Surf versus yoga…in Nicaragua at the camp!

So surfing has been relegated during the 200 hrs Yoga Teacher Training Course here at Los Clavos Surf Camp, Nicaragua…there just aren’t enough hours in the day to teach the 200 hr Yoga Teacher Training Course, single handed, and get an all-important Primary Series in also.  Yoga wins hands down every time.

But today, on a well-deserved day off, I was surfing in the white wash of Nahualapa Bay by 6.30am.  Admittedly, I am still well and truly on the front line.  The back line is simply distant entertainment for whenever I need to take a break from the foam.  But that is cool…do your practice, all is coming.  I managed an hour and a half, after which I returned back to the camp as the waves were too small to take.  I’d had enough.  I took some breakfast and realised that I was ‘bloody knackered.’  I tell you, it isn’t easy sometimes out here in Nicaragua.

I like to conserve as much of my energy as I can for yoga.  It’s my job, my chosen profession.  But I am determined to surf while I am here in Nicaragua…I work on a surf camp after all.  Later in the day, I was scheduled to teach a one hour yoga class at midday, a style of my choosing.  My usual approach is to poke the exhausted surfers from their hammocks and cajole them into a Vinyasa Flow.  My aim is to have all guests at the daily yoga session and love it as much as I do.  It will surely energise them for the afternoon session, be that horse riding, wake boarding or surf.  Today, however, the surf session certainly had an impact on me.  For the first time, I understood that they too were ‘bloody knackered.’

And so, out came the tennis balls.  My collection of balls that are having the greatest success in cajoling the surfers to do yoga.  ‘We are gonna release the shoulders, wait until you experience the increase in mobility at the all-important shoulder joint, you will surf so well tomorrow.’  And out of their hammocks, they crawled.  Grabbing mats and balls, they made their way to the yoga space.  We released, we restored, we got ready for more surf.

Next Yoga Teacher Training Course
starts January 13th, here at Los Clavos Surf Camp
Spaces are limited so reserve your place soon.

Surf and yoga at Los Clavos Surf Camp, Nicaragua

Meet Kate!  Kate was a solo traveler and stayed with us at Los Clavos Surf Camp, Nicaragua for a week.  I asked her to write about what she learned during her stay in terms of yoga and surf.  I am sure you will agree….she had a productive week.

  1. A surf and yoga combo is an active spiritual practice – as a beginner surfer, I can tell you that surfing is not as easy as it looks. I found a lot of similarities between surf and yoga as both activities require persistence, focus and presence because you have to observe, feel and act quickly. Luckily, I have been doing yoga for a couple of years now and I get the concept of persistency and building strength. The more strength you build with practice, the more you start to believe in your own potential. Having fought the waves and white wash hard for hours every day in Nicaragua, I managed to stand up. SUCCESS! I am definitely going to surf again!
  2. Find the right teacher – time and time again I come to realise that your practice (yoga or surf, Nicaragua or UK) can be heavily influenced by your teacher. I personally found it important to connect and understand my teachers’ approach to life in general because that helps me understand better their teaching technique. When you find a common language with your teacher, you also build trust.  This is so important.
  3. Life is all about balance – every act has a counteract, just like every posture has a counter posture. I miss the post surfing Restorative Yoga Session to the sound of the  Pacific Ocean. Surf is a challenging sport and very tiring. The daily yoga sessions helped me a lot in recovering and preparing my mind and body for the next day. Back in the UK, after leaving Nicaragua, I am trying to incorporate that into my daily life.  Often now, I find myself doing a Yin Yoga Session after work in order to consciously slow down, stretch the body and maintain a healthy spine.
  4. Breathing can get you through anything – accidents are inevitable on a surfing holiday and one day I hurt myself! I was in pain but I kept breathing through the pain. I survived and lived to tell the tale without going to hospital! What a hero!  It’s all about the breath, even in Nicaragua.
  5. Believe in backbends and their benefits – I always thought I had a weak spine and weak lower back until one day Julia guided me into Urdhva Dhanurasana (wheel pose). After 15 minutes, she was guiding me to do a full drop back. I have since learned about the benefits of backbends and what they do can do to the mind and body. If you want to improve your posture, boost your mood, open your heart and mind, you have to add a back bend to your morning practice, whether you are in Nicaragua or somewhere else!

Thanks for your words of wisdom Kate!!  Come back soon so we can do yoga and surf every damn day in sunny Nicaragua.

Join me for 200 hr YTTC in Ashtanga and Restorative Yoga,
13th January 2018.  Book soon, spaces limited.


