We reached the yoga farm after a long day of sticky buses and our bags digging into our shoulders. Clutching a scrap paper of scribbled instructions from the website, we struggled up a steep dusty hill with the setting sun behind us still propelling it’s heat deep into our bodies.
And whilst this goes some way to explaining the relief I felt when we heard the laughter and chatter floating through the jungle and smelt the food carried on the breeze from the kitchen, I think we already knew that we had found somewhere special.
The yoga farm is such a magical place that a part of me doesn’t want to even attempt to put the experience into words. We were there just a week, and yet in some ways I learned more about myself and the world than I have in our entire time travelling. But I want to remember it and I think it should be shared, so I’m going to try and do it justice.
The Yoga Farm really goes back to basics. There’s no internet, and in the evenings everybody uses headlamps to find their way around the hallways and to the bathroom. The toilets are composting, there is no fridge or electricity in the kitchen. The food on the table is made by your friends, from the trees and soil beds around you. It’s all shared on big tables with gratitude and conversations. Your waking hours are governed by the sun.
But this simplicity makes room for something so much more valuable. What you gain in place are lifelong treasures and memories. Intense connections, friendships, headspace and laughter. In the evenings, your entertainment is a friend with a ukelele and a beautiful voice and her own songs. The ocean becomes your playground and you bathe in the pools left by the sea as the moon draws out the tide. By breakfast time you’ve already processed the beautiful world around you, greeted your companions and grounded yourself in downward dog. And this leaves you ready for a day of exploring — whether real-life or through the mind of an author from the comfort of a hammock on the yoga deck.
They say the people makes the place, and never before have I fully appreciated the wisdom of this phrase. The yoga farm seems to attract only the most wonderful people, handcrafted to make your stay a million times better, and a zillion times harder to leave. And whilst of course an interest in yoga is one thing that brought you all together, the common thread is so much more than that. Contrary to my apprehensions, not everyone was a kale-eating bendy straw. What everyone was, was kind-hearted, open-minded and talented in their own special way. Our movements united on the yoga mats and the positive, calm vibes cultivated in our practice could be physically felt in the thick humid air, but it wasn’t just the yoga that made it such a rich and valuable experience for me. It was the effortless feeling of belonging. The feeling of finding others with the same values and an atmosphere of sharing and pure enjoyment of one another’s company. And a new appreciation of the simple things in life; a reminder of how little is needed for deep and genuine happiness.
In the hours of deep conversations that take place in the hammocks, you hear of other’s adventures, dreams and narratives, and somehow it makes your own come into focus. The sweat is no longer a nuisance but an unavoidable and constant bodily function that we accept. And the freckles forming on the faces around you becomes a physical reminder of the days that are slipping away. You pass time tasting new fruits and learning about the plants and how to make chocolate, right from the bean. And when you reach the ocean after hours of walking to a nearby town it rewards you in a way it never has before.
Not everyone’s experience of the yoga farm will be the same. Some may be unable to sleep through the deep calls of the howler monkey which permeate the milky darkness, or the pops and shouts of the toads when the sheets of rain have brought them from the earth. There are bugs that bite and rumours of glimpsed snakes under the leaves and grasses. There are no washing machines or cold beers or swimming pools. But the food is hearty and healthy and delicious, and gives you the kind of energy which chemicals cannot. The yoga gives you strength and balance in more ways than just the physical. But mostly, in that special patch of jungle on the pacific coast, there will always people laughing, hugging, talking, planting, singing, baking. And for me, that was more than enough.