The day on which one starts out is not the time to start one’s preparation. – Nigerian Folk Saying
Back in June, I made a short trip to Puerto Vallarta and realized I wanted to explore the area in more depth. I started planning a longer trip and wanted the focus of my trip to be yoga-centered. I am fortunate to have a dear family friend who has an apartment in PV, therefore I can stay at her place and enjoy the culture of PV leisurely.
As I tend to get anxious in airports and on planes, I made myself a new Mala prior to leaving on this particular trip. I knew I wanted a create a knotted silk string mala with beads that were very grounding for me. Therefore, I picked stones the color of the earth, as seen from a plane. I also wanted a very textural mala for enhanced sensory, so I used beads of various shapes, textures and sizes. The focal point for this particular piece is an elk antler (sourced humanely) and a floating silver circle that moves around the other beads as needed. For stones, I used turquoise, jade, lava rock, mother of pearl, bone, wood, sterling silver, agate and a stone I believe is chrysocolla, but could be a jasper (the round beads look like miniature alien earths).
After a weekend of intense teacher training, I decided to let my body rest while traveling to PV. My mother and I flew out of Seattle early Monday morning and caught a connecting flight in Salt Lake City. The flights down were uneventful and I actually appreciated being able to sit for several hours and letting my muscles recuperate. Upon arrival in PV, we walked from my friend’s apartment down to Playa Los Muertos and enjoyed wonderful avocado bruschetta and pumpkin tamales at Daiquiri Dick’s restaurant. Early that evening, there was a torrential downpour so we decided to walk back to the apartment through the small rivers of water rushing down the cobblestone streets. Our clothing and hair became completely saturated with the warm rain so we decided to just relax in the apartment and dry out that night.
On Tuesday, I led my mom in a short home yoga practice in the apartment to just stretch out my sore muscles and to get her core muscles engaged. My mother has limited exposure to yoga and she has not been as physically active as I am (I think I take after my dad in that respect) so working with her is akin to working with a typical student that is new to yoga.
We spent all day walking around PV while shopping. We had a fabulous lunch at Joe Jack’s Fish Shack. I had Sea Bass on asian style noodles and julienne cut vegetables with a ginger mojito. There is nothing as fabulous as fresh chunks of ginger mixed with large leaves of mint soaking in lime and rum! My mother had fish tacos and a passion fruit mojito.
After a long siesta back at the apartment, I sat down to meditate. I read Day 28 from Meditations from the Mat. This particular excerpt discussed letting go of our culture’s unhealthy pursuit of success. This reading resonated with me as the definition of success varies so much by culture; traveling opens my eyes to the idea that ‘success’ is actually a relative concept, not the clear monetary/career concept we are taught in The States.
My mother and I walked over to the Yoga Vallarta studio to attend their 11:15 am Gentle Stretch class. I had been to this studio once before on my prior PV trip and so returning to it again felt very comfortable to me. The studio is very well lit and has a very airy feel inside as there are several floor fans moving the air, as well as air conditioning. This was a welcome relief to the brutal heat we encountered on our walk over. The fans, as well as the music used in the class, drowned out the street sounds from below to create a very relaxing experience.
The yoga instructor was very warm and spoke Spanish and English (Note: I think that her name is Anna, but I was unable to confirm this as their website was not working, so, for the purposes of this article I will continue to call her Anna). One aspect of her class that I found interesting was that she did not use the Sanskrit names for any poses besides Savasana. Some poses she used both English and Spanish names for (I assume that was what she was saying) and she used some Spanish language to emphasize her instructions and cues.
The theme of the class was exploration of hip and shoulder movement and rotation. For an intermediate to advanced yoga student, the class may seem basic and the tempo slow, however, I found that when I let go of my ego around the ‘difficulty’ of the poses she led us through that instead, I focused on foundation and alignment in each exercise which allowed me to explore my body’s range of movement in each pose more thoroughly. True North Alignment, a fundamental concept in Baptiste Yoga, was my theme for the class.