200 hr YTTC, Nicaragua…it’s happening!!

My first solo YTTC in sunny Nicaragua will start this weekend and I am so excited.  As my students start to arrive, I am sitting overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Nicaragua and thinking back to my 200 hours YTTC in India, just 5 years ago.  I cannot say that it seems like yesterday…to the contrary, it seems like a life time ago.  What a journey it has been, from east to west and here I am in Nicaragua.

My 200 hours YTTC took place in India, the home of yoga.  I was taught by 2 Indian teachers who taught yoga in a really traditional way.  From Ashtanga Mysore Style to Yoga Philosophy, I enjoyed every minute of it.   I loved the discipline that the Indian teachers inspired.  Early nights, no alcohol, only tea before the 3 hour morning practice, the local chai shop.  But it was India, that was how it was meant to be.  I embraced it.

And here I am in Nicaragua, on a surf camp, taking on 4 students who are at the start of their yogic journey.  I am no stranger to teaching the 200 hours YTTC.  I was the 200 hours YTTC Lead Trainer and Curriculum Co-ordinator at Kranti Yoga for several years.  As a 200 hours YTTC teacher in India, it was in the perfect setting.  To be fair, I never taught in an ashram, I was at a YTTC School in Goa.  But here I am, in Nicaragua, about to teach a 200 hours YTTC course, a course that I have designed to be fully interactive with surf camp life in Nicaragua.

I am excited beyond words at the thought of sharing my Ashtanga Yoga practice with these 200 hours YTTC students who have travelled from far and wide to be with me and the Los Clavos Surf Camp team in Nicaragua.  And regardless of the surf culture here, we will be chanting at dawn, worshipping the moon and drinking nothing but lemon water before practice.

Join me soon!
200 hours YTTC in Ashtanga and Restorative Yoga starts 8th January 2018
at Los Clavos Surf Camp, Nicaragua

Even in Nicaragua, I still love the traditions of Ashtanga Yoga!

I love Ashtanga Yoga.  Over the past years, I have developed an Ashtanga Yoga practice and during my time in Nicaragua, Central America, it allows me to stay connected to what I learnt in India.  I learnt Ashtanga Yoga in Goa during my travels.   I couldn’t wait for my next session and was immediately hooked.  But what is it about the Ashtanga Yoga practice that keeps me so dedicated?

Ashtanga Yoga is a set sequence of postures. 
An Ashtanga Yoga Class will never deviate from the traditional sequence as developed in Mysore, India.  Even in Nicaragua, the sequence will always be the same.  I love routine, structure and knowing what comes next….it is the ideal practice for me!

Ashtanga Yoga brings about a movement meditation. 
A good Ashtanga Yoga Teacher will help you create rhythm and pace.  This will encourage you to become familiar to the rhythm of your breath and is a great way to induce meditation.  As you move though the postures, you hopefully minimise your thoughts.  When the mind is overactive,  Ashtanga Yoga presents a great way to still and quieten the mind.  Even in Nicaragua, meditation is an important part of my daily routine and Ashtanga Yoga allows me to meditate through movement.

Ashtanga Yoga makes you more anatomically aware.
As a self-confessed anatomy geek, I have gained a greater understanding of how my body works and functions.  As I flow through the Ashtanga Yoga series, I can use the practice as an exploration of strength and flexibility.  This in itself is a great way to internalise.  Here in in Nicaragua, I am learning to surf.  Being anatomically aware of your body is highly beneficial for any physical activity.

Ashtanga Yoga requires discipline.
It is a 6 day practice with just a day off to allow your body to settle and restore.  Admittedly, on some days here in Nicaragua, I am torn between the morning surf and morning practice….but practice happens everyday (sometimes a little later than is ideal) and my body feels better every time for doing so.

If you are keen to learn more about Ashtanga Yoga practice and fancy a trip to Nicaragua, come and join me at Los Clavos Surf Camp.

Ashtanga Yoga Intensive Courses run each week with Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training in January 2018.




10 reason to do your Yoga Teacher Training at Los Clavos Surf Camp, Nicaragua

Los Clavos Surf Camp right on the beach and the resort has amazing views of the Pacific Ocean.  This means you can have some serious beach time in between yoga classes!  The resort sits on a 7km stretch of untouched beaches with barely a soul in site.

You can learn how to surf.  It’s possibly been on your bucket list – it was definitely on mine.  The nearest surf beach is just a 10-minute walk away and it is an ideal location for beginners.  You will be scheduled 2 sessions a week over the 4 weeks.  Surely with the core strength from all the yoga, you’ll be able to give it a good shot.

