5 Reasons to Teach Yoga for Free

Cover Photo: Shaunte Ditmar Photography

The new year is in full force and instead of adding any more weight to the unpredictable future, maybe introducing a softer approach to our world view could create some lasting ripple effects.

As the world seems to be getting smaller, faster, and cloudier, at the same time, more dreams are coming true; love is forever being found, and the possibilities of a change in consciousness on a global scale is becoming a reality — Instead of focusing on things that separate, we must look outside of the norm, think for ourselves, and strive for a different set of values if we are going to be able to come out of this era of uncertainty and thrive.

Simply put, to teach yoga for free is GOOD. To do anything for free is good. But as a viable construct of our society it becomes a commodity and therefore;

1) To teach yoga for free or within an exchange system is a little piece of CHANGE in SOCIETY that we’ve got our hands on.

A healthy wide-spread yoga practice is a veritable KEY to opening the door to less reliance on the systems that separate and discourage people. You scratch my back I scratch yours. The more we incorporate this into our communities the more networking we can have outside of stereotypes and economic standing. Going against the grain and being a free thinking individual will help bridge the gap in ways unimaginable.

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2) Teaching a free class, or pushing our own boundaries and maybe traveling to a different country to teach yoga, we consciously OPEN ourselves up to an abundance of new possibilities.

You teach, you travel, you learn; and the whole world becomes your oyster. The pearl of who you want to be emerges. Stepping into the direction of service, you ultimately free yourself from value restrictions and the flow of goodness cascades into all corners of your life. You never know who might enter your class, or what opportunities may arise.

The universe always provides…

3) Teaching yoga classes literally ADDS PEACE to the world–teaching classes for free reaches the many individuals who haven’t tried yoga yet or aren’t willing to pay for a class.

You don’t need to watch the news or read the paper to know that (even in regards to your own mind), peace is needed.

Pranic breathing, literally increases your AWARENESS of yourself, and your own personal awareness is where peace resides. To share the possibility of awareness for others in a group setting is the seed to growing the PEACE in the world.

4) Teaching a free class a week (even just once in your life) or taking a trip to somewhere through a yoga teaching exchange network is a way to LEARN and expand in new ways.

Being a teacher doesn’t take away the fact that you are forever a student in the classroom of the world, and in every direction we have a lesson to learn. To accept and give freely in an exchange outside of monetary currency allows a free form energy circulation, softly opening yourself up to new patterns, new traction; humility. You discover the strength of SERVICE which as a tenet of yoga philosophy, takes your tangible yoga practice to a higher level.

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5) Free yoga and exchanging classes can CREATE a NETWORK of other wellness practices that are not reliant on the monetary exchange.

If, as a community, we collectively are able to rely on our knowledge and bring our talents to the table, we are diversifying and enriching our ability to prevent illness and stimulate the effectiveness of alternative medicines. Through herbalism, chiropractic adjustments, massage, home services and even home-grown goods, the possibilities through bartering is unlimited.

These ideas are not farfetched or utopian. We are justly apt to creatively bend deeper into characteristics that we want to see emulated in society. The more we work together in a constructive way the more we can actually see changes in the world. The horrors of greed need not reach your inner sanctuary of well-being. Peace and tranquility are knocking at the entire neighborhood’s doorsteps and our limitless existence is unfolding right before our very eyes. Humans as a whole are no-doubt evolving, let the evolution include your dreams and may your dreams become reality.

Let the broken systems of society be mended by the strength of the systems that we know have worked for thousands of years.

 

 

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Abigail Tirabassi: writer, dreamer, believer, artist, ocean lover, finding joy daily.

IG: @scrambby

Traveling Afar to Realize Just How Far You’ve Come

This morning I was a bit stiff as I woke up to teach my 8am Power Yoga class in a beautiful beachfront studio overlooking turquoise waters and white sand in Bavaro Beach, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. I was a little worn from teaching Vinyasa 2 with arm balances and inversions from 8pm to 9:15pm the evening before and having little time to sleep and recover. I’m traveling, working hard and pushing myself to soak up of every minute of this opportunity.

I stepped to the mat to begin teaching and began with some simple asanas to help my students warm up, but also restoring my own sore body. A few breaths and it came to me: GRATITUDE. I realized that my “bad morning” was actually quite incredible. I realized just how amazing my life really is, because right now, I’m realizing a dream and goal I set for myself.

I flashed back to a time when I worked in marketing for large corporations. I did this for 17 long years, 11 of which were spent fighting traffic to reach a downtown office building each morning. I would wake at 6:30am, scurry to wake, shower, put on make up, iron my dress clothes, scour to find panty hose that didn’t have runs in them, pack a lunch and hurry out the door without eating breakfast. I would arrive to my desk, usually a few minutes late, and log in to my computer. For the next 9 hours, I would sit within gray walls of a cubicle (later upgraded to an office), and I would work hard as I watched the small clock in the bottom right corner of my computer screen. I would challenge myself to learn and improve my skills. I would work hard to earn a paycheck and even stay late each night, with hopes each year of a pay raise. But I would not work with passion.

During my breaks in my corporate life, I would dream of traveling afar and living on an island. I would think of ways that I could bring meaning to my life. I would even read blog posts like this one, wondering how others accomplished this. At the time, I wasn’t even practicing yoga. So I would dream of ways that I could help people, possibly volunteering and using my Spanish language skills from college. This day dream was relentless, and evolved into creating goals and like I would do for large companies, I created a “strategic business plan” for my own life, complete with a budget and timeline.

