I hope you all have been enjoying the Chakra Yoga series! It has been a surreal and exciting process creating and posting these yoga practices. As with all new ventures, it has been a learning process and has had its fair share of bloopers. We decided to leave some of the unexpected moments in the videos, simply because they made us smile. The first and most obvious is our dog, Saathi, making her cameo in the Root Chakra video. Initially, we wondered if she would be too distracting. However, the lightness she brings to the video with her silly demeanor and her fluorescent green vest, felt like it was a great balance to the concepts of stability and security. On a similar note, in the background of many videos you may catch the laughter or shouts of our boys as they play on the beach while I’m doing yoga. Again, we left these small moments in the videos, because of the natural lightness they provide. The laughter of a child playing in nature, in my opinion, is unmatched. Hopefully, whether actually heard or just blended into the background, I hope these little unintended bloopers make you smile.
Each video in the Chakra Series, was shot on the island of Saipan and has a back story of its own. Saipan is a small island in the Northern Mariana Islands, which we have called home for more than 6 of the past 10 years. When I originally moved here in 2010, it was still a small, hidden piece of paradise tucked away in the western Pacific. People were, and usually still are, uncertain of where this island is located and often ask, in clarification, “Spain?” Over the years, it has been discovered by the travel industry and, like so many hidden gems, it is slowly becoming more crowded and the lush jungle and pristine beaches are slowly giving way to hotels, a casino, and traffic. But, tucked away, down dirt roads and rocky paths, there are still beautiful, white sand beaches lined with palm trees overlooking turquoise waters. Oftentimes, you can still find these beaches empty and are free to enjoy their tranquility in solitude.
We chose Wing Beach as the location for the first video in the Chakra Series, the Root Chakra, because it has long been my favorite beach on island. It is a place where I feel I can surrender to the sound of the waves breaking on the reef as it makes its connection to the cliffs at the northernmost end of the lagoon. This connection of ocean, reef, and cliff line, with the mountain ridge that forms the backbone of the island soaring above the beach, creates within me a sense of stability and security. I feel a sense of grounding whenever I am at Wing Beach, which I thought would create the perfect backdrop for the Root Chakra Yoga practice.
The second video, Sacral Chakra Yoga, was shot at Ladder Beach. Ladder Beach is a pocket beach on the eastern side of the island. The east side of the island is not protected by the lagoon, but rather takes on the energy of the ocean currents as they move, unobstructed across the vast Pacific from the coast of North, Central, and South America. The waves have carved away cliffs and caves that surround and protect this little beach. Earlier this year, we used it as the backdrop for our son’s newborn pictures and on our visit after making the Sacral Chakra video, we saw tracks from a sea turtle that had come ashore to nest. It is a special place suited well for birth and creation and the feeling of joy that they bring.
As we prepared to make the video for the solar chakra, the chakra that provides us with our strength, will power, and determination, our island went through its initial stages of lockdown due to COVID-19. In order to protect the community, all beaches and public places were closed and all individuals were only allowed to leave their homes for essential business, as was the case in many areas around the world. We quickly realized that our dream to have each video shot on a beautiful beach around the island was not going to be possible, unless we wanted to wait until the stay-at-home orders were lifted. As the world struggled with the fear and anxiety of the unknown days ahead and people were required to stay confined in small spaces indoors in those late winter and early spring days when the weather was still unpleasant, we felt this was exactly the time when people needed a physical and mental health outlet, such as yoga. For this reason, we decided it was important to move forward with our project and speed up production to provide those we knew and loved back on the mainland, as well as those we did not yet know, the opportunity to escape to the peacefulness of beaches and the tropics while receiving the benefits of yoga. As a result, we needed to find a new backdrop for the videos. In the fall of 2018, Typhoon Mankut and Supertyphoon Yutu hit our island. Supertyphoon Yutu hit Saipan and Tinian, which is just south of us, with more force than the United States had ever seen from a hurricane or typhoon. Sustained winds of 190-miles per hour and gusts of over 220-miles per hour rocked the islands for hours through the night. In the morning, when the sun began to rise and the winds and rain finally began to subside, the scene we witnessed was one of utter destruction. Trees, homes, electrical poles, cars, everything, were broken and knocked to the ground. There was no green left, as almost all the leaves had been blown away. The land was littered with mud and rubble. Our home had, amazingly, withstood the storm, in that it still had a roof and all four walls, which was not the case for many homes around the island. It was, however, flooded due to windows having been blown in and many possessions were destroyed or simply blew away. The tree in the Solar Chakra Yoga video was blown down in both of these storms. First, a large section fell during Mankut, then the remaining portion came down in Yutu. It was heartbreaking to see such a big, beautiful tree laying on the ground, roots exposed, leaves gone. However, as the weeks went by, rather than seeing the remaining leaves wither away, we saw new buds begin to grow. The tree was still alive and it was determined to remain so. When we needed to find a new setting for our Solar Chakra Yoga video, this tree, and all the strength that it embodies, seemed to be the perfect place.
