Hanging somewhere between a deep slumber and an awakened state, you hear the faint sound of a harp. And–is it chanting? Yes, chanting. At first, you forget where you are until the sweet salt air hits your groggy palate. And as you come to, you remember you’re on an adventure—one that just started yesterday.
You hurry to get dressed, realizing you overslept and that your fellow campers are already deeply engaged in their yoga class. And as you come to mat, a little embarrassed and unsure, you are greeted with a warm smile and welcome from Cris Kalyani. Your uneasiness melts as she invites you to explore your spirit’s playfulness through the practice of yoga.
Cristina Kalyani Paes, a Brazilian native, doesn’t just teach yoga at Pura Vida’s camps, she also sets the tone for the week. Her spirited personality reminds us to let down our guard. She urges us to laugh and have fun as we embark on a yogic journey that, for some, may just mean hanging out in downward dog or lying on the mat in Shavansana. You see—Kalyani caters to the group, adapting to the collective personality. And for both the yoga newcomer, as well as the seasoned practitioner, she offers an experience that is sure to complete, not just enhance, your surf trip.
Kalyani started studying the Hindu scriptures at the young age of fourteen in a quest to find life’s truth. She enrolled full-time in the Swasthya Yoga School at the age of eighteen and continued her yogic journey with an apprenticeship that took her to yoga communities around the world. She participated in a pilgrimage by horseback, introducing yoga to the mountain people of Peru. And she’s traveled to India twice to study from Vedic masters at the esteemed Bihar School of Yoga. Oh—and did we mention that she works with high-profile clients, including her friend and compatriot Gisele Bundchen (yes, supermodel and Tom Brady’s wife).
But this isn’t why we love her.
We love Kalyani because she teaches us that true yoga doesn’t just exist on the mat; the practice extends well into our everyday lives. She also teaches us that the yoga practice, and life in general, shouldn’t be taken too seriously. We should embrace the imperfections, the wipeouts, and the tears as much as we embrace the tribulations. And she learns from all of us, too, reminding us that life is all about being a student; and if you head down your path in a mindful and playful in way, then you will find true fulfillment.