Finding Common Language In Brazil

My timing was more perfect than I could have ever planned. After our Carnaval retreat I went to visit the studio in Curitiba for a week. For the six of us from the retreat, Francisco had scheduled a special daily class in English from Sunday through Thursday.

“Where will you be after Thursday?” I asked him at a lunch one day in Curitiba.

“I’ll be teaching a teacher-training in the mountains, a one-hour flight south from here,” Francisco answered.

“Oh, I would love to come to that,” I said spontaneously.

And so it came to be that Francisco invited me to join his weekend training in Gramado, a little tourist town close to Porto Alegre. The timing to connect with my already booked flight to Zurich on Sunday night happened to be perfect. Things were in the flow. I booked my flight to Porto Alegre and was set for my next adventure. Francisco made everything very easy for me. He connected me with his student and franchise owner Camila, the organizer of the training, who invited me to stay at her house. Once again I was touched by the generous and cordial hospitality I had encountered in Brazil everywhere.

Traveling on my own without speaking any Portuguese, was at times spiked with hurdles. Three Uber drivers refused to drive me to Gramado from the Porto Alegre airport because it was too far. My running in and out of the airport departure hall with my bags to reconnect with wifi and Uber felt almost comical. Finally one driver agreed to drive me in his small, but clean Peugeot. After two hours on highways and then up a winding road, we arrived in Gramado.

Gramado had a strong feel of a mountain town in Europe or Canada. Was it more like Banff in Canada or Davos in Switzerland? I couldn’t tell. There was something missing. We past lots of hotels and tourist shops. Then it struck me. There were no mountains! (That’s because we are on the top of the mountain, Francisco told me later).

The Uber driver finally slowed down and pulled over right in front of a funeral parlour. In fact, we seemed to have arrived in the funeral parlour district of Gramado. All the buildings up and down the block were all funeral parlours! The driver and I looked at each other and we both knew this couldn’t be right. I find it amusing how everything thing can be in such obvious flow and then these off-the-wall difficulties get thrown into the mix by reality.

Then somehow, with lots of gesturing and then my driver phoning Camila, we realized it was a Siri mistake! We drove a few more minutes and found the right address.

Camila, a slender, very beautiful woman in her thirties, with wild dark hair, warmly welcomed me to her house. I felt immediately comfortable with her and her artistic, funky but modern abode. She spoke little English but we got by with theatrical gestures and laughter.

Then she motioned me to follow her to the second floor of the house adjacent to hers. I must admit I was stunned when she opened the door to a beautiful Kaiut yoga studio with about 30 neatly laid out mats and colourful bolsters. At that moment we both knew that we understood each other deeply. Here in her studio, we were speaking the same language: a relaxing of the nervous system - being present with pressure in the joints - letting gravity do the work - trusting our body’s intelligence - kind of language. This cellular language had changed both our lives. We smiled and knew how deeply connected we were.

The next evening the teacher training with Francisco started in a different, bigger studio. There were about 50 people from all over, mainly the South of Brazil. Francisco told me he was very proud of the progress the students in this training were making. They meet with Francisco for one weekend a month for a year. The atmosphere in the room was lively, happy and excited. Everyone was welcoming to me, offering me matte tea they drink with a silver straw out of beautiful cups made from gourds.

On the first evening of the training, Francisco spoke of his franchise model. I didn’t understand a word, but could make out “Telluride” a number of times. I knew he was talking about Yvonne and her studio there. How beautiful that Yvonne in Colorado was inspiring people in a mountain town in Brazil! When I asked Francisco later, he told me that his students kept asking questions about Yvonne and her studio. He said that telling them about it made them feel connected to a bigger vision; an international community.

That night there was a bright “Kaiut rainbow” connecting two mountain towns in two different continents. It seemed to have quite an effect on everyone. As it turned out, the number of students interested in opening a franchise highly exceeded Francisco’s expectations. He was delighted at the idea of a strong community forming itself through the different studios popping up in Brazil.  

Since my arrival in Brazil, I had been steeped in Kaiut yoga. I’d practiced many hours a day during the Carnival retreat and then at the studio in Curitiba and I could really feel the potential of such a community. These beautiful students in Brazil are maybe about to model a fresh way to collaborate in opening studios and succeed in yoga in a real sense.

Also I noticed that when six or more Brazilian people gather after dark they very likely will put on music and start dancing different styles of salsa and tango. So one thing is for sure, in these new studios to be, there will not only be legs up the wall and Virasanas in all different angles, there also will be dancing.


Lela Iselin, Kaiut Yoga teacher in Edmonton Canada & Switzerland