Market Fresh

Everyone who comes through the Chaya Garden Ashram, Belize’s most amazing yoga spot, takes away a little something different. As soon as you taste the excellent food we prepare here; exquisite vegetarian cuisine, you will be among the many taking notes as to what Laine is accomplishing in the kitchen. Here is a photo of a Lettuce which has been in the fridge for over two weeks!

This lettuce is alive with flavor!  Local produce from Belize's largest farmer's market, San Ignacio, Cayo District

This lettuce is alive with flavor! Local produce from Belize’s largest farmer’s market, San Ignacio, Cayo District

As you can see, this lettuce is no worse for wear and appears to be thriving. The entire lettuce has new growth despite being cut and refridgerated. It’s tricks like this; crisping, that will ensure your success as a yogi who seeks to maintain a high level of wellness and health.

Laine has many more insights from her years of experience in the organic food industry. Organic is good; she says, but local is better. That is one of the reasons that we moved from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, to San Ignacio, Cayo District, Belize. Belize is where we can get the tropical fruits that we love, and San Ignacio has the largest farmer’s market in Belize. Laine’s knowledge is available to anyone who visits the ashram.

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It's an amazing TIME to be in Belize during the summer months.  There are certain things available that we crave all year.

Juicy Fruits and Raw Retreats in July and August

It's an amazing TIME to be in Belize during the summer months.  There are certain things available that we crave all year.

It’s an amazing TIME to be in Belize during the summer months. There are certain things available that we crave all year.

Juicy Fruits!  Time for a RAW RETREAT!

Juicy Fruits! Time for a RAW RETREAT!

Pitaya Smoothie, what color!  What texture!  What satisfaction!

Pitaya Smoothie, what color! What texture! What satisfaction!

A sweet thing here to tantalize your taste buds.  You can't resist our vegan cocoa cake topped with Dragon Fruit and frozen Mangos!

A sweet thing here to tantalize your taste buds. You can’t resist our vegan cocoa cake topped with Dragon Fruit and frozen Mangos!

If you are interested in a RAW RETREAT, no problem! But the best time to book it is for JULY and AUGUST!


Yoga Belize



More people than ever are checking out Belize for their vacations, adventures and romantic getaways.  But, we still have yet to see an increase in visitors to Belize that are looking for health, healing, wellness, relaxation, peace, tranquility and amazing yoga!

Our ashram is ready to serve you if you are willing to leave the beaten path, the hustle bustle, and stress behind.  Our shady, breezy and cool thatch palapa is accommodating for upwards of 30 yoga students at one time, so bring the whole gang!  And please, when you have had your yoga session, lunch and massage, hang in a hammock, wander the trails by the creek, read from our healthy body & mind reference library, or pal around with us and enjoy this simple yet elegant life we have created to appreciate the bounty that Primordial Master has set before us.

And we welcome all who are looking for communion with the Primordial Master, and that is the teacher within yourself.  We see the Primordial Master in the waterfalls, the ever changing song of the rain forest,  and the students we meet, who all have something to teach us!

That is why we have created the Chaya Garden Yoga Ashram in Belize.  It is our dream to be retired from the work a day world, to live in tune with nature, to do our yoga, self-work, and healing, to be ourselves, AND to make it fun, available, and affordable to anyone who is intrepid enough to come to our neck of the woods (Near San Ignacio, Cayo District, Belize) and try what works for us (fresh air, fresh market vegetables, vegan cooking, refreshing swims, kundalini yoga, vinyassa yoga, reflexology, chillout music, taking it easy, having a laugh, etc.)

Because let me tell you, life is great.

We hope that you will find us.  Because we are looking for you!




Mixing up Belizean Green Drink!

Grapefruit Juice Green Drink


Mixing up Belizean Green Drink!

Mixing up Belizean Green Drink!

Grapefruit Juice Green Drink
Today we made GFJGD for our class studying traditional chinese medicine in Belize, who are having a potluck.

We were invited to bring something healthy and healing by our teacher Suzan Barnes, and talk about it.

One of our favorite ways to start the morning is with this green drink. It tastes delicious!

Belize is one of the great citrus producers of the world, so it was no problem to get a 50lb bag of grapefruit fi cheap!

The sylic acid in grapefruit is good for the joints. Sylic acid is also a disinfectent, so it works for fungus and bacteria infections.

We blended the grapefruit instead of juicing it, so we get the benefit of having a few seeds in there, and also some pith.The pith contains most of the vitamin c and antioxidants and bioflavinoids It is healtier for us to use the whole fruit, and not just it’s juice.

Grapefruit is good for you if you have a cancer pathology, or a liver pathology. But be careful about injesting grapefruit if you are using perscription drugs.


The greens we are using in our green drink is parsley. Parsley has a unique flavor, which is fairly strong, and that’s why the grapefruit is there in the recipe, along with cane sugar .

We purchased our parsley in the vibrant San Ignacio market on Saturday, in Cayo District, Belize.

