I have practiced yoga for more than half my life. I’ve practiced in dark and dingy studios and palaces, on beaches and boats, in kitchens and tiny apartments and sprawling homes. I’ve practiced in the Amazon, in Asia, South and North America, practiced in the snow and the sun and the dust. Practiced when I was happy and everything was going well, practiced when I was blanketed by grief and sorrow.
I have practiced through marriage, divorce, pregnancy, miscarriage, motherhood, illness, health, hormonal shifts, hurricanes, death, practiced through my gleaming youth and my (sometimes) graceful aging.
But for the past thirty years, mostly, I have practiced and taught yoga in St. Barth.
It’s the place I’ve spent the most time, the place to which I most belong, the place I raised my family. Every single street of this island is marked with some meaningful encounter.
St Barth is my happy place. Above all others, this is the place I call home.
Because St. Barth is a travel destination that has continuously attracted travelers in search of their happy place, too, I’ve been fortunate enough to practice with people from all over the world who come here.
Many of my students have become dear friends with whom I have shared life experiences both on and off the mat. And they all readily say that their yoga time on island is one of the most meaningful parts of their vacation.
So, what makes yoga in St. Barth so unique?
Is it the quantity and quality of sunlight? Or the piercingly blue skies? Is it the white smooth sand or the turquoise waters? Is it the beautiful homes? The feeling of safety that pervades? Is it the bougainvillea and their crazy bold colors, or the turtles and the goats? Is it the instructors? The setting? The Ceviche?
While all of those things are true, maybe what makes yoga so unique in St. Barth is you.
Maybe the person you are, or the one you become when you are here removes its armor, its daggers and swords.
Maybe the boxing gloves come off, and the cold thaws, and shoulders drop and muscles relax and all of a sudden you are singing in the shower again for no damn reason other than that you feel good and happy to be alive and awake and have another day to play with. With that sense of safety comes a sense of freedom, space and creation.
Then, yoga is no longer about performing like a monkey on the high beam or killing yourself on a pose to prove to the rest of your yoga mates that you can do it and you have what it takes. It’s not about whether you have the right branded attire or the perfect headstand or any headstand at all, for that matter.
Shake off the hashtag, or use it but don’t be used by it.
Yoga is about how you practice who you are at this particular and unique time in your life. Honestly, yoga in St. Barth, for me at least, is never about the pose. It’s about the person practicing.
And what we eventually come to realize is that beyond the health benefits or the perky yoga butt, beyond weight loss or stress management, with repetition, through stillness and in time, yoga provides us a vehicle to become increasingly, incrementally, suddenly, slowly and fully awake to the nature of the Self.
Don’t be surprised if the next time you’re coming up for air, for breath, for life, you hear the words of Patanjali resonating through your fine self . It’s true, all true, “you will discover hidden talents and discover yourself to be far greater than you ever imagined.”
Yoga in St. Barth nor anywhere else was never really about the back flip. Wherever you are, don’t settle for chump change. Go for the whole tamale!
Do great things, keep making each day count, and if you’d like to practice yoga in St. Barth with me, please reach out.