Jivamukti in Paradise: Retreat to Colombia

Jivamukti Yoga in Paradise: Retreat to Colombia with April Dechagas
March 31st – April 6th 2019
Relax, kick back and find inner peace while discovering a new paradise on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, South America. Spend days exploring the jungles, rivers, waterfalls and beaches of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta while enjoying daily yoga and meditation with April in our gorgeous ocean front Yoga Shala.
Your retreat package includes:
  • 6 nights accommodations
  • 3 vegetarian meals/day
  • 2 yoga classes/ meditation each day with April
  • Mendihuaca Jungle Hike to natural pool and waterfall
  • Unlimited water, coffee, tea
  • Unlimited use of beaches/pools/retreat grounds

Not included:

  • Flights to Cartagena and airport transfer to Gitana del Mar (airport transfer will be arranged.)
  • Staff tips at end of trip
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Additional excursions and spa treatments
Pricing: 
Registration after December 1st (A 50% non-refundable deposit required, paid in full by February 28th):
Single Bungalow $2400 (SOLD OUT)
Double Bungalow $1750 (1 spot left)
Triple Bungalow $1550 (2 spot left)
Triple Glamping Tent $1450 (3 spots left)
Room Description:

Our Eco-Chic Bungalows are the ideal place to relax. Each bungalow is designed with a very distinct architectural feature that the indigenous from the area have been utilizing for hundreds of years…. the palm roof.  Not only are these structures made from sustainably and locally harvested palm fronds, the vaulted ceiling design keeps the rooms cooler and more fresh than any other available, man-made material.

Let the soothing sounds of the ocean lull you to sleep after a full day on the beach and exploring the area. Our simple, clean and comfortable rooms are equipped with full private bathrooms, outdoor showers*, fans*, down pillows and plush sheets and towels.

Glamping Tents – large luxury semi-permanent tents (20m2 / 215 sqft). They have their own wood deck front porch and are set apart and more private than the bungalows. They have shared bathrooms.

Other activities available, but not included in cost of retreat:
  • Kayaking/Stand Up Paddleboarding
  • Hiking
  • Waterfalls & Natural Jungle Pools
  • River Tubing
  • Horseback riding
  • Private Scuba Diving Excursions
  • Bathing in one of the many rivers that flow from the Sierra Nevada to the Sea
  • Spa Services

Parque Nacional Tayrona- Located just 10 minutes away, this park is one of the jewels of Colombia covering 58 square miles of land and 6 different beachfront bays. Kogis and Arhuaco people still live within the park and visitors can visit the ancient village of Pueblito while hiking around. There are over 180 species of mammals and over 300 species of birds living in the park, some of which can only be found in this area.

Postcard Front

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Teaching in Oz

“No one can love who has not a heart, and so I am resolved to ask Oz to give me one.” – The Tin Man, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum

I always find my heart while teaching and it’s bursting to teach in Australia! Teaching dates coming up:

December 12th & 13th, Melbourne, Australia The Yoga Corner

December 14th, Sydney, Australia Dance Flow Yoga

December 15th, Surry Hills, Australia, PSOAS PSATURDAY WORKSHOP, Co-teaching with Caterina Quilla at Hiscoes MUST PRE-REGISTER AT WWW.QUILLAYOGA.COM

December 17th, Waterloo, Australia, Quilla Yoga


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It’s Not Easy Being Green

It’s not easy bein’ green
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves                                   Kermit_the_Frog_Based_On
When I think it could be nicer being red or yellow or gold
Or something much more colorful like that

It’s not easy bein’ green
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over because you’re
Not standing out like flashing sparkles in the water
Or stars in the sky

But green’s the color of Spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like an ocean or important
Like a mountain, or tall like a tree

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why
Wonder, I am green and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful
And I think it’s what I want to be – Joe Raposo/Kermit the Frog

When I was 9 years old my family moved from Rockaway, Queens to Long Island, in the middle of the school year. 

Because it was the middle of the year, all of the kids in my class already had their table assignments and I had to be added to one. My teacher, without ever having met me or spoken to me, assumed, based on the spelling of my last name, that I was from a Spanish speaking country and did not speak English, so she placed me at a table with only Spanish speaking students. She made this assumption because at the beginning of the school year there were a group of siblings who had just moved from Peru and spoke very little English, whose last name was spelled De La Cruz. My last name at the time was spelled De Chagas. So just because my teacher saw a space in the middle of my name with a capital “C” she made this assumption.

I was completely offended by this and upset. My last name is Portuguese, but my great grandparents were German, Austrian and Polish, and my family had been in NYC for 3 generations. I definitely spoke English. But as a 9 year old, and a new student, I also just wanted to fit in.