Fast forward to years later. Years of life experience, years of yoga practice and years of teaching yoga and self discovery. I made countless preparations and took each step of my strategic plan, but I calmed down and listened to my heart as well. Now, I find myself exactly where I dreamed I would be. I’m making a difference in my students lives and doing it in beautiful places all over the world. How could I ever wake up unmotivated when I think about how far I have come?

Each yoga class I teach, I begin by asking my students to create an intention (a present tense affirmation) for their practice and to carry that intention with them throughout the day and throughout their week. This intention setting is the first step to making self improvements and working toward goals and dreams. As I’m currently teaching many tourists in the Dominican Republic, I’m often asked with wonder after class how I ended up here, essentially how I ended up with my dream job. It’s my hope that by my example and by my yoga instruction, that I’m making a difference in each of their lives, helping them on their own path to pursuing what makes them happy. It’s my passion to help others to find peace and wellness in their own lives, one-hour of yoga at a time.

If you are not where you want to be right now in your life, you are not stuck. You can make the right choices each day and put in the hard work to find a new outcome. It starts with a daydream and then building your own strategic plan. And that can be reinforced each day as you step to the top of your yoga mat, breathe, set an intention and journey mindfully on your path.

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Chel Rogerson (RYT 200) teaches yoga and works as a freelance writer traveling the world. She also teaches/performs hoop dance, pole dance and fire dance in the Outer Banks of North Carolina through her business, Bliss Fit.

Life Post Yoga Retreat: Maintaining the Bliss Buzz

Traveling and spending time at a Yoga Retreat or Training Center is one of the most beneficial ways to deepen or re-ignite a yoga practice. Yoga retreats and immersive training centers are an oasis of physical, mental and spiritual bliss! We are fed high-quality, often organic, whole food meals, and we typically do not have to even worry about cleaning our plates after the daily feasts. A daily, often rigorous schedule of asana, pranayama and meditation rejuvenate our minds and bodies while the support of like-minded teachers and fellow yogis hold the space for our transformation and emotional release. We experience decreased responsibilities, limited social media and an absence of addictive substances during the days lived at our yoga sanctuary. We are taken care of and lovingly provided for and held. We often connect so deeply with our fellow yogis on retreat that we question how we ever lived without them in the first place.

Ahhhhh, yes, the blissful bubble of yoga immersion! The environment and community encourage our self-expression and exploration of deep, authentic conversation. We feel so connected, healthy, centered and serene which is the perfect internal environment for our highest selves to shine through.

So, what happens when we leave our yoga bubble and go back home?

We discover on our retreat how easy it can be to consistently practice and embody a yoga lifestyle in a controlled environment purposefully constructed to support yogic principles and transformation. The real world might suddenly feel harsher in contrast to the cozy yoga shalas, yurts and tents we had grown accustomed to. We won’t automatically have many hours a day carved out of our schedules to practice yoga and meditate. Social media, news and other distractions are abundant. And what? We must feed ourselves and clean up? This might feel like too much to handle.

The greatest challenge of leaving a yoga retreat is carrying our recently connected, healthy, centered and serene selves back into the habits, stresses and relationships of our daily lives. It might feel like our yoga saturated bodies and souls transformed in some way making reintegration into the regular world uncomfortable. It may take us time to relate in a new way to our external environment.

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When I return from trainings, retreats and other Yoga Trade travel opportunities, I often find it takes me a period of adjustment. There are obvious extremes I will adjust to like the climate change between the jungle of Costa Rica and my home in Germany, but more importantly, I give myself time to acclimate my inner climate to my regular life at home.

Here are a few tips I find helpful to help integrate, prolong the yoga-bliss-buzz, and stay grounded in the regular world after a yoga immersion:

1. Home Sanctuary

Create a small retreat at home. If you don’t already have a sacred practice space in your home, find a small room or corner that you can create a mini yoga sanctuary. Bring your yoga mat, any props, a pillow, candles and incense. You may even create a small altar with items that inspire you. The space doesn’t have to be big to feel like a little slice of bliss at home. This home sanctuary might even inspire you to consistently practice and dedicate more time to your self-care and well-being than before.

2. Nourish Your Physical Body

If the diet you followed on your retreat was very different than your regular diet, it might be a shock to your body to jump back into old diet regimes – especially if at the retreat, you avoided sugar, alcohol, caffeine, etc. You may even consider incorporating any new eating habits you learned that really worked for you. Take some time to fuel and nourish your body with what it needs and take it easy on cravings. Treats are good, but over indulgence after a week or longer on a retreat might leave you feeling less than optimal.

3. Set Goals

We often quickly embrace the schedule at a retreat as we experience the luxury of so much free-time and limited responsibilities. If your regular schedule doesn’t allow for 3 hours of asana and meditation every morning, set a realistic goal that will still get your body moving and soul connected. You might wake up 30 minutes early every day and go straight to your sacred practice space. Maybe you find a local studio with a lunch time or evening class that you can attend a few times a week. Find a self-care and yoga goal that works with your reality! A consistent physical and mental practice will help you stay grounded and connected to your highest self, long after the retreat buzz wears off.

