sky, or smell a flower, go for a nature walk, surf, hike, swim, or the likes–doing something everyday to acknowledge our connection and dependence upon the Earth helps keep the important things in liz4perspective. We often forget that we depend on a healthy Earth for every meal we eat, each drop of water we use, and every breath we take. A life acknowledging this connection to the Source of our existence cultivates gratitude, balance, respect, and a feeling of Oneness with Nature and the Universe. Get off the beaten path and go fall in love with this magnificent planet in your own beautiful way!

8. Plant a garden or create a permaculture yard.  Let’s take back our food!

It’s amazing what we consider ‘food’ these days. Growing a veggie garden and planting edible plants in your yard is not only the best way to ensure that your food is chemical and GMO-free and charged with love, but you also reap the benefits of re-connecting with your food and gaining respect for the growing process. You automatically reduce your carbon footprint, contribute to local biodiversity, save yourself some cash, and put the power to feed yourself highly nutritious food back in your own hands!! Veggie Garden Cheat SheetHow to Build a Permaculture Vegetable GardenStarting Your Permaculture Garden

9. Buy Less, Waste Less, Upcycle, and Get Creative with what you have.

Nature knows no ‘waste’—matter and energy are always reused and transformed. Our current economy is based on the impossible premise of infinite growth on a finite planet, encouraging us to blindly consume and throw away. We spend our time earning money to buy things liz5that often don’t enhance our well-being or happiness. This one-directional ‘buy & toss’ system is not sustainable! We must reject this model by refusing to buy things we don’t really need, offering services rather than goods as gifts, finding ways to reuse and reinvent things that we would normally throw away, or giving them to someone who will. We must find a way to close the loop on our waste stream, and be as clever as nature at utilizing, recycling, and transforming our resources!

10. Do what you Love!!

We are all here for a unique and beautiful calling. Each of us contributes to the diversity and evolution of humanity when allowed to develop into our fully blossomed Self. Take a risk! Follow your dreams and live up to your potential, so that you may be happier and more inclined to want to give back to the world. Choose joy and passion over security. Abundance always follows people who live in their true calling or joy-space. The alternative is a life of gray, haunted by internal whispers of what ‘could have been’. Money and comfort doesn’t really make us happy, only genuine self-love does. I believe ‘too comfortable’ can become caustic, and the only real failure is having never tried. We can’t wait for the system to change, we must leap with relentless positivity and energy toward living a life we dream of. Once you go for it, you’ll look back and see how your hardships were part of your path to fulfillment, and a deep Trust may be born in the Greatness and Perfection of it All. Compassion flourishes, competition melts away, and we come to see and feel the interconnectedness of all our stories and struggles. Understanding and feeling this Oneness, we realize that we cannot truly rise unless we rise together. Hence, we strive to lift up our brother and sister humans everyday!

Liz Clark has been sailing the seas since 2006. She is a surfer, captain, yogi, and environmentalist who is living passionately and following herliz6 heart. She is making waves of positive impact in this world and continues to inspire with her sustainable lifestyle and adventures. Catch up with Liz here: 

www.swellvoyage.com

Instagram: captainlizclark

 

Yoga on the Edge

Many of us yogis find ourselves striking a dancers pose on the edge of a picturesque mountaintop, or overlooking our fingertips towards the Caribbean through a strong warrior two. We then ponder how did we find the strength from within to get this far, in both our practice and life? Yoga can be the fuel to help you follow your dreams and break through fears.

It begins in the studio or your private practice. You never forget that sensational high that envelopes the soul when pushing yourself into a crow DSC01783pose for the first time, telling your fears be silent. Success! Sound familiar yogis?

It’s called building courage and stretching yourself to your personal brink. Yoga has the ability to draw us to beautiful places, or simply recognize the beauty our living room. It challenges us to have the resolution to leave our comfort zone and balance on the edge. Often this leads us to that “ah ha” moment, when we realize how far we have come in our practice by overcoming fears. This is one essential part of yoga, developing courage while letting your fear melt away onto the mat. If you are open to it, yoga can be your guide in overcoming everyday fears as well.

In 2011 I experienced one of the worst, or most transitional, years of my life. I was plagued with confusion, feeling trapped in an unfulfilling sales career, and overwhelmed by the wrong relationship. Fear of change and anger controlled my heart and I was absolutely lost.

What did I do, you ask? I hit the mat hard. I chataranga’ed my way through the pain and confusion. The more I put my heart into the practice, the stronger my postures became and the more I excelled. Somehow, pushing my troubles away through my vinyasas, I learned to overcome and conquer.

After six month of intense yoga, I was balancing my way into postures I never thought physically possible for my body. That confidence seeped into my daily life, and by the end of the year I quit my job, was out of my unhealthy relationship and on a one-way flight to India to do my yoga teacher training. Yoga prepared me to be the person I always wanted to be. That was over three years ago, and I have managed to live the life of my dreams since, traveling to over 40 countries and 5 continents. I have yoga to thank for every step.

Letting go of fear isn’t something that one learns overnight. It is a colossal antagonist. However, it is our biggest teacher. It takes time, repetition and patience to battle. Starting with small goals and keeping focus is essential.

Also, one must have amnesia in their practice. Everyone has bad days. Don’t let frustration stop you from your goals! It may take time, and you have to give it the time it takes. Just remember that everyone has his or her own struggle, with yoga and life. You are not alone. The more you try,DSC08843 the closer you get to master your target. Then you are one step nearer to taking that newfound courage into your day-to-day lives.

Start small and build slowly. Rushing into a posture like forearm stand or handstand can be quite dangerous. Just as rushing your dreams isn’t the best approach. Have patience. Start with simple tasks like bringing your heals ever closer to the ground during downward facing dog. Hold your plank for a few seconds longer each class. Add yogi push ups to your chataranga in order to build strength. Keep it simple at the beginning. Eventually you can start to build on more advanced postures, if this is something that you desire.

I also want to touch on building the courage to tackle meditation and breathing, which is at times a yogis biggest fear. Slowing the mind can prove extremely challenging and humbling. It forces you to slow down and be one with stillness. This is not easy. Adding minutes to your savasanas, or seconds to your breaths, can greatly improve your practice. Meditate and breath that fear away, over and over again. It will get easier with time and practice.

Essentially, what I am trying to encourage is to use yoga as a strength builder for not just your body, but your life as well. Reap the benefits of all that you do in your daily practice. By pushing through the fear of your postures, you teach yourself courage and diminish fear. Once you learn to utilize your yoga strength, you can more easily follow your dreams. Whether that is to quit your job to do headstands on the bow of a sailboat floating quietly in the warm Adriatic Sea, or simply adding 10 minutes to your meditation. Just know all are tangible. Learn to push yourself to your personal edge, and embrace yoga as your teacher.

IMG_0379Namaste.

 

 

Melissa is a traveling yogi and writer that quit her sales career in corporate America in 2011 to follow her dreams of yoga, travel and writing. Her goal is to inspire and encourage fellow yogis and travelers to pursue their personal dreams.

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”!

loscardones4

 

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.
loscardones5

Learn more about Los Cardones here:

http://www.loscardones.com/

iSurf iYoga

Take a moment to meet Stacey Jones, the creative light and master mind behind the new project, iSurf iYoga (ISIY). We at Yoga Trade relate to and are truly inspired by the goals and passions of ISIY and are excited to share their efforts that encourage transformation, adventure, sustainability, and community consciousness.  

How did ISIY come into fruition? 

The initial seed was planted when my girlfriends and I formed a mastermind group to support one another in isiy2achieving personal goals, which for most of us was aligning passions with a career. Through that I honed in on the greatest sources of inspiration in my life: surfing, yoga, travel and nature. Initially I thought I would set up my own surf yoga retreat but after researching what was out there I discovered that my favorite female surfer, Holly Beck Obermeyer, had just started offering retreats in Nicaragua. Forgetting everything else, I decided to attend the retreat. I was hesitant to travel to Nica as I had experienced a scary robbery back in 2002 while passing through Managua on a solo surf trip to Costa Rica. Over the years though I heard positive stories from friends who went there, so I felt it was time to put the past behind me and travel to Nica.

The waves were awesome and the people of Nica were lovely. It was incredible watching Holly ripping it up in the waves up close and she was just as impressive on land. Holly is a true ecopreneur with side projects like http://hipehabitat.com/ where she and her husband find sustainable ways to build. Equally inspiring was meeting the owners of the eco-retreat centre, El Coco Loco and learning about their non-profit called Waves of Hope which supports local community projects. I knew this was the type of experience I wanted to talk about and be in a position to support such endeavors.

Additionally, it took a long time to sift through all the options online before I left for the retreat, so I had the idea at that point to create a website that would bring the surfing and yoga community together in one place isiy4where they could easily and confidently find their next adventure. After the retreat, I knew this is exactly what I wanted to spend my time doing. I could see support for the surf yoga connection – that surfing and yoga are the perfect match – through a growing number of people. Surfers and yogis I admired for a long time were becoming known for it like Holly, Eoin Finn and Rochelle Ballard.

Where does your heart lie in ISIY?

The ‘i’ in our name stands for inspiring, which is at the core of what I’m trying to do: it’s really about inspiring people to get in the flow in order to bring about transformation in their lives. ISIY’s mission is to bring a wave of positive energy, health and happiness to the planet by inspiring people to get in the flow. Humans need tools to help them find peace and come alive. I believe coming alive involves being fully present, surrendering yourself to the moment, getting out of your mind and in your body, connecting with the elements (feeling that energy) and tapping into your spirit. That’s what we are referring to when we say ‘in the flow’.

Surfing and yoga provide a direct link to this experience. Other ocean sports like kitesurfing, windsurfing, body-surfing, etc. get us in the flow too. There is something about riding a wave – which is basically just energy flowing across the planet and you connect with that energy each time you surf. Yoga is well-known for providing us the means of getting in the feeling of flow any time or in any place, all you need is your body.  Yoga is undoubtedly the biggest inner journey I’ve experienced (with a meditation practice). You reach new levels all the time, with unexpected ah-ha! moments and reaching new spaces in your body, making space in your mind… all of which in turn affects your state of flow.

I absolutely adore people, learning about other cultures and connecting people to each other. In addition, my isiy6heart lies in sustainability. It’s important we support retreat and course operators whose hearts are in it and whose offerings do not harm anyone or the environment. So I guess what’s driving me is really a combination of all these things. It gets me excited connecting people to these experiences that help them transform and come alive.

Though we don’t need to go very far to find transformation – only a quiet place to sit – I believe humans are inherently seekers and feel we need to explore in order to ‘find ourselves.’ And so, traveling away from home and outside of our comfort zones becomes an integral part of our journey. Also, there’s something to be said about taking time out of your schedule for personal development. It’s a powerful thing to intentionally carve out time and space with the goal of increasing your health and happiness!

Can you give us an example of a community conscience surf/yoga retreat/organization?

I know many! There is the Chillhouse in Bali, Indonesia who have been operating for 8 years: they hire mainly locals, operate sustainably and give back to their local community. Another is Mind Body Soul Surf Bali – the only locally owned and operated surf yoga retreat in Bali who support local charities as well. El Coco Loco in Nicaragua (mentioned above) runs an eco-friendly resort – they’ve built a local high school amongst other on-going projects. What I admire is that they ask locals what the community needs and then go about providing, so it’s driven by the people living in the area. Most of the retreats we list on www.isurfiyoga.com operate sustainably. I say ‘sustainably’ as a broad sense of the term because we consider a retreat to be sustainable when it is giving back to the community in which it operates or protecting the health of the environment.

What do you see for the future of international surf and yoga adventures?

Surfer yogis are a liberated breed who naturally care about wellness and the health of our planet. So I see this as part of the adventure. It’s important to offer healthy food (superfoods & smoothies, hollah!) and a Sevaisiy5 component as an additional activity. I hope we see more specific ‘yoga for surfers’ sequences added to surf yoga retreats, instead of simply offering classes while you’re at the retreat. While we are on vacay surfers need deep, Yin-style yoga to balance our effort in the water. When at home and the surf is not up, then it’s important to keep your body surf fit with more power and ashtanga styles. However while you’re on a retreat, your yoga should be about deep stretching with restorative asanas to offer your body a chance to decompress and recover. Unless there is no surf that day – then you need to get your viny-ass-a up and stay warm because tomorrow there might be some waves to chomp at!

I see all sorts of passionate surfer yogis sharing their stories with us on our new website, iSurf iYoga, inspiring others to get in the flow.  There are so many of us doing rad things and going on amazing adventures. I’m just so stoked to share these stories and show off all the incredible retreats and trainings we are discovering!

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.      ~Joseph Campbell

Find more about iSurf iYoga here:

www.isurfiyoga.com

http://instagram.com/isurfiyoga

https://www.facebook.com/iSurfiYoga

https://twitter.com/isurfiyoga

After surfing and practicing yoga for over 13 years, Stacey wanted to create a site that would connect the surf yoga community and help them easily find their next adventure. Having previously worked as a isiy3teacher and then a marketing professional for a Fortune 500 company, Stacey decided to combine her passions with her business knowledge and hatched this dream called iSurf iYoga, which showcases inspiring surf yoga related retreats and camps around the world. After a transformational Yoga Teacher Training with the School Yoga Institute she decided to showcase reputable YTTs on the site as well. Other big loves are spending time with family and friends, traveling, outdoor sports, nature, writing, raw food cuisine, turtles and nerding out on Sci-fi movies.

Reconnected to my Dreams thru Yoga Trade

The night I sent the email to the Yoga Trade opportunity in Andalusia, Spain I was barely able to sleep. I had just completed my first yoga teacher training in Bali just three months prior and had been looking for opportunities to teach and travel.

Suryalila is a yoga retreat centre in Andalusia, Southern Spain. Andalusia is also the setting of The Alchemist, IMG_3946my favorite book and personal bible and when I had chanced upon it one night while surfing the internet, I could barely contain my excitement. My heart murmured and told stories of Serendipity, Adventure and Personal Treasure, as my hero-Santiago’s heart had, as he dreamt of personal treasure in faraway Egypt and proceeded to pursue it. Well, Spain was my Egypt. Ever since I had worked for a spanish fashion brand five years ago and had the chance to travel and work here, I have always felt an undeniable connection to this land.

It took half a decade to return back to this beautiful country, my heart’s home, as my family and friends have always known. As with the first time I arrived in Spain five years ago, I embarked the journey with a wounded heart being just fresh from a breakup (we broke up on my way to the airport) and a lot of fear and hesitation. I had nearly backed out of this trip several times as I was afraid. I had been experiencing moments of panic attacks and anxiety over the last few months of being separated from my then-boyfriend as we tried valiantly to make our long-distance relationship work while I continued my yoga journey in Bali. I was terrified I’d experience it again especially on the two-day journey from Shanghai to Andalucia and also afraid I’d not be in the right mind to be so far away and so alone from my support network at such a time of turmoil. But my sister, my closest confidante and biggest cheerleader pushed me to go. “It’s your dream, you have to do it” she would remind me each time I tried to procrastinate booking tickets.

As I undertook the two-day trip, the fear that I had started the journey with begin to settle into excitement and joy at being able to live out a personal dream. I was going to Santiago’s homeland to pursue my own IMG_2944dreams of personal treasure! I would repeat that to myself each time I started to feel sad about my breakup and fear about what lay ahead. When I arrived, my heart felt calm and joyful. Andalusia and Suryalila was every bit as beautiful as I had imagined it to be and more. I felt at home almost immediately. Being here I have been able to combine my dream of coming to Andalusia with my passion, Yoga.

Each day I rise to the most serene and beautiful landscape of the vast Sierra Granada mountains. Fuelled with the most delicious organic vegetarian meals and being surrounded by positive, like-minded people interested in Yoga, wellness and spirituality, I have been able to shake off the weight of the downward spiral I had been struggling with over the last six months and culminating with my breakup and turn that around into a slow but sure upward spiral.

Each day I am here, I am learning so much by getting to drop into yoga classes by visiting teachers, meditation, raw food and bodywork classes, meeting dedicated yogis from around the world and most importantly through teaching my own classes. In between all that learning, I work with the wonderful team of international volunteers washing dishes, taking care of the guest’s needs, tidying the yoga hall and picking figs for our delicious home-made jams. We work six days a week for six hours a day and on my one day-off a week, I always look forward to taking an adventure in one of the fascinating historical “Pueblos Blanco” (white towns) around Andalucia. The structure of work, learning and play has really allowed me to regain balance and find solid footing once again.

Now that I’ve managed to stay on course and get stronger mentally and physically, my other dreams for the future that had been on hold have reignited. I am in the process of setting up a Yoga and surf retreat with my partner in West Bali in 2015 as well as start running Yoga and detox holidays at my sister’s brand new beach villa in Jimbaran. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Yoga Trade gave me at Suryalila.
Before I left, my sister and best friend had told me “You have to go, your luck is in Spain”.

