Yoga in Paradise

By Fiona Walker

It’s 8:00 am and sunlight is bouncing off the Caribbean Sea. A steady breeze drifts towards shore, rustling the leaves of the Mexican palm trees that frame the yoga stu­dio balcony where I’m standing, stretching my arms up to the sky. I gaze out at bright­ly painted dive boats bobbing gently in the water as students start arriving for our morning Yoga By The Sea class. Another beautiful yoga in paradise morning is off to a great start.

A group of fellow yoga enthusiasts and I have called Playa del Carmen ( Playa as it’s known by locals), home the past four weeks while we’ve strengthened our bodies, stretched our minds, and found our inner Om in Arielle Thomas Newman’s Yoga Teacher Training Course on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, south of Cancun. We’re nearing the completion of our training and all of us can now teach yoga, regardless of our ability level when we entered the course. I plan to incorporate my newly honed yoga skills into my Pilates business. One student is returning to Japan to introduce Hatha Yoga to Japanese housewives in a Tokyo suburb, and another is excit­ed about adding Vinyasa-flow classes to her yoga business in South Carolina.

We’ve come a long way individually and as a group. We’ve worked hard, had fun, and grew in ways we didn’t expect. My big take-away (besides earning how to teach a fierce downward dog), was expanding my nner awareness and connecting with a deep steady calm. (Chanting and meditation proved to be the key).

My contact with Yoga By The Sea began when I interviewed Arielle about her 200hour certification course for my nutrition blog. Here are my questions and her responses:

F. How much yoga experience do I need to take a yoga teacher training?
The adventure of a taking a yoga training in Mexico attracts students of all levels. I’ve had people who’ve successfully completed the course who’ve had only a year of prior yoga experience. Others have done yoga for years and feel it’s time to step into the role of teacher. And there’s usually one or two in each group who simply want to learn yoga on a deeper level and don’t intend to teach. As long as your heart is committed, that’s all that matters.

F. Why should I go to Playa del Carmen, Mexico to do my teacher training?
A. Playa is a special place with a great vibe. It looks just like those picture postcards with palm trees and white sand beaches. It’s very international - you hear a lot of different


Yoga By The Sea Summer Teachers Traininglanguages when you walk down the street. And the ocean is incredible. When you live in a city, you’re constantly bombarded with electromagnetic frequencies that can deplete your energy.When you’re living and doing yoga right next to the sea, you have all these negative ions helping you feel better. Swimming in the mineral-rich salt water is remarkably healing.

F. What are the advantages of a month-long teacher training?
A. It’s a real gift to leave your everyday life and daily chores behind and focus all your energy on yourself and your spiritual growth, using the tools of yoga and meditation. It becomes a journey, an arc of time you’ll always remember.

F. If I’m not that flexible and struggle with some poses, is this a problem?
A. No, it’s not. I come from an Iyengar-style yoga background where poses are modified to accommodate an individual’s particular body structure. If you can’t touch the floor in a forward bend for instance, you can place your hands on yoga blocks. It’s a style of yoga that works for everybody.

F. What makes your teaching different from that of other teachers?
A. My background as a professional dancer and choreographer has given me a keen eye for discerning body alignment. I know how the body moves from the inside out and I love to share that knowledge with developing yoga teachers so that they can create safe classes that inspire their students. I’ve studied with some outstanding teachers whom I greatly respect, such as Judith Lasater and Erich Schiffmann, whose books I use in my course and Jasmine Lieb, senior teacher at YogaWorks in Santa Monica, who nourished my love of anatomy.

F.  What are the requirements for certification?
A. My training follows the Yoga Alliance guidelines for obtaining a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT200) credential. We study yoga asanas, meditation, breathing techniques, injury prevention, ethics, yoga philosophy, nutrition, and the business of yoga – everything you need to start a new career as a Hatha Yoga or Vinyasa-flow yoga teacher. We promote non-competitive yoga and support students to approach their practice with loving-kindness, while encouraging them to express the architectural foundation of each pose with clarity and strength.

Arielle’s next Yoga By The Sea Teacher Training Course is June 25-July 29, 2010.You can contact her via her web site:


Issue 55 /June 2010