I have been home from my month away in the rainforest for just over a month now... and as I sit outside on a patio of a coffee shop in Chicago, I close my eyes and think about my time at the Yoga Farm it feels surreal, like it did not happen, especially as more time passes...the memory is more and more distant - But I indeed just spent a month living on a mountain, in the middle of the rainforest with a group of amazing people.
I have been letting my experience of The Yoga Farm soak in while I have gotten back to my life in Chicago... been thinking about what I wanted to write and share about my experience. Even now a month later I sit here not knowing how to even put into words the wave of emotions, challenges and experiences that came about over the course of a month in the rainforest.
In today's modern society with all its "conveniences" there is something really special about spending an extended amount of time in nature away from internet, social media, TV, electricity, etc. Life becomes very simple. You wake up when the sun rises to sound of the howler monkeys and you go to bed not long after the sun goes down. On the Yoga Farm your day revolves around a set meal schedule, daily yoga class and maybe a few chores on the farm for those volunteering. Besides the one yoga class I would teach daily, most days the biggest decision I would have to make is whether I'm going to walk the down the hill to the beach or am I going to stay on the hill and read a book in a hammock. Life was sooo hard. 😜
This is the first time I have lived in a communal environment in years. Lucky for all of us we all got along beautifully, an amazing group of human beings. Of course when you are with the same group of people 24/7 there will be bumps, annoyances, etc. You eat together, you yoga together, walk to the beach together, hang in the hammocks next each other... In a place so secluded from civilization you have to seek your alone and quiet time. This part of the Yoga Farm was the most challenging for me...not the bugs, composting toilet, sweating all day, never getting clean, etc.... The introverted side of me wanted to run away at times When there were close 25 people at dinner the first part of the month... Then it got quieter with less people passing through the second part of the month. Though now that I'm back to routine in Chicago I miss the communal living the most... The times we spent down in the kitchen eating our meals where we actually talk to the person sitting across or next to us... There was no cell service, so no one had their phones on the table to next them or was there texting someone else when you were in a conversation... No photos taken of the food you were eating at mealtime just to post them on instagram right away... that didn't exist here... and it was brilliant.
You had to live in the moment at Yoga Farm...you embraced it, there was no escaping from it...
It was easy to live your yoga all day everyday at the farm...It's slow, you don't have an overpacked schedule, you are surrounded by the beauty of the jungle and ocean. You interact and collaborate with people you are living with. You take time to yourself when you need. You eat fresh vegetables and fruit from the land and other nearby farms. Everything is composted. The little electricity we have is from solar energy. So at the Yoga Farm, the actual physical yoga asana practice was the smallest part of the day...the real practice is your yoga in action throughout the day...
Now that I'm back in the busy city....how to do I bring parts of the Yoga Farm back to my daily life that is realistic and sustainable for me?
- Is it making sure I don't pack my schedule up like I normally do to the point of exhaustion?
- Is it being even more conscious than I already am of how I eat and where I buy your food from? Is it my daily interactions with other beings?
- Is it being aware of my internet and TV usage?
- Allowing myself quiet time?
- Keeping up on my meditation and yoga asana practice?
- Becoming more aware of how my actions impact the environment and taking the steps to make more positive impact? I already started by ordering this book I found the Yoga Farm bookshelf.....RADICAL SIMPLICITY: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth. (see sidebar for link)
And then just being kind to myself when something slips and I get caught in old habits...remembering we are always doing the best that we can at any given moment...life ebbs and flows...
....So as I am typing this I am sitting on the patio of a cafe on busy street in Wicker Park...the sounds of cars and city buses rushing by, music from the cafe streaming out into patio, a guy on the phone at a table next to me, the smell of exhaust from a delivery truck pulling away... you get the picture...Complete opposite of the nature and animal sounds of jungle. So in this moment if I can shift my focus...I feel the breeze through my hair, the sun shining through the trees above me, I hear laughter and I see people walking and biking by enjoying their day...In this moment everything is how it exactly supposed to be and there is plenty of beauty in that.
After a month at the yoga farm I left with very mixed emotions...excited to get back my life in Chicago and saddened to leave the beautiful people I just spent the month getting to know and to leave the simplicity of living in the rainforest. There is soo much more I could write about my experience...Some things I'm still processing and some things are just not meant to be shared, not yet anyway.
So Thank you Yoga Trade for providing me with the opportunity to teach yoga at The Yoga Farm... and huge Thank you to the owners, Pat and Christie, for inviting to be part of your community...truly feel blessed and honored to be part of such an amazing project that you both created.
And even bigger thank you to all volunteers and guests I got to know dearly over the month... Thank you for allowing me to lead you through a daily yoga asana practice... I learned so much about my teaching and myself leading you all for an entire month... you have helped me grow further as a teacher and as a human being..... and I discovered where I need to challenge myself more in my life and teaching ... as well directions I want to take my teaching now that I am back. Even writing this now I get a little teary eyed thinking back to my class on the yoga deck... With that.... Thank you Thank you. 💚
Yoga Farm...I'm not sure when...but you may just see me again...