I believe my luck was being able to come here all alone at a low point and utilize this amazing opportunity to IMG_2478regain faith and hope to power ahead towards my dreams of being an International yoga teacher and Warrior of Light. To spread health and happiness with the world by sharing my passion for Yoga and the lessons that it has taught me on how to let go and move on.

 

Beverly Sasagawa Palar is a international yoga teacher who loves dark chocolate, horses and chasing sunsets around the globe. Her dream is to inspire others to greater health and happiness through the tools of Yoga, Mindfulness and Nutrition. She is a a partner at Low Tide Yoga in Bali.

Moments of Yoga Adventure

The trip to the retreat was a five hour journey, after rushing from the airport and taking the train to the bus stop; I arrived at a calm space of nature surrounded by the ocean and mountain hills. I laid my luggage down in my yogi cottage and had the rest of the day off as the retreat only started the next day.

After all the hustle and bustle and all the organizing, I took a 15 minute walk to reach the ocean. Here, I was all alone watching the waves roll by. Houses were far away and out of sight, there was just the big blue ocean in front of me. After a short, but deep yoga session on the beach, I took a few deep breaths in and out and sat in the sand while the sun set and the color spectrum in the sky changed from golden bright rays to orange pink shades. The last flocks of pink feathered flamingos flew by, to reach their home at their current time of migration. As it was getting darker, a feeling of folding up, of disappearing emerged from inside me. Only the sound of the rolling waves let me know the ocean was still in constant rhythmical movement.

In the morning we had our yoga class, a wave of feeling completely at peace hit us. As the wave came and went we listened to a native yoga teacher telling us to “ride on the wave when it hits and to actually stay on the wave, to be fully immersed by it”. As when you were a child engulfed by the magic around you, seeing everything for the first time and discovering everything new. The feeling of everything is fluid and can transform its shape, color and particle any time. Many search for this in yoga and travel. And, yes even then on the wave one can stumble and forget the hard work it was, to get on it.

Later during the day we went for a hike, watching the seagulls and the sand pipers fly by and seeing how everything is looking out to exist. Reaching crystal caves where the crystals took eons to form into its shape and finely reaching to a point it had looked for.

On the way back and at our dinner table which was around the camp site fire, we had our discussion about why joining the retreat; some said realizing that through yoga I am trying to get more honest to myself, by doing things that feel right to me, at that time. Others were saying to reveal myself fully to myself. And, so the night went by and as the winds blew more wildly and the fire slowly distinguished, the night ended with completeness.

These experiences and the period spent at the retreats teaching yoga, set me away from the usual life dramas; andreait made me aware that this moment is all that we really have. Out of these experiences I felt a deep urge to create a yoga practice in a way where one really gets aligned with oneself and be fully connected to oneself.

 

Andrea studied sports and movement including anatomy, sports medicine, sports psychology and nutrition. After feeling the need to have a more holistic approach to life she did her Yoga teacher training 500h RYT at a Sivananda Yoga center.

alignyoga.wix.com/align-yoga

Teaching and Learning in Costa Rica

In the beginning part of 2014 and after completing my yoga teacher training in Costa Rica, I continued traveling into Panama and then back into Costa Rica where I worked at a hostel and taught yoga classes in the morning. Although it was a lot of work to be doing both, the experience was priceless and crazy amounts of fun, to be able to meet tons of different people and connect with them not only in a friendlyIMG_7396 way but also to offer the service of the morning classes. That’s the thing about teaching in this kind of environment, as travelers are on the move every day, balance is something that can be harder to grasp as your body, mind and spirit are going through constant changes of environment, and as people flowed through the hostel, I was overjoyed at the amount of faces who would show up early in the morning to honor their bodies and minds.

As the classes were mixed level, this was an excellent opportunity to hone skills catering to each student, cultivating more awareness to the needs of the students and be inspired to think of new and innovative ways to teach certain asanas and pranayama, translating my own skills into ways that can be accessed by everyone. Many of the students were beginners, and a lot had never done yoga before. This too helped to make me hyper aware of the detail I would use in classes while still giving students space to find their own versions of asanas. Where Virabhadrasana II may come right away to others, to some this is just gibberish. At the ends of most classes on our open air deck in the humid air of Costa Rica, my heart was filled with gratitude as many students shared how surprised they were at how much they liked the class, or how glad they were to get up and come try it out.

