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Thursday, June 26, 2014

my story: a journey to love, sun, & yoga   
                                                        
“How did a girl from Wisconsin end up teaching yoga on an island?!”  This is the question I get asked almost on a daily basis…so I´m going to share my story of how I ended up here. 

My journey of yoga began when I was fourteen.  My mom had been taking classes for a while, and since I had been a gymnast since age 3, she thought I would enjoy yoga and brought to me my first yoga class.  I fell in love right away and have been practicing ever since.   I loved all the stretching and bending and putting myself into weird shapes and I caught on right away because of my gymnastics background.  My journey through yoga has evolved over the past 16 years from the “sport”of yoga, to a well rounded practice physically, mentally, and spirtually.

Fast foward to age 19… retired from gymnastics, and taking a break from college (a forced break from my parents since I had been going to school in Santa Barbara, CA, and by going to school I mean going to the beach everyday), I started working at Bath & Body Works as a part time sales associate in my small hometown in Wisconsin.  I loved it since day one, and decided I wanted to make a career out of it.  Nine years later I ended up managing the store at Mall of America in Minnesota.   I was working towards becoming a district manager and had dreams of eventually becoming the CEO.  I loved my career, but I was starting to get burnt out.  The only thing that kept me sane was my yoga practice.  On stressful days, I would often imagine quitting my job and becoming a yoga teacher somewhere tropical.  Making this a reality seemed impossible.  Recently promoted and stressed out, I decided to treat my mom to a vacation.  She picked Costa Rica.  Both of us had never been before, so why not?  Little did I know this was going to be the vacation that changed my life…

We wanted to take an adventure so we had no plans of where to stay or what to do.  We just showed up in Costa Rica and took it from there.  Trusting our taxi driver, Celso, we ended up in La Fortuna, near the Arenal Volcano, and stayed at a boutique eco lodge in the rainforest.  I not only fell in love with Costa Rica, but I also fell in love with the hotel manager, Fernando.
my mom and me with a red-eyed frog in the rainforest
 my favorite man, Fernando, and my favorite drink: fresh coconut water!


             

Arenal Volcano

I felt at home there and didn´t want to leave.  When my friend picked my up at the airport and asked how my vacation was, I responded “I found the guy I want to marry, I´m going to move to Costa Rica and become a yoga teacher.”  We both laughed because it sounded absolutely crazy.  Seven months later (after thousands of hours and Skype and another trip to Costa Rica), that´s exactly what I did.  I decided to quit my job, sell everything, and follow my heart towards love, sun and yoga.

I moved to Costa Rica to be with Fernando and immediately took my yoga teacher training at Anamaya Resort in Montezuma.  I received my 200 hour yoga teacher training certification and also a 30 hour certification in Thai Yoga Massage. 
having yogi fun at the pool
meditation


downward dog pyramid

My practice completely changed.  I learned so much about the anatomy of the body, proper alignmet, pranayama, meditation, and the 8 limbs of yoga as described in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  I discovered how to really live a lifestyle based on yoga philosophy.  I had always understood the concept of living in the moment and being present, but during this training I had actually experienced it more than I ever had before.  I found an even deeper sense of inner peace within myself. 

During this time, I was offered a yoga teacher job at Paya Bay Resort in Roatan, Honduras.  I had never even heard of Roatan before, I only knew that my teacher, Paula Tursi, had led yoga retreats there and said it was absolutely beautiful.  The idea of moving to another country after I had just moved to Costa Rica two months earlier seemed crazy, but something in my gut just told me to go for it.  It seemed silly to turn down the opportunity of teaching yoga on a caribbean island.  I talked with Fernando, and he agreed to quit a job that he loved to support me in following my dreams.  We packed up our entire life into 4 suitcases plus our cat, Ashton, and moved to Roatan four days later! 
at the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica, headed to Roatan, with our clothes, our cat, and of course, a yoga mat!


The experience of living at Paya Bay and teaching yoga was incredible.  We met amazing people, got to do unlimited amounts of snorkeling, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and started taking kite surfing lessons.  Roatan is amazing! 
teaching a sunset yoga class

kayaking around Pigeon Cay...a tiny little island with the most beautiful water i´ve ever seen

snorkeling pictures are always hilarious....

stand up paddle board yoga: warrior I

stand up paddle board yoga: camel pose


I just had a six month contract with Paya Bay and even though we loved it, six months was the perfect amount of time.  It´s located on the east side of the island which is really remote…Paya Bay is pretty much the only thing there and is an hour and a half away from the west side where all the action is.  Fernando and I were about to move to Belize or back to Costa Rica, but then we both had great job opportunities, so we decided to stay!

