Lessons From the Jungle

This article is a repost by Laruen Lee, founder of RAISE YOUR BEAT. The original posting can be found HERE


Arriving back into Mother India (after having spent a couple of years away) I have been instantly been brought back to ‘earth’. From the moment I landed, all was like a familiar dream – the chaos, the simplicity, the incredible sense of freedom and openness that jungle3permeates every cell in my body. There is something powerful about being in tropical weather and immersed deep in nature, something magical about weaving on a scooter through a family of carefree cows, and something deeply rejuvenating about walking barefoot and letting my curls soak up seawater and coconut oil.

I have spent 3 months at Lotus Yoga Retreat, nestled on a secluded eco farm Khaama Kethna, which lies in a lush valley of jungle and forest. I have felt myself get grounded, quite literally as I spent my time living in an open air hut, and my feet continuously covered in the fertile red earth. I have been spoiled with fresh foods – so fresh the chef collects it from the organic gardens and passes through the restaurant with bundles of color cradled under her bosom. I have indulged in some of the deepest sleeps of my life, falling and rising with the mysterious jungle sounds which somehow meld into one melodic rhythm. I have taught yoga to diverse and unique individuals from all over the world who leave their daily lives behind and arrive for the same universal sense of connection.

It has been an absolute retreat in all senses (for both myself and students) as modern luxuries and ‘comforts’ are stripped away, which can be a shock to the system at first, as we become more exposed, more raw and more genuine as we journey closer to freeing the mind from conditioning. As we begin this process of cleansing, it’s as if we throw away all the ‘junk’ (negative emotions, stress, ego) and layer by layer we uncover (or come back to) our true being.

This true being is our most authentic self…the part which lies within the heart center and is inherently connected to our unique purpose and life all around us.

Experiencing a foreign culture (such as India) and immersing yourself in nature both bring us closer to this place of authenticity, truth or being. 

In a country like India, life is more simple, and its accepted. The majority of the jungle2population still cook over a fire and take showers with cold water using a bucket. Many do not have a car, or use modern electronics such as toasters, refrigerators or washing machines. Most go to the vegetable market and local shops each morning to purchase their daily amount of milk and produce.

Without the need to ‘consume’, life becomes more sacred and more free. Most work to provide shelter, food and support their families. There is time for prayer, play, cooking and community –  and this is honored as a culture.

Experiencing a world and lifestyle unknown (or unnatural) is key in expanding our perspectives, appreciating our own circumstances or maybe even aid us in observation of unnecessary aspects of our own lives.

When we find ourselves in nature, we are reminded of the power of ‘prana’ or natural intelligence which surrounds us each and every moment. This prana is what moves life and it instantly connects us with this place of authenticity. 

It is why turtles return to nest their eggs in the same spot. 

It is why whales migrate thousands of miles.

It is why ants can carry up to 5,000 times their weight.

It is a seedling sprouting from the earth to follow the light.

It can be seen in a cascading waterfall.

It is the sun and moon rising.

It is the tides of the ocean.

It is the climate and seasons.

It is life and death.

It is the flow of communities and societies. 

It is the life that moves us, guides us and supports us.

It is within and around us.


Living in harmony with nature, washing my clothing by hand, enjoying daily morning chai before the sun rises, sweeping the leaves from the yoga shalas, lighting sandalwood incense and reciting a simple mantra of ‘love, trust, surrender’ have become my daily jungle4rituals which are simple and sweet. They have helped me to find more gratitude, devotion and love.

Of course living simply in nature and in a foreign context has its challenges, some days more than others, and when things don’t go ‘as planned’ I have found laughter to be a powerful practice.

I am working to extract the positives from living in a foreign culture (which at times feels very unnatural) and becoming aware to life’s lessons, big and small, which are found in every moment when you open your eyes.

I am grateful for this space to retreat and reconnect. To live without internet and without walls. To experience new people and places. To let go of any plans and definitions of who or what I am ‘supposed’ to be, instead urged to slow down and let go. Through this surrender I have become more clear in who I am and what my purpose is…and more awake to the pranic flow of life and beauty that is around us each and every day. I am leaving the jungle feeling blissed and blessed for this experience, and look forward (without attachment and identity) for whatever life brings.

lauren_bancoLAUREN LEE is passionate about holistic health, exploring the world and empowering others to live vibrant and happy lives. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated yogini and sun seeker, she lives for creating connection and enjoying simple pleasures.

How Hawaii Cracked Me Open

I’m writing this face down on a massage table while getting tattooed in Hilo, on the big island of Hawaii.

I’m leaving Sunday afternoon to head back home to Philadelphia. I’ve been on the big island for almost three and a half months, staying at an eco resort on the Puna side.

I came here in April, just two weeks after announcing to my first “big girl” job that I had decided to leave the company. Before this, my best friend Chelsea and I spent our lunch breaks eating ice cream and complaining how we were falling into the category of college graduates who were at a standstill in life. We had no real idea what we wanted to do or how to do it. We decided that we should treat ourselves—get away for a long weekend. Maybe a vacation would give us a creativity boost?

While searching for our get-a-way we noticed one hit kept popping up, Kalani Eco Resort, a retreat center based on the big island of Hawaii. Kalani offered one to three month volunteer opportunities where you’d stay and work 30 hours a week in a department and in return, live in paradise. We decided to apply.

We sent in applications and our deposits, not really thinking about it until we heard back, less than a week after requesting a phone interview. Chelsea was ecstatic; I was too, but a little hesitant.

Could I really quit my job to go live in the jungle for a month? What about money? What would my parents say? What would their friends say?

A flurry of questions floated through my head that all had me doubting my sanity, why I even decided to attempt to up and leave in the first place. I decided against going through with the phone interview, while Chelsea had gone through and been accepted to go for the month of May. She put her two weeks in at work and off to Hawaii she went.

I was jealous, but even worse, I was angry with myself for being so scared to take risks. I can remember sitting at my desk at work during a particularly tough day looking at a banana that I had packed for lunch and having tears well up in my eyes. I was crying over a banana. How I would never see where bananas grew or do anything daring because I was scared of taking risks.

The night that I made the decision that my life wasn’t going to change until I made it change. I put my two weeks at work and shortly after, received a text message from Chelsea’s mom saying, “I’m sending you to Hawaii to visit Chelsea. Not taking no for an answer. Send me your availability.”

I was flabbergasted. First of all, I should tell you that I’m terrified of flying. The first thing that came to my mind was that there’s no way can I do this; I’m too scared to cross the country, let alone go be sent alone, across the ocean for a week. Worry, worry, worry. It consumed me always.

Still, something was nagging me to just let it go (e ho mi—Google it) and embrace the unknown.

I should now mention that to top all of this off, I had broken up with a serious boyfriend of three years back in January and was having a difficult time moving on. Chelsea often reassured me the only way one can grow from any hard time is to try new things, be uncomfortable, embrace fear.

So that’s what I did.

When I landed in Hawaii something happened. A lot of people I’ve talked to, who live on the Big Island or have visited the Big Island, at some point, agree with me on this. I felt a pull. I immediately got off the plane and had felt more at home than I had ever felt in my entire 23 years. I found solstice in this place that was as foreign to me as anything. I couldn’t describe it.

I had tears in my eyes the entire hour drive from the airport to Kalani. And it was still dark out! We walked to Chelsea’s tent, a small four person. I met Majik, Chelsea’s next-tent-neighbor. He politely introduced himself. We made small talk until he said something that I’ll never forget; he excused himself to go off to bed because he had to get up to go to yoga in the morning. He quickly corrected himself though and rephrased his answer saying, “I get to go to yoga in the morning.” A simple rephrase is something that made me automatically switch my thinking from the negative to positive.

We went into our tent and fell asleep.

