Yoga Teachers Leave for Summer Break, Here is what they did last year

As our summer season wanes and a new season opens, St. John’s yoga teachers return from points all over the globe to shape our minds and move our bodies. Some return after years of world travel.  Others, return from their annual pilgrimage to their stateside roots.  From exotic locales like Bali, India, and Australia to visits with loved ones in Maine and New York, new ideas and teachings have been gathered and brought home to us.

I asked Beth, Suki, Joël and Jessa, “What did you do on your summer vacation?” Here is what I found out. I was very impressed with the diversity of experiences. We are lucky to have such a well-rounded and interesting group of people sharing their life’s journey with us through the practice of yoga.

Beth Escardo

Over the Summer Beth was invited to teach yoga in Acadia National Park at SeaSide Yoga — The Bar Harbor Inn & Spa and at The Atlantic Oceanside Hotel in Bar Harbor, Maine. Her residency started July 1st and ran through the end of September.  She had a gorgeous summer meeting people from all over the world that came to hike the Katadin mountains or cycle the carriages paths through the park. Yoga was a warm welcome to start or end their day.

This is the 1st season any hotel in Acadia Park has offered yoga to their guests. The response was wonderful and she received an invitation to return next summer.  After finishing her teaching commitment in Maine, she headed to Massachusetts to visit family and friends along with taking time for surgery to repair a torn meniscus (from the accident in India).  During Beth’s healing time after the surgery she joined her sister at the Kripalu Institute where she first began her love affair with yoga.  As a Kripalu teacher, her heart swelled with the joy of being back and seeing old friends.  She had the honor to participate in the “Power of Love and Healing” with Mother Maya on her world tour spreading non-violence/ahimsa.

Joël Karamdeep Singh Brierre

In 2010, Joël moved from St. John to the Guru Ram Das Ashram in New Mexico to teach Kundalini Yoga. Following his time at the ashram, he traveled to India to study hatha yoga and pranayama with Swami Yogananda and Swami Chidananada Saraswati in Rishikesh. Joël then toured India with his best friend and fellow St. Johnian Michael Denicola.  From the top of the north to the bottom of the south, east and west, they experienced wonders including a three day teaching with the Dalai Lama.

After 4 months in India, Joël moved to Sydney, Australia to open Radiant Awakening Kundalini Yoga Centre where he taught Kundalini yoga and meditation, ashtanga vinyasa, pranayama, and sound healing. Joël taught many workshops around Sydney and hosted yoga retreats in Bali and the Daintree rainforest in Far North Queensland. After 2 years, Joël passed the studio on to his business partner and has just returned to island.

Jessa Buchalter

This summer Jessa took time away from St John and teaching to visit with family and friends on the Mainland. Her son Cruz learned to crawl and her daughter Coral learned to swim at their family home in Fire Island, NY. It was a kid focused summer, with lots of time spent on the beach and at the pool and lots of kid’s yoga! Jessa taught a few classes at the playground in their Fire Island community, but mostly she just played around with Coral and her Fire Island friends. One of the most memorable moments was walking the two blocks to the beach before sunrise to practice yoga with the whole family.

Jessa and her family returned to St John in September just in time to participate in the Global Mala at Megan’s Bay. Then, with the help of her mother and fellow yoga teacher, Suki to watch the baby, she was able to deepen her exploration of children’s yoga with a Radiant Child yoga training in St. Thomas.  It was a fun course, full of music, movement and self exploration. Jessa is excited to begin teaching kids yoga classes at the St John Montessori School and hopefully later, to the rest of St John.

Suki Dickson Buchalter 

As a gift to herself, Suki celebrated the Year of the Water Dragon, her sixtieth year, by traveling with her partner Buck to the island of Bali in Indonesia. The island and the people of Bali have always inspired Suki with their intricate jewelry designs, fabulous colors and fabrics in clothing, wood carvings and incredible furniture. Certainly one of the most creative cultures in the world all packed into this one little island! She was thrilled to see firsthand the open-hearted culture and the spiritual commitment of the people. The incredible connection to source they embody with their creativity and love of family and the acceptance of others.

Suki fulfilled one of her dreams by having some of her silver designs produced by artistsans there. Her jewelry is available on her website or by private showing.

The Global Yoga Mala was happening while Suki was there so she shared the International Day of Peace and 108 rounds of Sun Salutations in a gorgeous setting with an interesting assortment of non- native yoga teachers.

While traveling through Bali, Suki and Buck were assisted by an Indonesian guide, who is also a Priest in the Hindu tradition who showed them many beautiful temples where people celebrate their spirituality continuously. There are a lot of water temples, water is celebrated as being a prevalent feature in Bali and essential to nourishing the many beautiful rice fields and terraces. Every week it seems brings another major celebration to the many temples throughout Bali.  Each morning and at various times throughout the day offerings are made to Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.  There is at least one Ganesh at every entrance or doorway. She saw many Saraswatis and of course the Fierce Bird , symbol of Bali,  Garudas.  Suki stopped to meditate in caves and at the Mother Temple.

Inspired by her visit, Suki joined in a spiritual event that happens once every thirty years. Many of those she celebrated with were quite thrilled to be experiencing this ceremony for the first time. The people spent days preparing the gifts to the gods.  Baskets were woven, food was prepared, small offerings were made of rice cakes and rice made in many assorted ways. Fruit and vegetables were stacked high and secured in baskets to be balanced on heads. People took off a week from work to prepare and celebrate.

Everyone met outside Amed in view of the Sacred Mount Augung.  All the best ceremonial clothing was worn. After a long wait in the hot sun, it was thrilling to walk in ceremony for at least 45minutes from the beachside, where a blessing was sent by boat into the Bali Sea, and walk along the main road to the Temple in the next village. Children and old folks rode by truck.

The men carried large brass bells and drums and banners. My new Indonesian friend was my guide. The women walked the whole way balancing intricate baskets of fruits and vegetables and rice offerings piled high on their heads. Everyone was dressed in beautiful sarongs and special ceremonial shirts and jewelry. It was a feast of color and sound. The arrival at the Temple was the beginning of the three day event.

The Balinese people are open-hearted and warm.  Young and old, they live from their hearts, which is very inspiring to see a whole culture so dedicated to spirit. Suki plans to offer Yoga in Bali Retreats in conjunction with Tutu of Tutu Much who has spent many years traveling to Bali. The intention of the Retreats is to find that Inner Spiritual Connection, connecting to that energy of love that is so prevalent in Bali.