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Que Pasana! Workshops & Events!

Happy Spring! We’re well into the season and getting hints of summer. I’m loving the color from the flowers and tree buds as they wake up from their winter hibernation. Its a nice reminder of abundance and the bounty that seasonal change brings. I typically suffer from seasonal allergies and living in the south, the weather is conducive to tons of vegetation and fauna, lending to tons and tons of pollen. I prepare well ahead by building up my immune system with my morning tea tonic. Here’s my morning cocktail. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you:

My Morning Immune System Cocktail:

1 Lemon, squeezed (kidney & liver toner)
Dash of Cayenne, to your liking- be careful, a little goes a long way! (kindles digestion)
1 tsp of Astragalus (immune booster + Liver toner)
1 good slice of Turmeric, or 1 tsp of dried (anti-inflammatory- I also sneak it into most of my foods)
1 good slice of Ginger, or 1/2 tsp of dried (circulation + warms me up in the morning.
  Not during the summer months)
2 tsp of Local Honey (immune booster + trace minerals & nutrients- its got to be local & organic!
Hometown Honey is my absolute fav!)

*Add the above to a big ol’ mug of hot water and pull up a meditation seat to get your morning started right!

Just got back from a fabulous week of R&R and yoga, in Costa Rica. The week was full of sun, surf, hiking, rain forests, sweat lodge, great food, and fond memories with an amazing group of yogis. My skin has a nice golden tone, (though I did get a good sun burn and am peeling), from the tropical sun. I feel like my body regulated very well from the climate and the delicious fresh fruits I ate every day. Most didn’t know each other when the excursion began and by weeks end, the bond was made. These are connections I know we will have for life. My hubby and I have always had a goal of living out of the country at some point. We’ve had our eye on Uruguay, but now Costa Rica is a top contender. The combination of the weather, people, easy and simple living lifestyle, and open minded mentally is definitely seductive. Until then, I will cherish my sweet memories in the land of Pura Vida.

morning meditation
Morning meditation at Vida Asana, Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica

More workshops & events!

I’m in the process of working out the details for a yoga retreat to Italy in 2014. This will be a week long retreat at one of my best friend’s places, in her town of Borgo San Lorenzo, right outside of Florence. I spent some time there in 2011 and it was one of the best trips ever. (It helps when you are friends with a local!). The vibe of the land is lush and abundant. It was the end of summer and the harvest was beginning. Every day was full of sun ripened fruits; I think I ate my body weight in pears and figs. Lovely local wine paired with alfresco dining with stunning vistas that left me humbled and with a deeper appreciation for mother earth.

For this retreat, we’ll get a chance to dive into the tuscan culture: exploring old roman trails right outside the property door. (I train ran this when I was there and went to a point where there are remains of an old roman tower). The property accommodates up to 15 and has a large outdoor pool flanked by beautiful cypress trees. Some of the activities that are in store for the more adventurous are stand-up paddle boarding, alfresco dining, exploring the town itself, a cycling tour, great food and vino, yoga, and of course, lots of time to relax and recharge. There is a ton of interest already for this one and it will fill up. Email me if you are interested: isabelle@isabellecasey.com.

I will be co-leading a weekend retreat with Jessica Jollie and Allison Foster of Yoga Landing, at the beautiful & luxurious, Barnsley Gardens Resort, July 12-14th. This will be awesome and just what we need in the middle of summer. A little vacation to check in and take care of ourselves: yoga, spa, golf, pool time, chillaxing. Registration is open, you can do that here. Here’s the scoop: you can register for the yoga sessions aside from the accommodations that you can book through Barnsley Gardens Resort. There are a few different options for registration. Reach out to me for more details and I’ll give you the whole scoop: isabelle@isabellecasey.com

 

]Barnsley Gardens Resort
Barnsley Gardens Resort, Yoga Weekend Retreat: July 12-14th, 2013
On May 5th, I will join a team of fellow yoga instructors for the Off Beat! weekend yoga event, raising awareness around bullying in schools, and supports the Ben Cohen Standup Foundation. I remember how bullying was an issue when I was a kid and its worse now. We are opening up the conversation and working together to help children, parents, and really our community understand how to take a stand and help put the kibosh on this.