I woke up in the jungle. It was a chaotic layout of nature that literally brings me to tears. Chelsea has already planned out our whole day, a trip to Kole Kole beach and then Akaka Falls. I don’t think my mouth shut once that day. I was in awe of everything. People’s calmness, the stillness that exuded from them. The sense of rush and franticness was no longer apparent like it was back on the mainland. My father often joked that I drank the kool aid. My response is always, “Yeah, and then I asked for seconds.”

Hawaii had stolen my heart. I fell more deeply in love with a piece of rock than I ever had with another human being. For the first time in 23 years, my anxieties, worries and fears melted away like lava and I became at peace with life. I knew that I needed to stay longer than my scheduled five days. The island was taking care of me.

Chelsea encouraged me to speak with the volunteer office. I did just that. I scheduled an appointment to continue with my application, the office already had my deposit and paperwork, and since I was already staying at Kalani, I could interview in person.

I remember being scared: What if they didn’t accept me? It would be quite the awkward rest of the week. I sat with a gentleman who later became one of my dearest friends. I expressed to him my concerns about not getting in, there not being space, worry, worry, worry.

He asked me a simple question, “Do you want to stay?”

I replied, “I need to stay.”

He said, “Then that’s it, you’re staying.”

His confidence in me, a complete stranger to him at the time, was like receiving a hug from your mother after you skin your knee on the sidewalk. I walked into my interview with ease. I felt confident in myself. Sam (the gentleman from Scotland who interviewed me), and I spoke like we were old friends carrying on a conversation after years of not seeing one another. I remember the last thing that he said to me is that they would be honored to have me continue to stay at Kalani.

So I stayed. I stayed for three and a half months, and lived harder and did more than I ever expected I would ever do in my whole life. I lived where some people save their entire lives to vacation for a week. It’s in invaluable experience that I’m grateful for every day.

The island brings up lots of issues for people and really forces you to deal with things you’ve been trying to avoid. I had some of the hardest days of my life there and also the best. I swam with dolphins. I hiked to a waterfall. I lived next to an active volcano. I made family for a lifetime. When Majik says that he is blessed, well, and lucky—well it’s true. I am too.

So here I am on a massage table getting a tattoo on the back of my neck (sorry, Mom and Dad). It’s an opening lotus with a person meditating in the middle. I’ve blossomed here. It’s been one hell of a journey.

I’ve learned about the power of saying, “Yes!” and facing our insecurities head on.

Let me know how it goes when you do it.

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This was written by Yoga Trade member, Stephanie Juris, who is a follower of the sun.


Luminous waves
Oh how I love you.
The way you lift up the whole ocean and heal our souls.
The way you teach us everything there is to know about life.
Oceanic breath cleanse me.

Oh dear waves remind me that I am more similar to you, than to a solid, unchanging being,
Remind me of the endless transformations I go through,
Remind me to embrace the flow of life,
Remind me to gracefully accept being lifted up and smashed down.

Oh dear waves remind me of the magnificent beauty life is made up of,
Remind me that I am a fluid, boundless, powerful being,
Remind me to allow what’s happening to happen,
Remind me to breath with the grace of your ebb and flow.

Oh dear waves remind me how to let go,
Remind me that fighting against the undercurrents of my life will just pull me deeper,
Remind me how to allow life to hold me in it’s arms for a little while and not let me go,
Remind me to relax and know that I will resurface if I learn to stop resisting.

Oh dear waves remind me how to be at peace,
Remind me that I cannot stop the powerful swells that rush into my life,
Remind me that I can learn to be in harmony with them,
Remind me that being at apart of something so much larger than myself is incredibly liberating.

Oh dear waves remind me of the bliss I am capable of feeling,
Remind me of the luminous energy you soak into my being,
Remind me of the incomprehensible depth and limitless space I am currently apart of,
Remind me how to love without boundaries and act with the guidance of universal forces.

Luminous waves
Oh how I love you.
The way you lift up the whole ocean and heal our souls.
The way you teach us everything there is to know about life.
Oceanic breath cleanse me.



Cassandra Cornacchia is currently trying to balance being an environmental activist, studying social work, and feeling at peace with herself and the world. She enjoys getting lost in stars and sunsets, being among trees and sitting by the sea.