Parsley can remove heavy metals from the blood, remove cancerous cells from the lungs, is helpful in treating asthma, as well as being good for the joints and the heart.
We flavoured the drink with Cane Sugar. The cane sugar has essential nutrients and minerals. It contains magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, potassium and iron.


Wild Yam on Don Berto's medicine trail in Bullet Tree, Cayo

Jungle Medicine: In Pursuit of the Wild Yam

Wild Yam on Don Berto's medicine trail in Bullet Tree, Cayo

Wild Yam on Don Berto’s medicine trail in Bullet Tree, Cayo

The first time I encountered Wild Yam was in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, receiving it through an order I placed with my “friends and neighbors organic food co-op”, an informal group of midwives and other turned-on ladies who initiated me into the alternative parenting style that would become the main thread of my life for the next 18 years.

I was looking for an alternative birth control method, as I had come to view “the pill” with suspicion. In my early twenties it was beginning to dawn on me that my fertility was big business with corporate interests, and that my personal health and well-being were not the main agenda.

I received the long awaited package, and opened it to find a half pound of woody little cubes. I had no idea what to do with it, and no source of information aside from a few vague references in books I’d read at the time. It seemed like the thing to do was powder it, and put it in capsules, as that was pretty much the format in which I encountered the herbal medicines I had tried to that point. I threw a handful in the blender. It made an incredible din, but did not affect the little cubes at all. Next I tried the coffee grinder, again to no avail. Mystified, and with no guidance, I eventually gave up on the idea.

Twenty years later, and with many years of wildcrafting North American herbs under my belt, I came to make a life for myself in Belize. I quickly realized that I would learn a whole new pharmacopeia here. Getting used to the climate, the heat, the water and the outdoor lifestyle was a huge but welcome adjustment. That was why I had come! In many ways my family and I became stronger and healthier, but we were also introduced to a whole new world of bacteria. I began to get urinary tract infections, an old teacher from my late teens and early twenties that firmly set my foot on the path of alternative medicine in my search for relief.

One day, at market in Belmopan, I was attracted from out of the bales of cheap American used clothing to a stall full of mystery and intrigue. A Creole lady with beautiful green eyes introduced herself as Janice. Other women were chatting about the benefits of various jungle medicines as I stepped forward to examine the wares. I explained my situation to Janice, and she pointed me toward a huge hardcover book, Natural Remedies Encyclopedia, and quickly flipped to the entry on Wild Yam.  Reading over the entry, I overheard Janice prescribe Wild Yam to another woman for her sore hip. I was surprised at the diversity of ailments helped by Wild Yam, and soon learned from the book that Wild Yam had many healing attributes aside from my complaint of UTI. According to the Encyclopedia of Natural Remedies, this jungle root affects muscles, joints, uterus, liver and gallbladder. It relaxes muscles spasms, any kind of cramps, balances the glands, reduces inflammation, and is beneficial in cases of gallbladder disorders, hypoglycemia, kidney stones, irritable bowel syndrome, neuralgia, and rheumatism, as well as problems common to women, from PMS to prevention of miscarriage in pregnancy. In combination with other blood cleansers, Wild Yam aids in removing wastes from the system to relieve stiff and sore joints, and also improves the function of the liver and gallbladder. The Encyclopedia of Natural Remedies lists Wild Yam as one of the 126 most important herbs.

In a further entry, I learned that Wild Yam is good for both men and women. Wild Yam contains diosgenin, a chemical used to manufacture progesterone and other steroid drugs. The Wild Yam itself does not contain progesterone, but has a similar effect to progesterone on the human body. Diosgenins are used in pharmaceutical applications to treat asthma, arthritis and eczema. They regulate metabolism and control fertility. There are a staggering variety of synthetic products manufactured from diosgenin. These include contraceptives, drugs to treat menopause, dysmenorrhea, premenstrual syndrome, testicular deficiency, impotency, prostate hypertrophy, high blood pressure, arterial spasms, migraines and other ailments. Wild Yam also contains cortisones and hydrocortisones used for allergies, bursitis, contact dermatitis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, sciatica, brown recluse spider bites, and insect stings. It is a common misconception that Wild Yam actually contains estrogen and progesterone, but these are exclusively human hormones.

I eagerly paid Janice for my little bag of dried wood chips. She said to boil them in a gallon of water for twenty minutes, and drink several cups a day. She told said I could use the chips up to seven times. What a value! I followed her prescription and felt a complete sense of well-being within a few days.

Laine prepares Wild Yam harvested during a moonlight nature hike

Laine prepares Wild Yam harvested during a moonlit nature hike.

I soon began to discover the plant during jungle hikes. Once identified it is easy to distinguish, having fairly unique characteristics even within the incredible diversity of Belize; it is a thorned twining vine with heart-shaped leaves, having conspicuous deep-set veins which run diagonally from stem to the tip of the leaf, with usually two to three vines sprouting from the top of a partially exposed root. The leaves are arranged in an alternating pattern, and the root itself is “tiled” with a mosaic of raised bark. Allow the root some time to dry out before use. It is difficult to chop, and I use both an axe to split the root into pieces, and a machete to split off the chips for use.

