Stacey Jones is a raw-food-lovin', yoga-doin', wave-dancin' Vancouverite who is now proud to call Vancouver Island home.
It took getting stuck in mud for me to get unstuck in my mind.
It all started with rainbow-coloured sea urchins that came to me in a bizarre dream and told me to go to Mexico to do yoga teacher training (YTT). Okay, it was actually because Randi and Ananda—yoga teacher training facilitators from School Yoga Institute—would be at the YTT that I went. That and the promise of warm waves to surf. But the point is that I recently found myself at Present Moment Retreat on the coast of mainland Mexico, stoked for my first YTT.
My YTT was your usual completely unusual experience: participating in a ceremony to call in the wind from the south, dancing around a fire and being spoiled with gourmet food and luxurious accommodations while being spiritually challenged and learning the fine art of meditation (it’s because of Vedantin, the founder of School Yoga Institute, that I keep regular meditation practice today).
The youngest in our training was Lauren who, with her curly hair, dimples and giggly laugh, is exactly what I always imagined girls from Prince Edward Island, Canada, to be. Lauren had limited traveling experience but was curious and excited about everything. She literally squealed when I said I surf, and quickly decided that she would join me on a surf adventure.
So, after training ended we headed straight for Saladita, a long and super fun left break, before driving north to Nexpa. Nexpa was going off and way too big for us, but I caught some of my best rides ever at the surrounding breaks, the whole time praising the yoga training, which did wonders for my surfing.
That's where we heard about the hot springs, a place of serenity and beauty that's virtually unknown to tourists. We had to go. And that’s how I found myself bumping down a long dirt road in Ananda’s jeep with her, Randi and Lauren. We were singing and sharing stories about our recent experience at YTT and having pretty much the best time ever when a muddy pothole devoured the wheel of our Jeep, bringing us to a sudden and jarring halt.
Ananda tried to drive us out but it wasn't happening. When I jumped out to help I only succeeded in sinking into the mud. I looked at Lauren and said, “So much for flying home tomorrow!” For once, though, Lauren didn’t smile—probably because night was falling and we were most definitely stuck.
Ananda didn’t hesitate. She grabbed a headlamp and sprinted off down the road, the jungle quickly swallowing her, to find help. But an hour later, she hadn't returned. I tried to keep us busy by working on getting un-stuck.
Two hours passed; still no Ananda; still stuck; and we were now in complete darkness. Randi remained unfazed and took up using an empty water jug as a drum, chanting and laughing, but Lauren looked pale and scared, and I worried about what to do. Having younger sisters myself, I tend to take on a maternal role—though always reluctantly because my independent streak likes to be footloose and fancy-free. And to be honest, I was annoyed with Lauren for needing me (or so I imagined).
The scene became my YTT in a snapshot: worrying about other people and what to do. The difference now, though, was that I was aware of my thoughts. As much as I was stuck in the mud I realized I was also stuck in my mind. Before YTT, I thought that the world would stop spinning unless I helped that person or tried to make the situation better or perfect. But I also learned that being a leader or teacher is just being human, we all are students and teachers as required. I had to get out of my own way to allow what comes naturally without analyzing it as ‘effort.’
Watching Randi drumming, I thought of the training and sang along—out of my head and into the moment. Suddenly I became aware of hundreds of fireflies lighting up the road (beautiful)! It also dawned on me that I was enjoying myself (adventure)! I’d been a yogi for 14 years yet it was on a jungle road in Mexico that I finally began living and breathing yoga.
Finally, Ananda returned with a couple of locals to help us, and a couple hours after that we were finally pulled out of there.
Even if you don’t plan to teach yoga, based on what I learned at YTT and how I was able to parlay it into a completely ‘normal’ life scenario, I highly recommend the following people attend YTT:
3. Did I miss anyone?