Why Go on a Yoga Retreat?

Here is some reposted wisdom and inspiration for the modern yogi from our friend Insiya at YOGUE. You can find the original posting here: http://www.yogue.ca/why-go-on-a-yoga-retreat/

I recently read Toronto based yoga teacher Matthew Remski’s essay on how modern yoga needs to offer “real” support and connection to its community at the yoga studio level – he calls it the “soup kitchen”-ing of yoga studios.  It’s a brilliant, thought provoking essay and you can find it in the book 21st Century Yoga Politics and Practice;  I admire Remski as he brings a critical lens to our yoga bubble world and his writing and his work is concerned with  growing the yoga practice far beyond just doing asanas to tone your tush.   It is about creating a space much like the churches and mosques and synagogues have done for centuries, that offers community, a space to share the sorrows and joys of life that make us humans on a spiritual search, yet not disengaged with daily living.

Yet, in the essay, he critiques yoga retreats as one of the offerings at yoga studios that have just become a marketing ploy to take people to beautiful places and earn revenue.

That may be.

Yet, I write this post from Bali, where I have just arrived from the wet Canadian winter of Vancouver.  My mornings here begin with a surreptitious escape from our “family bed” so as not to awaken our toddler, who climbs in every night. I spend my first few moments walking barefoot onto dewy grass and looking up at the night sky – blushing toward first dawn.  It is warm and my body feels none of the sting of the winter winds I have left behind.  Instead, I am here taking in a simple connection to soil, to earth and to the ocean air scented with plumeria.

Sounds magical?  It is.  This time in Bali where we arrive each winter after the many airplane flights, the incessant travails of travel – especially with a child – is my manna.  After my first dip into the ocean, I feel reborn and a flowering of my yoga practice – with a little bit of help.  I’m no longer as concerned with the daily tasks of being a “householder” – we eat simple, delicious food that the retreat centre cooks, or at a local restaurant or warung, or I cook breakfast.  I am not folding laundry, one of the many local laundries is happy to have our business and  I have a little bit of help with my son.

As a mom, my yoga practice at home is all about squeezing in a few moments here and there within my day – always flowing with the rhythm of my child, the demands of work and family  – and justifying the compression of my daily practice with the statement: “this is my yoga right now.”

Here, all of a sudden, I don’t need to justify anything.  With just a little bit of space and time I can go a little deeper.  I used to think this was a luxury, something that I shouldn’t celebrate as it seemed so elitist, but especially if you are a woman and a mother and on a spiritual path – if you can manage it – a few moments of time stretched offer everything. It makes me think about a famous female poet who said, “I write poetry as it is the only thing i can do in between the demands of my children.  Writing fiction would take so much longer.”

Ultimately, what I am looking for is quiet.  The yogis write that the yoga practice is about training our mind to be quiet so that we can feel that “quietness” in the midst of chaos, yet to get there, there’s nothing quite like experiencing external quiet: the pause from the daily-ness of space/time.  Sometimes you need to check out, to check in.

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The recent “trend” in the yoga world is that “retreats” are not as popular as teacher trainings and immersions in exotic locations.  That maybe so, but the truth is, that going on retreat can be a deep ride that offers as much as you are ready to take.  It can help to create new habits – like a daily yoga practice; it can offer a respite with time to journal, to think, to even lay in a hammock especially if that is not your natural inclination. Mostly, it can be a sure-fire way to take your awareness to another plane, a transfusion of spirit and a re-building of the “you.”

I often end my yoga classes with the statement that taking this “time” is not a selfish thing, because the time we spend on renewing ourself helps us to be kinder, more compassionate and present in all our relationships.  I know that I am a better partner, a mother and a friend when I do.

Traveling to Bali may not be in your cards this year, or in this lifetime, but you can go on retreat, for an hour, a day, a weekend or longer to a place not so far from the immediate recesses of your life.

So tell me, have you been on a yoga retreat or aspire to going on one?  Do you see it as something frivolous or wuwu? I’d love to know.