4. Reconnect

Taking time out of our lives to focus on self-care and personal growth often requires a sacrifice in another area of our lives. If you disconnected on your retreat from loved ones to focus your energy on your relaxation and transformation, take time when you return to reconnect with them. Spend some quality time and share your retreat experience with your partner, family and friends. Ask them what they have been doing while you were gone. These honest conversations will help rebuild and strengthen any weakened connections during your time away.

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5. Be Gentle

Did you discover yourself feeling more gentle, compassionate, honest, open and free than ever before on your retreat? The yoga retreat bubble is the perfect place to truly practice and embody the teachings of yoga. Sometimes, the real world with all of the challenges, stressors and calamities that inevitably transpire makes acting like an enlightened yogi nearly impossible. If you find yourself losing your calm, go easy on yourself. Don’t beat yourself with unhelpful self-talk, “I was just on a yoga retreat! I should be better/kinder/calmer than this!” Be gentle and patient with yourself. The yoga bubble is a perfect place to practice the lessons and teachings in a controlled environment, and the real world is like the exam we get to finally apply what we learned. If you want to incorporate the teachings and be better at being you in the world, practice.

I hope these tips help you ease back into daily life post-retreat with more grace and patience while maintaining the yoga bliss and teachings. Namaste.

 

 

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Sarah is a Yoga Trade Travel Representative. She loves to explore herself and the world through the lenses of yoga and travel and constantly challenge herself to uncover truth and unity within and around her.

CONNECT:

http://www.la-yoga-vida.com/

Access Your Highest Potential!

Inspired by World-Renowned Life Coach Trainer, Anna Suil

p1030097Anna Suil is a true master of how to live a vibrant, joyful and balanced life. I began training with her for purposes of personal-development, but have since found great value in integrating the tools of Life Coaching into my work as a Yoga Teacher and Retreat Leader.

I’ll be the first to admit, that the idea of a Life Coach is one I shied away from at first, and certainly never a title I sought for myself. It was the inspiring story of my teacher Suil that gave me an entirely new perspective.

As a young adult, Suil committed herself to the path of yoga & meditation, studying under an impressive list of spiritual teachers including Baba Ram Das, Goenka, and Buddhist masters in India, Nepal, Japan and Korea. She continued her formal education with a degree in Psychology, which enabled her to effectively spread the teachings of the East to a Western audience. Among the many hats she has worn in her lifetime, Suil is now a Life Coaching Trainer with an expertise in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a technique which trains the brain to rewire itself towards positive thought patterns and behaviors in order to maximize our human potential.

In the last year, Suil’s audience has made a drastic shift from the leading corporate CEOs in Asia to a community of health and wellness practitioners at Yandara Yoga Institute, a humble training center in the desert of Mexico. Needless to say, she means it when she says that Life Coaching is a valuable tool for everyone. As Suil makes the shift into retirement, her teachings are being carried forth across a wide spectrum for personal and professional development.

So what is Life Coaching all about?

Here are a few FAQs boiled down specifically for the Yoga Trade community!

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Life Coaching is a tool to access your highest potential – those hidden jewels within each and every one of us just waiting to be uncovered!

Who needs a Life Coach?

Short answer: everyone. Because of its holistic approach to well-being, the tools can be applied uniquely to each individual encompassing work, leisure time, romantic relationships, family & friends, and so forth. Having someone shed light on areas that may have been hiding in the subconscious can lead to a better understanding of how to maximize fulfillment in every moment.

How does it work?

A coach supports a client in achieving their goals by first identifying what they are and then exploring options unique to their situation in order to set a clear path moving forward. Rather than offering direct advice, clients are challenged to find solutions within themselves, thus gaining the skills to be more efficient in reaching future goals.

Why does it work?

We are multi-dimensional beings, and as our lives become more and more fragmented between work, play and relationships, the perspective of a skilled coach helps keep clients on track and most importantly, stay accountable!

Where to begin?

Coaching can take place in person, online or even involve travel experiences and retreats which facilitate the process by taking clients outside of their normal surroundings to help spark creative solutions.

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If you are interested in learning more, reach out to Mary Tilson at info@marytilsonyoga.com

www.marytilsonyoga.com
Instagram: @marytilson

Testimonial:

“I had never thought of consulting a life coach before but was presented the opportunity at a training program I was attending and feel very lucky to have had the chance. Mary helped me realize that there are tangible steps we can take in order to live the life we want. She helped coach me into identifying what these steps were for me in a way that made me feel very comfortable as I had a big part in identifying what I was comfortable with and what I thought was possible. I loved the fact that I left the meeting with an actual list of things to do daily to help me reach my goals. It wasn’t just talking fluff. It was actually creating a realistic plan to help me achieve what I want. Mary was professional, nonjudgmental and understanding. I would recommend her life coaching services with the highest praises.”

-Erika, Yoga Teacher, USA

 

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Mary Tilson is a world traveling Yoga Teacher, Retreat Leader, and one of Anna Suil’s certified Life Coaches. She is currently the Yoga & Wellness Director of Nihiwatu, Travel+Leisure’s “No1 Hotel in the World” on Sumba Island, Indonesia.

Heart Activism

 

It wasn’t clear to me at first but I was amongst great activists – humans utilizing this precious life and the power we all have to ignite change through positive action.