Now as the Director & Instructor of Roatan Yoga, my vision is to create a beautiful and safe environment where everyone feels welcome to try or practice yoga.  Yoga is something that literally everyone can do.  The most common thing I hear from a terrified beginner is “I´m not flexible enough to do yoga.”   You become flexible by practicing yoga!  There is no good or bad.  There is no expectation of being able to cross your feet behind your head or do a headstand.  Yoga is about the inward journey, listening to your body, connecting with your breath, silencing the mind.  At the end of the day, all of us just want to be loved and to find happiness.  Yoga is the path to finding those things…at least I can say that in my own experience.  Yoga has taught me to fully accept and love myself as is, to love others unconditionally, and to find a constant state of peace and happiness no matter what happens, good or bad. 
view from the yoga deck at Roatan Yoga...with a hummingbird modeling for the camera


I get asked all the time if I ever plan on moving back to the US, how long I plan on living in Roatan, etc….and the answer is, I really have no idea.  One of the biggest things I´ve learned this year is that when we let go we create space for new and better things to enter our lives.   When I had let go of all the material things I had worked for (a high paying job, a car, a nice apartment),  when I had let go of feeling the pressure of the supposed to´s in life (get married, buy a house, have a baby…) and opened myself up for what the universe had to offer me, is when I started to really live my life more vibrantly.  The only thing I know for sure is that I have made a promise to myself to continue living my life following my heart… and my heart chooses love, sun, and yoga.  Namaste.




Wednesday, April 2, 2014

perspective

This was my view from headstand today. Sometimes you just need to look at something from a different angle and your whole perspective changes. 

trust in partnership

This morning in class I led a cool down with some partner yoga. In asana practice we focus on our breath, our body, our mind. When we start to take poses with a partner it allows us to practice trust. It's normal to feel a little nervous or anxious at the beginning, especially if you're working with someone you don't know...but this is where the beauty of trust comes in. You get to experience the rhythm of your own breath as well as your partner's. You can feel the same energy in your partner that's within you... a reminder that we are more the same than we are different. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

overcoming fear of headstand

This is my dear friend Cheryl conquering her fear of headstand! If you have fear of this pose or a neck injury, using blocks to prop yourself up is a great option. The blocks provide stability and absorb some of your body weight to take pressure off of your neck. A partner to spot you is also a great thing to help you with the fear. Great job Cheryl! Love you! 

yoga retreat

I was extremely fortunate and grateful to have spent this past week in a yoga retreat with Paula Tursi and Vidya Sykes http://reflectionsyoga.flexibilityapp.com. 

We spent the week practicing yoga in its complete form (the 8 limbs of yoga as compiled by Patanjali) and I feel so balanced and inspired to practice all 8 limbs with more consistency. Most of us think of yoga as the "sport" of yoga... We think of the crazy shapes that people contort their bodies into, stretching, and relaxing and often forget or just simply aren't aware of the bigger picture of a yoga practice. These poses are only one of the 8 limbs of yoga, called asana, or posture. The remaining 7 limbs of yoga are the yamas, the niyamas, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. 
It can be overwhelming to feel like we have to practice everything everyday. We set up overly ambitious goals for ourselves sometimes that aren't realistic to achieve, setting ourselves up for failure.  Even though I feel really inspired to practice all 8 limbs, it is not realistic to tell myself I will spend all day doing that.  This is not what yoga teaches us. The most important part of yoga is consistent practice. That can mean asana one day and pranayama the next day. It's just about what you need in any given moment. It can be as simple as doing 9 rounds of a simple sun salutation. It can be closing your eyes and feeling your breath for 5 minutes. 

To learn more about the 8 limbs of yoga, I recommend the book "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali."

Happy practicing! 
Namaste

Monday, February 24, 2014

yogi playtime

Since my friend Marilou and I showed up to the beach in almost identical swim suits, of course we had to take yogi pictures together! It felt like a play date with a childhood friend! I think playtime is so important especially as adults. Life can be stressful and overwhelming sometimes but we should always make time to play. Life is not as serious as we make it out to be. So grab a friend and play! 



Friday, February 21, 2014

handstands at the sandbar

This was an amazing spot for a little yoga and handstand session... it's a skinny strip of sand sticking out of the ocean and the waves come crashing towards each other! Wow!