One of the places I was particularly excited to explore was the Yoga Forest, a yoga retreat space tucked in the mountains above San Marcos. The Yoga Forest is a permaculture space and totally off-the-grid. Much of the vegan food served here is grown in a series of garden plots and prepared utilizing non-electric tools. Here, I am grinding corn for blue-corn tacos using their grinding bicycle! They also use this to grind coffee and more. You can also go for a spin on the blender bicycle, useful for smoothies and sauces. The ecology of the area is quite unique. While Guatemala is at a tropical latitude, the high elevation of the lake contributes to a really interesting ecosystem – one of the few places where you can see banana trees growing alongside coniferous trees. I am sure it would be lovely to stay here, complete with a cozy stone sauna and cute cabins with extraordinary views of the lake and volcanos. As you might expect, yoga is a central activity at the Yoga Forest, and they have several studio spaces, including this open air platform nestled into the mountain. It is one of the most beautiful places to practice! The other main studio space has a wall of glass windows, overlooking the lake. Our first day at the Yoga Forest, we took a sunset yin class, which was pure bliss. The following week, we attended the day-long Solstice Festival. It was a full day of yoga, meditation, sound healing, puppy cuddling, kombucha drinking, and vegan food eating. This was the our sound healing class getting set up. It got baking hot when the sun started to stream through these windows, but it was really incredible to have the different waves of sound wash over you during the class. We were very hot but very happy puppies. Lisa & I had a lovely day, although there were some very strange interactions. For example, I was chatting with the guy who was serving food:
Me: Where are you from?
Him: On this mortal plane, Guatemala City.
Me: Oooooh. Do you… um. Do you know where you are from on other mortal planes?
We also had someone teach us about our “Mayan Astrological Signs” which utilize the Mayan Calendar, or Tzolk’in, comprised of 20 Day Signs and 13 Galactic Numbers.
In the evening, there was music and dance, however, it seemed to be spiraling into a bit of a drug-fueled rave combining EDM with sitar music in a strange and possibly misappropriated way, so we decided to venture back down the mountain to bask in all the wonderful moments of the day and skip the increasingly fringe yogic dance party.
I would love to spend more time at this beautiful yoga center if I am back in San Marcos. People seemed really friendly, the food was delicious, and the yoga classes sublime. I think it would be an incredible space to spend a week if you are looking to get away, relax, and connect to yourself and the earth.
Practical tip: It can get a bit dangerous when walking to/from the Yoga Forest after dark. We ended up choosing not to attend classes that would require us to walk up the mountain when it was still dark and tried to avoid walking back alone after afternoon classes. A lot of practitioners stay at the Yoga Forest, but if you are staying in town, be aware that it is a bit of a (slightly sketchy) walk between San Marcos and the Yoga Forest.