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Welcome the Chaya Garden Ashram. Here you will find the gentle teachings of yoga, and two devoted yoga teachers and practitioners, Laine and Evan; making the teachings natural and easy for you. We welcome all levels and abilities, from master to beginner. We are happy to share our practices alongside you in our humble and spacious ashram.
The practices we do come from a variety of sources. We don’t subscribe to a specific belief or practice. We welcome all beliefs, believers, and non-believers. (You don’t have to believe in yoga, you just have to try it! It works!)
An ashram is a place where spiritual growth is nurtured. We are happy to create a quiet, peaceful atmosphere for your healing and self study. Likewise, we are equally happy engaging in the work that keeps the ashram vibrant; doing healing work with new partners; getting to know new friends and hearing what is meaningful in their lives; and sharing our stories and our recipes for successful living.
Time to write another post and let you know how we are doing. We just did an 11 day meditation retreat with Kundalini Research Institute and chanted ECK ONG CAR SAT NAM SIRI WA HEY GURU; half an hour each day and two and half hours on the 25th. We love when these world wide meditations occur because we feel connected to a broader community. I liked finding more about (SORRY links aren’t working)http://www.harisingh.com/ekongkarsatnamsiriwhaheguru.htm Ek Ong Car: The mantra with Eight Powers because I have been attracted to the number 8 for some time, always referring to the eight gunnas (the eight forces present in creation; Absolute Time, Absolute Space, Om Sound, Om Light, Fire, Air, Water, Earth) and the Eightfold path of Yoga (Ashtang yoga; Ashtang meaning eight!)
These 11 day international meditations (we have done 3 of them) have brought us incredible experiences before. This meditation brought us Master of the Tibetan Bowls Taunya Rivera to practice with us on our first night of chanting which was also on the night of our weekly , so it really made it special!
Healing sounds of the jungle meets healing sounds of the bowls.
We were lucky enough to get Taunya’s full attention on a few occasions, sharing with her our food, transportation, and mantras. She was nice enough to share with us some special tips on healing with sound, and what she does with her bowls! All told I heard her play five times that weekend. It’s all about sharing!
So here’s a few things I’d like to share with you. The first is a link to a beautiful MANTRA http://www.sikhnet.com/gurbani/audio/long-ek-ong-kars-0 . Upon meditating for 2.5 hours on this mantra, I found I could HEAR the cosmos! And that’s the purpose of mantra meditation, really! We weren’t using a background, but my memory of this mantra came up. Maybe you don’t need to chant 2.5 hours straight, just listen to this recording, because it’s so beautiful, you can feel the cosmos vibrating through it. A wonderful track!
We also found http://mynoise.net/NoiseMachines/singingBowlsDroneGenerator.php to be lovely and useful tone generator. Click the reviews below the generator once it’s loaded, and you can hear the ‘animations’ of the people who use the generator to get more realistic animations of what the singing bowls sound like, and you can listen to it for hours!
We have been doing two regular yoga practices a week with guests to the Ka’ana resort. Please shoot us a line if you’ve ever stayed at the lovely Ka’ana! Ka’ana also buys our delicious Kombucha, and we often hear back that it’s the best kombucha they’ve ever tried!
It was marvelous to have my Mother and Step-Father finally visit us. There were some great conversations, great meals, and some great yoga. It was great to see my Mom doing yoga so gracefully, after two knee replacement surguries just over a year ago. Way to go Mom. And thank you Farley for the great books on Philosophy!
The ashram is always requiring constant yard work and repairs. Laine has become a plumber! It’s not her favorite job but it’s one she’s getting good at! We have just planted a dozen pineapples and a lychee tree on a terrace we started up the hill. Also a dozen coconut trees are planted there. There’s no rain, so we have to water just about every day. But we love being in the garden! It gives us a chance to have our feet on the earth. And we get to see the parrots and tucans better!
We welcome you with great love and respect, whoever you are! Drop us a line or come and see us! We are always open for yoga, massage, or vegan cuisine.
I suppose this doesn’t really address the question, but I thought I’d post up a bio I wrote for the International Day of Yoga. It didn’t get used, but maybe that’s a good thing.
ONG NAMO GURU DEV NAMO
“Each one of us has access to Divine Wisdom and Infinite Creativity. This is the basis from which I teach, and the ground upon which my students stand, as we begin every Kundalini class with this mantra. I believe that every human being has Knowledge of the Sacred rooted within their DNA. Consciousness is the fabric from which we are spun. All we need are the correct inputs to awaken that understanding. This is one aspect of the ancient practice of Yoga, a realization of self for all. The practice of Yoga is like inserting a key into a lock. It is what our bodies were designed for, the liberation of our consciousness.”
