Simplicity and Finding Happiness Through Yoga: David’s Ostional Story
Like many a great love affair, David Autio’s relationship with yoga begins with meeting a girl. This, however, is not a boy-meets-girl story.
The day after he graduated from college, David boarded a plane to Guatemala, with intentions to seek adventure as he made his way down to Panama. Somewhere in Nicaragua, however, he met a girl. “She was the happiest girl I’d ever met in my entire life,” he says. She was the hostel’s yoga instructor, and David “somehow got convinced to sign up for a yoga teacher training.” He changed course, heading to Ostional for teacher training with It’s Yoga Nica. Panama would have to wait.
Yoga hadn’t been a major part of David’s life before arriving in Ostional. While he’d practice occasionally, and had long held a desire to explore meditation further, he had yet to develop a relationship with any particular practice. He did, however, have “a feeling of something important there,” a feeling that perhaps contributed to the ease with which he was persuaded to change paths.
“The yoga teacher training,” he declares, “was the greatest three weeks of my entire life.” Freed from distractions, immersed in yoga, fueled by “unbelievable” food, David found himself under ideal conditions for the spiritual root-taking he’d been seeking. As the training drew to a close, David decided to stay. Along with fellow teacher training graduate, Shawn, he stayed in a treehouse for two weeks, helping out on the Yoga Ranch’s farm.
The pair threw themselves into farm life. They expanded a garden, preparing it for the coming season and building a bigger fence to protect it from the free-roaming Ostional cows. They also constructed a well-pump system to move the well water up to the farm for easy use. One day they hiked into the mountains behind the farm to bring down the wood from a recently felled tree. David, Shawn, and three of the farm’s workers cut the tree into “manageable sizes,” “meaning from one piece at 600 lbs to two pieces at 300 lbs each.” Once they’d managed to get the piece up to the path above the bank, Danillo, one of the farm’s staff, put one of the 300 lbs pieces over his shoulder and started the 30 minute walk towards the farm. The others fashioned a carrying device, working in pairs to haul the wood down the mountain and back to the farm. The task was “quite a bit more work than downward dog,” to be sure – but it also possessed a revolutionary simplicity, showing a rare impetus to solve a problem in a simple (albeit labor-intensive) way.
This uncomplicated, pretention-less life struck a chord with David. “The farm was a real eye opener as to how simple life can really be,” he shares. The difference became starkly clear on is return home, “to the hectic world of North America.” “All the unnecessary clutter of life jumped out at me,” he says, “and the superfluous ‘needs’ suddenly seemed silly.” The realization was transformative, dramatically altering the lens David uses to look at the world. He’s less irritable now, he says, and chuckles to himself about a lot of silly things. “People often ask what I’m laughing about to myself,” he shares, “and it’s not something I can really explain. My priorities after this trip are completely different.”
David returned to Canada and to the “real world”(“There is no ‘real world,’ he explains, “There is only the world you create for yourself”), starting his apprenticeship as an aircraft maintenance engineer. Still, his mind wanders back to the simplicity of farm life, spending “many hours daydreaming about Nicaragua,” both the farm and the yoga practice. He’s checked out a few studios since his return, but none that are really appealing. After his experience in Ostional, it seems, “a studio is the most unauthentic establishment ever.” The yoga he experienced at It’s Yoga Nica was “just a pure and beautiful experience,” one he has yet to find again since his return.
“If you haven’t had a grandmother in Italy make you tiramisu,” he explains, “you don’t recognize how terrible store bought tiramisu is. I am happy that I learned Ashtanga in the traditional way, and from people who trained with Larry Shultz himself. I know I got all my money’s worth and more, eve if I never teach yoga in Canada again. To me it’s far more than just a workout, and if I am to pass what I learned on to others, I want it to be authentic.”
Already, he plans to return to that feeling of authenticity. “Right before I left Edwin Lacayo offered me at any time, that when I get tired of the modern world, I’m always welcome back at the farm. And every day I wonder why not.” Next winter, he’ll head south again, teaching yoga as he travels. With a new outlook and an appreciation for the possibilities of simplicity, he’ll begin his own pursuit of happiness- just like the girl in the Nicaraguan hostel.