KimMichelle is an incredibly talented and inspiring woman who is thriving in the jungle as a living yogi and artist. We are grateful to be able to share her insights and spirit as a talking story with the Yoga Trade community! (Photos by Scott Martin Images)
Tell us a little about your story…
I love my life these days. I’m inspired and free and able to work through things when they come up. For a long time I’ve been working to come to this place. There has been a lot of heartbreak. That seems to be the thing that has kept me from being totally inspired and open. So healing my heart has been my biggest lesson and my greatest blessing. I have managed to start a new life in Costa Rica which I love. I didn’t even feel comfortable saying “hola” when I first moved here and now I can get along quite well. It’s taken time but all good things do, and I’m still inspired to stay on. I am painting my days away while surfers come and go to surf one of the longest left breaks in the world. I practice and teach yoga, eat as consciously as I can, go on small adventures every day, commune with nature, laugh with friends, treat everyone as family, read about the saints, pray and meditate. I’m promising myself to start surfing again, I have to! But painting fulfills me holistically, so I’m really sticking to that.
What is “living yoga” to you and how do you practice it?
Living a life with the core purpose of practicing yoga is a very interesting way to live. Keeping my heart open and gaining more and more freedom is what that means to me. So wherever I am and in whatever I am doing I am always keeping these things in mind. Yoga knowledge is so accessible these days that it’s easy to find the specific practice, or tools that you need when things come up. For me it’s been a journey of change and adjustment and allowing myself that freedom to choose to go in the direction of my happiness. A few years ago I was keeping a disciplined Ashtanga practice and I realized I wasn’t doing what I truly wanted to be doing and I wasn’t happy in general so I packed my bags and moved to Costa Rica. There were so many reasons why I did this but most importantly I was following my heart, I was doing my best to break or at least breathe into those invisible boundaries, I was letting myself be free. Since then I’ve been going deeper and deeper into these practices, integrating my life, constantly questioning the “truth” of things.
Have you ever participated in any types of yoga trade and what do you think the benefits are of yoga-based exchanges?
My yoga trade experience at the Yoga Farm in Punta Banco, CR changed my life. I came to stay for one month and ended up moving here! The place is exquisitely beautiful and I really enjoyed meeting so many cool people and seeing a little about the way of life in the jungle. I felt so much freedom. And I saw myself really looking at those dark places within me but somehow being able to see that they were only shadows, they weren’t things I needed to hold on to or abide by, I could easily shine a light and the fear would dissipate. My teacher calls it Witness Consciousness, TM calls is Transcendence. Being present in the jungle gave me this miraculous gift of grace. Everything changed once I understood that experientially. One can always read books and stay comfortable in their dysfunction but really when you step outside the box and put yourself in a brand new environment, its amazing what can take place. I call these shifts in perception, miracles. There are so many miracles to be had when you just let yourself go.
What is your advice to how we can all bring more sustainability into our lives?
Wow, what a great thing to think about. I think enhancing one’s yogic practice, in the most sincere way possible brings consciousness. Whatever that means to you – through asana, practicng yamas and niyamas, meditation, etc.! If you love yourself you’re going to abide by nature’s way out of respect for yourself and your environment. So I would say keep practicing, sincerely, devotedly, passionately. Ask yourself those tough questions about what really drives you in every single decision you make, are you inline with truth, who’s truth? Your own or the universe’s? Do you love yourself enough to go against the grain and do something that others might not understand? What is “right”? What is “wrong”? Who says so? Keep it going, keep inquiring deeper. Find the source. Find your truth, the truth. You always find yourself in this way. Pattabi Jois always said, “Practice and all is coming.” I have found so much within this simple statement.
Who or what inspires you?
So many things inspire me – nature, art, people who have confidence without so much ego, inspired people, artists, yogis, natural people, crystals, rocks, waves, flowers, culture, indigenous culture, music – new music, latin music, latin dancing, India, religion, spirituality, Milarepa, rainbows, the rainbow body, light, love, peace. Color! Shapes. Saints.
KimMichelle is an artist-yogini living deep in the jungle of Costa Rica. She grew up on Cape Cod, MA and went to Mass College of Art and Design. While living in Florida after finishing her Bachelors Degree she showed her art in galleries and museums and dove deeper into her yogic practice. Inspired by some Indian friends she took off to India. After six months, 25 cities, 2 YTTCs, countless Temples, Vedanta studies and Thai Massage Training, (and so much more!) she headed back west and returned to the quaint village town of Pavones in Costa Rica which she adores. Thriving in the jungle is not an easy task but one step at a time she builds her life there and continues to develop herself by sharing what she’s learned. She hopes to inspire others through art and yoga in all the myriad forms expressed uniquely every day. She values freedom and expression, truth and righteousness, peace and love, green and gold, colors! Color therapy. Light and rainbows are her driving inspiration.
The artwork of KimMichelle can be viewed and purchased here: