The Letting Go Flow

By Mamie Brisker Ledbetter Petit, YiA Yoga Teacher Trainee

YiA Yoga Teacher Training seeks to inspire us to “be the change we wish to see in the world.”  While providing extensive knowledge on the history of yoga, the various practices that are available, and focusing on the mind-body connection, Yia Yoga Teacher Training hopes to turn out well rounded Yoga Teachers.  As one of those students, it is my hope to also do Yia Yoga proud.

 During our second week of training, our fearless leader Kaytee, gave us the daunting task to choose a “peak pose” and then create our very own yoga sequence in which we were to lead in front of our fellow students.  Say what?! And drawing a very short straw, I was assigned the first slot and had less than 7 days to prepare.  My mind froze, heart started beating wildly, and my first  coherent thought was “well crap”.   Then, drawing from my previous yoga experience, I began taking deep breaths and breathing in the word “Let” and exhaling the word “Go”.  And so it began.

 I let go of my insecurities about teaching a class when I felt I was still a beginner in the practice.

I let go of my fear that the other students would think my class was lame.

I let go of my judgement of myself and my ability to be creative enough to come up with a fun and challenging sequence.

I let go of my worry that I would freeze during the class and my mind would go blank.

I let go of my comparing myself to our instructor and thinking I wasn’t worthy to be a teacher yet.

 And while letting go, my sequence began to materialize and my confidence began to grow.  I found a peak pose that made me feel strong, I developed sequences that would help my students obtain the peak pose, and I began thinking of this class as my own and my classmates as my students.  

 Mantras are an important part of yoga and while using my breath to relax and let go of all the nonsense that entered my thought process, a successful yoga class was developed and then implemented.  #nailedit

 I want to thank all my amazing “students” and remind them that “when you let go, you’re creating space for something better.”

 Namaste.

Mamie

Surrender ≠ Giving up

By Lucy Simpson, current YiA Yoga Teacher Trainee

 

I started practicing yoga for embarrassingly shallow reasons. My high school boyfriend intimated that I had gained some weight, and rather than telling him to go f@ck himself, I ordered Beth Shaw’s Yoga Butt and Yoga Abs DVDs online. I practiced maniacally until graduation, at which point I came to the conclusion that I was too hot for my then-boyfriend’s nonsense, and broke things off.

**Quick side note: Can I just say SHOUT OUT TO BETH SHAW for being a total badass! I’ve never known her personally, but I’m so glad my yoga initiation came at her steady hand. I’m STILL reaping the return on my investment in those DVDs!

Life’s really bizarre in that it took an instance of body shaming to lead me on the path to appreciating my body. What started as a remedy for high school insecurity has evolved into a practice that endlessly enriches my life both physically and spiritually.  Never would I have dreamed while practicing those Beth Shaw DVDs in my parent’s basement that I’d one day be training as a yoga teacher in the mountains of Panamá...

I came into Yoga Teacher Training expecting to learn the asanas, yoga philosophies, physiology, class sequencing, and so forth. I was particularly interested to learn more about the anthropological history of yogic philosophy - with the hope of feeling a little less like I was appropriating ancient spiritual tradition for the sake of looking hot in a bikini.

I also looked forward to this immersion in consistent practice as a means of neurologically programing a daily habit of going to the mat. But more than anything, I was looking for a release of some self-defeating thought patterns I’ve been holding onto for far too long.

Learning a new skill is an intimate exercise - you have to be willing to embarrass yourself, and comfortable enough to fail. For this to be possible, you have to be in an environment that encourages you to get back up, and try again. I could not be more thankful that the latter is so true of the group with whom I’m training. Each person holding the earnest desire to become better - both as an individual, and as a group. Each person willing to bear up their humanness, and shine a light in the dark corners. I am continuously in awe of the group of women with whom I’m sharing this journey.

What struck me most about our group was the discovery that we’re all working through some serious life transitions – from ending long-term relationships to coping with chronic illness and recent upheaval. My personal baggage centered upon a sense of loss over my career as a classical singer, which was majorly derailed due to a health crisis. I needed to move past it, but how? I was still grieving.

When I shared this for the first time with the group, the response I received was not what I was counting on:

“Sounds like you need to surrender to it, mami.”

To which my internal dialogue rebuked with something along the lines of:

Surrender?! I’ve had no choice, and that’s the problem! I surrendered my dream, because I could barely survive. Surrendering is the very thing I’m so upset about!

Rather than venting my consternation aloud, I responded with, “you’re right,” because I knew my friend meant well, and  sensed there was something to her message - but didn’t know exactly what at that time. So I proceeded to ruminate over this concept of surrender for several days, wrestling with the conundrum of it all. Having grown-up in in a society conditioned to associate surrender with being inherently weak, how could I reframe this concept? I had already surrendered (in my understanding of the word), because I’d abandoned my dreams. How could I possibly surrender any more?