“Action is movement with intelligence.
The world is filled with movement.
What the world needs is more conscious movement, more action.”
– Iyengar

Ekuthuleni is an ecological retreat space set in the foothills of the Pyrenees of Southern France where people are doing just that- actively connecting the practice of inner work with outer action.

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Nathan & Zohar, the facilitators of SanghaSeva Retreats, focus on how meditation can carry into making conscious actions in the world. This summer I participated in a Sustainability & Simplicity Retreat at Ekuthuleni. The first week we immersed in the practice of silent meditation and then in the second week we intentionally put our practice into action while using our bodies as tools to work with organic materials found on the land to build a straw bale sanctuary. We investigated how we can live a low-impact lifestyle in our environment – allowing nature’s needs to speak louder than human desires.

I slept in a tent on a wooden platform amongst the forest, showered my body under the rays of sunshine with solar-heated water and used composting toilets.

We nourished our bodies with the veggies from the garden.

We nourished our hearts and minds in meditation on a platform amongst the trees.

This simplistic way of living in nature allowed us to relax into the clarity of how supported we are by the Earth and how blissfully uncomplicated life can be when we can realize how much is already provided for us by nature.

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I learned that through the practice of listening we are able to become aware of opportunities we have in life to contribute – even if it’s by choosing not to participate in things that we view as destructive or counterproductive.

“When you have a pro-peace rally, I will be there.” – Mother Theresa

Activism is directing your energy towards the things you are FOR rather than against in this world.

Flash forward to yoga with women and children at the Refugee camp in Calais, France.

I intentionally do not watch the news and before the retreat I was not even aware that such a place existed just north of where I was standing – 10,000 human beings in need of support – that I now felt able to contribute to.

At the camp I often felt the temptation of my mind to comprehend the whys and hows of the perceived inequality and injustices of this world – but instead, with practice – I was able to bring my focus back to the precious human beings in front of me that I was fortunate enough to meet.

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This is my form of activism – union through human connection – regardless of what you call it – yoga, creativity, dance or play – embracing the joy that exists in the moments where we are able to let go of the mind’s stories of who we think we are.

The shared happiness that is not “mine” or “yours” but in the spaces in between that do not rely on the names on our passports or the stories we have bought into of who we are based on where we are from, what we do, or what we have.

Beyond acting to aim at the faraway destination of reaching solutions for the entirety of humanity and our planet – we can find the potential power that exists within us all to make choices that are coherent with the things we wish to see in the world right now.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

The practice of meditation allows us to see more clearly that we can be great activists by simply waking up to what is already right here and leading a life where we actively follow our heart.

 

 

 

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Sacha Bryce is a Toronto-based 500-RYT travelling yoga teacher and life enthusiast – with a mission to share the practice for the benefit of all beings!
Find her on instagram @sachabryceyoga

9 Practical Things to Consider Before Traveling to Teach Yoga

So you’re thinking about traveling abroad to teach yoga. Perhaps you’re considering doing it for an extended period of time, or maybe you’re looking at doing a few months here and there. Traveling the world while sharing your knowledge of yoga, meeting new students, exploring different cultures and taking your practice to new places is an exciting opportunity. But here’s the thing, there are a few steps to take before you embark on that journey such as creating a compelling CV and building a profile on yoga job websites like Yoga Trade. There are also a few key points that you need to think about to ensure that your time is well spent and that the role is exactly what you expected and agreed upon.

A little about my personal experience: I completed my 200-hour training in San Francisco at the end of 2015 and was in the midst of a major career shift and relocation back to Hong Kong. At this point, I wasn’t 100% certain if I wanted to make the jump and transition into teaching full-time and already had a few trips planned and booked throughout 2016. I began looking into different short-term opportunities overseas via Yoga Trade – I love to travel, and I love yoga; mixing the two seemed like a no-brainer! So I put together a profile, paid the membership fee and submitted applications to work at hotels, retreats, surf camps and studios around the world.

One of the key things that you should know about traveling abroad to teach yoga is that it can be competitive. Of all the places I sent my yoga CV off to, only two got back to me. I ended up interviewing with one hotel, and guess what? I am wrapping up teaching five weeks of yoga in Vang Vieng, Laos! I realize that I was extremely fortunate to have landed a great opportunity in a beautiful town that was looking to shake off its party hard past, and excited be a part of growing Vang Vieng into a spot for wellness and yoga in Southeast Asia; but it doesn’t always work out this way and there are a few key factors that I think anybody looking to travel and teach yoga overseas should seriously consider before taking the leap. Here’s what you need to think about:

1. Cost of flights and travel

I applied to places in Nicaragua, Mexico, Portugal, Morocco, Bali, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Laos. But what I really should have done was look into how much time and money it would have taken to travel to each of these places, and decide whether I was comfortable paying these costs out of pocket before sending off my application. Luckily, teaching in Vang Vieng was worth the two flights, layover in Bangkok and slightly terrifying seven-hour bus journey to get there. Here’s the thing, most employers looking for yoga teachers to teach for a few months are not going to foot your transportation or visa expenses. So consider whether you’re willing to pay for your flights to work hundreds of miles away.

