Salty at Heart

“The cure for anything is salt water; sweat, tears, or the sea.”

Here we catch up with Kirstin Thompson, a salty lover and the Editor in Chief at Salty at Heart. Kirstin gives us the down low on the empowering journal, inspires us to make positive change in the world, and gets us stoked on life! Yewwwww!

Tell us about the vision at Salty at Heart…

Salty at Heart began as a vision for a printed inspirational journal that embodied all of the pure, organic, empowering vibes that seem despairingly unavailable in mainstream salty2media. Its foundation is based upon an idea: That you are valuable. You matter. You have the right to be happy, to love, to be free. That this planet is precious. That life is precious. And that all things are connected. The vision is to create a global community, serve as a voice for artists, musicians, writers, environmentalists, surfers, and organizations, and to give a chance for the feminine energy to shine. Since the project began, my mission for the impact of Salty at Heart has evolved into a desire to create a movement towards sustainability and equality worldwide.

How have surfing and yoga influenced your life?

Surfing taught me that I am strong, powerful, graceful, and small, all at once. The ocean and surfing made me realize that I am indeed connected to something much grander than my little life on earth – you and I are connected to this entire, grand, beautiful crazy Universe, and it’s such a wonderful terrible thing. It taught me that despite the challenges I have faced as a woman, there is a place I can feel wild and free – the ocean is one of them, but also within my own heart. It taught me to embrace so many wonderful people, to drift with the wind, and to live by my own standards. Yoga also came into my life right around the time that surfing did, and furthered my respect and love for my body and soul. I have known a few yoga instructors in my life who I can graciously admit inspired me to let go of my fears, surrender to this moment, and let love in. I struggle with pain in my back from nerve damage, and yoga and surfing have both been serious life savers for me when the going gets tough.

Have you ever participated in any kind of yoga trade or volunteering and how did you benefit from it?

Yes, I volunteered at Yoga Farm– a sustainable farm and yoga retreat in Costa Rica. We helped in the garden and around the farm in exchange for yoga and affordable boarding. It was such a beautiful experience, with waves, yoga, healthy food, and great people. I actually met some people there who inspired the formation of this journal!

How do you bring sustainability practices into your daily life?

I do not do as much as I wish I could! When I lived near work I made sure to bike there as well as to yoga class as much as possible, but unfortunately where I am living at thesalty1 moment makes biking impossible. I aim to live somewhere eventually that is bike-friendly. I buy produce from the farmer’s market, use glass re-usable containers like ball jars and glass Tupperware, buy local as much as possible, and look on craigslist or at a thrift store before buying anything new.

Who or what have been your greatest teachers?

Traveling, surfing, the wildness of animals such as whales, dolphins, and wolves, books and words of inspiration from people like Jane Goodall, Maya Angelou, Ellen DeGeneres, Emma Watson, and Mary Oliver, the wonderful souls I have met along my journey through life, the people who have maintained faith in me over the years, and my crazy beautiful sister.

Anything else you would like to share with the Yoga Trade community…

Surround yourself with people and an environment that make you smile from the inside out. If you look around and this is not your reality, then get out there and find it! This world is a huge place. I know I’m still searching the world over for new and wonderful things – maybe I am destined to be an eternal drifter, but then again, maybe I will fall in love with a place to call my own one day. Either way, it doesn’t matter. The most important thing is that you know you are free and beautiful, and never let anyone tell you otherwise.

salty3Kirstin Thompson is the Editor in Chief  at Salty at Heart. Kirstin, originally from sunny Florida, graduated with a BS in Environmental Studies at Florida State University and continues to take interest in sustainability and women’s studies. As a freelance writer, surf instructor, passionate traveler, environmentalist, and advocate of all things ocean, Kirstin hopes to inspire others to follow the path of the heart and take a creative approach to life in a way that provides for a free and meaningful existence.

 

 

 

CONNECT with SALTY AT HEART!!!