The course is interactive with surf camp life and all guests will join us for Restorative Yoga at the end of the day.  There may also be possibilities for you to practice your yoga teaching on the guests, acknowledging different body types for both girls and boys, surf dudes and yogis.

Enjoy sunset in the natural swimming pool that has been carved into the rocks some time ago.  This pool makes an appearance when the tide is out and is an amazing feature of the beach.  We can even do yoga here.

The camp hosts just 12 guests so it promises to be an intimate group with heaps of personalised learning of yoga.  We will share the camp with surfer guests as well as yogis but numbers will be small.

The food is amazing and prepared from local produce.  Nicaragua boasts an amazing range of fresh fruit and vegetables that the kitchen team use in abundance.  Fresh juices are made every day with fresh coconut in many of the favourite dishes.

Have some serious hammock time with hammocks located in all the best places throughout the camp.  Be social in the rancho or take some quite time in your own hammock on your terrace, either way, there are enough to go round.  With the activity of the day, it’s a great way to recharge.

On Thursdays, we go to salsa night at a local bar, Pasta La Vista!  Learn to salsa with the locals, let your hair down, if you have the energy after a whole lot of yoga.

We are really close to a fishing village which means there is an abundance of fresh fish and seafood.  Fish and lobster from the grill are served regularly for dinner…we love it!!

Last but by no means least, French friends Romain and Claire are super hosts and great fun.  They left their Parisian lives to follow their dream of opening a surf camp in Nicaragua.  The camp only opened last Christmas and so is brand new.  They are already looking forward to hosting us for a heap of yoga!!


200 hrs Yoga Teacher Training Course starts 4th November
Ashtanga and Restorative Yoga

Book now.


Why Nicaragua for Yoga Teacher Training?

In January, I packed a bag and headed west in search of a contrast to Incredible India.  My mission: to find a space to set up my very own Yoga Teacher Training.  First destination was to be Nicaragua, a small country, just above Costa Rica and not a million miles from the Panama Canal.  When people ask me why I chose Nicaragua to host Yoga Teacher Training, I am really not too sure.  I spent time in Central America last summer and had heard a rumour that Nicaragua wasn’t saturated with Yoga Teacher Training.  With both Pacific and Caribbean coastline, I figured that Nicaragua must have some pretty incredible views to take in during the Yoga Teacher Training Course.

A few days before leaving, I saw a post looking for a volunteer yoga teacher on a surf camp in the north of Nicaragua.  ‘Interesting,’ I thought.  A phone call later, I had committed to 4 weeks at Los Clavos Surf Camp.

To be honest, I had never heard of a surf camp before.  I knew dudes were surfing in the area but I had absolutely no idea what to expect from surf camp life.  I’d attempted to surf unsuccessfully a few years back.  Was it going to be OK if I just did Ashtanga Yoga instead of surf?  Will they have soy milk?  How was I going to feel being surrounded by dudes when I am used to Yoga Teacher Training with 50 girls?  Am I cool enough to work at a surf camp in Nicaragua?  Can I still wear my mala?  Too many questions, I was definitely far from ‘present’ on the journey to Nicaragua across the Atlantic.  But to be fair, I was pretty excited.

3 flights and a sizeable cab journey later, I arrived at the camp.  My first impressions were a sensory overload.  I don’t know where to start as I don’t know remember what struck me first:  the magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean; the incessant roar of the waves crashing to the shore; the incredible structure of the rancho that hosts the dining space and communal areas that still overwhelms me to this day; adorable cabañas with their own terraces and hammocks; the rocking chairs; a swimming pool with a beach view; Lola the parrot; the yoga space……..what an incredible place to work!!!

I was very warmly welcomed by Romain and Claire, the co-owners and founders of Los Clavos Surf Camp.  I was quickly introduced to 12 guests, 2 surf instructors and a yoga teacher who were gathering for dinner.  The guests came from all corners of the globe, all professionals who were in Nicaragua for winter surf.  During dinner, energy levels were clearly high after a full day of surf and yoga.  It was such a friendly vibe, so energising.  Within a few days, as guests came and went, I very quickly acknowledged the incredible mix of people on holiday at the camp.  Claire and Romain were hosting guests from such different backgrounds from all corners of the globe.  It became evident that every week was going to have a different mix of people with its own group dynamic, with so many tales to tell, so many stories to share.  I had a feeling I was going to really love it!!!

A week later, I had extended my stay and had started making plans to teach beyond my one class a day.  I was overwhelmed by the place for many reasons but particularly because it is such an amazing place to be totally yogi and immersed in true nature (more on that to come!)  Was finding a venue for Yoga Teacher Training supposed to be that easy??  Should I at least check out a few other places???