The unexpectedness of the turnouts in the morning was also exciting. Some days there would be a group that would barely fit on the deck, some days a group of 3 big guys, and some days no one at all. This variability in the classes kept it fresh and new, and where a no show could be deemed as a let down, it gave it time to work on my own practice, or stroll down to the beach in the cooler morning hours. We were lucky to be in this environment, where all the structures, including the kitchen, were essentially outside and surrounded by the lush jungle, with the beach only a few minutes walk away. We also had a killer restaurant that cooked up dishes using the freshest ingredients. I would often spend the time between classes in the morning and my shifts at the hostel at night to study, prepare lessons and research questions I had maybe thought of during the days class. As for the compensation, I started doing the classes by donation, and afterwards charged $5 dollars a person, a very reasonable rate that worked for travelers’ IMG_7313budgets and for me. As much as I loved it, next time I go to teach abroad I would rather just focus on yoga, as I found it a little bit taxing to try to do both. Nevertheless, a truly amazing experience. Thank you to everyone who came out to a class, and of course all the people at The Flutterby House, this experience taught me more than I could have imagined and holds a special place in my heart!

Jessie is a wandering earthling from Canada, passionate about life, music, dance and travel who loves to explore while giving back, sharing love and smiles. For stories, recipes, yoga and inspiration, check out her blog http://moonroots.wordpress.com

My Sweet Spot

Bali is breathtaking. The bustle of the small city of Ubud is abundant with cozy cafes offering organic food, juices, and sweets. Colorful sarongs line the streets as smiling locals appear from their shops, and ancient temples garnished with Ganesha nestled into lush gardens, seduce the Western eye.

The island is unique with roughly 90% of the population Hindu followers. The familiar (good) scents of India – the burning of sandalwood and nag champa mixed with the sultry breezes of fresh flowers follow you down the streets. As you weave around heaps of motorbikes, taxis (and unfortunately tourists) you flow throughDSC00084 the narrow sidewalks as if a video game character, avoiding the hundreds of small poojas, banana leaves with offerings for the gods. The poojas are such small, yet profound reminders of why I love the Eastern world and it’s traditions. These rituals are deeply embedded in the culture and give meaning and intention to even the simplest actions.

When you began to practice mindfulness, whether it is with a prayer, an asana practice, a meal you cook or enjoying a cappuccino with a friend – you are fully engaged and offer yourself completely to that present moment. I understand the importance of this the more I dive deeper into the path of yoga. I also realize this the more time I spend away from fast paced society in America.

During my time spent in Bali I learned philosophy behind the practices…the main objective is to find truth: how to live a life of contentment and happiness amidst reality. It is a path to liberation and freedom from suffering.

One of my mentors, Rose, often says “live your life passionately present and awake to reality, with non-attachment”. She explains the incredible sensations you experience when you can accept reality (because we will never win against it) with grace, by practicing non-attachment (because nothing is ever permanent) we allow ourselves to stay grounded internally, no matter what is happening in our external worlds, joy or pain. When we cultivate a sense of pure pleasure for people, places or an experience, without trying to hold on to them, we then enjoy them so much more, leaving us content and fulfilled.

Despite the chaos in the heart of Ubud, I noticed an elderly woman with a map of beautifully drawn wrinkles, smiling on the sidewalk, as she sells her exotic fruits, and offers samples to any curious takers. She sat in that same exact spot week after week, and that is enough for me to see her pure happiness and contentment.DSC00058 Although she was amongst many shops adorned with expensive malas, mats (and every other yoga paraphernalia under the Balinese sun) she was surrounded by Westerners with costly cameras, still she sat peacefully, completing her dharma (purpose in life) with enjoyment and sincerity. To me, that is the definition of Santosha (contentment) and is something most take a lifetime, or many, to accomplish.

As I traversed back through the rice paddies on small paths, I saw villages dispersed throughout the endless amounts of greenery. I heard chants from a not so distant temple and became consumed with the laughter of a family nearby. I saw men and women bent over in straw hats with machetes, who spend their entire lives cultivating these fields and harvesting the crops. I stopped to admire one of the many artists who create carvings from coconuts shells.

It is hard for most to imagine a life like this. It seems simple, for some – maybe too simple. Personally, I could do with more simplicity in my life. What really captured my attention is the honorable relationship between humans and nature, and humans and the divine – which is our ultimate happiness and inner peace. I felt a sense of Santosha and realize how healing a bit of purity, nature and truth can be.

Lauren-Sta-Tere_54I completely fell for this island and all it’s inspiring characters from all corners of the world. Bali’s lush terrain and stable mountains hold incredible spirituality, with a gentle sweetness exuding from its people. It is a sacred place to expand your awareness of these ancient practices, another culture and yourself.

Let go of all your expectations, growth begins with new experiences.

Lauren is passionate about holistic health, exploring the world and empowering others to live vibrant and happy lives. Follow her teachings, travels and journey through www.raiseyourbeat.com

Kshama

Kshama.

Be here. Be now. Be present. Be patient.

Release time from your thoughts, this moment only exists now. Have patience when you eat, talk and most of all, listen. Be patient and tolerant towards others. Be tolerant with yourself and your body. Don’t expect the entire world to adjust to your ideas; every person has a different character and habits, corresponding to the ways they were influenced in childhood and in life. Let others behave according to their nature, without adjusting to you. Be still and breathe. Don’t control but be aware. Listen.

dsc_17901It is important to be compassionate and patient with everyone you meet on the way. Who knows how we come across to them and what influence they may have in your life? Try to understand others, even if you don’t share their opinion, put yourself into their skin. Be patient with the family and children, with the neighbors and co-workers. With the elderly and unknown.

 

Danae Borsani a German/ Italian Yogi, lives on Mallorca and is a passionate blogger (soulseekergirl.com) about what she does best; The Art of Food, Fashion, Travel, and Health. She inspires her readers towards a healthy and fulfilled lifestyle.

Summit to Sea Yoga

Meet our friend, Meg Tuazon! She is the creator of Summit to Sea Yoga and Retreats (www.summittoseayoga.com). Raised with a close connection to movement and nature, this amazing woman lives yoga and adventure. She is an encouraging and supportive leader whether on the yoga mat, the rocks, or in the water. Here she shares her story and gives us the down-low on her project, Summit to Sea.

meg_edit-63 (1)My philosophy of yoga is that yoga is everything. I connect my practice very much with nature and movement-especially off of my mat in rock climbing and surfing. While living as a yogi in the western world, I’ve noticed that most of us need to find balance within yin/yang principles, so that we can continue to give and receive equally. This is why travel (adventure), nature, and all elements of yoga have all become a huge part of my every day life and the vision of what I share with others. This is how my project, Summit to Sea Yoga and Retreats, came into fruition!

Summit to Sea Yoga and Retreats embodies total well being through the connection of yoga with nature-from the mountains to the ocean. “Summit to Sea” (Yoga and Retreats) is the platform for unique yogic retreat experiences and adventures-for recreational, spiritual, and sustainable journeys. The real definition of yoga is found beyond the mat. It is the experiential aspect of uncovering a balanced life through living the practice of yoga. This definition of yoga therefore embodies: connection with nature, mindfulness in movement, balance, compassion, well being, community, and sustainability.

Each adventure, whether a weekend retreat, across the seas, or a local day-experience, integrates a focus on asana practice, meditation, pranayama, yoga philosophy, movement, and the opportunity for making a deep connection with the natural world. Each individual will not only be challenged physically, but mentally and emotionally as well, encouraging the total practice of living your yoga. 

I think Yoga Trade exemplifies a similar vision as Summit to Sea Yoga-allowing yoga to be accessible for all yogis across the world! And what better way to practice your yoga while you’re living your yoga, in any place you that choose? Summit to Sea offers yoga adventures for all levels based out of Southern California and abroad.

meg2I think a yoga work exchange and travel trade is one of the best things you can do to share your gift, your services, and the continued share of ‘yoga as a lifestyle’ around the world. Because Summit to Sea Yoga loves to travel, we always welcome the traveling yogi as well!

I didn’t plan to be a yoga instructor before taking teacher training seven years ago. I really just wanted to get into my personal practice in more depth. It was after some travels throughout South East Asia where I came home wanting to share this gift of yoga and why it felt so good to me! Travel and yoga were such a compliment with each other, because I was able to experience yoga in unknown beautiful places. From there, the reward of giving and receiving yoga has become a huge part of an unexplainable feeling, hard to give up. And my continued drive to learn all of what yoga means to me while sharing it with others, has been never ending.

 

Thanks for inspiring Meg!  Hope to catch up with you on one of your adventures:)

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