Raised by hippies in the wilds of Canada, Laine Hoogstraten is a self-realized healer and teacher practicing Hatha and Kundalini yoga at Chaya Garden Ashram in the Cayo District of Belize. She established the ashram in 2012 with her husband and partner, Evan Anderson, Co-Director of the ashram.
Laine was introduced to yoga as a child, and was immediately drawn to study the practice on her own through books and television. She began formal yoga classes in 1985 at the age of 18 while attending Emily Carr College of Art and Design in the city of Vancouver, Canada.
Moving to Winnipeg in 1997, Laine started volunteering at an Iyengar studio in return for classes. She studied the precise asanas of Iyengar practice under the teaching of Val Paape for the next five years, becoming an advanced student with an innate sense of alignment. At this time Bikram yoga was being introduced in Winnipeg. The heated studio, (110 degrees Fahrenheit), was very attractive as Winnipeg has temperatures below forty for many months of the long winter. A renegade studio had been set up by a private practitioner, as at the time there were no teachers available. People were doing the practice entirely from an audio tape of Bikram’s voice. Within the next few years, teachers were certified and an official Bikram studio opened. This is where Laine started an intensive daily practice in 2002.
“I felt the years of training in alignment with Iyengar yoga were a wonderful foundation for Bikram, who places greater emphasis on effort.”
Laine opened her home as a heated studio in 2007, doing a daily practice with friends and family. Moving to Belize in 2010, and discovering a perfect location near the village of Cristo Rey in the Cayo District, it seemed the most natural thing to open an ashram.
“I had been teaching hatha vinyassa classes in Bullet Tree to guests from the Parrot Nest, as well as doing healing massage. We were located at what is now known as Raw Spa. I began to paint the sign for Chaya Garden Ashram on a whim. Higher Wisdom was directing me.”
Chancing upon Kundalini yoga teacher Caroline Barnes, Evan and Laine began to study Kundalini yoga according to the teachings of Yogi Bhajan in 2011, and three months later arranged to study in residence with Caroline for the next five months.
“I had been hungering for mudra and mantra for many years before I found Kundalini Yoga. I didn’t know that was what I was looking for. Eventually it found me.”
Laine took to Kundalini yoga like a fish to water. Everything began to expand. The instinct for alignment combined with the strength built by years of Bikram yoga were a perfect preparation for Kundalini Yoga.
“Having played the didgeridoo for twenty years, the Breath of Fire was already natural to me. States of altered consciousness had been familiar ground since childhood, and had been flowing through the arts of healing, music and yoga consistently in my life.”
Early experiences with hallucinogenic metabolites opened pathways for psychedelic knowledge of the glands, what Laine calls “the Exploration of the Innerverse.”
Yogi Bhajan says,
“I am not here to teach students, I am here to teach teachers.”
Laine began to teach Kundalini yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan, at the founding of Chaya Garden Ashram in 2012.
We are excited to welcome my mother Lois and her husband Farley to the ashram for their first visit to Belize!
They are used to pretty glamorous traveling, the arctic, the islands, the mid-west; and it’s with great joy that we welcome them to our humble abode. The wonderful thing is they are letting go- and letting God; they will be enjoying the humble but hearty benefits of ashram life for the next two weeks.
It’s a good thing they will be here to help us eat our bountiful crop of avocados this year.
We have an exciting vegan bar B Q planned for the second weekend in July. Bar B Q’s are a common protocol of family togetherness in Belize, but this will only be the FIRST vegan Bar B Q we’ve planned in the 5 years we’ve been here. Lots of good dishes will be coming, with Mary and Sparkle providing some, Jamal from Roots Wraps and Smoothies providing some, and we’ll provide some as well!
Roasting potatoes with garlic and onions, wrapped in foil in the fire, pineapple skewers, grilled egg plant, casava salad and more!
Welcome everyone! Please use the tabs to see what we offer. Feel free to ask us any question under the Contact Us tab. The Ashram is available for private, group, and guest teacher retreats.
We are pleased to be participating in the International Day of Yoga in Belize City on the 21st of June.
I just finished a 5 day water fast and I’m planning a 7-10 day water fast in August! Water fasting is an incredibly simple and easy thing to practice. I recommend getting a book by Paul Bragg or by Arnold Ehret. Paul Bragg’s most direct advice on how to handle a water fast is “Just Grin and Bear”.
