Yoga in Belize/Dreams Come True

As I stepped onto the white sandy beach of Southwest Caye on Glovers Reef my body flushed with goose bumps as I realized that my dreams were finally coming true. I had been moving toward this beach for the last 3 years. When I became a yoga teacher the idea came to me how awesome it would be to travel to exotic locations to teach yoga! I had already taught some in Costa Rica and Croatia but this was different! This was my intention coming to life! I looked around and took in my surroundings: beautiful blue water, light breeze, coconut trees and I thought…..”OH THIS is gonna be Goooood!”

I was unsure what to expect as far as the clients who would be joining us on Glover’s Reef during my two week stay. Would they be seasoned yogis? Would they be totally new to yoga? Would they even want to come to class?  Of course, it’s the same with any yoga class and I try to remember that whomever is meant to be there will be there.  I mean, jeez it’s not like there’s nothing else to do! We are in this gorgeous place! They might want to sleep in or read or just sit and watch the ocean.

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There were several locations on the island where we could practice depending on the weather but by far my favorite location was the dock. We would join there with our steaming mugs of coffee or tea and our yoga mats, watch the sunrise and set our intention for the day. Glover’s Reef is a magical place. It’s impossible NOT to be grateful to be here. I mean just look at it!

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Practicing outdoors is very different than teaching inside a studio. Here we are surrounded by natures beauty: the sunrise, hermit crabs crawling along the beach, fish jumping or pelican’s plopping down into the water, maybe even a boat passing by. At first I thought it would be harder to focus on the practice but I found that it actually made the practice more spiritual. We were somehow able to absorb the beauty of the place and yet focus inward. Class became meditative, slower, more meaningful.

The word Yoga means Union. With the ultimate goal being union with the Body, Mind and Spirit. This was my goal for practice each morning. I not only wanted each person to get a good stretch and work their muscles. I also wanted them to be able to feel union within themselves and with this place. I wanted to facilitate connection with the energy of the island. I wanted them to be able to hear the Ham/Sa of the waves and realize this is the same sound of our breath.

I kept my voice low, the focus internal with reminders toward gratitude, presence and joy. The physical Asana progressed gently each day with an assessment class on the first day so I could see where each client was in their body. Then I changed things up each day to keep it interesting and slightly challenging. I’m pretty sure they enjoyed it.  How do I know this? You know it’s a good class when you offer your Namaste and no one moves for about a minute. No one gets up off their mat and hurries to breakfast……they sit, slowly blink their eyes open and smile. They want to extend the bliss for just a little bit longer…..It was goooood!

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The two weeks went by way too fast. Before I knew it, it was time to pack up my yoga pants and head back home. As a teacher I am always looking for the meaning or lesson behind things. Something to share with others. Some form of encouragement everyone can relate to. So, what is the message here? The message is: Dreams do come true people! Make a plan, write it down and move toward your dream every day! Tell the universe what you want – say it out loud! Say it often and watch the universe conspire to make it come true! You make your life what you want it to be! YOU have the power to choose, set your direction and make your life a Dream Come TRUE!!!!!!!

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Belize & The Island of Lost Boys

As I sit in my RV, swaddled by my electric blanket, sipping a cup of hot tea, I can hardly believe that I am already home from my trip to Glover’s Reef in Belize. It seems like a dream – a glorious, warm, fun, playful dream. I’ve only been back for a day and I’m already cold. It’s not easy to go from 85 degrees to 54 today! I’m also not fully home yet. My body is here but my brain is still tingling with all of the wonderful sights, sounds, tastes and sensations that I experienced over the last two weeks. It’s difficult to come back to “real” life after you’ve been somewhere as wonderful as Glover’s Reef.

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Glover’s Reef  is located 36 miles off the coast of Belize out from Dangriga.  It’s everything you would imagine: beautiful white sandy beaches, azure water, palm trees, delicate breezes and amazing fish and corals. Hammocks slung between coconut trees, time slows down, happy hour at 5 o’clock every night and meals full of fresh fruit, fish, fry jacks and rice and beans. People smile in greeting and are happy to see you.

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Even though it is beautiful, the first week on Glover’s was difficult for me. Because the island is remote there is no wifi there. I had a hard time not being able to text my boyfriend for reassurance or just to tell him about my day. Eventually I realized I needed to let go of my frustration and just be. BE present – DUH – it’s what I teach in my yoga classes all the time! BE present, be in the moment – you’re on a beautiful island out in the Caribbean Ocean – take it IN – feel it, taste it, smell it! Stop worrying about “back home” and be right here, right now OR YOU”RE GOING TO MISS IT!!!!! There’s nothing like that moment when the teacher becomes the student! So I settled in and began really seeing the Island around me.

