A warm hello, Yogalife Brethren. Graham here, writing to you from about the middle Costa Rica, and from about the middle of my time wandering through Central America. Feels like far too long since I laid a mat down on the floor of the Sun Room, as a student or teacher.
If you don't remember me, I'm the tall bearded one who occupies far too much couch space in the lounge between classes :) I'm also the one who cherishes the experience of slowing down & connecting with people through and after a yin practice. And as it turns out, this softening, clarifying, and surrendering side of yoga has been a medicine that has served me many a time down here in a part of the world that words like 'vibrant,'effervescent' and 'kinda insane' are well applicable to.
After dropping into this 5 month path on the Pacific side of Mexico, where I was honoured to be a guest teacher at Paraiso Yoga in Sayulita (wonderful little surf town, best fish tacos on earth for around $2), my partner Shawna and I started making our way inland, across the continent. The bus systems in Mexico, Belize & Nicaragua are a necessary part of the infrastructure, linking all the small towns to the larger hubs and the coasts, one can travel very cheaply... if one can fold oneself into smallish spaces.
With trips of 8 or 9 hours, frequent was the scene of the two of us spilling out of a bus and flailing our collective limbs with joy, before trying to find the least dusty place on the ground to do pigeon. The hardest part of the pose became trying not to utter groans of contentment that might offend the tender little old ladies selling woven baskets of plantains and avocados in the bus station. Sometimes it had to be done.
Of course, the sometimes discomfort of traveling, the stress of trying to sort schedules and currency in a second language (or the international language of wild hand gestures), the willingness to sometimes consume food that may not be 'Ayurvedic,' may not be best for your 'dosha,' may not in fact look like 'food,' all pale in insignificance to arriving at places like this:
This is a hot springs in the mountains of Central Mexico called Las Grutas Tolantango, and I'm fairly certain that if it wasn't so smack dab in the middle of nowhere, far from the resorts of Acapulco & Cancun, it would be an international tourist destination of the highest regard. If you enjoy the soothing waters of Radium and the Kootenays, the nourishing serenity of this place will feel like coming home, far from it though you may be.
After meeting up with an old friend in Tulum (many of you likely remember Cole as a teacher in the early days of Yogalife, his picture stills adorns the front window of the south studio, and he is just as much the life-affirming ball of happy as he ever was), we made our way down through Belize, which features some of the world's best snorkelling and diving, delicious seafood (recommended: lionfish and conch fritters), and little islands called cayes that are big enough to have reggae bars and yoga studios, but too small to have actual cars. I think the only traffic jam i bore witness to on caye caulker involved a bike and two gold carts trying to get around a mud puddle, and rather than road rage, everyone was just laughing. Apropos for an island whose official motto is 'Go Slow.' We took in many a leisurely sunset in Belize, and since we spent part of our time volunteering at an animal shelter, we always had plenty of canine accompaniment, which we always welcomed. As if we had a choice. Even during an epic gazebo sunset asana photoshoot, they happily wandered wherever. When dogs are having their days, do downward dog :)
And here I now sit, in Costa Rica, after having spent the last week in and around a little town called Uvita, at a little Festival called Envision. Yoga & Permaculture workshops by day, deep dancey music and breathtaking art installations by night. I was blessed to be able to participate in an asana, kirtan (sacred chanting) and ecstatic dance experience led by Suzanne Sterling. She is one of the lights behind a Yoga initiative called Off the Mat, Into the World, and if ever you need some inspirado that our worldwide kula (community) of yogis is manifesting many a wonderful thing, check out her website http://suzannesterling.com/
Myself and my friend Josh also led an impromptu vinyasa flow on the beach during low tide, which was attended mainly by people covered in blue volcanic mud. Apparently it's been used homeopathically for generations for skin exfoliation and rejuvenation, all I know for sure is that it's really fun to practice warrior III in. The clay kind of molds to your position and supports you in balancing postures, which we decided was ther best kind of cheating :)
Well, all for now. I'll send another dispatch before landing on the shores of Lake Atitlan for Yogalife's April retreat, led by myself and the inimitably lovely Sara Cueva.
I absolutely CANNOT WAIT to share what I've intuitively received from being able to awake each day, head toward my mat with a new luscious backdrop, and a new's days experiences, both inspiring and challenging, laid out before me. And when I do eventually return to the place I am delighted and humbled to call home, I look forward to sharing space, and a groan of pigeon pose contentment, with all of you.
Pura Vida, & Namaste,