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Yoga Retreat Family

It is incredible how many yoga retreat centers are popping up worldwide. International popular hotspots include places such as, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Thailand. As the yoga community continues to build retreat centers, hotels, and sustainable living farms, there is one thing that is important to remember: the local communities! As newcomers to a setting, showing respect to the local culture is a must. Building relationships with local communities as a yoga retreat center developer, provides jobs, creates family, and in turn brings memorable experiences to many people. There are lots of people who bring the magic to yoga centers; the guests, the builders, the volunteers, the owners, the yoga teachers, the staff, etc…At Yoga Trade, we believe that “keeping it local” and daily sustainable living practices, are the foundations for yoga retreat centers. Below, Yoga Trader Sarah Barnes, writes about the inspirational Blue Osa Retreat + Spa (where she is currently volunteering), and their amazing Costa Rican staff and family.

Where Ticos Run the Show

Costa Rica is more than a tropical rainforest full of beautiful wildlife. The country is steadily becoming one of the most sought after vacation destinations for yoga retreats, workshops and teacher trainings in the world. Each yoga studio in Costa Rica has something that sets it apart, but what you won’t always come across are places staffed by local Ticos who know the lay of the land they are working in.

Take a journey down to the Osa Peninsula close to the Corcovado National Park and tucked in between the small town of Puerto Jimenez and Matapalo you’ll encounter Blue Osa—a resort and spa bursting to the brim with Tico flavor.

If you blink you might miss the entrance to Blue Osa Yoga Retreat and Spa, with its small wooden sign. But what you won’t see from the tiny entrance is the majestic structures behind it or the amount of heart that has gone into making a safe and spiritual place for visitors, employees and volunteers alike.

You’ll most lightly be ushered in by Edgar, or Chuleta as he is nickname. You’ll find everyone here has a nickname or two as the employees are quite playful with each other. Proceed through the gate and you’ll enter the secluded world of Blue Osa, surrounded by greenery and flowers splitting into three directions.

No matter which path you take you’re likely to run into Fillo, Erick, Alex or Chindin bustling about the property fixing structures, weeding the garden or building and sanding new chairs for the front relaxation area. Although they always have something to do, any one of them would gladly stop and chat or offer a warm, “Buenas días!,” along with a kiss on the cheek, a customary traditions for Ticos.

As a volunteer here at Blue Osa, this is how I personally start my day. Walking from my room over to the office I pass the workshop, laundry room, generator and all my new found friends, the employees. Getting to know these individuals and learning about each one of their lives I think has been one of the best parts of my three month stint here in paradise.

THE STAFF

Like everyone around the world, the employees are here to support their families, dreams and lifestyles, which vary quite a bit, but they also genuinely enjoy working with each other; I think it is part of the “Pura Vida” lifestyle. Let me introduce to you my friends, the employees and heart of Blue Osa:

Michael Melendez, 28
Blue Osa Manager

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Michael, sometimes known as Puy, has been at Blue Osa for five years and is the go-to employee for anything and everything. Although his official title is manager, you can find him in the kitchen, fixing the generator, taking guests out on the ocean to kayak or hike through the forest and solving any type of situation that might arise during the work day.

Michael has lived in the Osa Peninsula his whole life. Growing up on a farm, he is very familiar with the area, the native animals and a decent botanist as well. When he isn’t here running the show, Michael enjoys lifting weights, running on the beach, fishing, hiking, dancing and pretty much anything outdoors.

Michael holds a special place in my heart particularly because he is always checking in on the volunteers who live and work here. There is no such thing as a dull day when Michael is around. He makes sure that we have what we need to be comfortable and productive and you feel welcome from the day you arrive.

Jorge Peraza Fernandez, 25
Assistant Manager

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Originally from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, Jorge has only been in the Osa Peninsula for five years. His career with Blue Osa began a short four months ago, but you would never know as he is already well versed in how things work. His charismatic personality shines through each day with his coy smile and bright blue eyes, which have also afforded him his nickname, Ojos Bellos (beautiful eyes.)

