Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Why I Changed My Plans and Booked a Last Minute Flight

Teaching Yoga and Surfing in Sri Lanka

After my three months stay in Europe I had in mind going to Nepal. I had a confirmed place where to stay and a beautiful center where to teach yoga. Everything was all set, but last minute I changed my mind and booked a flight to Sri Lanka instead. Why would I do that?

What's truly motivating my actions?

The thing is that for almost six months I had been daydreaming about going back to Arugam Bay. I had couple of good reasons to be there, and I wanted to surf, period!

But I knew that I would spend too much money in Arugam Bay and my budget was already way to low. You know, the surf and yoga retreats in Portugal didn't help my budget, and I wasn't sure if I could find a yoga teaching gig in Arugam Bay to make some rupees.

Basically I couldn't afford to live in Arugam Bay.

Thinking with my "head," I thought that it would be better for me to go to a safe and comfortable place, a familiar place, a place where I wouldn't spent too much money, where I could teach yoga, and where I could focus on doing the online work that I needed to do.

I knew that Boudhanath would be that place; I wouldn't stay in any other place in Kathmandu. I know my way around, I have good accommodation, I have a fantastic place where to teach yoga, and besides it's very easy to get a visa for Nepal.

But although it was a good plan I didn't really want to go back to Nepal.

I've been there way too many times (last time during the earthquake in April 2015) and I feel that I had enough of it. I had enough of the pollution, the daily power cuts and the terrible internet connection; a normal day in Kathmandu even before the earthquake.

In other words, my desire to go back to Nepal was based on fear. I wanted to go to Sri Lanka but I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do the things I wanted to do, to have the life I wanted to have and to go completely broke.

A commitment to be truthful and authentic

Fortunately I have a commitment with myself to do whatever I can to honor my heart, to be authentic. Satya, truthfulness, is one of my highest values.

So after struggling with my mind for days, maybe even weeks, I decided to stop being reasonable and just follow my heart. I decided not to go to Nepal because I knew deep inside that my fears were driving that choice.

I had no idea how things where going to work out in Sri Lanka, but I had to do it anyway.

So just one week before leaving Europe I cancelled my hostel reservation in Nepal and bough a ticket to Sri Lanka.

Not just a pleasure trip

But going to Sri Lanka was not just a pleasure trip. I actually had a couple of good reasons to be there.

I've been thinking for a while about hosting a surf and yoga retreat in Sri Lanka. So I wanted to go back to explore some locations, and perhaps to make a deal with the owner of a resort that I met on my first trip to Arugam Bay.

But first, although deep inside I just wanted to be in Arugam Bay, when I landed in Colombo I decided to go explore the beaches in the south of Sri Lanka and see if I could find a nice resort where I could host future yoga retreats.

I actually had a couple of yoga teaching opportunities in Mirissa, so I also wanted to visit those places before making any commitments. I had been looking for opportunities in Arugam Bay but I had not been able to find anything.

So I stayed in Mirissa for a few days.

I passed by the guesthouses where I had the opportunity to teach yoga. One of the guesthouses was offering me to stay for six months. But I didn't like either place. It was not my kind of vibe. I had no desire to teach yoga or to stay there.

During the few days I stayed in Mirissa I also visited Ahangama and Welligama, two other popular surf destinations. I wasn't that impressed.

I actually didn't enjoy that much my time in the South. I don't know why. Maybe the problem is that I've always been in the south of Sri Lanka during the off season.

My favorite beach in the South is still Unawatuna. It's beautiful even during the off season, but unfortunately it's not good for surfing.

I know that eventually, at some point in the future, I will be back in the South. Maybe next time during the right season. Perhaps then I'll be able to appreciate it better.

Anyway, after about a week in the South I finally made my way to where I was supposed to be right from the beginning: Arugam Bay.

Finally in alignment with my heart

Everything felt just right as soon as I arrived.

By the time that I got to Arugam Bay, mid July, I was not so worried about my budget anymore. A few days earlier I had found a nice yoga teaching gig in a resort in Cambodia, starting September. So I had about six weeks to be in Arugam Bay.

I was pretty calm and relaxed. I had made out my mind to simply enjoy those six weeks in A-Bay, but I did keep emailing and calling the owner of the resort where I wanted to host a surf and yoga retreat. I had tried to contact him even while I was still in Europe.

I was hoping to perhaps do a retreat in August, but to my surprise, regardless of all my attempts and positive thinking nothing materialized.

I received an unexpected message

Luckily I met a nice fellow yoga teacher friend, Andrea. She had emailed me via my blog back in May asking me for any tips of places where to teach yoga in Arugam Bay.

She was still in A-Bay so I got in touch with her and we hanged out a bit while surfing at Whisky Point, one of the surf breaks near A-Bay.

A few days later Andrea sent me an unexpected message. She was offering me her subbing teaching position at Hideaway, one of the nicest resorts in Arugam Bay.

That was a nice surprise. Since I was not so worry about my budget anymore I was not actively searching for any teaching gigs. I was simply waiting for a response from the owner of the resort that I had contacted earlier.

