PENINSULA — Beth Bauer has shared her yoga talents with communities across the world. Next month, she will bring her skills and knowledge to a new yoga festival on the Peninsula.
Bauer is the creator behind the first Jiva Yoga Festival, scheduled for Sept. 20-22 in Ocean Park. The festival will include 12 workshops on a range of topics, as well as yoga classes.
“It’s a way for me to give back and show people the beautiful Long Beach Peninsula,” Bauer said.
Bauer traveled the world before becoming a full-time Peninsula resident. She spent most of her life in Vancouver, Washington, where she worked in the corporate world.
In 2016, Bauer moved to India to work as a program manager for a software project. After a year with the company, she was unexpectedly laid off.
“I found myself in India feeling kind of lost,” Bauer said.
A friend suggested Bauer take a yoga class. The day after Bauer’s last day of work, she took a $70 taxi for an eight-hour trip to Rishikesh, India; typically credited as the birthplace of yoga.
Bauer was able to set up a deal with an ashram where she could blog about her experience at the center in exchange for free classes. Though, when she got to the ashram, she was surprised to find out she had been signed up for a yoga teacher training course.
“I had never even taken a single yoga class,” Bauer said.
For the next month, Bauer participated in yoga training for eight hours a day.
“I saw a tremendous change in me,” Bauer said. “I lost 10 pounds. I became much more calm and relaxed for the first time in decades.”
After finishing the course, Bauer traveled around the world for six months, often teaching yoga in foreign countries.
“Places will give you free accommodation in exchange for doing some volunteer work. That’s how I’ve found most of my yoga teaching jobs around the world,” Bauer said. “They give me free accommodation and food, and I teach yoga.”
Between Bauer’s previous travel and her six-month adventure, she’s visited 30 countries. After her six-month adventure, she decided to move into her vacation home in Ocean Park.
Since becoming a full-time resident on the Peninsula, Bauer’s given back to the community through free yoga classes.
“I realized that I wanted to share that experience with other people so I decided then to leave my life in the fast-lane corporate world, simplify and minimize my life,” Bauer said. “I became an accidental yoga teacher that way.”
When not teaching or practicing yoga, Bauer works full-time as the Long Beach Peninsula Visitor Bureau’s social media coordinator. She also works for the Coast Guard Auxiliary, teaches, writes, and petsits.
“It’s not a place, person, thing, job, relationship. If you’re out there looking for happiness, you’re never going to find it,” Bauer said. “The only place you’re going to find happiness is there already. You just have to be aware of it.”
Lessons in traveling
Travel has led Bauer on numerous adventures. She lived in Australia for a year in high school. She went up the Himalayan Mountains in a crowded bus on a one-way road. She’s explored forests in Malaysia. But most importantly, she’s learned who she is.
“Traveling is the best way to learn about yourself,” Bauer said. “Especially solo travel because you get outside your comfort zone. You have to problem solve and deal with situations you never could even fathom. It’s a great way to build confidence and really learn who you truly are.”
During Bauer’s travels, she’s learned not only about herself, but also about other people and cultures. She’s experienced firsthand cultural differences of other countries and the U.S.
For example, on Bauer’s first day of school in Australia, a teacher asked her a question. Bauer didn’t understand what the teacher said, so she asked “What?” The teacher became frustrated with Bauer’s word choice because it was considered disrespectful to ask “What?” rather than say “I beg your pardon.”
The experience was just one of many Bauer’s had that showcased cultural differences.
During her time in India, she learned about the struggles workers faced just to get to work. Because of traffic, it would take Bauer’s employees two hours to travel 10 kilometers, which they’d have to do in 90 degree weather and 100 percent humidity.
“They arrived to work dirty because they had just been through hell to get to work,” Bauer said.
After realizing what it took for her employees to get to work, Bauer collaborated with her employees to make sure they had a second set of clothes for the office.
“There’s so many cultural differences that we don’t realize,” Bauer said. “We’re just so quick to judge other people based on our perspectives, the way we were raised, the things that we think. It’s so important to open your heart and mind to other cultures.”
When Bauer returned to the U.S. after her year in India, she had chronic bronchitis from the pollution. She also had arthritis in her hips.
Instead of taking antibiotics, Bauer decided to try healing herself.
“Food is medicine,” Bauer said. “It’s very difficult to make the changes in your diet that it requires. I try to stay away from processed foods. I don’t drink anymore. I’ve cut way back. I’ve made drastic changes. It’s amazing what you can achieve rather than just popping pills.”
Bauer was able to naturally overcome her bronchitis and hip arthritis, she said. Bauer hopes to share what she’s learned through her health and wellness journey.
“I’m on a mission to get this peninsula healthy and happy,” Bauer said. “It’s a long uphill battle.”
Bauer said she’d like to start a mindfulness center for peninsula residents. The center would cover topics including yoga, meditation, healthy cooking and music.
“It’d have whatever kind of mindfulness activities people want,” Bauer said.
In the meantime, Bauer helps improve the health and wellness of residents through yoga classes. She teaches 11 classes a week, several of which are open to the public.
“At the beginning, right after yoga class, everyone would just hurry off on their separate ways,” Bauer said. “Now I see my yoga students standing around, chatting up their classmates, giving each other hugs, doing things together. They’re forming bonds. They’re building a healthy community.”
Michelle Rae is one of Bauer’s students. She started attending all of Bauer’s classes after attending a class at the Surfside Homeowners Association.
“My body feels like a million bucks after her classes,” Rae said. “She’s really cool and one of those people I aspire to be like. She’s fearless and doesn’t let any parameters hold her back.”
Rae said Bauer inspired her to plan a trip to India herself to take yoga classes.
“Her classes make me feel wonderful,” Rae said. “This will be really phenomenal in my life.”
Where to find her
Bauer teaches yoga at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at the Ocean Park branch of Timberland Regional Library. She teaches yoga at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays and 2 p.m. on Saturdays at the Surfside Homeowners Association.
Her classes are free to attend. Donations are suggested.