Yoga In the Tropics

I know I have done some scattered reporting out on how my time was in Costa Rica and how yoga and such was, but I figured it might be fun to give a bit more detailed breakdown of how the month actually went.

Firstly, I went into this training not knowing much more than the information offered on the webpage and from reviews I found online. I had researched a load to find a school somewhere warm, accredited by the Yoga Alliance, somewhere different (not Canada) and somewhere that would feel like an adventure. I ended up narrowing my choice down to three schools and then the Nosara Yoga Institute (NYI) won out because of when the class was offered.
20131108-153430.jpgI mean in retrospect maybe picking a school because it was “conveniently timed” wasn’t the greatest way to go but it really worked out well for me.  I mean yes I knew I would be learning vinyasa style yoga and some restorative style yoga and that was attractive but really the selling point for me were the dates the program was offered.  Once I arrived at the school I found out that a lot of people had been referred by their teachers or had heard of NYI from fellow yogis and I felt a little silly thinking “well November just worked best for me” but it was all apart of my adventure.

So school, school was crazy.  I mean the course was called a 200 hour intensive and we all quickly found out it was called that for a reason.  The school had posted an idea of what the schedule would be like online and although the actual program was fairly similar I don’t think I really understood what it would be like until I got there and started practicing.   School was 7 days a week, with a bit more of a break on Sundays, but there was learning every day regardless.
20131117-084812.jpgThere was a LOT of learning, a load of stretching, listening, practicing, teaching and it was all hands-on.  The teachers were amazingly receptive to how exhausted each of us probably felt, and they were so supportive and encouraging of each and every yogis.

photo 3 (2)When I first signed up for NYI I figured that learning a powerful style of yoga and a more restorative style would be a great well rounded way of learning (and it was) but mostly I found it so necessary.  With all of the movement and practice we were doing, I found that the restorative lessons and classes were a welcomed release, this is coming from someone that would normally pick a power class over a yin class any day.   The balance between heart pumping challenging classes and lay on your mat and stretch it all out classes was perfect for learning and for the body, in my experience at least.

Beside the actual in class learning and moving there was our massive course pack, that book was so gigantic yet luckily there were many pictures and diagrams to help the reading go a bit quicker.  The information provided in the book was always explored in class and was generally expanded on.  I am happy to have my manual to take home and borrow ideas from while I start working on class programs of my own.

All in all I would say I am more than happy with the school and program I ended up choosing for my 200 hour yoga teacher training.   The whole experience was eye opening, enlightening and probably most useful of all gave me so many tools on how to manage stress once I came back to my real life outside of the jungle.  Although, I may have picked the school based on timing convenience I am so happy I went in with no major expectation other than “I am going to learn how to teach yoga” it gave me a chance to just experience everything instead of assessing everything and judging the experience based on expectations.

The program was excellent but the whole experience was also pretty fabulous. I feel it gave me the chance to not only deepen my practice but to get back in touch with myself, be silly and to feel the pride that comes with completing something that means so much to you.  It also gave me the chance to meet so many amazing people and start to plan my next adventure to go and see my new friends.

20131217-230913.jpg20131217-230935.jpgHappy Wednesday everyone!  Stay tuned I will have one more round up post from my time spent in Costa Rica, detailing my time spent as a tourist.

Stay warm!

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5 weeks!

Well it has been five long super short weeks. On November 2nd I became a temporary resident of the jungle and holy was it ever an experience for me.

I have traveled but always to relatively comfortable places and often with all of the regular conveniences at my finger tips. For my first solo trip I figured a month on my own in tropical paradise would be a great start. Not that it wasn’t paradise or great, it definitely was, I just wasn’t aware that paradise was so filled with venom spitting, biting, stinging and creepy looking insects and reptiles.

20131209-210501.jpgNow that isn’t to say there weren’t some awesome lizards, iguanas, bats and monkeys that were great to see (and know they were around eating all the horrid bugs). There were also plenty of them.

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(monkey photo courtesy of a fellow yogi.)

Now the monkeys were something fantastic, that I never quite got used to. The Howler monkeys specifically. They are these adorable little creatures lounging around with their little families, you know being adorable.

I kept saying “no I haven’t heard them what do they sound like” and people kept say “oh you won’t miss it”. Anyways, it turns out what I had assumed were horrific dog fight noises were actually these adorable little creatures. Basically they sound exactly like nightmares, if you have never heard them it is worth a quick trip over to YouTube to hear what I am fussing over. Well once I found out the sounds I was hearing weren’t horrific dog fights I was able to pick up on a monkey howl anywhere. Luckily I was basically up before the monkeys everyday so I was never scared awake by their bellowing howls.

Besides the abundant wildlife and vegetation living in the jungle had many other perks. Perks like 45degree temperatures everyday, wonderfully humid air,and of course the sun (something we don’t see much in the winter up here in Canada). I mean as annoying as the rain could be it was at least polite enough to be on somewhat of a schedule so you had a bit of an idea as to when it would be happening. It was in the jungle that I also unlocked the secret to my curly hair.

Seriously look at these curls!

Seriously look at these curls!