I was so upset by this experience that I actually changed the spelling of my last name to make it less “weird.” To this day, all of my legal documents: driver’s license, passport, high school, college and grad school diplomas, even here at Jivamukti or on my website, my last name is spelled Dechagas. No space, no capital C. Each time my dad sees my name on something he says “you know your name is spelled wrong, right?”

Of course, now, as an adult, I think my Portuguese last name is really cool. There’s this mystery around it about where is comes from, and it makes me different. But it would take soooo much work to go about changing all my legal documents. And as a 9 year old I just wanted to fit in.

So many of us on a daily basis make assumptions about others based on what they look like, last names, skin color, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status, or if they are covered with feathers or scales, etc. We make decisions and take action based on these assumptions without knowing the full situation. In the yoga world we often talk about everyone being essentially the same, and this is true, all human, animal and plant beings are inherently the same; we are all breathing the same (polluted) air and just trying to get by. But we are also all very different and we should own and be proud of our unique differences. In class we are moving together and breathing together, but our practice is also our own practice on our own mat. We are the same and different at the same time.

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The Woman With the Cracked Bucket

Magic is a shift in perception…

There once was an old woman who, every single day, would walk down to the river with two buckets attached to a long pole over her shoulders. One of the buckets was brand new, without a flaw, and the other one was very old with a large crack in it. Each time the woman returned home from her long walk with heavy buckets, the bucket with the crack in it was only half full of water.

This went on for many years, until finally the old bucket asked the woman why she still used him. “You work so hard every single day to carry water home, and each time I am only half full. I feel so inadequate and useless. Why don’t you just throw me out and get a new bucket?”

The old woman told the bucket to look at the path they walk each day. “You’ll notice one side of the path is bare and empty, and the other side is filled with beautiful flowers. I knew of your flaw, so purposely planted seeds on your side of the path, so that each time we walked home, the seeds would be watered. Without the crack in your side we would not have these beautiful flowers.” (Ancient Buddhist Story)

My teacher, Sharon Gannon, often says that magic happens when there is a shift in perception. That if we could just view the world in a slightly different way, magical things will happen. That if we can view buckets with cracks in them with potential, rather than garbage, flowers will grow.

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra chapter 2, verse 33, he says

vitarka bādhane pratipakṣa bhāvanam

When disturbed by disturbing thoughts, think the opposite. Not such an easy thing to do. It takes practice (abhyāsa) and time. This doesn’t mean that if you are sad you should force yourself to be happy,  but when you take the time to pause for a moment before reacting, to view a different side of a situation, you might find that there is always a little bit of magic.

 

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Europe, I’ll Be There Soon!

So excited to be headed to Europe in a few weeks! Upcoming classes in Switzerland and Germany:

Bern, Switzerland, Daya Yoga

Friday July 20th, 5:30 p.m. Open

Saturday July 21st, 10:30 a.m. Medium

Basel, Switzerland, The Looking Glass Yoga

Sunday July 22nd, 10:30 a.m. Open

Monday July 23rd, 6:15 p.m. Medium

Tuesday July 24th, 10:00 a.m. Open

Berlin, Germany, Peace Yoga – Jivamukti Yoga School

Wednesday July 25th, 4:30 p.m. Open

 

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The Saṃyama of Birds

I just returned from two weeks in Belize, Guatemala and Mexico. My first morning in Belize I was woken up, waaaaay too early, by a cacophony of birds. There are about 590 different species of bird just in Belize, and I’m pretty sure every single one of them was saying, “April, RISE AND SHINE!”

That first morning was pretty irritating; but then I found myself purposely waking up with the birds, listening to them, watching them eat breakfast as the sun rose over the ocean.

What I noticed most during my time in Central America and Mexico was not just the many different kinds of birds, but more how all of them flap their wings in different ways. Some glide, some have a meandering wave, some need to get somewhere fast (they must be a NYC ex-pat), and some are nearly invisible. But they all move around this planet with consciousness and purpose. While hunting for food, they are deeply concentrated (dhāraṇā), and meditative (dhyāna), but have the ability to see the expansiveness around them (samādhi); they interact with the greater world without falling out of step. All the time totally absorbed in their point of focus. All three of these together (dhāraṇā, dhyāna and samādhi) are known as  saṃyama; or an intuitive insight.

It is believed that birds who fly together in flocks have a sort of biological radio, able to communicate those intricate patterns and actions instantly. The flocks have no leaders. Instead, each bird hones into the signals of the seven closest to them, and they act as one, flying up, down, around and to the side. They have an amazing ability to choreograph their movements in less time than it takes to blink an eye. (Joan Morris, Mercury News). I don’t know about you, but I have never seen a bird fly off in the wrong direction. And it’s not just those seven birds in communication – these circles interconnect, so they are all in communication with each other.