Last November I contracted some kind of incredibly tenacious bronchitis. I am generally accustomed to excellent health, and if I do get sick, it is never for more than a few days. Imagine my consternation and desperation at finding this condition developing into an asthmatic situation that was even worse by mid -February! After a completely useless round of antibiotics, (my first in over 13 years!), I turned to Rosita Arvigo’s now famous book, Rainforest Remedies. Turning to “coughs” in the Index of Traditional Medical Uses, I noticed my good friend Wild Yam listed among the remedies. Having some on hand, I immediately boiled up a big pot.

From the text of Rainforest Remedies I learned that not only is Wild Yam effective for bladder infection, but it is also effective in loosening mucous in the lungs due to coughs and colds, reducing fever, and relieving bilious colic. It can also be used to address internal hemorrhaging, not to mention the more popular uses in curing impotency in men, and infertility in women.

Also known as Dioscorea (D. belizensis), it is known to contain steroids. From reading the entry in Rainforest Remedies, I concluded that the Natural Remedies Encyclopedia seemed to be referring to what Rosita Arvigo describes as a closely related species, Mexican Yam (D. mexicana), a source of diosgenin, a steroid precursor as previously described. Yam is also known as White China Root, and Barba del Viejo or Cocolmeca blanca in Spanish.

Taking an interest in Gumbolimbo due to an outbreak of Poisonwood, I took a random flip to that entry in Rainforest Remedies, and was surprised to learn that this commonly found tree’s bark also is effective in treating internal infection, colds and flu, kidney ailments, and yes, it’s true,  for curing urinary tract infection.  I began to add Gumbolimbo to my Wild Yam tea, and started hacking up the last of the crazy lung infection for good!

It is interesting to note that Wild Yam and Gumbo Limbo both address the relationship between lungs and kidneys which is inherent in the practice of Chinese Traditional Medicine. This relationship involves the mixing and balancing of the energies of the upper and lower body around the navel point. In Yogic practice, this is known as the balancing of the Prana and Upana.

Chips of Wild Yam are ready to use in a tea.

Chips of Wild Yam are ready to use in a tea.

It seems that in Belize, we must look at the remedies that are close at hand, and we will discover that they most likely apply to whatever health problems arise. Often we only need to venture as far as our own backyard to find the relief we seek.



Fast Times at San Ignacio Market


Trying our chocolate explosion! Packed full of roasted cocoa nips. Get your cake on!


Really great dress at the market, I would say this qualifies as a “do”. Do get incredible hand made cheese and a ton of other great food from Cool M farm, that’s Janet and Naomi that you can’t see in the background.


The belt pulls this eccentric outfit together, making it a “do” for market.


The beautiful Kombucha, just bursting with flavour and health benefits! Evan is the Kombucha wizard, creating with local ingredients like sorrel, beet juice, ginger, lemon grass, mango, vanilla, guava and more.


The kombucha sells itself, but we really like to promote it anyway!  We always have lots of samples!


The Chaya Garden Ashram at the San Ignacio Market! Our home made bread, cake, muffins and Evan’s amazing Kombucha, all vegan.


Congregate with our students and friends and share stories.  Laine and Saheed together.


So, what’s for dinner tonight, guys?  Mary and Sparkle seen at market, around San Ignacio, and at Chaya Garden Ashram.



Sup With Us – Lunch at Chaya Garden Ashram


“This is the best I’ve eaten since I’ve been in Belize.” “Yeah. The food is really good.”

We really love food. And it shows!  The most common thing I’ve heard from people visiting the Ashram is “You eat like this every day?”  And that is why we live in the part of Belize most known for it’s local market.  They may produce more for export down south, but Cayo district in Belize is known for it’s local produce.

Just about every weekend we head to the market in San Ignacio and scour it for our faveorite seasonal fruits and veggies.  There are a few ‘in the know’ foodies out there we have our eyes on, seeing where the deals are and what’s hot right now.

There’s always something new to try!  It’s sad that many Belizeans are stuck with the same old beans and rice, not that I’m dissing beans and rice!  Fast food will always be popular, but it’s at the cost of our health and resources that we ignore the possibilities of natural fruits and vegetables for our meal choices.

Premium ingredients and simple recipes are the hallmarks of the food we eat.  We also like a good variety, with lots of color.    In the photo from left to right, we have plantains, casava patties, beet salad, pesto, avocados limes, and mangos, cornmeal muffins, stuffed peppers and stuffed eggplants, and bean salad. (click the photo to enlarge.)

If you would like to come and sup with at the ashram, just call ahead.  We are available for Yoga, lunch, and massage most days.

652-YOGA and 666-7361.