I also had the odd opportunity to learn that I can live off of substantially less food than I was used to (probably not a good thing). Re-found my love for ice coffee and chocolate protein powder, discovered I can live with bugs and not murder them, be brave and get a scorpion out of my room and discovered I have a high tolerance for large amounts of rain (granted the sun comes out and it is above 40).

Although jungle living was more, let’s say, rustic than I am used to there were many conveniences (not in the Starbucks on ever corners sense but stick with me). In Nosara I found the first ice cream shop ever in my life to not serve a single nut filled ice cream (this is where I got my calcium for the month)

20131209-212519.jpgThere was a local restaurant that served amazing and super fresh sushi! And another that had burgers served with a grilled pineapple slice I mean what more could you ask for.

Don’t worry this is just the first installment of my jungle life recap. I will do my best to hit on everything.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Let’s Get Real

Hello Dear Reader, I would like to just take a second and apologize for being so sporadic with my posts.  I had initially figured I would have so much time on my hands, I mean yes I was coming to Costa Rica for yoga teacher training and there are people to meet and places to see, but I figured I would always find some time to hunker down in front of the good ol’laptop and bang out a post here and there.  Unfortunately that is just not the way it all panned out.

The course has been much more demanding (in an awesome and amazing way) than I had initially anticipated.  By the time I get home at 9pm not only is my body completely zonked for a day of yoga, assisting and sitting with a straight back (yes not sitting in an office chair seems to be a challenge all in itself) but my brain is completely zapped as well.

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Apparently learning through your body and your brain is a challenging feat.  It is kind of surprising how much I seem to be taking in.  I have yet to have any late night panic attacks about not knowing this chakra or that mantra or this asana.  Everything seems to be sinking in, as though it is being absorbed by all facets of my body.  I guess that is what they meant by integrative learning.

At first, being the person I am, I was frustrated that I didn’t get my course pack for reading in advance of the course (I like to be ahead of the game and do solo learning).  But now that I am starting my last week of classes their method of teaching makes 100% sense. Receiving my course material ahead of time would have made the learning experience purely academic and I would have missed out on learning through my body as well as my mind.  It has been a pretty amazing experience, and unfortunately that is really the best that I can explain it, so if you have the opportunity to take a month off your regularly programmed life to head on over to Nosara to do the YTT I strongly recommend it.

Seeing how I am now entering my last week of classes I am shocked with how quickly a month can go by.  Who knew that November could actually feel like it was 5 days long?  Besides being completely shocked that we are in our last week, I also found out that I will be leading my first ever yoga class on Wednesday of this coming week.  So for the past couple days I have been trying to figure out a program and maybe some music to go with it.  I am starting to feel pretty good about what I have outlined, I just have to actually physically go through what I have thought up to make sure it works fluidly.

Well that is what is up with me, designing a yoga class, getting antsy about being in front of people as a “teacher” and getting so excited to see my husband again! And then to see my little fur babies shortly after.

beach day legs

I hope you are all able to bare with me a couple more weeks until I am able to get home and get back on a regular schedule.

xoxox

Brittany

It’s Happening!

Oh god it is happening. With less than a week and a half left of my intensive 200 hour yoga teacher training at Nosara Yoga Institute and today was the day we got our first talk about preparing and leading our first yoga class.

Although I am likely prepared to get up in front of a small group of peers and was feeling pretty great about it, until we actually started to talk about it. Isn’t that always the way it is though.

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This training has almost daily pushed me to my limits and then some of comfort. Which I mean is pretty much exactly what I signed up for I guess I just wasn’t able to conceive it being this challenging and intense.

So now the cards are all laid out on the table I guess it is time to throw a towel down on the beach and start working out a nice flow to share with my fellow yogis next week.

If anyone out there has a favorite mellow song that might go nicely with a 90 minute yoga class please do share any recommendations.

Happy Thursday everyone!

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Week 3 in the Jungle

Today marks the beginning of my third week of living in the jungle. This past week has been challenging emotionally, physically and mentally and knowing that I completed it and didn’t give up is so satisfying.

This past week was likely one of the most intense weeks ever. We were learning how to instruct and assist the first half, so for most yoga flows the standing and balancing postures, of a 90minute class. As the week went on finding your own works, knowing how much pressure to apply, finding someone’s hips for that matter all became much more natural. The fear of making a mistake slowly melted away and the feeling of excitement when finding words that were comfortable to your own style became more frequent.

20131117-084812.jpgHaving the opportunity to practice with so many others and if you were like me having the luck of picking the same partner a couple of times was an amazing experience. You are given the opportunity to test out new things, pick up new queuing and make your own little basket of tools to build on.

Although the week had my brain a little broken, I left the house three times without shoes on having to unlock my million locks to get back inside to properly equip my feet for the jungle, as well as needing a bit more alone time than normal it was one of the most fulfilling weeks I have had the opportunity to experience. It was a chance to truly push myself to my limits.

On top of all of this yesterday was a full moon here. I am sure you are all think whatever a full moon, but never have I seen something like it. First it started with one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever witnessed with half of the sky turning orange and the other half a bright pink.

