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  • Writer's pictureShay

yandara + finding my dharma

Updated: Jan 20, 2019

Hello beautiful humans! It's been a minute since I've created a post but I have been super busy and I couldn't be more grateful for this crazy, hectic life!

I spent the past month abroad in Baja California Sur, Mexico training and studying to become a yoga teacher at Yandara Yoga Institute, and it's official! Ya girl is a legit yoga teacher now! It feels so surreal and I am still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I can teach yoga and make it accessible to everyone.. it's truly incredible.

26 days felt long at times, but overall the month flew by. I made lifelong friends, learned so much about myself and life, experienced oneness, and found a new family.

I have so many amazing memories from this trip it's a little difficult to organize.. so let me just start from the beginning.

Looking out the window on my flight to Mexico was beautiful, at first it was ocean views and then all of the sudden the small airplane window was filled with green rolling hills dotted with houses here and there. I waited at the airport with a group of other yogis for the shuttle to take us to our home for the next 26 days.

The drive was an hour to Yandara, we passed saguaros covered in lush green and yellow flowers, and every now and then we caught a glimpse of the ocean. We arrived and had a tour of the whole property from the yoga pavilions, the kitchen, outdoor dining area, the outdoor bathrooms and showers, and the tents.

After the tour we got to choose our tents (or the best empty spot since I took my own tent) and get settled before our orientation with all the teachers. I chose a spot right next to one of the yoga pavilions right next to the beach where I could see the sunset every night and feel the amazing ocean breeze. I was a little nervous having to sleep on the floor for 26 days but I borrowed a few mats from the yoga pavilion and was able to create a pretty thick sleeping mat and my back never hurt the whole time I was there!

The camping element of Yandara was one of the main reasons I chose it to do my training at. I mean, does it get any better than camping on the beach for a month straight??

The first week was a lot of lectures and learning about philosophy. I was surprised by the amount of asana we were doing at first because it wasn't that much, but as time went on we did more and more asana practice. It was also nice taking a break from doing a lot of asana and focusing on learning proper alignment and what works for different bodies. We got to know our teachers and experience lots of different perspectives on yoga and learn that the most important thing of all is that you are not hurting yourself or anyone around you, and you are listening to your body.

Our schedule was the same every day from 7:30 AM until 9:00 PM and our days went a little like this:

7:30-9:15- Morning Flow + Meditation:

Every day started off with a yoga class and our teachers would change from day to day and the style was either vinyasa, kundalini, or more of a vin/yin combo. I loved starting everyday with a long flow to just put myself in the right headspace for the rest of the day. I learned a lot about meditation during these classes too. I enjoyed learning about mudras and mantras because that helps keep my mind quieter than just allowing the thoughts to come in, being witness to them, and letting them pass.

9:15-10:00- Silent Breakfast:

After our morning flow and meditation practice we would leave the pavilion in silence, practicing mindfulness and eating with intention. The food was amazing! To be honest, I was a little nervous about the food and the diet but it was always delicious, prepared with love, and nourished the mind and body. Breakfasts were usually oatmeal with fruit or yogurt and fruit. Lunches and dinners (which weren't silent) were always different and they only repeated a couple meals, which was mind blowing to me considering I repeat meals constantly. There was always a big green salad, veggies of some sort, rice or beans, and tofu or fish. I was surprised by how similar the diet was to what we already eat at home so it wasn't a big adjustment. I simply cannot say enough good things about the food and kitchen staff.

10:00-12:30- Class:

After 10:00 AM we are allowed to talk again so before class I would usually catch up with the people sitting around me and then we would have more of a lecture class usually about yoga philosophy or breaking down poses and learning the proper alignment, cueing, and assists.

12:30-2:30- Lunch + Break:

This was our longest break all day and I definitely cherished my afternoon breaks. I would try to eat lunch quickly so I could go to the beach and just stare at the waves and the sun glimmering off the water. I also usually called my mom while I was on my break and caught up with her and told her about everything I was doing. They recently put in a pool at Yandara and we were the first class that got to use it! It was so nice and relaxing to be able to cool off during the heat of the day.