2. Seasonality of the destination

Now that you’ve decided on where you might want to travel to and where the opportunities may exist, think about seasonality. As an example, I ended up teaching in Laos during rainy season when tourist numbers are at its lowest. In practical terms, this meant that in some classes there was only one student, in others there were about seven or eight, but I also had to cancel a few classes because of no-shows. I enjoy teaching 1-on-1 and small group classes so it didn’t end up being a massive issue, but when you’re paid by the number of classes you teach or number of students that attend, this can seriously affect your income so bear seasonality in mind.

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3. Number of students and general level of classes you are expected to teach

Some retreat centers may expect you to teach a dozen or more people per class, and some know that their class sizes tend to be much smaller. Some places cater to people who have been practicing yoga for years, whereas other places host classes where the majority of students have either never attended a yoga class in their life, or have been to one or two classes back home. Ask your potential future employer what the typical class size and level is so that you can ensure that you know what to expect. While you’re at it, find out if there’s any flexibility to decide what style of classes you will teach, or if there’s a fixed schedule to stick to. At Yoga in Vang Vieng, teachers are given the responsibility of putting together the schedule and entrusted to decide what they want to teach on each day.

4. Time commitment

How long is your gig for? Most places will ask for a 1-3 month time commitment, especially if accommodation is being provided. This also ties into the issue of whether you will need a work visa as some countries are extremely strict. How many classes will you teach per week? How long is each class? Are you the only teacher or are you splitting the teaching responsibilities with others?

5. How much will you be paid? Fixed salary? Per student? Per class?

We’re getting down to the nitty-gritty parts: not every position will be paid. In fact, it is quite common for some places to offer accommodation in return for teaching two classes a day, six days a week. There are lots of arguments for and against this type of arrangement, but my only point would be this: whatever the arrangement is, make sure you’re comfortable with it. If remuneration is being offered, find out if it is a fixed salary, if you’re being paid per class or if you get paid a certain amount per student. While you are discussing issues related to pay, find out if there are other opportunities for you to generate some income through private lessons, workshops, seminars and so on.

6. What else is part of the package?

Will accommodations be provided? Is it a shared room or will you get your own space? Is the accommodation on-site or elsewhere? Are your meals provided or will you be given a per diem? What about your stinky, sweaty yoga clothes – will laundry be taken care of or will you have to potentially hand wash your leggings in the shower?

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7. What do you really know about your potential future employer?

Doing your due diligence for a yoga-related job is the same as applying for any other job: what do you know about your employer? Find out what to expect by speaking directly to who you will work with via e-mail and Skype, ask to speak with other teachers who are currently working there and also see if you can get in touch with any former teachers to find out what their experience was like.

8. Insurance

Do you need liability insurance? In my experience, the concept of liability insurance for yoga teachers has not really caught on in many parts of Asia, but it is essential in many parts of the U.S. and Europe. It’s always better to find out if where you are looking to work has you covered on that front and whether students are asked to sign a waiver.

9. Confirmation of your job

If possible, ask for a confirmation of your job or work trade in writing; it should include your start/finish date, number of classes you will teach per week, remuneration and so on. While these may not always be enforceable, it gives a valuable opportunity to get everyone on the same page. The last thing you want to happen is to have a different start date in mind or god forbid, book nonrefundable plane tickets for a job that isn’t 110% confirmed.

The experience of traveling abroad to teach yoga can be extremely rewarding: I met some truly wonderful people, continued to work on my teaching skills, chased a few waterfalls and explored a part of the world I otherwise probably wouldn’t have visited. But here are the key takeaways: be clear on what you’re hoping to get out of the experience, and know exactly what you’re signing up for. What are some other things you would encourage teachers to consider before they travel abroad to teach yoga? Share your thoughts below in the comments section!

 

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Florence is a wanderlusting yogi who calls Hong Kong home, but these days you can find her at Yogawinetravel.com and on Instagram where she writes and shares photos from her yoga journey and travels around the world.

Embrace the Unknown

Location: Palmar Tent Lodge, Isla Bastimentos, Bocos Del Toro, Panamá

Living on a beach in the jungle for over a month in a rural, environmentally conscious setting proved to have its challenges. Sand is to the beach, as glitter is to arts and crafts. It sticks to you everywhere you go, you wake up to it in your bed feeling like sand paper between your sheets, and it doesn’t rid your body in the foot-pump shower of cold recycled rain water you’re allowed once per day. There is no AC, in fact the only air conditioned room I ever stepped foot in during my time in Bocas Del Toro was to use the ATM in town. There is constantly a layer of moisture or sweat (or both) on you at all times. Plus side to that is I never needed lotion for dry skin. And things don’t dry here, EVER. The first week I hand washed my clothes, hung them out to dry, and three days later they were holding the same amount of moisture, and therefore molded. Everything molds at some point, even my passport has turned an unappetizing shade of green. Thank goodness for the laundry service in town. For $4 they take a bag of your laundry and wash, dry and fold it for you. The only bad part is I lost my favorite shirt this way. It’s a risk I was willing to take though, all of my clothes smelled of mildew and sweat and salt water combined. There are trails of leaf cutter ants on nearly every path you step on. Although the thought of being bare foot all day seems luxurious, one wrong step and your toe will be stinging for days. Those ants are workaholics, and they show no mercy for disrupting their business. Speaking of bugs, I resided with bird spiders and tarantulas, cockroaches making themselves at home in the kitchen, bats sleeping over my head in the living room, and crabs greeting me every morning for my bathroom routine.