Just about that time the lost boys showed up and the Island began to hum and come to life in a new way with the energy they brought with them  The lost boys – as I call them – are a fun-loving group of guides who live their lives in real time. There is no pretense with them. They are there to live in the outdoors, play in the water, take you snorkeling, kayaking, sailing and fishing and ignite your love for adventure and exploration!

Spencer is the wild haired young gymnast from Vancouver B.C. who can pop into a handstand with seemingly no effort. He scampers along the slack line, turns around 180 degrees and comes right back. He has boundless energy and loves to engage the clients in conversation. I was amazed by his endless patience. I Imagine him as peter pan, hands on hips, crowing to the moon.

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Cappy (short for Capistrano) is the proud Mayan native who loves his country, his land, his heritage and the ocean. He is a fearless slayer of lionfish – an invasive species in Belize, an incredible diver, a powerful leader and a man with a definite plan for his future! He leads trips all over his country and is a force to be reckoned with.

Jason comes from the Garifuna people of Belize and he is the bright shiny one of the group. Jason is constantly happy, smiling, has something nice to say and wants everyone to have a good time. You can hear his laughter all the way across the camp and the sound makes your heart sing! Just seeing him come down the way with his dark chocolate skin, bright white smile and bouncy dreads lets you know it’s going to be a good day!

Jaime is a little older than the others but not by much. Jaime lives and breathes nature. He is the essence of outdoor guru. He can lead you via kayak down a river, set up a tent camp, cook you dinner and probably even tell you all of the constellations overhead. As a fellow yoga practitioner he can also show you a righteous Ashtanga flow! His New Zealand accent and bawdy humor add to his charm.

Kelly is the resident fly fisherman. Kelly has his blonde curly hair corn rowed by a girl from the neighboring resort and brings with him the ever present sounds of Reggae music. He embodies the calm and patience of walking along the Atoll waist deep in water with the rhythmic pull and cast of fly fishing just for the heck of it – no hurry just be, breathe, cast, wait, feel the tug, reel them in then let them go again. He moves his hammock each night to the best location so he can sleep in a light breeze.

And then there is Mr. B. Bernaldo is the camp manager. He is kind, welcoming, always patient with everyone and this Island and Atoll are his home. He has been there for 9 years now and he loves to show us his world. He invites us in to see the beauty of the corals, fish, ocean, island and country. He is full of knowledge and does anything that needs doing. He leads snorkels, answers questions on the phone, drives the boat to neighboring islands to pick up ice and gasoline, welcomes all the guests and even makes the beds after everyone leaves. He is everywhere, does everything and makes this place feel like home for all who visit. He even let me plant my own coconut tree!

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The thing is – these guys aren’t really “lost” boys. They know exactly who they are and what they are doing. They are living their lives fully connected to reality. They know who they are and they shine their light for all to see! They are wild and free and glorious to watch and I want to be just like them!

And then there are the guests.  Unfortunately some of the guests bring all of their drama with them. Some of them fight with their partners and make the trip more gloomy. And luckily some of them are real and present and become people that you want as your friend! It’s really up to them. They can make their experience fraught with tension or they can plug in to the energy of the island and make it a glorious experience – something new, something deep and meaningful.

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I know that my experience at Glover’s was meaningful for me. I went there to teach yoga in exchange for room and board and I came away with so much more than I bargained for. I learned that I have a family there and that I am welcome to come back. I learned that letting go of discomfort allows for growth. I learned that my childhood (moving all the time) prepared me for this yoga gypsy lifestyle and I learned that being prepared still does not make leaving easier. It’s hard to become attached to people and a place and then have to leave – even for a traveler, gypsy, vagabond yogi.

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So if you get a chance, go to Glover’s Reef in Belize. Visit Southwest Caye and say hi to the the guys for me. And then do yourself a favor, turn off your cell phone and plug in to the energy there. Let the guides show you beauty. Let Philipe and Diana feed your soul, Let Mr. B make you feel at home. I promise you will get much more out of the experience if you practice being present. Let time slow down. Walk around barefoot, get up early for the yoga class and let yourself BE a part of the island.  Namaste Y’all.