It is no secret that OM YOGA in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, is the place for yoga and body work. The founder and owner, Avani Gilbert Ramirez, is a passionate woman who thrives off how her work brings joy and transformation. She has created a heart-felt business in the Caribe Sur--a place that makes it difficult to do so at times. She has also created a community in which people from all over the world join together to not only practice yoga, but to build relationships. TuCamino Travel is especially excited about this interview due to Avani being our company's yoga teacher, yoga space facilitator, and body work/massage therapist. Check out our interview with Avani!
What is the story behind Om Yoga?
OM began with more of a focus on bodywork and energy work in a tiny space in Cocles with only room for about four students. I saw very quickly that people were much more interested (and in need of) the yoga classes than the body work as there was already quite a large group of massage therapists residing here. I started out offering only a few weekly yoga classes and then it quickly evolved to be a 7 day/week community yoga studio, which I always had secretly hoped for, but never knew yoga would be in such high demand here. It's not the original direction I envisioned it going, but today I am so so so grateful that the community here in Puerto Viejo helped decide the direction of the business. My yoga practice has deepened, I have worked and studied with incredible teachers from around the globe and I have seen the interest in yoga in the area absolutely blow up! Now there are several locations to find yoga classes here at home and instructors galore. Yoga: it's not just for the Pacific side anymore! The Caribbean is officially on the Costa Rican yoga map...
What is the mission of Om Yoga and where do you see yourself in the future?
OM's original mission was to bring these forms of yoga, bodywork and light work to the South Caribbean community in order to offer some tools for creating healthy lifestyle choices. Traditionally this zone is mainly known for it's wild parties. OM wanted to be part of making it known for something a little sweeter. We have accomplished this through lots of different community service and outreach projects, scholarships and Karma classes as well as collaboration with businesses who have similar healthy goals. Each of these programs continues to improve, evolve and build itself in new and interesting ways each year.
OM is also evolving to be a full retreat and yoga teacher training center and actually we have super exciting transitions coming up this year! Beginning in November 2015 we will be OM at Cashew Hill where we can offer a much quieter and larger space which will be more professionally equipped, new construction with two yoga shalas, gorgeous ocean views and these super sweet jungle lodges for accommodations. I can't wait to see the magic that will happen in this new spot.
What inspires you and what are you passionate about?
People dedicated to what they love inspire me. It doesn't matter what it is. If you love it, you go after it, and you make it happen: you are an inspiration!
People thought I was crazy (or maybe just young, naive, stupid, choose your adjective) when I said I was moving to Costa Rica at 24 years old. This place had always housed a piece of my heart, so for me it was simply logical. Living here would enable me to not just live in the place that I love, but also to do what I love: teach yoga. I wanted it, I believed in what I was doing and failure just simply was never on my radar. I only ever saw success when I envisioned my future. Because the thing is: money or no money, I knew I would be happy! That, is the true richness! I always found it intensely odd when people would nay-say my decision to move here. Never once did I stop and think "maybe I should listen to what they're saying..."
I also always had confidence that people would see how much I love what I do, my passion and enthusiasm for the South Caribbean and for the yoga, bodywork, healing and soul study. I am so fortunate to have had many passionate teachers, coaches and guides in my life. I always remember the ones that were most inspiring were those that had FUN and truly LOVED what they were doing. Those were the greatest teachers and the ones I wanted to stand behind and study with. I had faith that people would stand behind me in what I was doing because I believe in the practice, the cause, the purpose and in putting love into all that I do.
What is one of the biggest challenges of running your own business?
Running a business can feel lonely sometimes. I've been discouraged a few times when I've felt like my move to Costa Rica, to pursue my loves and passions resulted in being surrounded by people in that same old first world routine of the paper chase or challenge to "rise up the ladder". My passion is not paper driven; it feeds my soul. And then I allow money and abundance to follow; and only in that order. But whenever I feel that way, I only have to open my eyes a bit wider, because there are so many outstanding, passionate, healthy, driven, inspiring people here to connect with!
It also took some getting used to to be my own boss. I began as a bit of a workaholic and easily brushed it off by saying "but it's not really work if you love what you do so much!" but as years went by I also realized the importance of non-work friends, conversations and events. It's like a mental re-set. I'm getting better and better at organizing my time and have become an expert at delegating. Thank goodness I've finally learned that skill! I started with an unfortunate attitude of "if you want anything done right, you better do it yourself" and that attitude was exhausting! Now I am thankful for a super supportive community and network of people surrounding me and all there to help in any way I need! So grateful.
What advice can you give to young women pursuing their dreams?
You can't please everyone. It's simply not possible. It's like the impossible standard of the PhotoShopped models. Don't even try! Do YOU! I wish I had let go of this impossible standard much longer ago. If you believe in what you do, you love it, you're passionate about it, and you're willing to put in the time and effort required to get up and running, you WILL find a group of people who stand in support of you. And that does NOT mean that you have to say yes to everyone and every idea, or that you have to change your path or plan to fit better into someone else's dream. It's like Oscar Wilde said, "be yourself, everyone else is already taken."
Oh, and learn the power of these two phrases: "no" and "I don't know". Use them.
What is your motto?
Wherever you go, go with all of your heart. (Confucious)
For more information, check out OM Yoga in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica.