I’ve been recently reunited with yoga in Playa del Carmen and I’m reminded of what a tumultuous relationship we’ve had over the last ten years or so. After taking up yoga as a dancer in my early twenties in order to improve my flexibility and strength, I’ve since meandered back and forth from the relationship, either obsessing over it like a lover, or abandoning it like a forgotten dusty book.
But somehow, it has always been a part of my life, from Perth to London, Southeast Asia to India and now, Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Taking a yoga class in Varanasi, India, 2010
Koh Tonsay, Cambodia, 2012. The dogs teach yoga there as well as doing the dishes…
Forgotten yoga mat gathering dust, Udaipur, India 2013
I’ve dabbled in Iyenga, Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Bikram with varying degrees of intensity at different stages of my life. I remember one class about two years ago when it finally ‘clicked’ and I was like, “aah, so that’s what they’ve been talking about all these years.” For the first time, I was able to focus on my breath and become present in the moment (which is no mean feat for a jabbering mind like mine).
It only took eight years…
Our travels over the last year have been almost devoid of yoga, save for a short, two-day meditation retreat I attended in Thailand, and a few self-practice sessions here and there. In Goa I thought I would be getting my yoga on, but was a bit put off by the ‘scene’ there. It’s one of those things where the longer you’re away, the harder it is to get back into. I became a little jaded and picky about the teachers, so avoided classes in favour of developing my own yoga/mediation practice.
The reality was, however, that I lacked the discipline to make that happen more than a couple of times during my stay.
So when we returned to Mexico this time, it was high on my priority list to re-acquaint myself with my neglected friend, Yoga. I researched some schools, read about the teachers, compared prices, and prepared a short-list. Whilst there is a wide range of yoga in Playa del Carmen, there is also great variation between ‘local’ and ‘tourist’ prices, and since I sit somewhere in the middle, I was mindful of not spending too much.
I didn’t want anything cliquey or wanky either. I had attended one class of yoga in Playa del Carmen at a gym last time we were here, but had been so put off by the egotistic male teacher that I vowed never to return. He spoke mostly in Spanish (which was fine), but singled me out for taking half a second longer than everyone else to reach a pose (since he didn’t actually do any of them himself, I had to look to the other students to figure out what was next).
“Left foot Sarah! Is that your left? Is my English no good?!” he’d say to me in a mocking tone, which infuriated me and made me want to throttle him.
Then during the relaxation time at the end of the class, he gave me a long neck massage which was slightly creepier than it was good.
When I accompanied Tyrhone to join the gym this time, I was adamant that I wasn’t joining, because a) I disliked the yoga teacher, and b) the classes were in the evening and I prefer to do yoga in the morning. We picked up a timetable and asked about membership prices, then went to check out another gym we had seen just in case they happened to be cheaper, though I was doubtful considering it’s location within a luxury resort.
Luckily we did, because it was $100 less for an annual membership and had a range of classes that completely blew me away.
“Is that included? Is that included? Surely that’s not included?” I asked the girl behind the desk, whilst I looked over the timetable, unable to conceive that they had over sixteen yoga classes per week at times that suited me, plus an impressive array of others, including Pilates, Aquatone (conducted in a nearby luxury resort’s pool), Kickboxing, Cuban Salsa (eek!) and more.
They were all included in the price of membership (about $10 per week), as well as Yoga on the beach on Saturdays and Tai Chi on the beach on Sundays.
A fitting setting for yoga on the beach
I took a risk by joining up without trying out any of the classes, but thankfully it paid off. Monday will mark two weeks since we joined, and although I have struggled a little with finding the motivation to get up at 7 am every morning for the 8 am class, I have been rewarded with some of the most amazing, varied yoga classes taught by fantastic teachers. I also get to improve my Spanish skills, since most of the classes are en Espanol.
My muscles definitely felt it during the first week, but now feel much more energized and positive, especially immediately after each class. I’m noticing my strength increasing, as well as my ability stay present and focused on my breath (the idea being that this will extend through to all parts of my life and make me generally more present and content!).
Cooling off at the Aquatone class at the El Taj resort (which is included!), just to mix things up.
It feels really good to be re-united with my old friend Yoga – which actually means union; of the body, mind and spirit. I hope it’s the beginning of a long and happy life together.
Some links you may find useful if looking for Yoga in Playa del Carmen:
The Gym (where we are members)