Check out my very first interview at Aqua Wellness Resort with the lovely Anthony Mandela from Retreat Conextions!
Not all those who wander are lost
All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost… – J. R. R. Tolkien
To all of those Lord of the Rings fans who may have just wet their pants, don’t get too excited. I’m not reporting on a prequel or a sequel or anything along those lines, today I want to talk about the art of wandering. The dictionary defines ‘wander’ as to walk or move in a leisurely, casual, or aimless way. It is one of the things I love about holidays and travel. It has the ability to make you slow down so that you can soak everything in. Everything is new, everything is exciting, and it makes you completely conscious of the present moment.
So wow can we bring this into our every day lives, you ask? Easy. SLOW. IT. DOWN. Most people in today’s society are set to automatic or worse yet, cruise control. I was one of those people. Always in a hurry, taking the most efficient option and envying those who had the time to wander. No wonder days, weeks, years just pass by. Don’t fall into that trap. Change yourself to a manual (you’re welcome car purists). This way you can consciously choose when to speed up, when to slow down and understand the mechanics behind how and when to do so. Bring more awareness to even the simplest things in your life. Savour your food, walk without staring at your phone, when you breathe just breathe and god darn it start meditating. You don’t need to go and hide in a cave for decades – all you need is 5 minutes, a comfortable seat and yourself.
Since I decided to take my yoga teaching global I’ve found that I am mastering the art of the wander. And I can tell you, I am a fan. In this chapter of my story, I have wandered through Granada, Nicaragua. I don’t like to play favourites but Granada is special. The city itself is a feast for the senses – the smell of delicious food wafting through the air, the bright colours of the Spanish colonial buildings, the loud sounds of latino music blaring from people’s houses. And it is surrounded by many a natural wonder. Here are my must see’s:
Streets of Granada
Masaya Volcano at night
One of the only places in the world that you can see lava in an active volcano. Enough said.
365 tiny inhabited islands in Lake Nicaragua only 5 minutes away from Granada. Most tours will stop you at monkey island, where you can feed some spider monkeys fruit.
This hidden oasis is the perfect place to stay and to get your yoga fix whilst in Granada. It’s about a 10 minute walk from the main drag and is quiet enough to relax but close enough to walk.
To eat – you can’t go past Espressionista and El Garaje. Nectar is worth a mention for their tacos and drink specials.
So whether you’re at home or exploring the world – you too can wander.
5 tips to become a successful travelling yoga teacher
Why hello there. My name is Jaçlyn and this is my current office in Nicaragua. Not too shabby hey? I’ve been a travelling yoga teacher for about a year now and although I’m quite new to the game, I’ve had to learn the ins and outs quick smart. As a yoga teacher, you can make the world your oyster. You have the opportunity travel to the most beautiful parts of the world whilst doing what you love. It’s a tough gig, but someone needs to do it right? Yes, but it doesn’t come without it’s challenges. Once you start to look into teaching positions abroad, you’ll find that a lot of places offer volunteer positions that allow you to trade your time for food and board. As us yogis are naturally generous (especially with our time) this can seem like a pretty appealing option, but there are many other things you need to consider before you jump in. Here are 5 tips that will help you land a job abroad and keep yourself afloat:
- Where to find the jobs – There are a few great websites that are dedicated to yoga teaching jobs abroad. Yoga Trade is a fabulous place to start. They have the widest array of jobs advertised and charge $24 per year to subscribe to their service and I can vouch that it is worth every cent. Another great website to visit is Yoga Travel Jobs – completely free to browse and apply for jobs but not as much range as Yoga Trade. There are even a few Facebook forums that you can join such as YOGA JOBS & Yoga Jobs All Over the World. Another great way to get started is if you’re ever on holiday and fall in love with the place, go and ask studios and even resorts that offer yoga if there are opportunities coming up in the near future. If you don’t ask, you don’t know!
- How to land the job – With more and more teachers graduating with 200 hour certifications, it is becoming more and more necessary to stick out from the crowd. What makes you special? What are your strengths? Employers have to sift through hundreds of CV’s, make yours stick out. Instead of a traditional CV, why not create a mood board with your credentials? Or send a video instead. To learn more about how to sell yourself join my 5-day online course on ‘Mindful Marketing‘ for just USD$9.99.