On top of learning the ropes of quality customer service and management from Michael, Jorge can often be found working on the weather reports for the Blue Osa blog, posting pictures to our Instagram account or working on his English.

Jorge also has the most adorable two year old son who attends the Corcovado school, one of Blue Osa’s community initiatives.

José Marin Vargas, 30
Head Chef

blue4cheponaYou will rarely hear José called by his real name as you’ll constantly hear calls for Chepa or Chepona ringing out throughout the kitchen. As the head chef, he is in charge of not only preparing meals but also making sure that the inventory of materials is up to date and any of our visitor’s special needs or allergies are incorporated into the menu each week.

José’s career began seven years ago when his hands aided in creating the breath-taking structures here at Blue Osa. He shaped, sanded, and painted the massive wooden beams that frame the yoga deck and kitchen.

Anyone can tell that José enjoys what he does here at Blue Osa as he always has a huge smile on his face and is ready to help any guest, volunteer or employee at the drop of a hat. A guest wants cream for their coffee and we don’t have it? The next day it will be on the bar. Mention that you’re gluten-free to him? There will be a gluten-free pasta dish served just for you within hours of mentioning it.

Guest and volunteers alike will tell you José is an incredibly hard worker and most stay in contact when they leave as his smile and positive energy are inspirational.

Leonel Nena Caupos, 31
Chef

blue3cheleLeonel, better known as Chele, is probably the sweetest and hardest working person you’ll find in Costa Rica. For starters he is an incredibly talented chef, but when he isn’t cooking up a storm in the kitchen you can find him studying for this degree in hotel and restaurant management late into the night.

Another one of Chele’s many talents includes jewelry making—specifically bracelets. He originally started making these beauties while he was recovering from a motorcycle accident but now he sells them here at Blue Osa and uses the profit to help pay for his school costs.

Originally from Nicaragua, Chele has been with Blue Osa for three years and a resident of the Osa for 10 years.

 

Rafael (Rafa) Eduardo Fanseca Almengar, 26
Chef/Personal Trainer

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If Costa Rica had its own version of The Bachelor, I am pretty sure our chef and personal trainer Rafa would have no competition getting the leading role. He is dedicated to personal fitness and has quite the chiseled physique. When he’s not in the kitchen you’ll probably find him lifting weights or surfing.

Ironically enough, the personal trainer also makes amazing deserts and smoothies. Rafa spends a good amount of time on Pinterest looking for the perfect sweet treat for our guests, including gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options.

A life-long resident of the Osa, Rafa has been with Blue Osa for three years.

Andy Diaz Moraga, 29
Chef

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Andy’s official nickname is Gordo, but in my mind he will always be bromista, or joker. You can be sure that if something goes missing, Andy has temporarily relocated it and will have the best poker face of them all when you ask where the item might be.

Besides all of his jokester tendencies, Andy is a great employee. He’s been with Blue Osa for three years now, but has lived in the Osa Peninsula for roughly 15 years; before that he was born and raised in the city of Alajuela.

Make sure to ask Andy about his son as you’ll never see a bigger smile on his face or more silly photos.

 

 

 

Olger Brenes Rodríguez, 44 (Cabezón)
Chef

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Olger, pronounced Ol-hare, is another one of the busy bees in the kitchen. His career at Blue Osa began a short three years ago, but again he knows his way around the kitchen and fits in great with the rest of the staff.

A native Osa resident, Olger is a HUGE animal lover, particularly cats. He has several at his own home and gives lots of love to the four cats/kittens and two dogs that hold residence here at Blue Osa.

 

 

Ivannia Ramírez Cruz, 46 and Ñery Cerdas Ibarra, 38

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Ivannia and Nery are hard workers and moms to both their families and the Blue Osa crew. Whether they are bustling around the laundry room, cleaning out cabinas (guest rooms) or mending pillows from the sofa, their useful skills are endless.

Ivannia is also known as Macha, or Blondie and Ñery is sometimes referred to as Ngaspachas. Both of these lovely ladies have worked at Blue Osa for four year and are quite the team. Although Ñery is originally from Nicaragua, like Ivannia, she has spent the majority of her life here in the Osa Peninsula.

Erick Manuel Jiménez Garbanzo, 24
Housekeeping

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Light-hearted, young and energetic Erick can also be found with a smile on his face whilst working on cleaning the guest rooms, yoga deck and various other areas. He speaks very little English but that doesn’t keep him from flashing a big grin your way and working through a conversation. Over the course of my stay here we have fumbled through conversations about fishing and his beautiful new baby girl.

 

 

 

José Rudecindo Lopez Jimenez, 36 (Chindin)
Gardening, Woodworking and Property Maintenance

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Another strong silent type, Chindin arrives bright and early to work at 5 AM to begin his daily routines of property maintenance, woodworking and painting. After placing his cellphone on the employee shelf along with all the other colorful technology bricks, Chindin bids me a warm, “Hola guapo, como estas?” Observant and polite are two of the words I’d use to describe him. When I am having a rough day Chindin is always one of the first ones to know and offer a huge hug.

Chindin has always called the Osa Peninsula home and has made his career here at Blue Osa as he has spent the past seven years helping to create this sacred space.

 

 

Rufilio Nuñez Solis (Fillo), 55
Gardening, Woodworking and Property Maintenance

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Fillo has been with Blue Osa for seven years. You can find him around the property doing maintenance on the lawn, watering the garden or working with his hands on various other tasks. A hard-worker, he won’t always have time to stop and chat, but he’ll greet you with the biggest smile and a warm hug.

Another interesting fact about Fillo is he is a nature guide and avid bird watcher. When we have groups that are early risers, he will often be their guide through a morning hike and bird watching tour, which is a wonderful way to start the day.

 

 

Geiner Rivera Venegas, 38 (Tony)
Gardening, Woodworking and Property Maintenance

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I’m not exactly sure how Geiner, or Tony as we call him, got his nickname, but he is the quietest employee of them all.

Originally from Pérez Zeledón, Tony has only lived and worked in the Osa Peninsula for six months; although you’d never know that watching him interact with all the employees.

His official duties are with property maintenance like Chindin, Fillo and Alex, but true to Tico fashion, Tony will pull his weight in any other area here at the resort.

 

 

Alexander Mendez Alvarado, 45
Gardener and Project Manager

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Although he has only been at Blue Osa for four years, Alex is a busy man here at the property. As a passionate environmentalist, it only makes sense that he manages our well project across the street where in the future there will be a lush garden, a water well, chickens and much more.

Alex has a way about him; he is quiet but once someone takes the time to ask questions he will open up and share his joys and concerns with you, and vice versa. Alex always reminds me that if I’m having a bad day that I can come and talk to him. This is one reason I always makes sure to give him the biggest hug and kiss in the mornings, letting him know his friendship is important to me.

Alex’s passionate feelings extend into his community as well. He coaches several football teams in Puerto Jimenez ranging from small children up into teenagers and the kids come from all different areas to play. Alex feels it is important to be a big part of your community and the children’s life because they are our future, we have to teach them to be engaged citizens and love their community.

Edgar Bernado Gutierrez Quesada, 56
Security

blue6chuletaAh Chuleta…he always finds a way to surprise you whether its lighting the path to your destination or catching him busting a move during a rare guest dance party.

Although most guests don’t really meet Chuleta he is one of the security personnel here at the resort during the late afternoons and evenings. You’ll be able to spot him walking around the property with a humongous flashlight keeping watch around the parameter.

Born and raised in the Osa Peninsula, specifically in Golfito, Chuleta is another Blue Osa veteran. Showing true dedication to his job over the past seven years, he rides his bike an hour each way to get to and from work.