I actually started my retreat on Sunday and ended it on Thursday. On Saturday, I made a long drive to the Belize’s capitol, Belmopan. I suffered a bit of heat exhaustion that day, and decided to only rest on Sunday. On Sunday some neighbors called on me to drive them to their family’s residence in Succotz, and I couldn’t say no. So, when I arrived home, exhausted as ever, and trying to fight off a nasty infection, I started my fast.
Drinking nothing but water and consuming nothing seems like a recipe for disaster to anyone who enjoys the Standard American Diet (SAD). But the truth is the opposite! Nothing so extends your life as fasting. The reason fasting is feared is because so much emphasis is put on eating everyday. Most people enjoy large meals, eating at least 3 times a day, and stuffing anything into their face they can get their hands on. If you’ve never fasted before, you might fear the confusion of your mind, because of the cessation of this automatic activity. In truth, fasting will put you into direct communication with your body.
I really enjoyed the first day of my fast. Laine went alone to a picnic, with our Belize Pro-Organic food group to the fabulous Blancaneux Lodge, to tour their organic garden and have a potluck with the members of the group. Even though I missed out the lovely gathering and splendid food, my peace of mind quickly returned to me in the silence of the ashram, and the steady rhythm of bird song, the trickling waterfall and the noise of the crickets.
Day two is the day when I REALLY wanted nothing to do at all. I went to yoga with Laine at the class she teaches at Ka-anna resort first thing in the morning. I felt great, but then my body was giving me instructions to CHILL OUT. My resolve was weak, but I made it through the day without breaking the fast. Laine was by my side giving me encouragement as to how brave I was.
On day three, I noticed that I had stopped playing loud music, stopped drinking tea, and I wasn’t interested in the computer at all. I was getting regular rest, getting to bed at an appropriate hour, and drinking plenty of water. I got approximately half of the chores done that I normally do, but I was still mentally alert.
On day four, I felt fantastic! I woke up with the Sun, and hit the hammock and read more and more about the benefits of fasting. I directed my consciousness, WILLED my body to work and accomplished a great number of tasks!
Day 5 I was feeling just as able, and the possibility of prolonging the fast lingered within my reach! We did a restorative set of yoga from our Kundalini manual, and upon rising from Shivasana, I felt such youth and radiance in my skin, it was hard to stop from smiling! But because the fast was a spontaneous decision, I thought it best to break it now. Laine had prepared a salad so beautiful, I swear I have never in my life seen such a wonderful salad. Lettuce, mint, sprouts, onions, mangoes, bell apples (a small local apple which has the resemblance to rose quartz), and dressed with lime juice. Laine and her friend were enjoying this salad when I came down from checking the email, and I immediately asked her for a small plate. I sat for the rest of lunch, contemplating, teasing myself, enjoying the scent, colors, and texture of the salad, until both ladies were finished lunch. Then I decided, I would break my fast now, but plan a longer fast in August.
I had the bite of salad, but I knew it would not be enough to move my bowels, which is important after a fast; and I boiled up a dish of tomatoes, lightly seasoned with tumeric, anatto, and salt. Although it’s important, it isn’t life or death to have a BM following a fast. I had to wait for the following day.
So that was my first 5 day fast and it was everything I imagined it would be. Visions of food danced in head, recalling in detail flavors, textures, recipes! I was weak; but I was soon full of vitality. Thanks to my yoga practice I have a fair bit of endurance, so physically the fast was not hard. I feel, that if you have adequate rest for the first three days; meaning FULL rest (and this is where a fast supervisor comes in handy; to handle the odd jobs and save you running around when you’re low on energy) then you to should be able to fast for 5 days on water, or longer!
We are loving the growth we’re experiencing right now. I have personally felt like this is a time of growth and transformation for some time. And I feel like we’ll see our efforts paying off sooner than later! Now this is evident as we prepare to erect our new roof. Right now we can look through the structure of our roof and see the stars, and it’s so beautiful to see! We really feel like we are protected even though we don’t have a roof over our heads, we did the work in preparation and now we watch as we yield our results. It’s fantastic! It’s an interesting place to be at in our Sadhana (spiritual practice). In some ways we can’t wait for it to get back to normal. But it’s interesting putting energy here and there while the bulk of our yoga and healing space is being used up in construction!
Jill Bolte Taylor delivers this CAN’T MISS TedTalk about the two sides of the brain. Jill was a brain scientist who had a rare opportunity to study the brain from the inside when she had a stroke and lost the use of her left brain. She discovered a profound connection to energy in the “la la land” state of her right brain. and she barely lived through this experience. It took her eight years to fully recover, and you won’t want to miss this mesmerizing account of crisis and healing.