200 hours YTTC in Nicaragua, by Ann-Marie

“I recently completed the 200 hours YTTC with Julia in Nicaragua, and enjoyed every minute of it. Before deciding on the course, I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to do the full 200 hours YTTC, or just 100 hours Yoga Intensive, but I am glad I did. Julia is an exceptional teacher who is dedicated to what she does, and extremely knowledgeable. She has a wealth of experience behind her, and it really shows in not only her teaching method but how she interacts with her students. The group was small (4 students) so each of us had her undivided attention, and every day she helped us to improve our own practice. She continuously reinforced the positions and the correct alignment, which was invaluable.

In terms of teaching, I learnt more than I could have imagined in the month in Nicaragua. I wasn’t sure if I would be confident enough to consider teaching yoga after just a 200 hours YTTC, however Julia made it her business to instill a sense of confidence in us, as well as ensuring that our knowledge, as potential teachers, was of a Julia standard 🙂

On a personal level, she is one of the sweetest and most genuine people I have met. She came to class every morning with a big smile, making it impossible to be grumpy about Downward Dogs at 6 am. Even during stressful moments, i.e. teaching practice, she had an amazing ability to make all your worries disappear. She also knows how to make you feel okay about your own struggles and limitations. She was never afraid to tell us about her own experiences in this area, which really helped eliminate any sense of frustration.”

“Thank you Julia, and I hope to be seeing you again :-D”

Ann-Marie, Ireland

Many thanks for your kind words Ann-Marie.  It was a pleasure to have on the 200 hours YTTC here in Nicaragua.  Also, congratulations on getting work immediately after graduating in a nearby surf camp, just a few days after graduation.  I am sure the surfers there were delighted to stretch with you.  Keep up the good work and best wishes for teaching yoga when you are back home in Ireland.

300 hours YTTC 9th June 2018
200 hours YTTC 19th May, 9th June and 18th November

Ashtanga Yoga and surf……it’s all about shoulder stability!!

I think it is fair to say that I am dedicated to my Ashtanga Practice.  My day is just not complete unless I have rattled through the series from start to finish, 60 Chaturanga Dandasanas and all.  After 5 years of practice, I am staring to reap the benefits.

At school, I was the slowest swimmer, I was terrible in gymnastics club, I’ve never had any upper body strength and have never been sporty.  Surfing was just never a consideration for me.  Those of you who know me will know that I am scared of speed and consider myself to be far an adrenalin junky when it comes to extreme sports.  But, working on a surf camp, I knew that I would be missing out if I did not exploit  the local surf opportunities.  It’s been pretty tough going and on some days I have vowed that it isn’t for me thinking that I’ll just stick to the yoga.  But just as Ashtanga Yoga is a disciplined practice, so is learning to surf.  And so, I get myself back out I to the white wash, bruises and all, and continue.

This week I have had a major breakthrough and for the first time, I feel that it has started to come together.  If you’re are hanging out in the white wash (AKA foamies) it’s pretty hard on the hip flexors as you wade into the oncoming waves.  However, for the first time, I got slightly beyond the white wash and was actually on my belly paddling to take a slightly larger wave.  After all, it’s like riding a bike, you need to speed right!  You need a few bigger waves to get some power behind you.

Shoulder stability plays a massive part in Ashtanga Yoga.  Anyone who has recently trained with me will have my shoulder stability mantra resonating within. It is something that I have worked incredibly hard at since working through a rotator cuff injury.  But aside from that, where did all the strength to paddle come from?  I really wasn’t expecting it.  As I worked through my practice today, I realised how much shoulder strength and stability I have gained.  The transitions of Ashtanga Yoga play a big part in strengthening the muscles of the shoulder girdle.  Could it be that all this strength has come from the repetition of these transitions, time and time again?  Has the slowest swimmer actually gained that much strength?

Tomorrow, I will be back in the water to take little green waves.  This means I need to paddle more.  But I am ready…I feel fully prepared and strong.  All that discipline has paid off, I feel that my shoulder strength and stability is going to get me on my first green waves ad I cannot wait!!!  I bloody love Ashtanga Yoga….not only have I made my career out of something that I love so dearly, it is allowing me to participate in an activity that I never in a million years thought I would be getting so much enjoyment from.

Join me for 200 & 300 hrs
Yoga Teacher Training here at
Los Clavos Surf Camp.
Next course starts 19th May 2018

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.


What is Ashtanga Yoga?

Whether you are in India or Nicaragua, Ashtanga Yoga is a set sequence of postures that links breath with movement.  There are 6 series to work through.  It was developed in the 50s in Mysore, India by Sri K. Patthabi Jois and is now taught worldwide (yes, even in Nicaragua) with very little deviation from how the practice was intended.

Ashtanga Yoga has 4 features that are applicable to each of the 6 series.

  • Bandhas
    These are locks within the body that work with the movement of energy.  Mula Bandha is the root lock and will provide an uplift of energy from the base of your spine.  Uddiyana Bandha is your stomach lock and protects your lower back as well as allowing for deeper access into the postures.
  • Breath
    Ashtanga Yoga is known for its Victorious Breath, Ujjai Breath. This is the hissing sound that is created as you exhale.  If you become familiar to this rhythm, it will allow you to induce a meditative state.  If your breath becomes forced or unsteady, you can use this as a benchmark to say that you have gone too deep into the posture.  We continue to breath in and out of the mouth in order to retain the heat in the body.  This helps us to be more flexible and rid the body of toxins as we sweat.
  • Drishti
    This is simply the focal point of each of the postures. There is a focal point for each and every posture.  This will help to keep the focus on the mat and avoid checking out what is happening around you.  It encourages sense withdrawal which is necessary for meditation.
  • Vinyasa
    The vinyasas link the postures together allowing the sequence to flow fluidly. The Upward and Downward Dog help to reset the body like counter postures. The Chaturanga Dandasana, press up position, will help build strength and shoulder stability.  The vinyasa will undoubtedly help build the necessary heat that you need in your body to complete the backbending part of the series.

The practice should be considered as a Movement Meditation.  This means that there is a point of focus throughout your time on your mat.  This will vary depending on how familiar you are with the sequence.  If you are new to the sequence, your point of concentration will be to remember the order and integrity of each of the postures.  If you are more familiar, you will focus on these 4 things and allow your body to move automatically through the sequence be it the Primary Series or one of the later series.

Ashtanga Yoga is a 6-day practice and should be completed before breakfast, early in the morning.  And yes, whether in India or further afield, in Nicaragua it is always a pleasure to have completed this traditional practice.

Join me in January for 200 hrs YTTC in Ashtanga and Restorative Yoga,
an exploration of strength and flexibility.


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