2:30-4:15- Practice Teaching + Workshop:

During our first afternoon class we usually practiced teaching in small groups starting with 15 minutes, working our way up to 70 minutes. I never thought that I would feel comfortable teaching to a group of people but I can proudly say that during my last presentation I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be. Teaching feels so natural to me and it makes me incredibly happy. There's truly nothing I want more than to be a good teacher and create a safe and happy environment for people to practice yoga.

4:30-6:00: Satya or Workshop:

After our practice teaching we had a short break before going into more workshops where we would break down poses or our teaching style or we would have a workshop called Satya, which means truthfulness or to abstain from lying. Satya was probably one of the most transformational elements of Yandara. It was basically a huge sharing circle and we would have a question or two that we had to answer with complete honesty. Questions as simple as "What's up?" or "What hasn't been said?" all of the sudden seemed impossible to answer without bursting into tears. It was beautiful to share such deep feelings and allow myself to be vulnerable knowing that my fellow yogis were there supporting me and not judging my stories or my life. In the end, I believe this is what made me realize that everyone is on their own path, going through something we know nothing about, and that we are all connected.

6:00-7:30- Dinner:

Usually dinner was the loudest meal, people gathered around the tables and had conversations about their lives back home, their dreams, plans, favorite shows, music, and all sorts of ridiculous things. These are the meals that I will look back on with a smile.

7:30-9:00- Satsang:

After dinner we would wander over to the pavilion for Kirtan, which was so much fun! A few days a week the Jaya Band would play and we would sing with them and play drums or shakers. We also would get up and dance or do group bonding exercises, which usually involved some sort of dancing or getting in concentric circles and dancing with a partner. I loved dancing with everyone and seeing everyone let loose. I felt so free going in the middle of the circle and just dancing with my soul, not worrying about looking like a complete idiot. On the days the band didn't perform we would usually have either a yin or restorative yoga class. After Satsang or the yoga class I would go back to my tent and write in my journal and get ready to do it all again the next day.

On Saturdays we usually started the morning off with a morning walking meditation, we walked in silence observing nature and being completely present with our surroundings. We experienced falling in love with the earth we walk on, the air we breathe, and the sunshine on our skin. Walking meditation is the easiest for me (for now!) and I have already started using my walks with Prudence as a time for me to practice walking with intention. Seated meditation is still something I am working towards and learning the different types of pranayama, mantras, and mudras makes a huge difference and meditation doesn't seem impossible anymore.

Sundays were our only days off, and we sure did enjoy those days! I usually spent my days off lounging in the shade at a local coffee shop called Baja Beans. On Sundays they have an awesome market set up with local vendors and live music. The people were amazing and so sweet, I loved being able to support local artists in the area and learn about the vendors lives. I became friends with the same people working at the coffee shop every Sunday and felt like I was part of the community. In the end, most of the souvenirs were things I bought from these people that I grew to know over the course of three Sundays. On a couple of the Sundays I had off I went into Todos Santos, the small town about 15 minutes away from Yandara. We usually found some good food, more coffee, and wandered the cobblestone streets.

There is so much that went into my time at Yandara that I could probably write a whole book about the people I met, the food I ate, the things I learned, and the beautiful things I saw and experienced. I don't know if I'll ever be able to get it all out but hopefully this sheds a tiny amount of light on the adventure.

The people, my people. I will never forget the souls who helped shape this experience and make it one that I will remember and look back on with a huge smile. My soul sisters (who I already miss so much it makes me want to cry) will be with me wherever I am, shedding love and light on every situation. My teachers, who I will never be able to thank enough, showed me what it means to be selfless and hold space for others.

Even though I feel so happy to be back home, I am already missing this new family I made and connected with, the beach sunsets, and the stress-free environment. Adjusting to being back home has been a little harder than I expected. It was like I was seeing the world with new eyes, more compassion, and a sense of connection with every living thing. I'm looking forward to teaching and introducing yoga to people and showing that yoga is for everybody and every body.

Let's get together, connect, and do some yoga!



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