The restrictions on access to the beaches around the island were eased over the following week to allow use of beaches for physical fitness and mental health, as well as for subsistence fishing. Gratefully, and carefully, we returned to the pristine beaches in the early mornings, while they were the most quiet, to complete this series. Pau Pau Beach was chosen as the site of the Heart Chakra Yoga video, and later the Full Chakra Yoga video, because of its greenery, beauty, and, mostly, because it is one of our most visited, and loved, places on island. It was the location of our oldest son’s 2nd and 3rd birthday party, numerous barbeques and potlucks with friends, and countless hours of relaxing with our family, always taking in the unimaginable beauty. I cannot begin to count the number of times I have felt gratitude for the life I live and the opportunity to be on Pau Pau beach as I watched some of the most brilliant sunsets with my husband, joined my son on a search for hermit crabs on the rocks, or paddled out on my stand-up paddle board over the crystal clear waters.
The Throat Chakra is associated with the color blue, so we thought that a beach that accentuates the brilliant blue of the ocean would be an ideal spot for this video. We immediately turned our attention to Sugar Dock Beach. This beach is named for the old boat dock at the northern end of the beach, but is more commonly known now in the surfing community for its forgiving sandy bottom and chance for surfable waves during typhoon season. It is where I learned to surf and where I fell in love with the sport. The feeling of catching my first wave is one I will never forget and immediately had me hooked. It is the clarity of the water and sandy bottom of this beach that gives the water it’s brilliant blue color as the sunlight reflects off the white sand through the clear water.
Obyan Beach is the location of the Third-Eye Chakra. Obyan was chosen because of the tranquility it holds with its swaying palm trees and quiet reef break. It is a less popular beach because it can be accessed only by a long dirt road that is often rutted to the point of being almost, or fully, impassable. Once you reach this beach, however, it is easy to be swept away in a feeling of meditation and calm. Dreams float on the breeze and the songlines of life become easier to see in the mind’s eye. This is also one of my favorite beaches for shore dives. Scuba diving, for me, has always been a sport of quiet reflection. Entering the underwater world feels as if time slows down and the rhythmic swaying of the ocean calms the mind and the breath. While focused on the underwater world around me, my mind is free to settle and find clarity. Upon returning to the surface, after a dive, I always felt refreshed and more at peace with the world around me.
Finally, we decided to have Micro Beach as the location for the Crown Chakra Yoga video. Initially, we were going to do the Crown Chakra video at the north end of the island, where there are not any villages and where the night skies are other-worldly. However, we switched to Micro Beach because it holds the quintessential beauty of Saipan. Before initially moving to Saipan, the view of the lagoon was described to me as having more shades of blue than you could imagine. “Select any color of blue, and you will see it when you look out over the lagoon”. Those words enchanted me. I was spell-bound and knew that this was where I was meant to go. Over the years, Micro Beach has maintained its charm. Sunrise swims off the beach, mornings spent with my family and friends playing in the sand and water, boat rides to Managaha Island, and the most beautiful sunsets that I have ever seen have started from this stretch of beach. It is a place where you can easily connect with the world around you and get lost in the beauty of the Universe. It is a place that calms the mind and makes one feel a part of something larger, something more beautiful.
Saipan has many beautiful beaches tucked away around its shores. Some are easily accessible, while others require a boat or “boonie stomping” through the jungle to reach them. Some beaches stretch off into the distance, while some are small pockets of sand surrounded by soaring cliffs. Each beach is unique and has its own story and history. My dream is that the island can maintain some of its undeveloped, pristine charm, despite the waves of tourism coming to its shores. It is this quietness that made me fall in love with Saipan 10 years ago. It felt like a place, hidden from the high-speed world, where I could find stillness and calm. Unfortunately, as with most hidden gems when they are discovered, the very quality that makes people want to come here is quickly being worn away by what others consider progress. In a few short months, my family will be, once again, leaving our island home, mostly due this shift of energy. I am so very grateful that through the Chakra Yoga series, I have had the opportunity to capture some of these beautiful beaches for me to return to long after I leave. I hope that you, also, feel yourself swept away to the tropics as you watch them, to pristine beaches looking out over waters made up of more shade of blue than can me named.