5af06749af1238853a10c1678752beba-flock-of-birds-silhouette-set

We as human beings can look to these birds for inspiration on how to move around this planet with consciousness. Hopefully we are also tuning in to those closest to us – not just our friends and family, but also our neighbors, community, country and all Earth-beings. Making decisions based on the benefit to all those surrounding us, and not just flying off in the wrong direction. This doesn’t mean we can’t have our own chirp or flap our wings our own special way, but we act with the highest of intentions for the benefit of all.

Happy Earth Day!

 

 

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World Traveling Yogi

#itsbeenawhile has been my hashtag of choice a lot recently. Whether in regards to friends I haven’t seen in a while, working on a jigsaw puzzle, or in this case, writing a new blog post!

The past 6 months have been busy, busy, busy! Mostly filled with planning new and exciting things for 2018. Over the next year I will be traveling quite a bit; teaching yoga, checking out potential retreat destinations, and of course some vacation time! Don’t worry New Yorker’s! I’m still based here and teaching my full schedule!

Check out my global happenings below. Open to everyone! See you somewhere across the globe! Reach out for more info, or click the links below.

January 20th: Manahawkin, NJ, Hot or Not Yoga, Yoga Anatomy Course

February 3rd: Manahawkin, NJ, Hot or Not Yoga, Beginner Sanskrit

February 4th: Manahawkin, NJ, Hot or Not Yoga, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

March 3rd: Manahawkin, NJ, Hot or Not Yoga, Pranayama and Vedic Mantras

March 31 – April 7th: Ambergris Caye, Belize, Yoga Retreat 

April 7th – April 11th: Lake Atitlan, Guatemala – potential future retreat location!

April 12 – 14th: Puebla Mexico, Jivamukti Yoga Puebla, Open Classes and Workshops

July 20 – 21st: Bern, Switzerland, Daya Yoga, In the works!

July 21st – 22nd: Basel, Switzerland, The Looking Glass Yoga, In the works!

July 22 – August 1st (Teaching Dates TBD): Berlin, Germany

August 2018: Rockaway, NY, Beach-asana!

December 2018 (Dates TBD): Sydney, Australia

World Travels

 

Categories: Anatomy, Sanskrit, Travel, Workshops, Yoga, Yoga Class Schedule, Yoga Sutras | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Sunday Samadhi in the Sand

Beach-asana in Rockaway!!! 1 hour donation based yoga class on the beach! Mats are provided by Lola Star Rockaway.

Sundays 7/30, 8/13, 8/20, 8/27

11 am at 116th Street (LOCATION HAS BEEN CHANGED!!!) on the Beach in Rockaway. Mat pick up at the Lola Star store on 116th Street. Take A train or new Rockaway Ferry! Hang out at beach with me after!

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Jigsaw Falling Into Place

First…Thank you Radiohead for your entire catalogue of music, and for the title of this blog post 😀

I have a slight addiction to working on jigsaw puzzles. Really CHALLENGING jigsaw puzzles – usually about 3000 pieces, but they have to be minimum 1500. Working on jigsaw puzzles allows my brain to work in a different, meditative, and creative way.  I often come up with dharma talks or sequencing while puzzling! The one I finished this morning was 2000 pieces, but is of Monet’s Garden (pictured below), so it might as well have been 5000 pieces. Side note – Barnes & Noble carries a 5000 piece Ravensburger, my favorite brand (yes I have a favorite brand of puzzle), but it is like $85. I am obsessed, but not crazy – I refuse to spend this on a puzzle!

When I am working on a puzzle, and have been looking for a specific piece for a long time without success, I’ll start looking for something completely different. And then, all of a sudden I find what I was looking for in the first place, and it is usually, literally, right under my nose. Or, if I have been sitting in front of it for a while without finding any piece at all, I walk away and do something else. Then when I come back, I often find about 20 pieces immediately.

One of my teachers, Ruth, says that one of the results of a yoga practice is that your vision changes, and when you look at anything you are able to see the whole picture – the past, the present, and the future. You are able to see where things have come from and where they are going.

In our āsana practice, over time, you might realize that the poses we come into all link to each other, just like a puzzle, or that they strategically build up to a more challenging pose later on, the bigger picture. Or maybe you one day realize that all of the poses are exactly the same, just take on a different form! (The truly bigger picture!)

When you are faced with a challenging situation in your life, whether it is personal, or with another person, or more national or global, you may start to see how all of the actions, or karmas, you have taken so far have led up to this point, and how whatever you are about to put into the word as a reaction to this situation will lead to other future karmas. So how you act will affect not only you, and the immediate person/situation in front of you, but the greater world as well. Maybe if you start to look at the situation from a different perspective, from the other person’s point of view, or walk away for a bit and come back, you’ll get what you wanted in the first place, and all of the puzzle pieces fall into place…

Maybe your vision expands so much that, as Ruth says,  when you are in the grocery store and you see the non-biodegradable plastic bags that are there for you to put fruit and vegetables in, you can see that they end up buried in the Earth, or in our oceans, and that this causes the Earth and oceans to become sick, and then all of the living begins on the planet become sick. Or when you look at paper plates, cups, napkins, etc., you can picture the trees they came from, and how when we cut down all those trees, it leads to global warming, because there are less trees to take in the carbon dioxide we are emitting, which they then turn back into oxygen, for us to breath, and also to go back into the atmosphere creating rain, which in turn allows everything to grow again. A lovely mandala of life.

The mysteries of the universe often feel like one big jigsaw puzzle, but if we pause for a moment and take it piece by piece, and in the process set an example for others to follow, then slowly, maybe over many lifetimes, the jigsaw will fall into place.

Monets Garden

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Be the Change

I had the humbling honor of writing the Focus of the Month for the Jivamukti Yoga School for the month of May. You can read it on the Jivamukti website, or right here! You can also find my newest playlist (and all my playlists) on Spotify 

BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD

Focus Of The Month – May, 2017

yad-yad ācarati śreṣṭhas / tad-tadevetaro janaḥ / sa yat pramāṇaḿ kurute / lokas-tad-anuvartate
A great person leads by example, setting standards that are followed by others all over the world.

Bhagavad Gita III.21

The streets of Calcutta were dangerous and dirty. Thousands were infected with leprosy, cholera, and other contagious diseases. At overcrowded hospitals, nurses were forced to turn away dying patients onto the cockroach-infested streets. A group of activists, led by Mother Teresa, risked their own health to treat the sick and poor, even though most could not be saved. Why would Mother Teresa dedicate her life to working in the most unsettling conditions for people who did not have anything to give in return? She responded by saying, “I see the divine in every human being. When I wash a leper’s wounds, I feel I am nursing the Lord himself. Is it not a beautiful experience?”

The great leaders of the world – Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, the Dalai Lama, Malala Yousafzai – all share certain characteristics. They are clear communicators as well as great listeners. They have a firm and steady grounding that reflects an unwavering commitment to their cause. They inspire and empower. They are also confident, honest, and discerning. There is another quality each great leader has, that perhaps outshines all the others – humility.

Business philosopher Jim Rohn says, “Humility is almost a God-like word. A sense of awe. A sense of wonder. An awareness of the human soul and spirit. Humility is the grasp of the distance between us and the stars, yet having the feeling that we are part of the stars.” In other words, humility is seeing yourself in others; it is seeing all life as holy.

The word humility is derived from the Latin humilis, which is translated as “grounded” or “from the Earth.” The Chandogya Upanishad teaches tat twam asi or “you are that.” This mahavakya, or great saying, relates to the idea that everything is Brahman, that the supreme Self and the individual self are one and the same. If you are Brahman, and the tree is Brahman, then you and the tree are one. The yogi has the humility to understand they are the same as all that exists on Earth. Its natural resources support life, so it is our responsibility to support the Earth just as much.

According to Vedic scripture, we are currently living in the Kali Yuga – an era of conflict and struggle – and great leaders are especially needed. If we want to see peace and happiness in the world, then we must live the kind of life we want to see. There was a point in time when humanity lived in harmony with nature. We only took from the Earth what was necessary to survive. Now, each year, humans kill billions of animals and destroy millions of acres of land. We are fighting wars over natural resources and the Earth can no longer sustain us. The business of taking all the earthly resources we want was once thought of as progress. We have instead regressed, causing billions of humans, animals, and plants unhappiness.

A great yogi offers strength to others so that they too can learn to be steady and joyful. Humility allows the yogi to be the change they want to see in the world. We can consider progressing in a different way, one that would help us rediscover our higher consciousness and realize that we are the same as the stars and shine just as bright. We can also lead by example, setting standards that are followed by others all over the world.

April Dechagas

Teaching Tips:
  • The asana practice is an expression of humility. For example, when practicing Hanumānāsana, we take on the qualities of the great leader Hanuman. In his unwavering devotion to Lord Rama, he is the epitome of virtue, strength, power, humility and courage.
  • Standing asanas – and warrior asanas in particular – convey the qualities of a great leader: having a firm and steady grounding, a steady gaze, and unwavering intention.
  • Teach alignment of tadāsana/samastithi. Explain that the alignment of this āsana exists within all the others. The mountain, or Earth, is also the connection between all the other forms we take on: humans (warriors, sages, saints), animals (dogs, frogs, monkeys, etc), insects (locusts), plants (trees, mountains), and even inanimate objects that come from materials from the earth (plows, boats, compasses).
  • Have students hold asanas for longer than five breaths while maintaining ujjayi pranayama with peace and humility.
Categories: Bagavad Gita, focus of the month, jivamukti, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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