- Research where you are going – Before you commit to going anywhere, I highly recommend researching the area and it’s surrounds. Look into how safe the area is, know what is around you and how mobile you can be once you are there. There is nothing worse than feeling trapped or secluded. Look into the legal working requirements for the country you are planning to go to and if your employer is going subsidise your working permit as these are usually expensive. Make sure you have a contract (especially if you are travelling far) and that you are comfortable with the terms and conditions. Look to see if there are any details about tax and if you are getting paid and don’t be afraid to negotiate.
- How to sustain yourself – One of the biggest lessons I have learnt as a yoga teacher is to not sell yourself short. There are SO many work/exchange programs out there that it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that this is your only option. If you are happy with this arrangement then you need to factor in all the costs associated with getting yourself there, living comfortably and travelling to other destinations afterwards. It is also a good idea to see if there are opportunities for you to earn some money whilst your there. The good news is that there are plenty of paid jobs going around. These jobs usually require a certain amount of experience and training but keep your eyes peeled for them and make sure you dazzle them when you apply. Whatever option you choose make sure the opportunity is worth your while.
- Once you are there, network – You will meet some amazing students and yoga teachers on your travels. If you really connect with someone, stay connected! Don’t be afraid to direct them to your website, sign up for your newsletters, grab their email etc. You may find that you have a whole lot of extra time too, so why not brush up on your anatomy, keep the self study going , find a new hobby, or create extra streams of income online. Also remember that you are still running your own business whilst abroad so keep track of everything you’re earning and spending. For helpful information on how to run your yoga teaching business more effectively and efficiently sign up for my 5 day online ‘Business Basics‘ course for just USD$9.99.
And lastly, make sure you look after yourself and have fun! Being in a new environment takes some adjusting to so eat well, sleep well and find things that keep you inspired and healthy.
5 PRACTICAL TIPS FOR NEW YOGA TEACHERS
Congratulations and welcome to the club! Being a yoga teacher is a fulfilling and exciting profession that demands integrity and authenticity. But now that you are qualified, what next? Here are 5 tips to help you get started as a new yoga teacher:
1. Practice compassion – especially towards yourself. Sometimes there will be classes that you nail and sometimes you will feel like it wasn’t your best performance. Try not to be hard on yourself. Be prepared, be authentic, practice your craft, teach what you know, and try your best every class. Your students will see that and appreciate the time and effort you have put in.
2. Continue your education – when I completed my 1000+ hour teacher training it made me realise how little I actually knew and how much more I wanted to explore and learn. My teachers encouraged me to find what I loved and build on my knowledge. Whether it is attending workshops, retreats or more training, commit to being an eternal student so you can evolve as a teacher and share with your students.
3. Continue your own practice – it is really easy to get caught up in lesson plans, finding more classes to teach and life in general. But you will soon find that self-care is one of the most important things of being a yoga teacher. Make sure you take the time to practice what you preach and get to as many classes as you can for inspiration (and your sanity).
4. Put yourself out there – finding classes to teach can sometimes be challenging. But don’t wait for people to come to you, take the initiative to get to know the people who run studios and gyms around your area. Attend their classes, get to know what they are all about and then approach them for work. Studios are always looking for teachers who can cover classes. For extra tips on how to promote yourself, enrol for my 5-day ‘Mindful Marketing’ online course.
5. Keep track of all business related income and expenses – I know this may be snooze-worthy, but being a yoga teacher also involves running your own business. Make sure you document and store all invoices and receipts you send and receive on a monthly or quarterly basis. This will make tax time easier and reduce expensive accounting costs. Check out my 5-day ‘Business Basics’ online-course to for tips on how to efficiently and effectively run your own yoga business so you can spend more time doing what you love.
From one yogi to another, I wish you all the best in your yoga teaching endeavours. And remember, if there is no joy in your practice you’re doing it wrong.
A new chapter in Nicaragua
It’s always hard saying goodbye to loved ones and places you love. But there are just some opportunities that you just can’t say no to. And Aqua Wellness Resort in Nicaragua was one of them. Nestled 2 1/2 hours south of Managua in Redonda Bay, Aqua has captured eco-luxury perfectly. Picture wooden tree houses scattered down a hill descending to a private beach.
The said private beach.
The yoga platform is insane. Yes that’s the bay and the beach behind me.
The people that I work with are lovely. The restaurant is organic and the food is delicious. Oh and this is the view from my room right now.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words I think I’ve gone over my quota. All I can say is I think it’s time you come and visit… Now.
