“Inhale and lift your heart towards the sky; exhale in downward dog and rest your eyes on the sea. Allow your breath to echo the waves .”
In Curaçao, these posture cues are not just creative images used by the teacher, but what you see when you open your eyes. Yoga, in the elements of Curaçao – sea, sun, and sand, transforms your experience of relaxation into a whole other realm.
An ancient Indian wellness and healing system, yoga has been attracting people to studios in urban centers all over the world. The secret to this ancient art is a combination of breathing techniques, meditation and asanas, postures famous in the Western world for exercises that develop strength, flexibility and the great yoga body. Also, yoga is becoming the definitive choice for finding the inner peace we crave.
After a hectic day, looking for a quick recharge, yoga classes and pleasant images offer 60-90 minute escapes from city life. The problem is that the yoga buzz you worked so hard to achieve is lost in traffic; paradise quickly disappears while heading home. In Curacao, where yoga fantasies are reality, practicing yoga postures and meditation is not interrupted by city life constraints. In fact, the peace and tranquility of Curacao allows you to experience what yogis calls bliss absolute. Why not join the ranks of other yogis and yoginis who take advantage of the natural landscape of Curacao to unify mind and body?
Curacao was once the home to an ashram dedicated to the lineage of the famous Yogi and author of An Autobiography of a Yogi, Parmahansa Yogananda. Today, Leo Floridas an experienced practictioner with over 30 years of training with great masters such as Krishna Yogananda, a disciple of Parmahansa Yogananda and Swami Vishnu-Devananda, directs the Center now called The Foundation for the Development of Mental and Physical Health. The center, no longer a lodging for yogic monks, offers popular classes daily in yoga and meditation for Curacao locals and visitors alike. The seasoned and novice yogi will enjoy an authentic experience of classical hatha yoga through Floridas’ teaching. His weeklong workshops focus on the 5 yoga principles: proper diet, proper exercise, proper breathing, proper relaxation, and positive thinking and meditation. Experience a true yogic way of life in the midst of this natural paradise.
Yoga, meditation and pranayama, controlled breathing exercises are used to calm the mind. You can also treat yourself here to an Ayurvedic massage, an Indian style of bodywork with essential oils to eliminate toxins, stimulate circulation and promote a deep state of relaxation.
If you are not tempted to venture further than the comfort of your hotel, yoga classes are offered in most hotel gyms or spas. The classes offered range from gentle Hatha Yoga to more vigorous Power Yoga. Class sizes range from one-one-one privates to larger group classes, indoor and outdoor. Take a morning class, outside the deck to your room.
Inhale, let the Curacao sun recharge your batteries. Exhale, enjoy the benefits the entire day.
Wear something comfortable and loose fitting. Find a spot in the shade. Use a cushion or mold a sand mound to sit on. Find a comfortable crossed-legged position. Bring your chin level to the ground and slightly tucked in so that your spine is lengthened and properly aligned. Sink your seat into the warm sand, and bring your hands into jana mudra (index finger and thumb touching, forming a circle symbolizing your union with the universe). Soften your eyes closed.
Bring awareness to your senses. Slowly enter the deeper layers of yourself while still being fully present to your body. Be present to the ocean air, warm breeze, soft sand, crashing waves.
Begin to notice your own breathe on the inhale, filling your belly with rich, pure air, and on the exhale, empty out the belly completely. Allow the awareness of your breathe journeying in and out of your body settle into the awareness of your surroundings.
It’s magical to meditate on the beach. It makes it clear that, ultimately, the “path inward” is one in which we recognize our unity with everything and everyone, including our environment. It’s just that breathing in that truth is so much easier under a PalmTree.