And I've only got 150 more hours to go! I've been attending 50 hour modules at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center in New York to build my 300 hour yoga teacher training. On top of my 200 hour certification, these add up to an advanced certification of 500 hours. I love learning and finding new ways to make my classes interesting (for my students and me, both). After reading about her in Yoga Journal, I took a workshop many years ago with Dana Trixie Flynn and loved LOVED loved it. One of the amazing aspects of "lotus flow" is the incredible way classes are put together, so I signed up for a week-long sequencing workshop with her, Mary Dana Abbott, and Kate Duyn Cariati when they did a special Lotus pop-up in LA (now there's a real one! can't wait to visit Light on Lotus!) It was there that I learned that you could pick and choose 6 modules to build a snazzy 300 hour YTT...and that's what I'm doing!
I started with the "Super Sequencing" module and it completely changed the way I teach. One of the reasons I love vinyasa and flowing yoga so much is because it reminds me of the modern and jazz dance I practiced for so long. And creating a superbly sequenced class that leads students towards empowerment, bliss, self-knowledge, and maybe a fun pose is much like choreographing a dance. Fun sequences and unexpected, smart transitions really get me excited!
The next module I took was "Fly." We learned how to teach and breakdown arm-balancing poses and inverted poses. I've always enjoyed being upside down and I think it's fun to balance on my hands...so fly was a blast for me! My teachers Sheri Celentano, Kenny Frisby, and Francesca Bove were all fantastic. I am passionate about making these types of poses accessible to my students. I also enjoy bringing in lessons to remind us all that it's not about "getting" a pose (though it's quite helpful to have an end-goal in mind in order to have something to work towards!) but what you learn about yourself on the way there and how we can bring these tools of courage, self-compassion, and perseverance with us off the yoga mat.
This summer I got to learn how to play harmonium and chant and learn about the ancient myths behind the yoga poses we practice. I've loved kirtan and bhakti, the yoga of love and devotion, for a long time. Since attending Shakti Fest the past several years, I've thought about learning how to play the harmonium but have felt stuck. After this inspiring, emotional, wonderful workshop, I felt more empowered to chant and sing in my classes. In fact, we learn a new chant each month in many of my classes! Our soulful teacher, Lauren Magarelli, who runs beBhakti Yoga Center, and Felipe Gonzalez, Deborah Langley, and Alanna Kaivalya all made this training a super intimate experience. AND! I bought a harmonium when I got home! I've been practicing daily and playing in my classes. This workshop was also SO fun because I had my jungle sister Katie Bush there with me!
Next Up: Hands On
The next workshop I'm taking is all about Hands-On adjustments and assists. I'm so excited to be learning from Mary Dana Abbott again and to be visiting New York in the wintertime! Get ready for some new hands-on assists!
And coming up...
The next two (and final!) modules I'll be attending will be on Ayurveda for Women's Health and Chakras. I'm so excited to dive deeper into both of these topics. I'll report back!
Nature, Connection, Inspiration
Last week, Melissa Eisler and I embarked on our 4th Annual Two Rivers Retreat: Eco-Yoga and Mindfulness at The Sanctuary at Two Rivers in Costa Rica. This was my 6th visit to this country and every time it feels more and more magical. Each trip there I fall deeper in love and return to the States feeling inspired and rejuvenated (sure, it's work, but I definitely soak up the hammock time and nature immersion, too!) I particularly enjoy the national saying there: "pura vida" which translates to "pure life." It guides my days there: enjoy the moment, seek inspiration & pleasure, and life is good. As I settle back into city life in San Diego, I'm considering practical ways to incorporate this "pura vida" lifestyle into my daily thoughts and actions. Any tips?
Do you know the way to San Jose?
I enjoy flying in airplanes (because I LOVE time to journal, read, listen to podcasts, and write letters without the distraction of the internet! and also because they take me cool places!). To get to the remote, off-the-grid location where we host the retreat, we flew from San Diego to LAX and then on to San Jose, Costa Rica. Then we hopped into a teeny tiny plane (even after many trips, the jitters are super present and I don't remember WHYYYYY I would get into this thing until we're high above the sea looking down at the gorgeous islands that dot the Nicoya Peninsula) and landed in Tambor. The Nicoya Peninsula is a Blue Zone, one of only five in the world, where more people live long, happy lives than anywhere else. As soon as I land in the jungly-beachy-steamy-green Nicoya Peninsula, I immediately know why. From Tambor we took a taxi to the little hippie beach town of Montezuma where we stayed for a night. Here are some other tips for getting there.
I could probably live happily in Montezuma for six months to a year. Hey! Maybe I will! A good day for me here starts with a beach walk and beach yoga and a dip in the sea. Then a hearty breakfast of a Coco Chocolate Bliss Smoothie and Plato Tipico from El Sano Banano. Then a slippery walk up to the Montezuma waterfall and a fresh coconut from the guy who sells them right out of his truck. A happy afternoon consists of reading on the beach, jumping in the ocean a few more times, a delicious massage from Lucy at Hotel Lucy, perusing the local crafts and jewelry and chatting with locals in Spanish, lounging at the pool at Ylang Ylang, eating lunch at Soda Tipica Las Palmeras, and rinsing off for sunset dinner at Cocolores. Repeat every day until "pura vida" rolls off your lips freely or you find the most beautiful beach meditation spot and can't possibly top it. If you ever can't find me, this is where you should probably look.
The Sanctuary at Two Rivers is a fairy dreamland of green jungle, crystal waterfalls and rivers, sturdy hammocks for lounging, a pagoda for yoga, meditation, and transformation, a swimming pool, a tower trail for ocean views, and nourishing food to drool over. It's a place for healing and listening and wondering and imagining and challenging yourself in every way possible. I am so honored to return there again and again to learn and teach and be.
Our days in the jungle include morning guided meditation, morning yoga practice, delicious shared meals, waterfall hikes, river walks to the ocean, excursions to Santa Teresa, group gatherings, evening rituals, and solo time for journaling, reflection, or photography. I love teaching in the outdoor yoga pagoda here and getting to know my students off the mat. I also cherish my alone time in the jungle and always find I'm extremely inspired and full of brilliant ideas, especially very early in the morning when the howlers are howling and the sun and flowers are just waking up. Our "jungle tribe" of yogi adventurers is different each year and every student brings a vibrant energy to the trip. This year was particularly special because my dear friends Claire, Vicki, and Sam attended!! Maybe you'd like to join me next year? :)
Until next time, I dream of beaches and motorbike rides and hammocks and monkeys and plantains and coconuts at sunset and warm sunshine and soothing rain.