This article was written by Jordan Baker of the Estevan Mercury from Estevan Saskatchewan Canada.
October 30, 2013
Sasha Friess was drawn to yoga as a physical replacement for dance, and since, it has shaped her life in unimaginable ways.
For Friess, it took dropping out of university to really find the direction she wanted in terms of a professional life.
“I was in and out of university for the course of three years taking various classes but never feeling that passion that someone should feel when pursuing a career,” she said. “On the other hand, I was beginning to feel very passionately about my yoga practice, so I decided to drop out of university for the time being.”
That’s when she headed off to Mexico for a month-long yoga teacher training course intensive.
“I guess that was the moment when I decided I wanted to pursue a career in yoga,” added Friess.
The Estevan native now lives in Nicaragua, teaching yoga and hosting other sessions at the Apoyo Lodge. She has been in the Central American country between Honduras and Costa Rica for the past three years, after starting out teaching yoga in a small studio in Granada.
“I had met a woman at an ashram in the Bahamas who I became very good friends with, and she was looking after the studio in Granada for a friend. She needed another yoga teacher and asked me if I was interested in teaching. At the time I was wavering on whether I should go to school for natural nutrition or to continue to travel, and Nicaragua sounded like a good opportunity to grow so I went ahead and booked my flight.”
She decided to stay in Nicaragua after forming a relationship and moving in with her boyfriend, who owns Apoyo Lodge along with two other silent partners. The couple now run the lodge together.
They live in an isolated area of a protected ecological nature reserve inside the crater of a volcano that imploded thousands of years ago, creating a basin of crystal clear mineral-rich water.
The lodge sits directly on the shores of this laguna.
“The property is covered in fruit trees, and you can hear monkeys and tropical birds all around you. For us it's paradise,” said Friess. “We both share strong beliefs in living a simple, natural, down-to-earth lifestyle. The seclusion has given me a lot of time to spend with myself for introspection, and it can be challenging at times but there is nowhere else I would rather be right now.”
She offers yoga to guests and co-ordinates wellness retreats held at the lodge. Their guests are usually from Canada, the United States, Europe and Nicaragua.
“Most of our clients come to the lodge for a vacation first and foremost and I think it's just kind of a bonus for them (if they are into yoga) that there is a yoga teacher offering classes,” said Friess.
She noted that not everyone who stays with them takes advantage of yoga classes. People who come for retreats may come for the natural setting and unique and serene location.
The lodge is first and foremost a vacation rental. Families and groups rent the lodge for their stay.
Friess provides daily yoga classes and private sessions as well as breath work, meditation, workshops and reiki sessions.
“The future of Apoyo Lodge is bright. We are a very new business, and I feel that we are just getting started. There will definitely be more retreats coming up and we hope to start offering yoga teacher trainings by fall 2014,” said Friess, about the future plans for Apoyo Lodge. “Because the lodge sits on more than an acre we are thinking of turning the property into a yoga community and selling cabanas.”
She said her whole life is invested in Nicaragua and they still have a beach project that they want to pursue. Still, she doesn’t see Nicaragua being the end game for her.
“We still have a lot of travelling that we want to do,” she said.
Friess said yoga is something that works for her when she needs to feel good, and inspired her to pursue a life that she finds benefits her body and mind.
“As you continue to practice yoga it slowly opens your eyes to life's bigger picture and the veil of illusion begins to fall away,” she said. “Yoga shows you all that you need to work on as a human being, and it gives you the tools to do so if you're willing to make the commitment.”