MW5A0273-6Insiya Rasiwala-Finn is a writer, yoga teacher, and mama exploring creativity and the eco lifestyle. Follow Insiya at YOGUE as she continues to seek out the greenest, healthiest ways to live, cook, inspire, travel and play: in the ocean, with words on paper and on the yoga mat.




Song of the Soul by Shankaracharya

I am neither ego nor reason, I am neither mind nor thought,
I cannot be heard nor cast into words, nor by smell nor sight ever
In light and wind I am not found, nor yet in earth and sky –
Consciousness and joy incarnate, Bliss of the Blissful am I.

I have no name, I have no life, I breathe no vital air,
No elements have molded me, no bodily sheath is my lair:
I have no speech, no hands and feet, nor means of evolution –
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss in dissolution.

I cast aside hatred and passion, I conquered delusion and greed;
No touch of pride caressed me, so envy never did breed:
Beyond all faiths, past reach of wealth, past freedom, past desire
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss is my attire.

Virtue and vice, or pleasure and pain are not my heritage,
Nor sacred texts, nor offerings, nor prayer, nor pilgrimage:
I am neither food nor eating, nor yet the eater am I –
Consciousness and joy incarnate, Bliss of the Blissful am I.

I have no misgivings of death, no chasms of race divide me,
No parent ever called me child, no bond of birth ever tied me:
I am neither disciple nor master, I have no kin, no friend –
Consciousness and joy am I, and merging in Bliss is my end.

Neither knowable, knowledge, nor knower am I, formless is my form,
I dwell within the senses but they are not my home:
474221_10151044158366414_257310983_o1Ever serenely balanced, I am neither free nor bound –
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss is where I am found.


Danae Borsani is s German/ Italian Yogi, lives on Mallorca and is a passionate Yoga teacher and Blogger, soulseekergirl.com about what she does best: The Art of Food, Fashion, Travel and Health. She inspires her readers toward a healthy and fulfilled lifestyle.

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: 


Instagram: captainlizclark


Happy Solstice & New Moon

This is a repost from the blog at Sunburnt & Salty Yoga Company

You can find the original post HERE



This Sunday, December 21st, marks the December, or Winter, Solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere where the Sun enters into Capricorn, creating the longest night of the year. “Solstice” (Latin: sol – sun, sistere – standing still) can be translated to the sun standing still and according to tradition, your soul stands still on the night of the Solstice – possibly long enough so that you can catch a glimpse of it. For thousands of years, the Solstice has been a time of coming together, celebration, and nourishment of the body, mind and soul. The Romans used to hold the Feast of Saturnalia around this time of year in honor of the deity Saturn and the changing of the seasons.

This year the Winter Solstice is super-powered due to a rare New Moon in Capricorn that coincides on the same day. Now the longest night of the year will also be the darkest night of the year. But don’t let that freak you out – good things are on the way, if you believe. According to Diane Booth Gilliam, founder of Yogastrology, “The darkest night contains the most magnetic power – time to draw forth what you want, to incubate your best intentions, nurture your high hopes for your BEST New Year ever.” Now I can definitely dig that!


This New Moon in Capricorn on the Winter Solstice recognizes a new time, a new season and a new opportunity to take charge of what your soul really wants. According to the ever-so wise MysticMamma.com, “These turning points are opportunities for us to come together and unite our intentions in visualizing and birthing more LIGHT for our planet.” Love your light and embrace your dark; appreciate both your good qualities and your unique quirks. This creates wholeness. This creates balance. “Embracing your shadow will empower you.” Forgive yourself for your imperfections, forgive yourself for your past, and forgive others around you.