Off Beat!

The event is May 4-5th. I’ll be teaching on May 5th from 11:30-12:45pm. The event location is at Ventanas and each session is open to 60 participants only. There will be a raffle, gift bags, beverage samples from Chuice. We have a ton of support from over 100 different media outlets such as AJC, Atlantan Magazine, Best Self Magazine, CNN, Jezebel Magazine, and WABE FM 90.1 (NPR). For more info, start by ‘liking’ the facebook page and help a fellow yogi out by spreading the word and join me on the mat. You can join the event right here. Hope to see you there!

Last one… I’m on faculty and teaching the 3rd weekend Teacher Training Immersion, ‘A New Perspective’, for the Yoga Club, here in Atlanta. The weekend will focus on not just how to balance up side down, but the intention behind it, when its appropriate, how to incorporate arm balances into class curriculum, modifications, and such. You don’t have to register for the entire training, if you want to cherry pick your trainings. Trainings count towards your Yoga Alliance hours. Reach out if you want to chat about it or just sign up. I’d love to have you!

That’s all I got. It was a lot. See you on the mat!… And scene. 🙂

 

Pura Vida

Its been a week an a half since my return from co-leading a wonderful yoga retreat with my friend, Cindy Olah, in the land of ‘Pura Vida’, Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica. I love going on retreats, whether leading or taking them. Its an opportunity to get away and hit the ‘reset’ button: recharge, reboot, be inspired, and return home with a new appreciation for new experiences and deeper appreciation for what you have.

We spent the week eating amazing local cuisine, indulging in fresh, tropical fruits, exploring the rainforest, discovering precious wildlife, playing in the surf, and of course, practicing yoga on and off the mat. The tepid ocean was amazing; strong currents and huge waves reminded me how small we are. Standing in one place, even knee deep, was a work out to not be pulled back into the ocean.

mangos
Some of the deliciousness we ate everyday. This is luxury!

The highlight for me was participating in a sweat lodge at the home of Eduardo, friend of Alejandro, resident yogi and owner of Vida Asana Eco Lodge– where we called home for the week. Only a handful of us decided to participate in the sweat lodge, while the rest of the yoga bunch chillaxed back at Playa Hermosa. The ceremonial sauna originates from the native american tradition as a means for purification. There are typically fours sessions where participants go inside an extremely hot and steamy, stick-made dome hut, centered around a fire pit of super hot rocks, and led by a seasoned leader who is well schooled in this tradition. I was down.

We traveled down a long, sandy road paralleling the Pacific Ocean, at the end of Playa Hermosa. We were greeted with welcome barks from dogs who lived at the surrounding neighbors, wanting to say hello and give us some love. Eduardo’s home is my dream home… cozy- maybe 1000 square feet, divided between between 2 modest stories, off the grid, on the beach, surrounded by a nature conservatory and farmland to its rear. He built his home using materials from the land, such as palm: bark for siding and fronds for the palapa roof of his home and outdoor yoga shala. A path to the left side of Eduardo’s home led us to where the sweat lodge was. Behind his home was a small pool, deep enough to sit in so your head could be above water, and large enough to accommodate the nine of us. This is where we would go between our sessions in the sweat lodge.

Playa Hermosa
Playa Hermosa- across from the sweat lodge

Neighboring the pool is the yoga shala, adorned with bean bags and hammocks. Continuing ahead, was the back yard area, complete with a large fire pit, outdoor pizza oven and argentinian grill, last but not least, what we called, ‘a human pizza oven’, the sweat lodge. Connected to this was a beautiful, organic, greenhouse where Eduardo tends to food he eats by hand. Divine.

Back to the human pizza oven… I’ve participated in other sweat lodges, but this one raises the bar for me at least. The types that I’ve been in are made out of large sticks that are structured in a way to create a dome. Not this one. This one actually looked like a pizza oven: huge large dome- concrete foundation, circular rock foundation walls, domed concrete roof, with the bonus of an in ground fire pit in the center of it. The only sticks involved was the driftwood we collected from the beach to build the fire outside the lodge. We could’ve easily had double the number of participants inside. Lastly, the ceremony was conducted in spanish- appropriate considering the locale.