 

 

Blue Osa Journeys

Aaron and Adam, co-owners of Blue Osa, believe in and support their staff as if they were family, because they pretty much are. When they aren’t traveling the world hosting yoga retreats, scouting for new locations or looking for donors for the local school they run in Puerto Jimenez, Aaron and Adam focus on enriching their staff’s knowledge and skill base.

Back in 2013 they took head chef Jose on an adventure to see and study in some of Europe’s finest meccas. Over the course of a month Jose worked and learned in kitchens throughout Paris, Amsterdam, Biarritz and Montpellier. This was quite the experience for then 28 year old Jose as he had never been outside of Puerto Jimenez, let alone leaving the country entirely.

Chefs Chele and Rafa have also just returned from a similar journey throughout Spain. This is just another example of how Blue Osa does its best to give back to the community that supports its existence.

sarahSarah Barnes is currently a volunteer in paradise at Blue Osa Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica where she is a blogger, photographer and yoga instructor. Sarah is a 200 level RYT, owner of Modern Warrior Yoga and alumni of Texas Tech University where she graduated with International Business and a Photo Communications degrees. She recently left her 9 to 5 job as a communications professional to explore the world.

The Holistic Evolution of Business Culture

This article is being graciously shared with us by Living Yoga Ambassador, Lauren Lee. You can find more inspiration at the community project she founded, ‘Raise Your Beat’.

Over the past 50 years throughout many Western cultures, social status (perceived success) was easily defined by material wealth. Whether it was a home, car, accessories for your home, clothing, jewelry (or all of the above) it was culturally accepted (and expected) to consume more, simply because we could.

(*Of course this mentality was more present in certain countries, and excluded those who rebelled and lived their lives according to their own set of rules.)

Fast forward to 2015, and there has been a drastic shift in values and perspectives. Currently our culture is redefining our relationship to ‘wealth’ and the age of mindless holistic1consumption is slowly fading.

The trend of shopping at corporate stores and buying mass manufactured products is dying out. It is now replaced by the urge to support smaller personalized shops that offer local, organic and fair trade products.

Businesses are constantly becoming more innovative, resourceful and eco-conscious with their products, priding themselves on quality over quantity and strong ethics that are aligned with their economic growth.

Along with the change in what we are buying, is the change in how we are buying. Outdoor markets and festivals boasting gourmet foods and live music are replacing air-conditioned malls with fast food courts and parking lots.

And the most interesting progression is quite possibly the transformation in our desires.

The desire to even physically own a product is instead being replaced by the ability to have access to that product.

This radical revolution from our changing desires supports a culture of business that offers new ways in how we use products.

For example: a bike, which you can rent near your flat, ride across the city, and drop off at your new destination…music, movies and media stored online, available to you on anyDSC06331 device with or without internet… experiences working abroad in exchange for accommodation and food…taxi services, cars, sleeping accommodations and land directly rented from one another.

These products are more flexible, offering more availability and affordable prices. They support us to share and network with both our local and global communities. And most important, they protect the environment and work to create a smaller carbon footprint as ultimately, fewer goods are being manufactured.

As mindful consumers, we are becoming more interested in the ‘root of the product’.

What is the true purpose behind its use (is it necessary), and how can it become a tool to enhance our lives?

Can this product become an experience and offer me more value?

What is the impact of this product on myself, my community and the Earth?

Our intentions as a culture are becoming more yogic with a better understating of our yamas and niyamas (ethical guidelines), connecting to what’s truly important – access over ownership, a quality eco product over one that harms our bodies and nature, and community success over individual success.

These Yogic principals encompass multiple aspects of healthy production and consuming, and are at the heart of the evolution of many small entrepreneurs and big corporate businesses alike.

It seems the rise of yoga among the masses has begun to permeate deeper than asana with a rising in consciousness as a culture. And even in a context, which seems so far from ‘yogic’ (such as consuming) the new trends in business are implementing more holistic perspectives to sustainable and healthy options.

