In preparation for our yoga retreat this spring to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, we took time to chat with our Angelena & Adam, our two fantastic instructors. Their carefully crafted theme - Embracing Expansiveness - is as much an inward pursuit as it is outward. Read on for more insight and get ready for a retreat of a lifetime!
What does Embracing Expansiveness mean to you?
Adam: Embracing Expansiveness means moving towards honesty on our practices and existence. We remove the veil covering the deep well of what lies within, in order to become a greater version of ourselves.
Angelena: Embracing Expansiveness is about looking within to see beyond. We live in a world that tells us that our fullest potential can be established outside of ourselves in the latest fad or trend. Adam and I believe the first step to expansion is looking inward. What we seek can be found within by peeling away our masks, looking at our truths, and connecting deeply with ourselves and those around us. This trip is about embracing the expansiveness of who you are.
Tell us about your journey to yoga.
Adam: At the end of 2008 I had gone through a major breakup, was out of work, and suddenly out of a place to live. I had always been ungrounded, but the need to breathe and focus for the sake of my own survival became evident (finally) at that point. A couple of friends of mine showed me some poses and a little pranayama in my final months living in New England, and I had a small home practice for about 2 years before stepping into a studio for the first time, in Austin. One year later I was in my first teacher training, as the idea of practicing in a dedicated environment had proven itself to me and I was taking class every day. When Shanti Kelley had begun to educate me on what a deeper practice can really consist of, and what it could do, the seeds were planted for me to grow to comprehend what embodying the practice meant.
Angelena: As a teenager, my life was full extra curricular activities and academics. I had a restless mind and lots of energy. My father took me to my first yoga class in 2006 as a way to teach me centering. I needed balance and the lovely Karuna became my guide. A former student of the late B.K.S. Iyengar, Karuna focused on form and feeling the pose. As we held each posture, she spoke about turning our focus inward and using the breath as a tool to draw in our attention. My mind wandered and I remember growing impatient with the slow pace and how long we held the postures. However, an ease befell me by the end of class that I could not quite explain. I liked the floaty feeling of relaxation in my body. As I walked down the wooden stairs to leave the studio, I thought, I'll be back.
Today, I think of those days going to yoga with my dad and I smile. His goofy hippie class, as I used to call it, had given me a life long gift. I found a practice where I could be myself, unjudged, and compassionate to my experience in the moment. The only requirement was showing up.
This retreat welcomes yogis of every level.. from beginner to frequent practicer. How can guests best find their flow in a mixed level class?
Adam: By working to open and stabilize equally in postures and viewing these actions as trajectories and paths by which to travel. That way our guests will be able to get the most out of every practice.
Angelena: As teachers, Adam and I are here to guide and support you. Weather you are a beginner or seasoned practitioner, the practice of yoga is a time to receive and learn. As you stretch your body, stretch your mind by connecting with subtle body and notice the mechanics of your system. Be patient with yourself and find joy in the wonderment of your practice rather than comparing yourself to others. Stay open to trying new things from postures to meditation and give yourself permission to not get it all at once. See where you can go and rediscover familiar movement as if you were experiencing it for the first time. Finally, look at how you can take your practice off the mat. Use the tools to have learned to be present with those around you, compassionate, and share love.
What is your favorite thing about practicing yoga in nature?
Adam: The best part about practicing yoga in nature is seeing what happens when the (urban) noise of everyday existence is stripped away, leaving something that isn't silence, but an organic soundscape far more subtle in its composition and influence.
Angelena: I love the smell of fresh air and the sounds of nature. Practicing outside helps me become present with the moment. I tune into the rhythm of my breath, the feeling of the ground beneath my toes, the temperature and taste of the air, and the smell of the outside world. I feel connected to earth and reminded that I am one of the many creatures sharing this planet.
What are you most looking forward to about this Nicaragua experience?
Adam: I've never been to Central America before, so I'm looking forward to it all in terms of experience. I'm also ecstatic over the opportunity to really dive in to the practice alongside Angie with all those that attend, and see what happens with all of our development.
Angelena: Embracing Expansiveness is about cultivating connection with those around us and ourselves. In addition to Barrio Planta Project, we’re excited about working with Alex’s Surf Shop and learning more about their program to sponsor local youth in surf competitions.
The setting and the activities in San Juan del Sur will be wonderful, but the people will be the ones that make this a memorable experience. I am excited to meet the group and see what we create together. Adam and I will offer the tools and together we will express, look in, and blossom.