With the Caribbean Sea in my periphery, I slowly elevate one of my legs, sending it far behind me as I raise my arms to the sides of my body to form a Warrior Three yoga pose.  My mat is secure below my other foot as I lift my heart up as high as I can, elongating my strong body. To my left, Emma is a perfect mirror of my image in the same balanced position. She looks absolutely angelic against the backdrop of the lively jungle as a sliver of sun shines brightly on her, accenting her perfectly tan back.

This is just too tempting. I slowly lower my leg until it kisses the mat and I reach my left arm out to her. My pointer finger extends with intention as I nudge her ever so slightly, sending her falling out of balance. She stumbles to the floor and we both erupt in laughter. Hey, it’s only fair as she did the same thing to me just a few moments prior.

It is Christmas day and I am in the middle of a cacao (aka raw chocolate) and yoga ceremony at OM yoga ¨studio.¨ I put ¨studio¨ in quotes because it isn’t really a studio at all, but a large open platform in the middle of the jungle. This area is known as Cashew Hill and is just a minute or two outside, by bicycle, from downtown Puerto Viejo.

The ceremony began with our leader, Hannah, passing around cups of ceremonial doses of pure cacao mixed with water, a bit of raw sugar and a pinch of cayenne pepper. The idea is that the cacao gives its ingestees an elevated heart rate and bit of a head rush…almost like a natural high.

I am not sure if it is the cacao or simply my playful mood that has had me bursting into laughter throughout this particular practice, prompting me to engage in silly behavior like the one I just described with Emma.

What I do know is that events like this one (cacao ceremonies or yoga in general) used to intimidate me. Yogis are supposed to be perfect, right? They eat only raw foods, meditate at least 2 hours per day and purchase items that come solely from sustainable organic sources, right?  Sure, I generally eat pretty well and do my best to be environmentally conscious, but I also drink alcohol, eat meat and smoke an occasional cigarette.

What I have come to learn about these intimating yogis and so-called hippies, is that none of us are perfect. Like anyone, we all have or faults and deep insecurities. In fact, this is what I have come to love most about my yoga practice. It is not something I do to keep up the illusion that I am perfect, but a way to challenge my own judgments about my imperfections.

So what if I cannot do a headstand without the assistance of a friend? So what if, sometimes I show up to a yoga class and remain in a child’s pose for most of the practice? So what if I am feeling goofy and want to be playful with someone who is also feeling goofy today? The idea of yoga is that it is the opposite of what I had always assumed it was. There is no right or wrong…in fact, it is ALL OK. It is about living in the moment and doing my best.

Today, my best is to completely mangle almost every pose I try to attempt because I can’t help but giggle at the idea that I am spending Christmas morning not staring at a Christmas tree and opening presents with my family, like I have done almost every other year of my life. Instead, I am sweating my ass off in the Caribbean and sharing a brew of cacao with a group of people who are just as perfectly imperfect as I am.

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