As a consumer, the next time you are in the market for a product, stop and think (research) which companies are offering that same product in a more user-friendly, enjoyable and eco-conscious way. Remember that you always have a choice and your lauren_bancosupport for these products will radiate far beyond buying and using them, as you will be a positive example of a mindful being for your own circle of loved ones.

 

LAUREN 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.

9 Living Yoga Practices

There are many ways we can practice yoga without being in a studio or on a mat. Bringing the philosophies and teachings of yoga into our everyday lives is really what it’s all about.

Yoga is much more than a set of postures. It is a way of life. Living yoga is presence, connection, maintaining balance, and aligning with our core values. Living yoga can be tending a garden, loving our families, surfing, volunteering, taking part in sustainable living practices, mindful eating, participating in a beach clean up, sailing the seas, teaching a child how to read, practicing on a yoga mat, creating a mural, or listening to a friend. When we practice the natural art of giving and receiving, we create infinite opportunity loops.

In today’s modern world there are endless distractions. Allowing ourselves to to be happy, healthy, and thriving should be at the top of the list.

Here are nine simple practices we can use to help remind ourselves how to embrace our yoga practice into our daily lives.

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1. Cultivate presence.

Notice the power of the breath. Become aware without judgment when the mind is drifting to the past or future. Recognize the only real place of freedom is the NOW. The only real thing we have is this very moment.

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2. Be a good listener.

Listen to friends and family. Really listen. Practice compassion. Learn to listen to your inner guide and not just the thoughts of the restless mind.

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3. Have loving, kind thoughts toward yourself and others.

Diminish all negative thinking. Let yourself feel all the feelings that may come up with an embracing attitude. Form loving, intimate, meaningful relationships with the people in your life and with the natural world.

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4. Spend time in nature.

The natural world can teach us all we ever need to know. Observing seasonal cycles can teach us patience, flow, and the miracle of life. Make connection to nature a priority. Try to enjoy outside time everyday.

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5. Develop a consistent personal yoga and/or meditation practice.

This helps us practice self-discipline, and make self discoveries we may have never known existed. Aim for a balance of working hard and following what you love. Notice how our practice on the mat correlates to everything off the mat. We are all connected.

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6. Be receptive.

Notice the next time you become “reactive” to something and then consciously change the attitude to “receptive”. Practice calmness. Take responsibility, be strong, and bring more love into your life.

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7. Make health and wellness a priority.

Take care of yourself! Omit stress; nourish the body and spirit, exercise, and practice mindful eating. Take the time to do things that make you happy. When we are healthy and happy, we can then inspire others to be the same.

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8. Live sustainable.

All we need is less. Simplicity. Notice what you may be doing in your daily life that can be changed to make more conscious efforts toward the environment. Get curious about alternative ways to live that make less of a footprint. Every small step helps. Let’s evolve to sustain. Become a living yoga activist and spark change.

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9. Selfless service.

Volunteer, give, and surrender to a power higher than yourself. Get involved in your community and be the light!

Live yoga. By fostering cultural exchange and mutual respect in the global yoga community, we grow closer to one another, our planet, and ourselves. Breathe it all in, LOVE it all out.

Be inspired by the Living Yoga Ambassadors at Yoga Trade. They are truly shining bright in this world and making positive impacts on communities locally and globally.

 

yogafarmloveErica Hartnick grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California, and enjoys all things wild and free. She teaches nature inspired yoga and leads mindful adventures in California and Costa Rica. She gets excited about; LEARNING, intense weather, glassy ocean peaks, pillows of fresh powder snow, crystal clear water, positive people, cultural travel, thriving vegetable gardens, fresh mint chip ice cream, nature’s glory, LIVING YOGA, and connecting with others. She is passionate about the collaboration with friends that led to the creation of Yoga Trade, and is devoted to connecting the yoga community with infinite opportunities!

http://yogatrade.com/

Lessons From the Jungle

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

A REFLECTION ON NATURE, CULTURE, & BEING

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.

Mystical Yoga Farm

Nourish your soul and tend the land. Find harmony and sustainability within your community. Bonnie Norton is the Operations Director at the Mystical Yoga Farm in Guatemala. Here she fills us in on the innovative projects and sustainable programs they offer at this magical learning and growing center.  

Tell us about the “sustainable living” at the Mystical Yoga Farm…

We are proud to be an education center for sustainable living. We like to take time with our decisions, in order to support the long term well being myf5of the land, the community and the growing retreat center. Currently you can come and learn about compost toilets, solar power energy, grey water systems, grey water urinals, permaculture structures, on-site food gardens, re-purposed building materials as well as sourcing staff from the local community. Each day we strive hard to live within the means of our lush piece of Mayan land to ensure that our lifestyle here at the farm protects people, present and future and most importantly, our planet.

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

We are so fortunate to have worked on many community projects. We work with Seed Bank, helping Guatemala maintain food security by keeping native seeds alive. The village nearest to our farm is Chacaya, where we’re always trying to manifest higher life quality for everyone. One of the programs there is called Chacaya School Projects, with topics such as english, health, nutrition, yoga, sustainability and education. Furthermore we’re supporting Local Farmer Training, which teaches traditional and sustainable farming techniques to ensure local food sustainability. Also, we are working to grow our Child Education Program, where we organize to send a child to school for $50 a year as well as Comida Vida, about nutrition education for women and families. We also cooperate closely with Justa, a holistic network that connects indigenous artisans, global designers, and sustainable projects.

Do you offer work exchange or volunteer opportunities?

The Mystical Yoga Farm thrives as a place of learning, growth and transformation. We do provide work exchange opportunities at the farm – our goal is to allow you to dive deep into your spiritual practice whilst living and learning in a supportive and inspiring community. We have myf2our Spiritual Alchemist Work/Trade Program for the duration of 21 days, offering an unique opportunity to bring your practice off the mat and into the work we do,  whilst engaging on a transformational journey through the Shamanistic Medicine Wheel. We provide a platform and tools to transform anything that no longer serves you. We also offer Tribal Leader staff positions, with a minimum 3 month commitment in exchange for direct trade. The staff form a community and work together to deliver results in many areas on the farm; Land Development, Permaculture Gardening, Sustainable Food, Ayani Harmony and Divine Art. Besides that we have many other staff positions and conscious exchange opportunities available. We are always striving to accommodate personalized work trade opportunities for the right situations.

Your Mystical Shamanism programs are quite unique, can you tell us more about them?

The Mystical Yoga Farm is the home for the School Yoga Institute. SYI offers Yoga Teacher Trainings 9 times a year at MYF as well as all over the world. The 200 hour level trainings are unique as we offer a transformational process guided through the Medicine Wheel, shedding our physical myf3attachments in the cycle of the Serpent, facing our inner darkness and conditioning during the cycle of the Jaguar, finding joy and bliss through understanding our calling in this life with the Hummingbird and lastly flying with perspective and strength in the cycle of the Eagle. The powerful process is guided by incredible facilitators, and supported through a group of souls called together at that time. We stay close to Mother Earth as we unfold and explore the cosmic unknown, reveal our own soul’s journey and manifest the beauty in life. This program is for those who wish to dive deeper into the healing gifts of Shamanism, Mysticism and Yoga.

 

 

To learn more about the soul of this learning center and to find out more about the volunteer opportunities and programs they offer, visit:

 

www.mysticalyogafarm.com

www.schoolyogainstitute.com

or email info@mysticalyogafarm.com

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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

 

Travel “Eco”

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

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What does “Eco Resort” mean to you?

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

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

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

Do you offer work exchange/volunteer opportunities?

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

What kind of yoga do you offer at Los Cardones?

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

http://www.loscardones.com/