Photos by the Author
My first yoga lesson in Nicaragua was an unintentional meditation on being more chill and going with the flow and letting things happen when and how they will.
We Americans, me especially, tend toward wanting it NOW; right now, when I want it, how I want it, where I want it, and I expect that will come with a please and thank you and is there anything else I can do for you?
Nicaragua time …
Sis, that’s not how things work when you’re on Nicaragua time. Thus, my lesson begins.
In Nicaragua, clocks and schedules may as well not even exist for as little attention as they pay them. But yoga is the practice of meditation, acceptance, and fulfillment of higher awareness.
But I’m like NOPE, I’ve got five days and I’m here to get ish done.
I visited Nicaragua alone for the first time on my own personal version of a yoga and surfing retreat. I'd heard it was a good place for both, so on a whim (pre-COVID) I book a flight and headed over there for a week.
I stayed in a place called Las Penitas, a fishing village and tourist beach community on the North Western coast near León, Nicaragua.
Yoga? Somebody, anybody
While several places claimed to offer yoga, it was tough to nail down who, when, and where.
Many places in Las Penitas say they have yoga, and probably, sometimes they actually do, but locating them at the precise time that there might be a class seems like a scavenger hunt, and I didn’t have any of the clues.
Me: Hi, I’m interested in a yoga class. Can I sign up?
Them: Our yoga instructor is out of town.
Next place, Me: Hi, will there be yoga tonight?
Them: Maybe, if there are enough people
Me: When will you decide?
Them: When it’s time for yoga
Me: So …
Them: You can wait here till then
Me: The class is in like six hours …
I had conversations like this in multiple places. However, I’m determined, and I practically forced these people to help me practice. I just wore my yoga pants and kept showing up and asking about classes. Part of the yoga, I think, was walking up and down this street all day.
Finally, a yoga class. Maybe
After I’d given up on yoga for the day, I happened upon a restaurant and noticed a small sign indicating yoga. This, my friends, is the universe toying with you.
I asked, not expecting a straight answer, but to my good fortune, they told me an Ayurveda and pranayama class was starting just then. I didn’t know what those things were, but hey, sounds yoga-like!
Without pausing a beat, I joined it. The class was in Spanish, but I figured since the pose names were Sanskrit, I’d be able to follow along.
Oh universe, I love the games you play. It turns out the “class” was not physical, but mental … i.e., talking.
I have a fat Dosha
I had no idea what was going on. Essentially, I signed up for a breathing lesson on managing the three different types of doshas. Doshas are related to your physical constitution, emotional nature, and spiritual outlook in the context of the universe.
One of the doshas is fat dosha. That, we determined through many hand signals, was mine. Go figure. It essentially means I’m destined to be fat and lazy, and it’s not my fault, which is what I’ve been saying my entire life. At least that's affirming.
The universe hates me
That class was supposed to be two hours, but it took three because time is irrelevant. To cap off our time, we made small talk and drank tea. I didn’t want any, but what was I supposed to say, no to their offer?
I didn’t get yoga, but I got tea, new friendships that lasted as long as it took to walk out the door, and a lesson about how bizarre the universe is.
Actual yoga – on the beach!
There is at least one actual yoga studio in Las Penitas. And it’s amazing. It is a roof deck at the Mano A Mano hostel overlooking the ocean.
Yoga, mostly English-speaking people (Hostels are known for those) and practicing to the waves’ sounds. #Winning
There is something magical about meditation at the actual ocean versus an ocean sounds app, which is how I do it at home.
After yoga, we watched the sunset together as real lovers do.
Watching the sunset is a serious daily pastime in Las Penitas, and everyone stops whatever they’re doing for about 15 minutes each day to gaze toward the rapidly setting sun as it disappears into the ocean, leaving a golden glow over everything. Maybe that’s the real meditation.
What I learned
Time and clocks aren’t necessary for people who live on the beach. Things will happen when they happen. Live life more like you’re on the beach. Your boss will learn to deal, or you’ll find a new boss, in which case you both win.
Las Penitas for yoga on a scale of 1 – 10
I’d give it a five. You can do yoga here as well as you can anywhere if you’re lucky and determined, or if you bring your own mat and just go for it. One thing Las Penitas has that you won’t get at home? A Pacific Ocean view for miles and miles that you’ll have practically all to yourself.