If you want to begin something new in life, or if you are already in the process of beginning something new, this is YOUR time! The uber-inspiring Kelley Rosano explains that you must not GET ready, you must BE ready as the planet Uranus, the ruler of freedom, moves direct just hours before the New Moon. Uranus moving direct is a green light from the Universe. It’s time to move forward, it’s time to take action, and it’s time to take control of your life. Live a life based on love, not fear. Release your false ideas and limiting beliefs – they only hold you back – and allow your Higher Consciousness to help guide your decisions, empowering you to live a life of authenticity. When you do what is right for you, you are in alignment with your soul.

palmtreehandstandAlthough, we must become grounded and centered before we can take action. By grounding ourselves we get clear. We tap into our honor and our integrity. Meditate, get out into nature, write, or draw, or sing. Once we are grounded, once we are clear, and once we are centered only then can we really move from our hearts. As Rosano explains, “You are setting the foundation for the next 12 months – what do you believe is possible for you?”


Caitlin Lawson is a yoga practicing, wave sliding, positive vibe warrior based out of Rincon, Puerto Rico. Caitlin is a RYT-200, WPA Level 1 Certified, and SUP Yoga Certified. She is the founder of Sunburnt & Salty Yoga Company – sunburntandsalty.com



Gratitude in the Darkness

The light in the dark, and the dark in the light

One of the most beautiful things that I learned through my Yoga practice is how gratifying it is to feel thankful. It isn’t anything that I had to comprehend through hard studying or by stumbling on my mat, neither through muscle soreness or deep meditation.
It was just something that I felt one day. – An infinite gratitude just because I am who I am, right here and now. An open, honest and entire thankfulness, and to feel that made me more open to give and receive, and to just be, without any expectations, really no expectations at all.
Of course I don’t always feel this way. Like many of us, I have days when the dark invades me, and when the doubts are overwhelming. But there is something calming to then be able to remember the gratitude I sometimes feel, and to know, that nothing is here forever, everything changes. Universe, like our individual world is in continuous movement and transformation. The darkness never comes to stay.

The winter-months are always followed by the sprouting spring.

In the darker moments I close my eyes, I breathe, and my mantra sings as Bob Marley: “Every little thing is gonna be alright”. I remind myself: If it wasn’t for the dark night, we couldn’t see the stars. And everything is alright, sometimes it doesn’t feel like it is, And it’s ok to feel like that. Since I gave myself permission to the dark days, they actually pass by a lot quicker. In the darkness, the creativity tends to flourish better, and it’s actually on my dark days, when I can feel a real urge to reach the mat and immerse in my breath or in the functionality of a tiny forgotten muscle in my back.

I invite you to do this little exercise, right here right now: close your eyes, take a deep breath and feel your feet on the floor. Take another deep inhale, exhale, and in your mind, list three things that you are thankful for. You don’t have to publish them on your Instagram or update your Facebook. It’s just for you. To fill yourself with Gratitude. And if it doesn’t come, keep calm, it will come. Everything comes and goes. Like the waves. Like our breath. Let your self be in the moment, and if this moment is dark, let it be, let it go. I believe that, as long as we don’t clinch or hold on to our thoughts and feelings, we can let them in and we can let them go, as guests coming and leaving our temple.

One morning almost a year ago, after a long period of stress, anxiety and depression, I woke up by the Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, and I saw a different, light shimmer in my eyes, and that day, I wrote a long text about all those things I felt thankful for. I was in the middle of an amazing teacher training, “Yoga as Therapy” with Ashley Ludman. The journey during those weeks was incredible, I went very deep, and by the fullhearted support of both teacher and students, and with the whole place that promised growth and cradled me to deeper awareness, I reached closer every day, closer to the acceptance of the light dark, and the dark light. I immersed myself in the blue deep magic lake by the volcanoes, so thankful to be right there, at that moment.

Now I am somewhere else, and my struggles, as my joys, look different, my eyes reflect different views.
miaI do miss the lake and its magic, but I am happy to be right here, in front of the computer, writing my first article for Yoga Trade. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share. May our words be actions!



Mia Larsson (miaeyoga.com) is a curious traveler and a certified Yoga teacher (200 RYT, 120h Yoga Therapeutics + current Anusara studies). She is based in Mallorca and has been teaching in Spain, Sweden and Central America during the last 5 years.

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”!



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.

Learn more about Los Cardones here:


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:





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.