And so, Yoga Teacher Training will go ahead at Los Clavos Surf Camp and I could not be happier.  I am still not 100% sure why I chose to go to Nicaragua.  However, I do know that when I saw that advert looking for a yoga teacher, whether it was the powers beyond, the alignment of the stars, Gods will or just plain old happenstance, I will count my blessings that destiny took me to Los Clavos Surf Camp for an exciting new chapter in my life.  Let the Yoga Teacher Training.

200 hr YTTC in Ashtanga and Restorative Yoga
4th November for 4 weeks

Teaching yoga on a surf camp in Nicaragua……whatever next?

My mum says I live in a bubble.  I have debated this with her at length on several occasions but for now, let’s say she’s right.  That means that the current bubble is Los Clavos Surf Camp, in the north of Nicaragua.

I came to Nicaragua in search of a place to set up my own yoga school and establish myself as an Ashtanga Yoga Teacher.  Having spent 4 years in India, it was time to venture west.  Nicaragua boasts both Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, volcanic lakes, mountain and forest retreats, volcanic vistas.  I didn’t have anything specific in mind.  I just knew that Nicaragua was not saturated with yoga, yoga teachers and yoga teacher training.  I might add that I was totally unaware of the whole surf camp concept.

A few days before leaving for Nicaragua, I saw that Los Clavos Surf Camp were looking for a yoga teacher.   A phone call later, I had committed to 4 weeks.  Before I knew it, I was immersed in life on a surf camp in Nicaragua, who would have thought!!!

Guests from all corners of the globe come to this part of Nicaragua to surf.  Surf is the ultimate activity here.  The tide times dictate the daily schedules and yoga is scheduled when surf is not.  As the resident yoga teacher, my job is to encourage everyone to join me for yoga.  Many guests have never practiced yoga before.  Some guests attend classes at yoga studios back home, others have completed yoga teacher training.  Every week, I have a different group dynamic to work with, some more challenging than others.  Every day, the energy is different.  In some classes, I need to re-energize the students.  In others, they are in need of something more restorative.  Some weeks, I have guests who are here just to for Ashtanga Yoga: a strong morning practice and daily alignment/release workshops, 4 to 5 hours of practice a day.  As a yoga teacher, it is an incredible opportunity to think on your feet and adapt your classes on a daily/hourly basis.

In the past weeks, I have taught Backbending Workshops, Myofascial Release Sessions, Slow Flow, Restorative Yoga, Side Line for Lotus, Vinyasa Flow….not to mention Ashtanga Led!!  I even managed to schedule a Self-Practice Ashtanga Yoga Session.  I take guests to the beach for meditation at sunrise and sunset…I have even led chanting at dawn.    The possibilities for a yoga teacher are endless.

Surf camp life means that I have heaps of time for my practice and I am meditating a lot.  I am learning to surf.  I am building my business as Julia Gavin Yoga.  I’m studying.  I’m eating well and sleeping as and when I need to.  But the best thing about being here is that I am devising and delivering yoga classes every day.  I am working on new material and have people around who are keen to listen and learn from me.  I am truly connected to teaching and sharing both my practice and passion for yoga.

So for now…I am happy with life on a surf camp and plan to be here at Los Clavos Surf Camp for the foreseeable future.  I have made plans to return here next season and I am already looking forward to hosting trainings here.  While the days are action packed and energy levels are often high, I have found a place of great tranquility.  This surf camp is a place where I can be truly connected to my spirit and sustain my focus in this next chapter of my story.

Until 3rd June:
Yoga Intensive Week
Ashtanga and Myofascia Release Week

Join me in the bubble soon!!

“Highlights of the week included meditation on the beach ….”

In April, Kelsey did the Yoga Intensive Week me at Los Clavos Surf Camp, Nicaragua. I got her to answer a few questions about the week.

How much did you know about Ashtanga Yoga before you arrived in Nicaragua?
I had only practised Ashtanga Yoga one time before I went to Nicaragua.  In a nut shell, I knew absolutely nothing.  I actually only considered signing up for the Ashtanga Yoga after I made my decision to spend a week at the surf camp.  I was looking for a beach holiday!

And now???  Will you continue to practise Ashtanga Yoga??
I will definitely continue to practise.  I have been converted.  I’ve had a cheat sheet of all the Primary Series postures on my phone since leaving Nicaragua and I still refer to it during my movement meditation.

Tell us a bit about the daily Alignment Class.
The Alignment Classes taught me about the history of Ashtanga Yoga and how the practice has developed.  I have been able to explain this to friends and family, which is nice.

