central america | nicaragua | yoga teacher training

presse agent Dominika Zarzeczny. images by Kimberly Waugh.

where: Chinandega, Nicaragua
when: October 1 – 29, 2014
why: To train to become a yoga teacher.
where did you stay? At the eco-friendly El Coco Loco Resort.

As I started to envision my ideal life, I realized that it included yoga. Practicing or teaching it, it didn’t matter. I wanted yoga to become part of my life. I wanted to understand and practice the very stillness I encouraged my own patients to practice. So, running on a combination of gut instinct and having known El Coco Loco owners Jamie Collum, Ben Orton and Earl Cahill from university, I jumped in with both feet and signed up for their yoga teacher training program. I had unknowingly embarked on an incredible adventure that would connect me with 16 beautiful souls, introduce me to the colourful Nicaraguan culture, and ultimately bring me closer to manifesting my ideal life. Owners Jamie, Earl and Ben took wonderful care of us, ensuring that we were always well fed with four square (mostly vegetarian) meals a day, safe, and (for the most part) dry. October is by far the wettest month in Nicaragua. We stayed in beautiful rustic cabanas that were within earshot of the waves crashing on the Pacific shoreline. We fell asleep to the sound of rain, and our wake up call was either a rooster’s crow or the beautiful song of a local bird. Mornings were silent and started at 6am with a breakfast consisting of fresh local fruit (papaya, pineapple, watermelon, banana), homemade granola, and coffee or tea. Our morning practice started at 7am in the yoga rancho – a few steps from the beach – and was often presided over by a sweet pig, a grass-chomping horse or the mischievous, but lovable puppies owned by a resort staff. This two-hour practice session was followed by a hot and timely (we were ravenous!) second breakfast, after which time we studied the history and philosophy of yoga. On some occasions we practiced Seva, or ‘selfless service’, with Waves of Hope, El Coco Loco’s non-profit community development program. For our Seva, we visited the local high school three days a week to teach English. It was a humbling experience, and we got as much (if not more) from the experience as the students.

Of course there were no shortage of activities and sights to see. The deep tissue massage was a must after the first week of intense yoga practice; the chocolate-making workshop using locally harvested cacao beans left us with a long-lasting theobromine buzz; an afternoon spent in nearby Leon was an opportunity to shop and take in the city sights; and a Sunday morning surf lesson reminded us that the ocean was boss.

The pinnacle moment of the trip was the opportunity to witness the survival instinct at its finest… watching over 200 Olive Ridley sea turtle hatchlings run the gauntlet! It was an emotional experience to watch the hatchlings dodge driftwood, fight swash and swim with great frenzy; knowing very well that predators like birds, fish and poachers placed their odds of surviving to adulthood at 1 in 1,000. Waves of Hope strives to improve these odds through their sea turtle conservation program. Over the past 3 years, WOH has successfully hatched and released 15,000 baby turtles to the sea.

By the end of my training in Nicaragua, I too had successfully conquered what had been for me, a difficult feat: mastering crow pose. But more than that, I now understand that yoga is as much about surrender as it is about strength. It is about tuning into the present moment and reaching the fullest expression of your authentic self in order to do good in the world.

Would I do it again? 100%.

Dominika Zarzeczny is a Toronto-based Naturopathic Doctor who decided to obtain her yoga teaching certificate at Radiant Life Yoga School in Nicaragua. The inspirational yogini Kimberly Waugh directed the training, while yogini Nikki Belcher led the chocolate workshops. The next RYT 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training is slated for Spring 2015.

Dreaming of skipping off to Central America? Grab a guide book…and don’t forget your mat!

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