From the concrete jungle to actual jungle, journey to the tropics for true transformation.
In the past decade, yoga has become an increasingly Westernized form of physical exercise. The mind body spiritual integration of the practice, holistic health benefits and tranquility that yogis benefit from are just the tip of the iceberg. You don’t have to look hard to find a studio in any city, to get your 90 minutes of Zen, but have you considered taking your practice to sunnier skies and upping the humidity to practice in the tropics? It’s an entirely different experience to practice in paradise where the magic and beauty of the region transform your physical space, while the lifestyle of the locals permeates your mind and spirit.
When practicing in the city, sometimes it can feel like your practice is so enthralling for the time you are in the studio, but then back to reality – the office, assignments or whatever pressure you seek respite from – brings you back to square one. However, the back-to-basics, heat, jungle vibe that we feel in the tropics creates space for transformation and allows us to delve deeper. By creating the space, void of distractions from everyday life, you are able to let go and become completely immersed.
One yogi described her experience in the city as captivating during her time in the studio, stimulating energy from within, however just the commute home, especially in winter snow, immediately dimmed the light. She described the collective vibe of yogis as more fragmented, with students practicing with a broad spectrum of intentions, commitment and attitudes. In comparison, her experience in Costa Rica has been very different, as all of the people she practiced with have been in the same mindset – no phones, no egos, just mindfulness on the mat.
Another student described her experience in the tropics as “A detox from the inside out. It’s the breathing component of the practice, the hot air, the oxygen from the trees, the salt from the sea and even the sweat from other yogis! The connection with nature and the outdoors is incredibly cleansing, and practicing with a breathtaking view is so inspiring – so different from practicing indoors in a mirrored studio. Being able to choose a natural focal point, such as a beautiful tree, as your drisdi is truly unique.” Even a beginner yogi agrees. “There’s a breakdown in the boundaries between inside and outside when practicing in the tropics, which I really love”
Practicing in the tropics also presents rewarding physical challenges. While the heat and humidity take some adjusting to, yogis experience increased flexibility and capacity for breath. Emotionally, adjusting to a new culture and learning to practice in an unfamiliar environment will teach you a lot about how you adapt to new situations. Being in an unfamiliar setting will force you to manage the self-doubt that accompanies this. Inevitably this will make you stronger as a person, as facing any challenge does.
On a final note, a Yin yoga and Vinyasa instructor says “Practicing in the tropics makes my heart sing. I’m more open and more receptive”. Namaste.