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.
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.