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And yet with all of your surroundings wanting to kill you, living on a beach in the jungle was surprisingly adaptable. I suppose the human kind can instinctively adapt to any environment, if given time and patience. The first two weeks I was really doubting the living arrangements, and the last three I learned to embrace it and the conditions actually made me so much more grateful for the luxuries we have in this world. I forgot what a warm bath felt like, and instead found joy in eating freshly chopped coconuts on the beach. I forgot about wearing makeup and the need to impress others with the right outfit, and instead gave up ‘looking good,’ and felt confident in my own sun-kissed skin and miss-matched outfit. Basically if any of your clothing items were dry it was a good day. During my time in Bocas I learned to not only let go of needing the material items of this world, but I also have a much greater appreciation for the little things most humans take for granted, such as a dishwasher or working Internet.

I gave up all of the comforts of life back home in the United States to witness the natural beauty of our planet, and to search for my contribution to this world, doing all that I know and love to do: teach yoga and write. Somehow traveling and living in the elements really sheds the layers, clears the smoke and allows you to get to the root of your being. It’s not over, heck no, this is only the beginning of what I’m out to discover. Social media and articles may perceive the adventure I’m undertaking to be a walk in the park, every second of every day being some extravagant exploration and constantly undergoing life-altering experiences. But in reality it’s the opposite. What I’ve discovered so far during my long-term travel is that it does have its ups and downs, situations of hard decision making, days of doing nothing and then feeling bad about it. It’s exactly the same struggles I face living back home, but it’s heightened at a much greater scale. And if you don’t fight against it, you have the ability to learn the lessons of life very quickly, and that life is so much more beautiful.

You make close friends in a matter of days or weeks and then you have to let them go, let their own journey unfold. A lesson in non attachment. Back home you maintain the same friendships for years and then something happens where you don’t see that person, and you can’t handle it. There have been a couple of casualties of items that were dear to me, including my beloved 40 ounce HydroFlask that I used not only to keep me hydrated, but as a weapon when full of water. That bottle also served as a reminder of my yoga home in Houston, Texas, BIG Power Yoga. I got the water bottle when I first became a member, and bedazzled it with stickers along the years of my time there, from yoga teacher training to full-time manager, representing a different era of my journey. This deep loss has really struck a chord and has allowed me to practice this life lesson in non attachment more than ever. I have to trust that water bottle served its purpose for me in my life, and now it’s time for it to move on to its next purpose.

I’ve learned a huge lesson in embracing the unknown. The first couple of weeks my type A personality got the best of me. I woke up in fear of what the day would bring, because my only plan was to teach yoga at 5 o’clock. With a few days of depriving myself of having a schedule, I transformed from the need of keeping a calendar to control my every waking moment, to rising out of bed and thinking “I wonder what today will bring.” Seriously, the moment I realized I was saying that to myself, I finally realized what living actually is.

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I soon discovered that if you learn to let go of controlling what your day is going to look like or should look like, then the universe has the opportunity to step in and guide you in the direction you’re meant to go. By doing this I’ve had the opportunity to do so many things I never could have planned for. Yacht parties, driving an ATV through the rainforest, eating next to a deep sea speargun fisherman whose catch of the morning was on my plate, hanging in a hammock on a catamaran, stand up paddle boarding around the perimeter of a tiny island, staying up late around a bon fire and then letting it burn out to be in awe of the Milky Way constellation and the millions of stars scattered like confetti in the sky. Not one of those things were planned, were ever an agenda or something I checked off my list. And yet they are now a part of me, and I was in the experience of belonging in those moments as if they were always meant to happen.

That feeling of letting go cleaned the slate of my need to know what’s going to happen next. I still have no idea of what I’m supposed to fulfill during my time traveling or what it’s supposed to look like on the other side. But what I’ve gained is so much more valuable. I’ve learned a lesson in trusting the process. I’ve always known to do that, but now I know what it actually feels like in my body. It literally feels like a weight lifted off of me, that I’m not supposed to know what I’m supposed to do, and that’s ok. I believe that I am supposed to be right here for a reason, and leave it at that. I can allow myself to be with that truth and then let the universe take charge of guiding me by listening, feeling the sensations in my body when opportunities arise.

I’ve gone completely yoga teacher on you by this point, but the lessons I learned on my mat before this trip, the lessons I’m teaching to my students during this trip, and the lessons I’m allowing to sink in as I write this article, are all boomeranging back to me and showing me their effectiveness each day. These lessons are what have gotten me to this point in my journey, and I know they are what will carry me through all of the difficult situations, beautiful moments, and leaps of faith I have only tapped the surface of thus far.

It’s becoming clear to me, how I’m experiencing all of this life exploration is more important than what I’m experiencing. You can keep pictures to commemorate memories and great experiences in your life, or you can hold on to what you felt, what you learned from that experience and implement it throughout your entire life until your very last breath.

 

 

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Steph is a yoga teacher from Houston, Texas. Currently she is traveling through Central America teaching yoga wherever her heart is led to. Steph teaches vinyasa and yin-style classes and is committed to her students feeling rinsed out and restored!

The Dharma of Cycle

Beginnings, always the hardest part of writing anything.

Ok, let’s start with me just introducing without any bold bragging that I am a yoga teacher at a thriving yoga studio at the end of the world in Anchorage Alaska. I love this place immensely and the community surrounding it. This is my path, career and I believe what I was meant to do; let’s say my dharma. Disclaimer! I can’t say that I am the best at asana or probably don’t seem very yoga if you met me but this is a magic life for sure. When I was fortunate to start working as one of the studio’s yoga instructors I began to write an affirmation every morning, “I earn my way as a yoga teacher and with everything that comes with it.” That was some years ago.

This journey into working at this studio is the theme of this streaming consciousness attempt at a paper, more precisely the dharma and how it rolls out before me.

Fast forward to the immediate…

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One year ago my yoga studio opened a second venture, an indoor cycle center and put together a team of top notch instructors. Since I taught spin and group fitness classes on the side already in local gyms it seemed natural for me to want to be part of the team. I went through the process and became not only one of the cycle teachers (which we call Motivators) in addition to my yoga instructing but in the end the lead cycle teacher with many duties that support the studio’s operation. So, here I am a yoga instructor (that being my first love) still teaching asana then everyday going from this realm to the cycle studio where I wear a different hat yet for the same mission.

At first, it seemed like a contrary activity and sort of a conflict of interests since it seems very different on the surface. But on a deeper and more insightful level it is the same path and a furthering of my understandings of yoga as one might traditionally understand and its connection to the larger word. Since we are owned by a yoga studio we joke and say that we are yoga on a bike. In fact, we dangle a mandala from the center handle bar mast of the instructor bike on stage in front of the cycle room. But in all honesty, the yoga theme is kept a little covert since most people who come to a cycle are looking for a different external experience than those seeking the mat. This goes for the instructors as well. They too don’t want to hear about the yoga symbolism or philosophy behind what they teach very much, instead they are seeking something that is the same but in a far different colored package.

So, here comes my intention in full throttle-I do earn my way as a yoga professional in my life but the interesting thing is that more than two thirds of my day is involved with indoor cycle. Yet, if I go deeper past the surface, it is just a vibrant extension of my path as a yoga teacher and the intention “to earn my way as a yoga teacher with everything that come’s with it” has come true, especially when I think about the practice of yoga beyond asana. Dharma continues to unfold as it will before me and if I may be as bold to declare, that for anybody who is open and loving what they do will find the same to be true too.

 

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How to describe David? He teaches yoga and indoor cycling for sure but as a full time employee of Anchorage Yoga and Cycle he does so much more such as mentor new teachers, fix broken down cycles, client outreach and the list goes on.

Yoga for Self-Confidence: Bending to Breakthrough

 

Everyone has experienced a sense of insecurity—missing the winning goal; unrequited love; unexpected unemployment…the list goes on and on. It’s human nature after all, to recognize and learn from our experiences…and move forward.

However, when these experiences build-up over time, growing into a lack of self-confidence and paralyzing fear, it can conquer us in a life-altering way. The reality is, we all have experienced and will continue to experience these moments throughout life. The secret to our ability to move through fear and muster the courage to take steps and action that will re-build our confidence is knowing what tools you have on hand when faced with these challenging times.

Developing a strong practice and connection with the postures of yoga is not only a means of physical exercise, but is a holistic tool that has been around for thousands of years helping people move through life challenges that can impact one’s self-confidence, ranging from anxiety, to depression, addiction and fear.

Attending yoga class whether in a studio or a gym can be intimidating. Often times, new or even existing yoga students are afraid of the media images that promote yoga class as hours of sitting still or body postures that look humanely impossible.

When in fact, the practice of yoga is meant to serve as the opposite, time on your mat that is dedicated personal space to move physically and create an opportunity to connect more closely with yourself, ultimately finding comfort in your own presence.

Yoga can boost your self-confidence through:

Stress Relief & Emotional Management

There is a lot more to yoga practice than getting into shape physically—in fact, this isn’t the main objective at all. One of the major causes of mental overload is stress, which can be a trigger for depression in certain serious cases.

Yoga can help you release these stressors through a series of meditative and relaxing breathing exercises, which can increase the circulation of oxygen in the mind and body, thus enabling your overall flow of energy.

This may help you recognize and process your stress more effectively as it arises, which in turn will eliminate your fear and boost your self-confidence.

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Body-Positive Community

Yoga helps people of all ages to create a peaceful and inviting space together, outside of society’s expectations. Many body-image issues are related to the need for control, whereas yoga is about fostering the courage to let go. Silencing the mind and focusing on the breath and the body can break the habit of perfectionism, and instead creates a deep appreciation for your body’s positive capabilities.

Attending local yoga classes are a great way to have fun with like-minded friends and to build new relationships that are not rooted in physical appearance.

Release of Negativity

Yoga allows us to pause and silence the mind for long enough to actually reflect on our bad habits and negative thought process — and better understand how these may be driving our actions. We often paint lesser images of ourselves at a young age when insecurity is heightened—especially how we’re portrayed by others —which can trigger self-loathing. Often as we move through adulthood, we’re still carrying those skewed portraits of ourselves, despite their falsity.

Yoga can erase the whiteboard and offer a clean slate for newfound self-acceptance; a chance to bend until you break through all of the bull—negativity, rather, that’s been standing in the way of your hopes and dreams.

What if I Can’t Find Time to Make it to a Yoga Class?

If it seems impossible to carve out time in your schedule to take a yoga class or follow along to a yoga video at home, try taking your focus to your breathing in moments that challenge your peace of mind. Something as simple as focusing your mind on the words, “inhale” and “exhale” as you breathe in and out can help to pull you out of the mental story your mind is weaving about yourself, your abilities or the circumstance triggering the emotions, and bring you mentally, physically and emotionally grounded back in the present moment.

Performing a set of simple breathing exercises, postures and meditation can help you to begin to bend mentally, emotionally and physically to break through self-doubt, fear, sadness…whatever negative energy is holding you back from where you want to go, be, do and experience in this lifetime.

Bend so much that you have a breakthrough.

 

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Dr. Jodi Ashbrook is the owner of Open Doors Yoga Studios in Hingham, Massachusetts, founder & CEO of The BE Brand ® and President of Dr. Jodi Inc. She is passionate about creating experiences where people can grow, reflect and believe in themselves.

What it’s Really Like Being a Traveling Yoga Teacher

This article is shared by Adi Zarsadias from Love the Search

Many of us have found solace through our own personal yoga practice. We cannot imagine early mornings without meditating and practicing our asanas. Yoga has helped us reevaluate how we nourish ourselves. It has enabled us to control the thoughts that we have in our minds to create our own reality. It has saved our lives.

Those who are passionate enough about it want to share their yoga practice with the world. We believe that every soul will benefit from this ancient tradition. With a tiny tinge of wanderlust in our veins, we leave our comfortable lives and fly off into the great unknown. After all, who hasn’t dreamt of teaching in idyllic tropical destinations? Does the glamour of traveling as a teacher live up to the reality?

What’s it really like to be a traveling yoga teacher?

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You will learn to live out of a suitcase

You have no room for anything else other than the essentials: some yoga gear, two pairs of bikinis, travel sized toiletries, a book or journal and of course, your millimeter-thin travel yoga mat. You will stop the mindless habit of buying unnecessary things. There’s not much space for buying souvenirs from every country you visit, so you’ll settle with cheap little trinkets to remember places that have been memorable to your spiritual growth.

 

You will stop obsessing about the salary

It’s no surprise that yoga will pay less than your old corporate position, but the job satisfaction is incomparable. Once you start life on the road, you will accept whatever salary or donations come your way and learn to live with it. There is no turning back, and you wont want to anyway. I once had a job offer from a popular travel company in Melbourne, Australia to work as a travel writer. The hourly pay was equivalent to a day’s work in Asia. But I simply had to decline as it was an office job and I was too focused on strengthening my yoga teaching skills at that time.

 

You wont think of it as a job

Bringing your students into a deep state of Savasana might just be one of the most rewarding parts of the job. When you see firsthand the physical, mental and spiritual benefits that yoga brings to your students, you’ll start feeling invaluable. Finally, you’re getting paid to do something that actually helps people and make them feel good about themselves! When I tell people I teach yoga, they want to try it out for themselves and ask me for a class. Even though they are willing to pay, I always prefer that they buy me a meal instead. I find that energy exchange and spending quality time with people is so much more rewarding than monetary gain.

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It will expand your world

You’ll teach one, maybe two classes a day, then you’ll have the rest of the day to do whatever you want! The whole world is your playground. You will have so much time to pursue your other passions, learn the local language or explore that whole new world around you. You will meet and attract the most interesting people too! Each one of us is only limited by our energy and imagination.

 

You will get creative

Being in a constant fulfilled state of bliss, combined with lots of time in our hands definitely brings out our creative juices. You might find yourself writing, drawing, taking photographs or engaging in new art forms that never even interested you before. Tune into these energies and just let yourself go with the flow. You’ll be surprised at what you can create out of limited resources.

 

There will be a lot of distractions

Because your students love you, you will get invited to every lunch date, dinner party and weekend workshop. Your itinerary will be filled from morning ‘till nighttime. Learn to conserve your precious energy. Don’t feel pressured to say yes to everything. Keep yourself healthy and make sure you don’t lose time for personal practice!

 

So are you ready to take your yoga mat on the road? Here are some tips to get you started:

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Write a yoga resume – Mention your educational background briefly but focus on your yoga credentials and what kind of yoga you are passionate about. Include relevant skills such as Reiki, massage, bodywork or acupuncture for instance. List down workshops and retreats that you have participated in or helped organize. Add at least 3 personal references that are able to reply immediately if they are contacted.

Create a yoga blog – Our yoga journey is such an interesting process. Sharing our story with others will leave people wanting to get to know us more as a person. Add some links to teachers, books or documentaries that have changed your perspective. Post your schedule so people know where to find you. Go crazy with photos of yourself striking poses around the world. Show off that Sirsasana!

Give out calling cards – It might be old school, but it works! Listing down your social media outlets will make it easier for others to contact you or get updates on your schedule. You never know when it’ll come in handy.

Get yourself out there – Let people know that you want to travel the world teaching yoga! Register with Yoga Trade or Workaway to find opportunities abroad. Volunteering work usually requires one month commitment, while paid yoga jobs require six months to a year contract. And most importantly…

Expand your network – Yoga teachers always help other yoga teachers find new opportunities. There are so many styles and variations of yoga nowadays. We do not have to compete with each other as there is room for everyone to succeed.

 

 

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Adi Zarsadias is a yoga teacher & writer with extreme wanderlust. She is the creator of Love the Search.

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