I learnt the proper alignment for each of the Primary Series of Ashtanga Yoga postures which then helped me in my practice each morning.  I was really able to recognize where and when I needed to correct myself, to not only prevent injuries, but better my practice.  This is something that you rarely get at a studio and it’s improved my practice a lot.  I really learnt to appreciate the benefits of meditation.

What were your highlights of the week??
Highlights of the week included beach meditation and the downtime between practice and breakfast.  I was able to spend that time reflecting on my practice and writing a little bit in my journal!  The second highlight was lobster night with the Los Clavos family.  That was my first night at the camp.  It really set the tone for the week!

If you had to rename this week, what would it be?
Hmmm, everything I can think of sounds cheesy.  But how about, “Learning to Live with Silence and Laugh After.”  Julia really taught me to hold on to my tranquil state after meditation and to appreciate that quiet time on the beach.  That was a big learning point for me.  It felt difficult at first, but I will take this with me for my practice.  That being said, though, it was great to be able to be silly and laugh after rejoining the Los Clavos banter at breakfast.

Yoga Intensive Weeks run throughout the season at Los Clavos Surf Camp
starting on Saturdays.  For further details, visit this page.

Things to do for $10 in Nicaragua….budget travel in Central America!!

So, after 10 weeks of yoga at Los Clavos Surf Camp, I finally got to see some of Nicaragua and participate in some extra curricular activity.  Nicaragua is an incredible country with so many amazing things to see and do.  Here are just a few things that I particularly enjoyed…all at the bargain cost of $10….that’s just under 8 Great British Pounds.

2 vegan smoothies and hummus with crudités at Apoyo Lodge, Lago de Apoyo
This (raw) vegan retreat is a must on your travel list.  Take a lesson in gut health from Miriam, the owner.  The avocado, coconut and peanut butter smoothie was a meal in itself and to die for.  The views of the lake are stunning with ample chill out spaces throughout the resort.

A facial in Pure Gym Spa Yoga, Granada
This studio has it all.  There is a fully equipped gym, all spa facilities, a really lovely yoga space with some great teachers.  Attend random classes like Fencing on Fridays.

Return ferry ticket from Big Corn Island to Little Corn Island, Caribbean
Admittedly, the flight to Big Corn is a little more than this but it’s good to know things are considerably cheaper when you get there.  A taxi anywhere on Big Corn Island is a standard 20 Cordobas….60 cents.

Salsa night at Pasta La Vista, Aposentillo, Chinendega
$10 will get you a few beers and a few tequilas to then throw some moves on the dance floor.  Learn to salsa with the locals……limbo competition starts at midnight.  This is the weekly big night out from Los Clavos Surf Camp, weekly washes all round on Thursdays.

2 x $5 Hostel beds in Life Is Good Hostel, Ometepe.
Life was pretty good here in a $5 bed and I actually had a great night’s sleep.  They served really decent food too.  The owner, Roman, was super helpful and helped us co-ordinate our 2-day adventure.

2 Happy Hour Piña Coladas at Yemaya Island Hideaway and Spa, Little Corn Island
This is a $400 a night place on a remote and exclusive part of the island.  But they are happy to serve the rest of us in their Driftwood Beach Bar.  These cocktails are seriously to die for.

Entrance and sodas for 2 people at Ojo de Agua, Ometepe
This is a natural lagoon from volcanic waters, rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, sulphur and sodium.  Enjoy the shade of the surrounding tropical forest, keeping cool in the blue waters of the lagoon.

1.5 hours’ rental on a SUP from Las Palmeras Beachfront Hotel, Little Corn Island
We paddled a fair way around the island and then turned back to hang out doing yoga on the boards and taking photos.  It was highly entertaining!!!  Warrior 2 on a SUP is far more difficult than a headstand, who’d have thought!!!

Cathedral climb and morning coffee in León
Visit León’s world heritage site and climb the tower for spectacular views of the city.  Then relax in Pan y Paz for coffee and cake.

Glass of Chilean wine and tapas plate at Tapas and Surf, Chinendega
Watch the surf dudes take some waves while the newbies play in the white water.  This is a great sunset bar with an upstairs terrace to view from.  This bar is just a short walk from Los Clavos Surf Camp, a favourite hangout.

Join me at Los Clavos Surf Camp, Nicaragua
27th May:  An Exploration of Strength and Flexibility
with heaps of Ashtanga Yoga and a whole lot of Myofascia Release

Yoga Holidays and Intensive Weeks starting every Saturday!!