La Vida Yoga – From the City to the Mountains

The original plan in Colombia was to teach at a yoga studio in Medellin. Well I landed in a super nice house in a lovely neighborhood where I learned to teach yoga in Spanish and I met some great people. It only lasted two weeks, but it launched me exactly where I needed to be. Before I took off across Colombia, I learned a thing or two about managing expectations and setting boundaries.

Within the yoga program I met a single mother in survival mode, running several small businesses. She had given herself “permission” to stop practicing yoga and her presence in the classes was only to take photos and videos. I had been inspired by her blog posts, declaring the intentions of her heart in service of others, but felt slightly deceived by her desperation and drive to make money. Understandable, but not the most amazing environment to teach in.

In a conversation with the head yoga teacher and a friend who was upset, I comforted my friend while the yoga teacher brought the conversation back to a more cerebral level, rationalizing feelings and detaching from the emotional experience of feeling sad. He explained to me that I was not on the same level as them, in a very persistent, condescending tone: “This is beyond you,” he protested, ejecting me from the conversation. What did I do? Well I told him to fuck off. I was disappointed, and I told him I lost respect for him and I would no longer take his classes or teach at the studio.

Upon receiving a letter under my door essentially kicking me out of the house and the program after I spoke my peace about the overall situation the night before, I hailed a cab to my friend Nick’s house, borrowed his backpack and headed to the nearest hostel. Within 6 hours I made friends with a cocky, thrill-seeking youngster from Israel and hopped the night bus to San Gil.

Live the story you want to tell
San Gil – Adventure capital of Santander, Colombia. From paragliding to white water rafting, it’s all within an hour from the town.

I taught yoga at the Bacaregua Hostel to a French woman traveler who also happens to be a mixed martial arts fighter. One of the ladies who works at the hostel watched as I practiced and was very intrigued. I asked her if she wanted to join but she said she preferred to watch. Yoga is not commonly practiced around Colombia, so it was fun to introduce it to people and explain how it can be helpful.

I also did some exploring myself:

Barichara - Camino
El Camino Real, the trail from Barichara to Guane – two adorable little towns outside of San Gil.
Caving in Curiti
Cueva de Vaca

As much as I wanted to stay in San Gil for white water rafting and paragliding, I was on a budget, and I wanted to teach yoga. Julian my hostel host mentioned there was some rock climbing in the area and showed me a hostel a few hours away that was built on a huge rock climbing area that was set four years ago on the Chicamocha Canyon. Upon further investigation I found that this hostel offered yoga so I emailed and called and eventually was able to set up some time there to teach. “Can you come on Friday?” Alexandra the owner asked me. Well that was just two days later, but of course I said okay. It would be a short journey there but everyone I spoke with said it was doable. The place: Refugio la Roca.

The landscape was gorgeous. Flowers and fruit trees everywhere.
The sunrise
The yoga studio

There are more stories to tell and lessons learned from my eight days living and working on the canyon than I can fit into this post, so I will share more in the next blog. I will say that it was pretty incredible that I found the rock climbing hostel. The woman at the studio showed me a photo of the canyon and told me I should try to take a climbing trip there. I kept it in the back of my mind, but never dreamed I would actually get to go.

I said goodbye to luxurious living in Medellin and found in my travels that the most important things were community, being flexible, and going with your gut. I said goodbye to hot showers, fans and water filtration systems and welcomed purchasing food from the farm and looking forward to eating fresh papaya and practicing yoga every single morning. All of the necessities, and a much slower life. In the presence of change I found my yoga practice and like brushing my teeth, it is a form of cleansing. It use to be a work out, a coping mechanism, a release. Now it is a way of living and there’s no going back.

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