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Gaia Budhai - A Meditative Life
For the past month, Jamaican born yoga instructor Gaia Budhai, owner of Miami Beach’s, first yoga studio, has been hosting a yoga workshop at Bromley House, nestled in the cool St. Ann Hills, a literal stone’s throw away from Walker’s Wood.
Gaia is a well-respected teacher and guide with 14 years of experience as a trainer and practiced in meditation, yoga, massage therapy, emotional release body work, Transformational Breathing, Trance Dance and primal theater. She founded and operates the Synergy Center for Yoga and the Healing Arts. The Gaia Living Arts Teacher Training taught the participants three yoga disciplines, Iyengar, Ashtanga and Sivananda as well as emphasized personal growth and self-development.
Gaia left Jamaica in 1978 when after one of her numerous visits to her mentor Guru Prempal Singh Rawat, decided to stay and be closer to him. Gaia had been introduced to yoga by her mother, Blossom Budhai, founder of the Jamaican Vegetarian Society and the Organic Growers Association. “I came to yoga through meditation which I learned from my mother,” she explained. “When I saw what meditation did for my mother after a year, I thought this is for me.”
Yet the journey itself has been one filled with numerous highlights and unexpected turns. Gaia explains that when she first started studying yoga at 18 years, she had no idea where it would take her, that journey has carried her around the Europe, North America and parts of South America. “Yoga is meditation,” she says, offering that as all the explanation required. “I didn’t know I would end up having the first yoga studio in South Beach, Miami.” Gaia also lists the five years of her life she spent as a monk as one of the highlights of her yoga infused journey. During those five years as a Sanyasan, she gave away all her possessions and lived in an ashram.
Gaia explains that Bromley House was her first choice for having the retreat. “I love that Bromley, being in the hills, doesn’t have distractions,” she says. “Even though its not near the beach the surroundings are lovely and I love the yoga deck.” While the retreat was her first residential workshop at the location, Gaia has had several one-day sessions at Bromley.
She notes that the location was very conducive to training. “For me it’s a family home and you feel part of a family here,” she says. “I love the fact that people can’t just walk across the street and get a beer. It’s away from everything. It makes people concentrate.”
Another important factor was the food. “For these trainings one thing HAS to be good – the food,” Gaia explains, pointing out that the ideal meal needs for the session should have neither fish nor meat, and also need to be a good balance between light and heavy. “After a hard day’s work you so look forward to a good meal,” she says. The food was amazing.”
Gaia enthusiastically admits that the workshop lived up to her expectations and even went beyond them. She is so pleased with the results that she says would gladly return to stage another teacher training retreat in Jamaica.
“I must say I was amazed at the camaraderie shared by all the women who met each other for the first time,” she says. “We lived together for a month and I am blown away by that the power of the unity between us as women.”
And yoga’s popularity in Jamaica is on the increase. Gaia, herself dedicated to creating social change and an advocate for the impact yoga can have on your life believes yoga’s rise in Jamaica can truly benefit the country.
“One of the things I find is that over time the practice of yoga makes people more accountable,” she says. “This is good for Jamaica. Over time Yoga definitely makes you take ownership of for your life and existence.”