When I first began to practice and teach yoga, I was living in Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico. The house we were living in had a huge round, empty palapa that overlooked the village and the bay. After my tea, visitors to the village began making their way up the hill, and placed their mats in such a way that insured them a beautiful view throughout their practice. Never wanting to turn anyone away for lack of money, I accepted donations; sometimes receiving money in pesos or dollars, sometimes receiving gifts or other items. My roots: an outdoor practice overlooking the water, welcoming all.
A few years later I found myself back in Sayulita, after returning to Idaho to teach for a couple of years and fulfilling the requirements to become a certified yoga instructor in Miami Beach. This time, I moved my classes to the beach; a short walk through the cemetery just past Villa Amor, would find you on Playa de los Muertos, a quiet beach surrounding a calm cove. Each morning I would arrive early, filling a large garbage bag full of bottles and cans that either washed ashore or were left by beach goers. As my students arrived, the beach filled with blankets and beach towels vs traditional mats. We would emulate the flowing palms in tree pose, and watch dolphins jump as we did our sun salutations. The breeze kept us cool, even as the sun filled the beach toward the end of class. Always, my wolf Lobo (yea, we were very creative when naming him!) could be found lying next to someone throughout the class. He had a peacefulness about him that only added to the practice as he moved around the class making sure everyone felt his loving energy. After class, some students would stroll back through the jungle to enjoy breakfast in the village; some would strip down to bathing suits and take a cleansing swim in the Pacific Ocean.
Although I have practiced and taught in some of the most beautiful studios though out the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean, being outdoors, especially near the water, to me, is the ultimate studio. Mother Nature offers invaluable lessons unobtainable from anything man can come up with; patience, trust, wonder, flexibility (in life), and dedication are just some of these.
I am a true believer that how you Be on the mat is how you Be in the world. What that means is you can observe your behaviors during your practice and if you are honest, see those same behaviors or approaches to circumstances in life. Some things to notice: How committed are you? Do you commit to each moment, pose, breath? Or do you commit to the practice, just to check it off your list for the day? Do you push yourself too hard? Or not hard enough? In other words, do you find and ride your edge? How easily are you distracted from your goal or commitment? All of these questions become very apparent when one is practicing outdoors, especially if near any sort of population. These are reasons I believe an outdoor practice offers the opportunity to grow your practice much deeper than one in a indoor environment.
Living in Miami Beach I was given many opportunities too not only teach, but to bring my own practice outdoors, to the beach, but most of my classes took place in beautiful studios, in impressive resorts and gyms. Teaching indoors is predictable, quiet, and well, can be sterile. While this is a great environment to focus on specific postures and alignment, allowing for outer growth, it does less for any real internal growth. For this, we need to get down and get dirty. Practicing outdoors offers this.
During my time in Miami Beach I published the book Yoga Onboard a guide for cruisers and live aboards. Practicing on a boat, in the slip, on the hook or underway is a great way to incorporate a yoga (or fitness) practice into a natural setting. The movement of the water, the feel of the breeze and the adjustments being made to accommodate small or uneven spaces offer the opportunity for many lessons to be learned.
Now that we are living in the Florida Keys and Eric and I are opening a restaurant right on Boot Key Harbor, I am looking forward to bringing my practice and my classes back outdoors. Once we are open (plans are for October), I will offer morning classes specifically for cruisers on the deck of Dockside Tropical Café, with the breeze blowing and the dolphin and manatee swimming by. Classes will be basic hatha, geared toward all levels, with the possibility of adding additional classes that will have more specific objectives (power vinyasa, meditation, gentle, yoga nidra).
Plans to offer water sport rentals and adventures are also in the works; kayaks, paddleboards and snorkel sail charters. Once the paddleboards are in place, be prepared for SUP Yoga & Fitness!
All of this will be made possible once Dockside Tropical Café is open and running smooth. We are currently offering the opportunity to purchase lifetime discount cards, bar tabs, cool swag, or your very own bar stool or table. Anyone that takes advantage of this opportunity will give you the distinctive honor of being DTC Charter Crew. All Charter Crew will have a plaque with their name on it, and special t-shirt and hat. To become Charter Crew go to www.DocksideTropicalCafe.com. Yes, that was an unabashedly, not well hidden promotion for our crowd-fund we are currently running. Check it out then make plans to come see us in the Keys!
I am eagerly awaiting getting back to my roots… teaching and practicing outdoors.
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Dockside Tropical Café: Start the day stretching, end the day dancing, eat well in between!
Peace, Love & Pirate Yogis
SV Ave de Paso
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