Kula Karma Grant
By: Lucia Orellana
I started practicing yoga when I was 14-years-old. I knew this practice would be part of my life from my very first class. Almost immediately, yoga became a gateway to connect with myself completely — unifying physical movement and exercise, breathing, meditation, presence and spiritual awareness.
In my ever-changing life practicing yoga has been the one thing I’ve never stopped doing. Little by little I began to understand the rhythm of it, the different sequences. Little by little it was printed in my body, breath and soul. I became more steady. In my yoga, I had an anchor to come back to any time I needed it.
I remember my first experience teaching yoga. I was about 15-years-old and my best friend Mishell was all about dancing. One day, Mishell came up with a great idea: “Lucia, I am going to create a dance academy and you will be my yoga teacher.” To my surprise, she was absolutely serious about it and worked hard to make it happen and, of course, I was included in her schedule. I almost panicked when I realized it was really happening!
So there we were. We ran the dance academy during our school vacation and it was a success! Our students were even younger than we were. Sharing yoga with them was a strong and beautiful experience.
To recall only a few:
- I’d always kept yoga as a personal practice — almost a secret! And there I was, exposing myself at such scale.
- The fact that I was “THE yoga teacher” brought a lot of interest, especially from the mothers of the students. I read and studied about yoga (history, philosophy, asana) to answer to all their questions. I’d never studied yoga before and I loved everything I found out about it!
- Previously I’d only seen older people practicing yoga, people way older than myself. Teaching young people was beautiful and fun and it taught me so much. My rhythm became more active and creative and my whole perspective of yoga changed again. And the best part was that the kids were into it — they loved it!
- After this experience I was more in love with yoga than before.
As much as I loved the idea of teaching, I didn’t make plans to become a yoga teacher after that summer. The world was still too big and unknown. Traveling was my biggest goal.
So, I did travel. I grew older, worked, volunteered, worked, volunteered, worked again… I was coming out of a big business failure when I decided to stop this cycle. I learned my lesson and was ready to calm down, listen to my heart and trust. I was ready to stop and stay, to grow and see others grow around me. I got married and the seeds of “staying” were sprouting. I came back, once again, to my yoga practice and realized that it had been a long time since my days teaching at the academy. I felt ready for new challenges.
I started looking for classes that would push my practice a bit further. And it was like going back to that moment where I was discovering yoga for the first time! There was so much more to learn. I had so many incredible meditation experiences. All of it was bringing me back from my travels and projects to my steady self. It felt good to remember that there was that one anchor I could come back to. I was happy to feel so passionate about one thing. It all looked clear now.
I volunteer with an NGO whose office is in a big old house. When they found out I loved yoga they asked me to teach at their place. We would offer free classes to members of the NGO and charge guests for regular classes, creating a brand new source of income. The whole idea was perfect! It made me think about my classes at Mishell’s dance academy. This time I also felt a little nervous. I’d never learned how to teach. I started preparing the old studio attic they gave me and little by little I began to share my practice with others.
People liked it — they would come back and even share with me new experiences they had after class. I realized I was sharing myself through yoga. I was adding my own feelings of life, bringing the best of me to class for others, using music that inspires me, incense I like… I was even listening to my own voice! This is the moment I knew I really wanted to be a yoga teacher.
I looked for a Yoga Teacher Training and found Kula Collective. Their vision of yoga felt right, like the way I see and feel yoga myself. Very soon I was convinced I was going to take the training. However, I didn’t have enough money to go right away and the NGO could not help me. I contacted Kula Collective to see if there was a way I could come to the training. From the very first email they told me there were a few ways. Zach really made sure I felt heard and capable of coming — there was going to be a way to work it out! I filled out a couple application forms for the Kula Karma Grant and there I was, hoping and trusting for the best.
I remember the moment the Kula Karma Grant email came in… I was accepted! I couldn’t smile any bigger or jump any higher. It was the right moment to redirect my life onto this wonderful path. The training was intense. We learned so much in only 25 days. Now I am a confident teacher, taking yoga off my own mat. I love being able to make gentle and precise adjustments, lead meditation, chant mantras and guide people through beautiful and healing experiences in their yoga practice.
To the Kula Collective: I am so grateful for this opportunity. Thank you for thinking about Guatemala and sharing this wonderful practice with me. I am so happy to teach and share all the wisdom and love I learned from you. I know I wouldn’t be able to be where I am today if it wasn’t for the Kula Karma Grant program. My new life has given me a balanced way of working, volunteering, sharing, and staying centered, connected and happy! I know more than ever that this is how I will best serve this world.