As I pondered this, I started to witness just how vitriolic my internal dialogue had become. By shining a light on my perception of surrender, I’d tapped into a particularly nasty aspect of my own self-perception. I began to witness insidiously toxic thought-patterns, which often sounded like this:

It’s too late. You should move on and do something tangible with your life. How ridiculous for you to think you could actually make it in music! You don’t have what it takes, and it’s just too late for you. Maybe next lifetime.  

Shining a light on these thought patterns (and putting them down into words) was painful - hence the reason why I’d ignored them for so long, allowing them to run amuck in my subconscious for too many years. My first response was embarrassment for being so self-pitying in a world where so many struggle just to survive.

Oh waaah! So you didn’t get to be an opera singer. FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS, ANYONE?! Count your blessings, and move on.

However, I ultimately came to the conclusion that minimizing,  comparing and resisting this grief would NOT make it go away. My inability to move past this sense of career loss wasn’t benefitting anyone - least of all, me.  But still I felt stuck, having identified my resistance, yet without any idea on how to move past it…

***

On the first day of teacher training, we shared the “unexpected moments of magic” in our lives that had helped us along on our journeys in miraculous ways. We talked about how these moments had the potential to come from anywhere – even from chance meetings with complete strangers. After more than two weeks of hard-core wrestling with the concept of surrender (and feeling more confused than ever), I received an unexpected moment of magic under the instruction of a fellow yogi-in-training... 

It was her very first class, and the theme was – you guessed it- surrender. It was as if she’d tailor-made the whole thing for me. The class was wonderful, and during the closing meditation, my friend said something that shot through my veins like a thunderbolt:

Surrender does not mean giving up. Surrender means letting go.”

 I lay dumbfounded on my mat.

With that simple phrase, spoken at that particular moment, it was as if a veil had been lifted. How simple, yet profound. This was the key to reframing my understanding of surrender, and healing this dogged grief.

  Surrender ≠ Giving up

Surrender = Letting Go

 Surrender finally made sense to my brain, and I left that class feeling a lightness I’d not felt since before my health problems. I could recognize the possibility of life again. This truly was an unexpected moment of magic.

Moving forward in teacher training, I feel as if I’ve laid down the baggage I came to deal with, and can’t wait for what comes next!

The Driving Passion Behind YiA Yoga Founder, Owner & Operator: Kaytee Hoverson

By Stephanie Derkowski, YiA Yoga social media intern and yoga instructor

 Whether you've visited Boquete, Panamá, or not, there's someone you should know if you’re interested in holistic health and wellness. Kaytee Hoverson, M.A., E-RYT, and founder of YiA Yoga has a story that truly inspires. Her passion for helping others led her on a whirlwind humanitarian tour of the world, which ultimately landed her in the highland paradise of  Boquete. Today, YiA Yoga is proud to serve this diverse community of local Panamanians, international tourists, and expatriate families with quality health resources. Established in 2015, YiA’s studio offers a wide array of yoga and fitness classes, yoga teacher trainings, massage, health consultations, personal training, and workshops. Kaytee is a veritable ‘Jill of all trades,’ and credits her vibrant and adventurous life to the “unexpected moments of magic,” which have propelled her towards founding YiA.

So how did a girl from Arizona end up residing in a small Panamanian town, speaking Spanish, and teaching yoga? Kaytee attributes the start of her yoga journey with 6 a.m. Gentle Yoga and Tai Chi classes freshman year in college. Though slightly daunted by the early hour, Kaytee remained steadfast in her practice, and quickly discovered yoga as a powerful tool for self-discovery: “In the end, it was very much worth the commitment and it was a life-changing decision. That year was awe-inspiring for me.”

  Kaytee skyrocketed from there. Guided by her passion for helping others, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Human Development with a specialization in Motivational Interviewing, followed by a master’s in Nonprofit Leadership & Management. She credits the internal realization of being a passion-driven person to that year of early-morning practice, “Our mind, body & spirit are our tools, our vehicles, we can use them to feel alive and if we do not prioritize in taking the best care of them we can, we are neglecting our sacred selves, our temples.”

Kaytee's passion for humanitarian work led her on an eye-opening volunteer trip to Indonesia, one day after the tsunami devastated the region in 2005. “What started as a short-term volunteer trip, turned into an adventure around the globe taking me to over 30 countries, volunteering my time with several devoted organizations & meeting thousands of exceptional social entrepreneurs & service driven people who were making a difference in their communities,” she says. Altogether, Kaytee traveled for two years, sharing in the hardships, and celebrating the beauty of all those she met.

