Local Yogi Kim Hall Wants You to Heal The World and Yourself
Jun 20, 2019 01:23PM
By Gabrielle Varela
In a small Vietnamese restaurant on a bright sunny day, local yogi, muralist, and traveler Kim Hall has met with me to talk about her upcoming retreat Yoga Surf and Sea Turtles in Cambutal, Panama. She wore yoga pants (‘natch) and is so small and bendy that she somehow perched herself atop the bar stool much more comfortably than the high seats allow. She is wide-eyed, smiling and exudes calmness. It’s easy to listen to her despite the restaurant being busy and somewhat loud at lunch hour. We order two iced coffees which arrive in mason jars. I couldn’t help but notice that she forgoes the straw. But, this meeting is about sea turtles, after all.
In July, Kim will take her yoga practice abroad for the retreat’s second year at The Sansara Surf and Yoga Resort in Cambutal, Panama. This is one of a series of service-based retreats led by her through her newest venture Travel Asana.
The retreat was born from frustration and bit of traveler’s guilt: “When I was doing my teacher training I went on many retreats. I love traveling but any time I travel I run into places where humans have just made a [mess] of the planet. Tons of plastic pollution, I mean, tourism is rampant eco-destruction and consumerism. So whenever I traveled I felt guilty going to these beautiful locations that are just being trampled on by people like me.” Says Hall, more matter-of-fact than with an air of angry self-righteousness.
“I thought; ‘How can I help leave these places better than I found it and not have to just stay home?’ I want to encourage people to go to these great locations and expand their horizons by experiencing other cultures. But I also want to find projects that actually need doing. Ones that need willing hands. That’s how all this came about,” says Hall. So, Travel Asana was created as a health and wellness program that offers service-based retreats.
However, Hall’s yoga practice has always been used for good. She started doing yoga at the Upper Valley Yoga Studio under Angie Follensbee-Hall. What started out as a way to get active and meet more people ended up being a lifelong way for her to build support communities through yoga. See, she’s a yogi with a cause, several actually, and once she learned the benefits of yoga and meditation she put it to work.
Five years into it, her accolades include teaching for the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth- Hitchcock, The Love Your Brain Foundation which focuses on TBI, even teaching chair yoga at the Aging Resource Center. Oh, and a lot of “regular classes” too.
“I think with a lot of the special interest yogas, like for example a cancer diagnosis; people tend to live in pain and fear so there is this real sense of collapsing inward and drawing inward for safety against the financial and social concerns and physical pain and discomfort. Yoga helps to sort of address all of those things. Just the focus on the breath and breathing is incredibly healing. It allows for focus, opening up, expansion, serenity.” Says Hall.
Now that she has built her community of healing minds and steady hearts, she is ready to use that force to heal the world (and have some fun). The Sansara Surf and Yoga Resort is a yoga resort with a mission to promote sustainable development and employment in Cambutal. They work with local groups and nonprofits like the local turtle awareness program to preserve the area. When looking for locations, Hall felt this was a natural fit.
The trip offers many extracurricular activities other than yoga for a heavy focus on fun and volunteerism. Horseback riding, kayaking, paddleboarding, beautiful views and healthy meals are among the many activities you can pack into seven days of rest and relaxation and oh yeah, helping mama sea turtles.
Hall wants you hands-on aiding the sea turtles in nesting and laying eggs along with protecting the eggs from poachers who snatch and sell them as aphrodisiacs.
“What we do is the volunteers patrol the beach and we come out and when there is a mama sea turtle looking to lay, you come and the mama will lay her eggs and you just make sure she is safe and protected. They often return to the same spots to nest but sometimes you’ll need to get trash out of the way. When we were there last time, one of the mama’s had to sweep a discarded Smirnoff bottle out of her way. Which was shocking and then you look down the beach with your lamp and there is other garbage so there will be beach clean up incorporated too.”
Spiritual journey meets luxury trip meets saving the planet? Count me in.
Future trips include a march trip to Costa Rica to work with a sea turtle organization for sea turtle release, invasive species removal in rainforests and beach clean up. You can find out about more about this trip and future adventures on the Travel Asana’s website or through Travelocity.