Sitting in silence – Nyepi New Year
I love Bali. There I said it. Just one year ago I had no interest in setting foot on the island, but now I’m a complete convert. There are just so many different sides of this Hindu paradise. You can party like a rockstar in Kuta, live the high life in Uluwatu, heal yourself in Ubud, dive in Amed and the list could go on and on. But what has always fascinated me is the Balinese people and culture. They are remarkably sweet, kind natured and gentle in their interaction. You rarely see someone without a smile on their face. So being able to celebrate Nyepi (Balinese new year) with locals was an experience beyond special.
Unlike us westerners (yes I realise I’m Asian but I like to think of myself as a banana, white on the inside yellow on the outside) the Balinese celebrate their new year in a remarkably different fashion. Though there are many festivities to the lead up to their new year, the day itself is spent in complete silence. And they take their silence seriously. No electricity, no food, no communication and there are police on the street politely asking people to return back to their homes. The large majority of tourists head to neighbouring islands but not this one. I couldn’t wait for the silence.
Silence can be confronting, uncomfortable or downright boring. But it can also be peaceful, grounding and spacious. In the western society that we live in today, where our days are consumed with non-stop ‘noise’, silence is necessary for our own sanity. That’s why we practice our yoga and meditation. To find some space to quieten our mind. But Nyepi takes things to a whole new level. You may hear the occasional dog bark or chicken crow but apart from that there is literally no noise.
I must admit, it wasn’t all peace, love and mung beans. Being with your own thoughts, especially the dark ones, can be somewhat terrifying. But you can’t have dark without light, happy without sad – such is the paradoxical nature of life! Every time things got a little hairy I repeated my mantra for the day “this too shall pass”. And you know what? It did! The day flew by, I learnt a lot about my thought patterns, I got to work on some issues I had been pushing to the side and I got to revisit the true contentment of being comfortable by yourself. For the first time in a long time I felt embodied, whole and settled.
Night dawned and the universe blessed me with a shooting star spectacle. My first ever. I had never felt so connected to the universe and all the things it encompasses. The vastness of sky and the billions of stars was breathtaking and humbling. Something new awoke within me. Needless to say I shed a tear (I’ll claim it as a cleansing practice) and fell asleep exhausted at the late hour of 8pm…
Now I know not all of you will rush to find the nearest cave to spend the whole day in complete silence, but when was the last time you spent time some quiet time with yourself? Not with the TV on, or taking yourself out for a nice meal and chatting with people on Facebook. Just you and you. The experience will be powerful. I can’t promise that it will be 100% pleasant, but I can promise it will be good for you.
I’ve got some exciting news too! This lucky duck scored a job at Aqua Wellness Resort in Nicaragua. I am the official in-house yoga teacher, so book your flights, pack your bags and come and visit me on the other side of the planet. But first I’m heading back home to Melbourne to get my dose of love from friends and family before the big trip.
To see what other shenanigans I’ve been up to, follow the Nourish Yoga blog.
Lazing around in Lembongan
On the road again and I’m feelin fine! There’s something so cleansing and exciting about going somewhere new. It’s a feast for the senses and something that I welcome with open arms. My destination – Nusa Lembongan – a quaint little island off the south-east coast of Bali. Nusa Lembongan is a surfers and divers dream. Crystal clear turquoise water, laid back vibe and an abundance of sea life. Although the island is becoming popular with tourists it is still relatively untouched. It has kept it’s Balinese hospitality and charm, but still has an adequate range of accommodation and eateries.
What to do?
Hire a scooter and take a ride around the island and neighbouring island Nusa Ceningan. You wont be disappointed. There are hidden beaches, spectacular vistas and adventures to be had at every turn. And the good thing? It’s tough to get lost. So ditch the maps, be spontaneous and you’ll be amazed at what you find.
Snorkel or scuba dive. Words and pictures cannot do what is under the water any justice. But I’ll just leave this here anyway…
Where to eat?
For healthy, sustainable and vegetarian eats and drinks, you can’t go past Bali Eco Deli. They reward plastic bottle recyclers with 10% off the bill and everything is sourced locally. Some of my favourites from the menu include:
– Morning dates packed smoothie
– Banana bread
– Purple boost smoothie
– Cucumber mint chiller
If you’re looking for fabulous service, a great view, and an extensive food and wine menu all conveniently situated next to an infinity pool then you can’t go past The Deck. Just click the link then click your ruby heels 3 times repeating the phrase “there’s no place like home” and if you’re lucky you’ll get transported to laid back luxury heaven.