 

 One of the countries Kaytee visited during her whirlwind trip was Panamá. She found herself volunteering in the small mountain town of Boquete, and recalls the feeling of having found home. Though she continued on her travels, she always felt called back by Boquete, and decided to settle permanently here in 2006. In 2007, she founded Unexpected Moments of Magic Panama with the mission of empowering individuals worldwide by encouraging self-exploration through social entrepreneurship, volunteerism, philanthropy & education. Kaytee describes UMMP as “an opportunity for others to experience their ‘unexpected moment of magic’ by being immersed in a cultural experience while serving to the local community.”

After eight years of serving Boquete and the Chiriquí province through UMMP, Kaytee celebrated the birth of her son, Phoenix Andres in 2013. Now 3 ½ years old and an enthusiastic, bubbly little boy, Kaytee describes his arrival as the most pivotal moment in her life, “No longer was this journey in life just about me. This journey became about us. The journey of one, becoming two. True union. Something I had never before experienced like I did with Phoenix.” 

 

 With the birth of Phoenix, Kaytee felt compelled to delve more deeply into her passion for yoga and holistic wellness as a means of better caring for herself and her young family. She describes her next ‘unexpected moment of magic’ as the inspiration received from her then-yoga teacher, Linda Day. Linda provided a loving, nurturing and playful environment for yoga exploration, “My time practicing with Linda is something that I will be forever grateful for. Not only for her, but for everyone that practiced with her. For the entire yoga community that I hold so close and dear to my heart.”

 Encouraged by Linda’s mentorship, Kaytee packed her bags, rented an apartment, hired a nanny and traveled with 6 month-old Phoenix to Bocas Del Toro, Panamá to participate in a 200-hour Yoga Alliance teacher training. This event marked the rededication to herself, as she endeavored to be the best mother possible for Phoenix. “What a magical experience... being able to care for my son and myself together in one, united. After six months of being just a mommy, I realized the true importance of taking care of myself, mind, body & spirit, not only for my son, but for everyone around me, all my loved ones.”

 

Kaytee’s ultimate dream was to open Boquete’s first-ever dedicated yoga studio, and she made this dream into a reality in 2015 with the founding of YiA Yoga. YiA (which stands for Yoga in Action) serves her passion for empowering others to live their best life through yoga and holistic wellness. Through YiA,  Kaytee coordinates a variety of fitness and health resources, including weekly  classes with both local and visiting instructors. Her greatest passion as a yoga instructor, however, is leading yoga teacher trainings, “Even though I'm leading it, I'm learning just as much from my students as they are from me, and I love that aspect of this training because it's a mutual beneficial relationship.”

Kaytee’s next big dream is to put Boquete on the map as a global yoga and holistic health destination. “Boquete is the perfect place to do yoga, and particularly to become yoga-certified. Not only is it immensely beautiful, there is amazing energy here. People come to Boquete to feel renewed.” YiA’s next 200-hour Yoga Alliance teacher training is scheduled for October 3-28th  2016, and we welcome anyone with an interest in delving deeply into yoga history, philosophy, and anatomy. Participants with satisfactory completion of this course become Registered Yoga Teachers through Yoga Alliance, one of the world’s foremost certifiers of yoga teachers. Here are a few of the many highlights of this transformative training:

  • Live and study yoga in the beautiful mountain town of Boquete, Panamá. This rural town of 20,000 residents is surrounded by the tropical cloud forest, with a perfect mountain climate averaging 70 degrees Fahrenheit, or 21 degrees Celsius year-round. As one of the most biodiverse place on Earth, Boquete boasts incredible hiking, wildlife, coffee and food, with easy access to beaches on either the Pacific or Caribbean coasts. 
  • Personalized Training. Teacher trainings with YiA are structured around personal growth and development, and for this reason we accept no more than 10 participants per training. This allows us to connect on a more intimate level, and  tailor-make the training to suit the needs of the student.
  •  Gain well-rounded knowledge of yoga disciplines. Although the training focuses on teaching vinyasa-style classes, students are also exposed to a wide variety of yoga lineages including Bikram, Acro yoga, yoga for kids, Yin and Ashtanga. We encourage students to nurture a sense curiosity and exploration as they embark on their yoga journey. 

 For more information on upcoming teacher trainings, please click here. In the meantime, follow YiA Yoga on Facebook and Instagram to stay connected and receive the most up-to-date information. 

A note from the author... 

I'm a traveling yoga teacher wandering the globe, and had the good fortune of meeting Kaytee during my time in Boquete. Her compassion and enthusiasm is infectious, and as her social media intern, she's given me a platform to utilize my own passion and talent. I could not be more thankful to have her in my life, as I've seen first-hand how she's altered the lives of others - creating possibility and moments of magic. Thank you, Kaytee, for following your heart and enabling your dreams! You're an inspiration to us all! - Stephanie.