20131117-085553.jpg20131117-085607.jpghe moon then lit up the sky like a giant night light cutting a massive circle of darkness out of space and filling it with light. It was so bright my cabin was lit up as though the lights were on all night long. Unfortunately photos of this didn’t turn out so great. So if you ever make it out to Costa Rica look up at the full moon.

My Sunday has started with a 6am yoga class and then what has proven to be my favorite breakfast right now (coffee protein shake with a bowl of fruit), this blog post and then I am off to the beach until our evening session.

20131117-085942.jpgI hope you are all having an amazing Sunday and have had a great weekend so far.

5 Things I am Grateful For

Living in Costa Rica so far has been amazing.  Everything is so green and lush and rustic.  There are so many beautiful plants and flowers and so many different colours and species of things, but with this comes the gnarly side of the jungle.  This not so beautiful and not so friendly side of the jungle is what has helped me to open my eyes and become thankful and grateful for all that I have.photo 2 (3)

For some reason coming here I figured it would be some magical tropical get away, where everything was friendly furry animals and butterflies, with beautiful warm weather and great people. I wasn’t expecting the culture shock or the fact that things I had pictured in my mind to be friendly are actually nasty little guys (caterpillars I am looking at you!)photo 1 (3)

I have been thinking it over again and again, what do I miss the most, what I am the most grateful for that maybe I hated or at least strongly disliked in the past and I have narrowed it down to a short list, and figured I would share it with you.

5 Things the Jungles has Made me Grateful For:

  1. Cold Weather.  If you have ever read this blog or been within ear shot of me I do nothing but complain about the cold the second winter hits. Well just 14 days in and I am thankful for the cold more than ever.  I love the tropical temperatures and I am even adapting to the large amounts of rain, what I am not getting used to are the nasty bugs out there.  I mean I get it is the jungle and they need to protect themselves, but why do they have to be so gross, so big and so abundant.  So yes, I am thankful for the cold managing the bug populations in Canada. photo
  2. Convenience. Oh man how I miss this and until now didn’t realize how easy we had it. I mean I was always grateful for what I have in at home and how comfortable everything is, but in that I think there was still so much I discounted as something that “should be”, like being able to just get a pack of boneless skinless chicken breast or to have a pharmacy less than an hour drive away.  It is all the small things I am now realizing that I had taken for granted.
  3. Family and friends. Now I am not saying I take them for granted, but when they are always just a quick drive or phone call away, or on the couch beside you it just falls into the category of “every day life”.  Having all my friends and family so far away really makes you stop and reflect back on how lucky you are to have them, even if they drive you nuts sometimes because they can seem to get their dishes in the dishwasher.
  4. My schedule, I am actually loving the schedule that we have going right now, it is super intense with 6-8am yoga every morning followed by two other sessions from 11am-2:30pm and 6:15pm-8:45pm, it is busy but in a relaxed kind of way.  But that being said I do miss my regular gym 3 times a week, yoga 2-3 times a week, doing some personal training, relaxing and watching TV with my husband.  It is funny how something that had me so stressed out at times is now a comforting thought. 20131108-153430.jpg
  5. And number 5 on the list is street lights. I was tempted to go for no bugs again but figured it would be a good idea to write one more thing.  I am grateful for street lights, although it doesn’t get dark as early here as it is back home, when it gets dark it gets pitch black.  It is funny how I never thought about street lights until I was walking up and down the main road with my dollar store flash light trying to make sure I don’t step on any insects, snakes or scorpions.

All of these things said, this place is still pretty magical, and such an excellent experience.  It is such an amazing opportunity to be able to live in the jungle and within another culture for a full month. To have the chance to explore and meet other people from Norway, Sweden, Trinidad, Ireland, England, Mexico, USA, Canada and all over. This experience has allowed me to open up and just see all that I have (friends, family, comfort, conveniences) and to just take an extra second to be grateful for everything, even the stinging caterpillars and scorpions.photo 3 (3)

What are you grateful for today?

The Rain Experience

Well, I thought I had experienced it but no no I hadn’t. Yesterday evening marked my first “storm”. I have been thinking “oh goodness will we ever have a day without rain?” And then yesterday evening happened.

I have never in my life seen such intense rain for such a prolonged period of time. It was actually quite magnificent. Just sheets and sheets of rain fell for hours, turning or roads into muddy slip and slides and our walking paths into rivers and waterfalls and anything that was dry was completely drenched. We lost power for about 40 minutes and by a stroke of luck I peaked my head outside right as my neighbours were heading up to the institute and was able to get a ride and avoid a bit of rain.

I certainly am getting used to the rain however I am not loving it. Constantly being wet and feeling like a drowned rat (whether it is caused by rain or sweat) is definitely a feeling I am becoming more comfortable with, however I am not sure if I will ever fall I love with the feeling.

Unfortunately, there was so much water involved I was not keen on taking my electronics out to take some pictures and then I became so pre-occupied with getting into dry clothing that I didn’t take a drowned rat photo either. But don’t worry I am sure there will be many more opportunities to get one.

In the meantime, here is another photo from the yoga institute.

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I hope everyone is having a lovely Monday. Especially those of you who have the day off.