Another beach side alternative is Hai Tide in Mushroom Bay. Think white sand, cool breeze, cocktails, open air cinema and scrumptious pizza. Their local delicacies are also worth a mention (especially the Soto Ayam). They also have Bintang beer on tap if you are that way inclined!
Where to relax?
Sandy Bay Beach Club – kick back by the pool, lounge on the the beach, order a cocktail, read a book and hey presto your day is done! You can also stop by their shop ‘The Walking Tree’ to pick up some new threads, homewares and international wines and cheeses.
Where to yoga?
The Yoga Shack is the place to go! The octagonal open-air bamboo yoga shala is simply stunning. Classes cost 100,000 rph and are suited to all levels. Styles include hatha, vinyasa and yin. All equipment is provided. And the owner used to teach and H20 Yoga and Meditation so you know you’re going to get quality teachers.
Though there are plenty of things to do in Nusa Lembongan, my suggestion is to soak up the island lifestyle and JUST RELAX. Enjoy the slow pace, the smell of the sea, and being in nature. And if Nusa Lembongan isn’t quite the place to do it, come and visit me on Gili Air on the 30th of April for my ‘Rest and Renew‘ workshop.
My next stop, Amed!
The Yogi’s guide to the Universe
As I sit here staring at palm trees and sunsets on paradise island (Gili Air) I realise that it doesn’t matter how beautiful or peaceful a place is, it doesn’t matter if you’re doing what you love, if you’re not aligned, nothing feels right. It is approaching on 3 months that I’ve had the courage to post something up on Nourish Yoga. Mostly because my words, thoughts and actions have been flying all over the place – completely disparate.
I am ok to admit that I am currently in a pretty dark place. Emotional crises are not my forte. But you know what? This game we play called life – it can be tough. There is no light without dark, happiness without sadness, good without bad. In our society where there are thousands of books on the ‘pursuit of happiness’ it can be easy to fall in the trap of thinking ‘there is something wrong with me’ if you’re not always happy. But those on the yogic path know that attachment (towards material things or emotions) comes from our ego and the practice of Aparigraha (non-attachment) is one of the many ways our yoga practice can set us free.
I believe that true yoga begins when times get tough. You may see some things you dislike, or didn’t even know you were capable of. And for most of us, we are our own worst critic. But all we can do is learn, grow, forgive, share and pick ourselves back up again. So it’s time to get on the mat, hit the reset button again, and figure out my true nature – to align my words, thoughts and actions. And what better way to do it than being in nature surrounded by beautiful people. To all my friends in Melbourne and around the world, I miss you dearly and to all the people that have been around for me these last 3 months thank you for sticking by me.
Good news is that this little yogi is traversing the universe again and her next destination is Nusa Lembongan off the South-East coast of Bali to celebrate Nyepi (Balinese New Year). I can’t wait to show you pictures and share how the Balinese celebrate their New Year!
Namaste peeps xx
Penang: Home is where the heart is
Penang – a small island off the north west coast of west Malaysia. Most famous for it’s hawker food and shoe designer Jimmy Choo. It is my place of birth, my parents place of birth and the place where the majority of my extended family reside. My grandmother’s ailing health and the anniversary of my grandfather’s passing drew me back home this time. And although I have lived in Melbourne for nearly 26 of my 28 years, I have been caught plenty of times confusing my friends with my use of the word ‘home’. I’ve always just dismissed it as my general looseness with the English language or perhaps my understanding of the limits of language, but I’ve never really delved deep into the notion of home. But now, as I sit here in my mother’s family home, seems like a fitting moment in time.
The Merrium-Webster dictionary defines home as ‘a place where something normally or naturally lives or is located’. Upon reflection and contemplation I have never felt a huge amount of attachment to any place. When I use the phrase ‘I want to go home’, what I mean is that I want to get out of the place where I am into a place of comfort. So homesickness is a feeling unfamiliar to me. I’ve heard people describe it as a nostalgic feeling towards familiar things such as family, friends and pets and in some cases I’ve seen it result in depression and anxiety. I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss some things about Melbourne – my rabbits, friends, food and fresh air. There are some things I miss about Penang . But I look at these things with a sense of fondness rather than it eliciting any ill feelings or longing.