I accepted Andrea's offer and I got in touch with the main teacher. A few days later I was already teaching at Hideaway

I was exactly where I needed to be

Teaching yoga at Hideaway was absolutely perfect for me.

I was only teaching four classes a week. Yes, I know, that is not much but that's exactly what I wanted.

Those four classes were good enough to cover most of my expenses, to feel productive, and I still had plenty of time to surf and to hang out with the awesome friends that I had met while surfing. My friend Tobi (@sadddams) took these nice photos for me.

Since starting September I was going to be teaching non stop for three months in a retreat in Cambodia, and then for six months in a resort in Sri Lanka, I was considering my time in A-Bay as my holidays.

So this yoga teaching opportunity was exactly what I needed in order to have the balanced life that I wanted to have in A-Bay.

Teaching Yoga and Surfing in Sri Lanka

And I really enjoyed my time teaching yoga at Hideaway.

The yoga hall is perfect. It's in a quiet area, there is a beautiful garden with swimming pool right next to it, the staff working there are super friendly and the guests love yoga.

Teaching Yoga and Surfing in Sri Lanka

No doubts I was exactly where I needed to be. I'm so happy I listened to my heart and didn't stay in Mirissa! Lol.

Healing and becoming stronger

The other reason why I wanted to go back to A-Bay was because of my body. This was actually my main motivation to go back.

For different reasons I had lost lot of weight in the previous couple of years, I was feeling a bit weak and I've also been struggling with body inflammation.

I knew that surfing plus the Sri Lankan heat, lots of vitamin D and some fresh fish in my diet would be good for my body.

Nope, I wouldn't be able to get any of that in Nepal, only dal bhat (rice with dal/lentils). Lol.

After just three weeks of surfing and yoga in A-Bay I started to notice positive changes in my body.

By the end of my stay I could clearly see the differences. I managed to gain a bit of weight and strength and I experienced a bit less body pain, although it's still there.

I was feeling so good. Surfing and beach life do some amazing things to my body. I had experienced this before, during my first visit to A-Bay, that's why I really wanted to go back.

I'll talk more about the effect of surfing on my next blog post...

Update 25/10/17 And here it is! How Surfing and Yoga Help to Build a Strong Body and Mind

Following the path of the heart

Before deciding traveling to Sri Lanka I had many fears.

I was afraid that I would go completely broke. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to make the deal that I wanted. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to do anything productive. I was afraid I was not gonna have a good time.

But when you surrender, when you stop being "reasonable" and simply do what your heart is telling you to do, regardless of the consequences, things start to work out by themselves.

It's not easy to do the things that scare us though. Sometimes it is even difficult to notice if we are taking a decision based on our fears or based on what we truly want.

It requires lots of self awareness to know what is truly motivating our actions, and even then it is still intimidating to face our fears and do what we know we are meant to do.

Following the path of the heart is not easy, but it is the only way to be authentic.

Now I can tell that it was indeed the right decision to go to Sri Lanka, although of course I hesitated many times along the way.

Things worked out exactly the way they were supposed to work out. I lived exactly what I was supposed to live. Now I ask myself a question that I have asked many times before. "Why did I worry so much?"

Everything takes place at the right time

Although I couldn't make the agreement to host my own surf and yoga retreats, life did bring me the right opportunities so that I could fully enjoy my stay in Arugam Bay. It was perfect.

I also couldn't focus on the online work that I wanted to focus on, but I knew that was going to happen before going to Sri Lanka.

Once I'm at A-Bay all my energy goes into surfing. Add to that teaching yoga, preparing for my classes and some social life... I didn't have much energy or time left to do any writing.

Besides, the one thing that I can't do with extreme heat is to sit and work on my laptop.

And that is all right.

Sometimes there are other things that life wants us to focus on first. Everything takes place at the right time.

Now, after having such a great time surfing in Arugam Bay and recovering some strength, I feel so good and energized to continue with my journey.

Today, while I'm teaching hatha yoga and pranayama at Angkor Zen Gardens Retreat Center, the beautiful yoga retreat in Cambodia that I told you about, I'm also doing all the writing that I wanted to do before. Do you see how things work out?

And I feel so happy and grateful to be here. I have an awesome daily routine. Yes, once more, I'm exactly where I needed to be.

I'll be here till end of November, so if you are in Cambodia and want to do a little yoga retreat then come and join us. It would be awesome to meet you in person.

Now, before you go, I'd like to leave you with this question: Do you know truly what's the motivation behind the decisions you have taken? Is it fear or is it love? You can use your spiritual journal to contemplate on these questions.


  1. Hi
    Just looking at angkor zen and the retreats are for ashtanga or vinyassa. How long are you there for and will you be teaching hatha? I ask because I've only done hatha, am a beginner and am 65

    1. Hello Julie! I'll be here till end of November and yes, I'm teaching hatha and adapt the class according to the level of the whole group. I'm also teaching pranayama. The other teacher is teaching yin yoga and vinyasa. It would be wonderful if you could join us.