Yogis from far and wide meet in Nicaragua!!

Having taught Yoga Teacher Trainings for the past 6 years, it is fair to say that every course is unique, with its own group dynamic and character.  My Yoga Teacher Training Courses in Nicaragua are residential and so it is always an interesting experience to see how friendships form amongst peers and how each character takes on a role within the group.  Yoga definitely brings students together from all corners of the globe and friendships form that will not be forgotten.

Any Yoga Teacher Training Course graduate will tell you that the course is pretty intense whether the Yoga Teacher Training is completed in exotic Nicaragua or somewhere closer to home.  With a 5.30am start, the day finished at 6pm with homework to be completed for the next day.  It is a busy schedule to say the least but at least students are able to take advantage of a quick dip in the pool and surf sessions at nearby Nahualapa Bay…a welcomed feature of the course here at Los Clavos Surf Camp.

In January, I trained 8 beautiful students, all of whom passed with flying colours.  They lived together, ate together, surfed, studies, chatted, laughed and did a whole lot of yoga.  At times, students were physically and mentally exhausted. But one thing is for sure, the overwhelming support for each other made a huge difference in terms of its success.  Each and every student brought his or her character and personality to the group, making it a thoroughly enjoyable experience all round.

I would like to wish all January graduates lots of luck for the future.  Keep in touch and I sincerely hope that our yoga paths cross again in Nicaragua.

9th June:  300hrs in Vinaysa Flow and the Integrated Body
Limited spots, book soon!

My Spiritual Journey in Nicaragua

I am in the second week teaching the Yoga Philosophy module of the YTTC here in Nicaragua.  I have been teaching Yoga Philosophy now for 3 years and it is a subject that is close to my heart.  Having accessed the practice of yoga, like many of us, through the physical aspect of the yoga, teaching Yoga Philosophy here at the camp in Nicaragua, has encouraged me to question my beliefs and views on the concept of the soul and indeed what is a spiritual practice?  I am teaching Ashtanga Yoga and related Yoga Philosophy on a surf camp in Nicaragua.  Is it possible to develop my spiritual practice here…..don’t I need to be in an ashram?

My curiosity about the soul has led me to many questions, including that of immortality.  Is the soul immortal or will it live on after my body has perished?  How do I know that I have a soul and is this something that I need to believe in?  Is the soul different from my body?

The Abrahamic philosophy is that your soul is tested on this earth to determine its resting place, heaven or hell.  In Vedic philosophy, your body is the vehicle for soul and the soul is transported from body to body, dependant on your karma.  The Aristotelian philosophy believes that your soul was the essence of your being and despite not being tangible, it perished alongside the body.  The interpretations are endless and varying throughout the ages.

In studying Yoga Philosophy, I have come to realise how important it is to have your own personal interpretation of what the soul is.  Whether you are in Nicaragua or India, only then can you start to cultivate your own spiritual practice, whether you believe that soul is mortal or immortal.

During my time here in Nicaragua, I have had time to ponder my own Yoga Philosophy.  Having established my views, my spiritual practice has deepened and I have an increased confidence in my identity and true self.  I am looking forward to sharing these views as I teach Yoga Philosophy here at Los Clavos Surf Camp, Nicaragua.

One thing is for sure, being here in Nicaragua, teaching Yoga Philosophy and being fully immersed in surf camp life, my soul shines and I am fully immersed in my spiritual practice.

I am looking forward to sharing this as part of my Yoga Teacher Training here at Los Clavos Surf Camp.  Join me soon.

19th May & 9th June:  200 hours in Ashtanga and Restorative Yoga
9th June:  300 hours in Ashtanga Yoga and the Integrated Body

 

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.