I guess for me, home is where the heart is. As cliche as it sounds, it is a feeling of comfort rather than a destination. Though I believe my most anxious years have passed the practice of Yoga has helped me feel at home within myself. It has helped me let go of some physical attachments and at the risk of sounding like a fluffy Yogini, I really feel like I am a child of the universe. I can feel at home in a place, with a person, on my yoga mat – anywhere. But since I’m not just anywhere, here are my must do’s of Penang:
- Eat: Laksa, Hokkien Mee, Curry Mee, Char Koey Teow, Mamak, Wonton Mee and Song River Chicken Wings. And off the side of the street is the best… Just don’t watch how they cook it.
- Drink: G Hotel bar on Gurney Drive.
- Shop: Paragon and Gurney Plaza – next to each other on Gurney Drive.
- Stay: Eastern & Oriental Hotel in George Town
- Do: Go on a walk through the beautiful colonial shop houses in town and view the street art.
See where else I have been and where else I end up by following my blog.
Falling in love with the Gili Islands
It was love at first sight. Just like that feeling you get when you catch the eye of someone across the room – my heart fluttered and time stopped. After a relatively calm 1 hour fast-boat ride from Padang Bai they appeared. An archipeligo of 3 small islands off the north-west coast of Lombok surrounded by crystal clear turquoise water and outlined with pure white sand. No cars, no motor bikes, no mass media being thrown in your face – this was the escape I was looking for.
First stop Gili Trawangan. Known as the ‘party’ island, Gili T is the largest and most developed of the 3. It has the largest range of accommodation and places to eat by far, and if you’re looking to get a taste of island life with all the luxuries then Gili T is the place for you. I was greeted by my beautiful French ‘local’ friend at Villa Sama Lama after being escorted by horse and cart (not nearly as romantic as it sounds) through a network of winding narrow dirt roads. The accommodation was ridiculous – I felt like I had died and woken up in tropical heaven. It all felt so surreal. No matter how hard I tried to pull myself into the present, nothing worked. It didn’t feel like I was the one seeing through my eyes. Then I went diving for the first time…
For those of you that haven’t been diving before, I liken the experience to meditation. Deep breathing, slowing your heart rate and pure awareness in a completely different world. The activity demands 100% presence yet you feel weightless and totally relaxed. Life under water is mesmerising, magical and absolutely surreal. A perfect place to practice observation without interaction. Billions of life forms all working together in perfect harmony with a plethora of natural beauty to take in. Minutes feel like seconds, hours like minutes – I was hooked. Thank you 3W Dive for opening up my eyes to a totally different and magical world. It was truly a life changing experience and if anyone wants to go diving in the Gili’s I highly recommend them.
After a few days of diving and chilling out, I think it was safe to say that I settled in to the pace of island life pretty quickly. So I sailed to Gili Air and took relaxing to the next level. There is something about being completely immersed in a laid back environment. No watches, no clocks, no where to be. I soon lost track of what day it was what date is was. I felt like I had the time to make decisions, to have the space to see clearly and it made me realise the importance of being surrounded and connected to nature. Just one month ago I was caught up in the busy buzz of city life and though you could say I didn’t have the typical 9-5 job, I definitely still felt the pressures of urban life. And being here has made me question whether I would ever go back and why more people don’t do this. This sense of spaciousness and freedom is something I believe we all should experience – it is truly game changing and completely necessary.
I stayed at 2 adorable places in Gili Air – Villa Marina & 3W Cottages and Villas. I would particularly suggest to people who are on a little bit of a budget but still want all the necessities like a pool, private room, air conditioning, hot showers etc. Needless to say, it was still pretty heavenly. I don’t want to play favourites but if you made me choose, Gili Air would have to be it. The vibe is much more relaxed, the streets are clean and the locals are full of smiles. They have a fabulous yoga retreat centre – H20 Yoga and Meditation, which is run by an Aussie who fell in love with Gili Air (much like myself) and is a must for all yoga-goers. I was lucky enough to be a guest teacher one morning and the energy in the round was electrifying.
Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to spend much time on Gili Meno, the smallest and most secluded of the islands. But something tells me that I’ll be back. Perhaps sooner rather than later… Though it was a whirlwind trip, I find myself completely and utterly zenned out and entirely in love. So go on, what are you waiting for? Find something that you love to do in a place that you can immerse yourself. Who knows what you will find…
Check out my journey so far by visiting the Nourish Yoga blog.