Eduardo nursing some mate tea & copal resin
Eduardo nursing some mate tea & copal resin. The dome shape is the sweat lodge & the green covering is his green-house.

Alejandro took the lead with the fire building. We gathered firewood from the shore and he prepared the fire. Thoughtfully placed in the center of the fire pit, were the ‘abuelita’s’, or ‘grandmothers’- 40 large volcanic rocks that our experience would truly be facilitated.

Alejandro starting the base for the fire with palm bark
Alejandro starting the base for the fire with palm bark

 

While the fire was building and the abuelitas were heating, we played at the beach, swam, and befriended our costa rican, ‘tico’, canine buddies. The sun began its descent and we went back to check on the fire and watch it die down in sync with the sunset. When the sticks had burned and the abuelitas were glowing, it was time to begin. Showtime.

Sunset beach play time
Beach play time at sunset with Loren, Chris, myself, Melanie, & Alex.

 

Beached 'Tico' dogs
Beached ‘Tico’ dogs- one of my favorite pictures from the trip

Puerta 1: Alejandro began the escort of the abuelitas, considerably shoveling out the first 10 abuelitas, one by one. For each abuelita, we reciting aloud, ‘Axolotyl’, (Aztec god, invoking a return to our origin and eluding sacrifice), and, ‘piedra caliente’, (hot rock- basically a warning to move out of the way as the abuelitas were carried to the fire pit inside the sweat lodge). Ten times, Alejandro escorted an abuelita in, and ten times we acknowledged them.

We rinsed off in the outdoor shower before entering into the lodge, bowed to our heads to mother earth, then crawled in on hands and knees, in the same direction. We found our ‘seats’ marked by large banana leaves, alternating, female-male. It felt like we were in a steamy oven; it was thick and wet and infused with the frankincense-like resin, copal. I was instantly soaked by my own sweat to the point my swimsuit was just hanging on.

Heating up the 'Abuelitas'
Heating up the ‘Abuelitas’

Eduardo sat inside by the entrance, with a large bucket of water that he would periodically scoop from and add to the pit to make the space hotter and steamier and also ensure that the entrance door stay sealed. There are four rounds, called ‘doors’, or ‘puertas’, (we were in Costa Rica after all). Each puerta took about 20- 30 minutes, length of time determined by the leader as well vibing off the energy of our group.

Eduardo commenced the ceremony by setting a group intention, calling out to the abuelitas. Beginning with him, we all took turns declaring our intentions aloud, and then acknowledged that by saying native american acknowledgment, ‘A Ho’- the equilvalent of saying, ‘I agree’. Once our intentions were set, we chanted in sanskirt, the Peace and Gayatri mantras, and many rounds of powerful guttural, ‘om-ing’, rattling the cement oven walls until the invocations organically concluded. We crawled out in the same order and direction we entered, rinsed off in the outdoor showers, walked slowly and carefully to the cool pool where we assimilated the experience of the first puerta.

Bougainvillea
Bougainvillea from Eduardo’s garden

Puerta 2: The sun was quickly setting. We acknowledged our abuelitas, ‘Axolotyl, piedra caliente’, rinsed off, bowed, crawled in, found a new seat in alternating order, and began. This puerta was dedicated to letting go of the deep seeded anger inside of us. We did so by screaming at the top of our lungs and for as long as we could. When Eduardo described the puerta, I had a hunch it would be intense. I was right. I was sitting cross-legged about a foot from the wall behind me. I gave it all I had. After the very first ‘grita’, scream, I remember the deep- rooted, trembling that shook my body from my bum up my spine to my head. My eyeballs felt like they were spinning in their sockets. I couldn’t differentiate if I was sitting upright or folded forward into the fire pit. Once I gathered my bearings, I slid back against the wall to reacquaint myself with gravity and my surroundings. I joined back with the group, trying to scream, but I had nothing left. I felt cool inside accompanied by an indescribable pulsing sensation. Once we completed puerta dos, we repeated our exit: crawl out, bow, rinse off, pool acclimation, repeat… This was an epic, kundalini rising for sure. One that I still feel right now. (Sidenote- if you have ever taken a Bryan Kest workshop, you know the quote that comes to mind; if not, take one! Anyway, It kept popping into my head randomly after this throughout the week. Thank you BK for your exclusive quotes!) 🙂 I felt like any hardness that had taken root inside me, was either loosened or freed.

Round 3: It’s dusk and the stars were in position… This time we acknowledged all those we have both given and received ill will and made peace with past relationships that continue to take up real estate in our daily conscience: “Perdoname, Lo Siento, Te amo, Gracias”, (Forgive me, I’m sorry, I love you, Thank you). It was liberating to say the least and left me with the deepest sense of gratitude for anyone who has created an experience of any kind with me. I dedicate this puerta to you.

“Perdoname, Lo Siento, Te Amo, Gracias”

“Forgive Me, I’m Sorry, I Love You, Thank You”

Puerta 4: We entered the final puerta the same way, assumed our final seats. This time, I ended up sitting next to a female, Melanie. Though we were instructed to alternate the female-male seating, we couldn’t see inside the sweat lodge at this point because it was pitch black with exception of the faint amber glow of the abuelitas. We didn’t relocate. This round was the hottest. We were guided to lay down as the ground and the walls are cooler. It felt like by only a couple degrees, but that made a huge difference. The heat didn’t bother me, but I did find comfort in being in this pizza oven; hugging on mother earth. We laid overlapping, sweaty skin on skin, side by side, each other’s limbs as pillows. If you were someone who had personal space issues, you would’ve either freaked or my guess is quickly gotten over it. At that point, nothing mattered because we were all energetically spent, meaning all of our hang ups, holding patterns, and perspectives had been broken down and melted away.

The purpose of a sweat lodge is to rid the physical body of impurities. Um, check. This was the stoniest, stoned I’ve ever felt in my life. No drugs needed or involved- just pure, straight up literal burning tapas. My body felt and still feels physically free. Many things I’ve been working to gain clarity on, clarified. I’ve struggled with mental retention resulting from a head injury I endured over a decade ago. My awareness of retaining information short term is so much better. I would do this again in a heartbeat and plan to… with new intentions, of course. Each sweat lodge experience will never be like the last one. Where you are in your life and what your intention is sets the tone. Cheers to the intention of living the pura vida everyday! Salud!

P.S. For more pictures from the journey, check out my Facebook page, and, ‘like’ it while you’re at it. 🙂

Isabelle Casey

 

Peru or Bust!

Peru or Bust!

Peru or Bust!

In about 12 hrs, I will be in Peru co-leading a yoga retreat. Its summer here: hot, steamy, sunny, & lush. In Peru, its the start of winter: high 60’s, mid 30’s at night. It was interesting packing for the opposite season as well as wrapping my head around that fact that this is going to be a killer trip.

Why Peru? I spent 5 weeks there in 2009. I was in total awe the whole time. I could try to sum up all the beauty, but it won’t do justice unless you are standing on peruvian soil taking it all in. In sum, its like you just took a dive into a National Geographic magazine. There is an abundance of the most breathtaking geography, beautiful people, food, fauna, the list goes on… What I appreciate the most about my time in Peru, is that no matter where I went, I noticed the common denominator of simplicity. Simple foods, simple people… everything is so straight forward. Even the beliefs of the people. In general, there is a HUGE love of the land and the history- brutal but so true. No matter who I spoke with, every conversation led back to Pancha Mama, Mother Earth. There is a deep, entrenched respect for the environment. I found that everything led back to acknowledging this. Every experience led to a story. I learned so much about appreciating what I have and also how to make peace with the tangible. Peru definitely left an impression on me. When I was there, I knew I’d be back. And, I knew I wanted to take people to experience this for themselves.
This time I head back, co-leading a yoga retreat. We have a beautiful week planned, but will be practicing some serious non-attachment to the itinerary. I’m sure that there will be moments where the experience we are having trumps an agenda. I am so looking forward to practicing living in each moment. It will go by fast; its only 10 days.

I am also feeling grateful to my fellow yogi-studio-owning-friends who are covering classes while I am gone. Thank you. I’ll be sending you tons of love south of the equator!

I’m enjoying my last french press at home. Spending some QT with my pups. I’m all packed up and set to jet. See you all when I return! peace.

xo
~is