- NAME: Kayla Nielsen
- AGE: 34
- OCCUPATION: Yoga teacher, retreat centre owner, podcast host & wellness influencer
- YOGA YEARS: 22
Kayla Nielsen achieved her long-held yoga dream by opening her very own retreat centre, Still Salty Escape, at a stunning location in Nicaragua
Why did you start yoga
My mum started teaching yoga in the 90s, which was way before teaching yoga was trendy. Most people hadn’t even heard of the practice until she brought it to our small town in northern California. I started attending her classes at 12. At the time, it was purely a physical practice for me, helping to balance out the intensity of gymnastics and competitive volleyball.
It was also a way for me to connect with my mum, as I would wake up super early with her to go to her 6am classes. I continued with the practice in my own way, on and off, through high school and college, where I usually took classes at gyms. It wasn’t until I started traveling the world on my own by the age of 21 that my practice evolved from only asana to more of a mind-body-spirit connection. Five years later, I jumped head first into my first teacher training and I haven’t really looked back since.
Best yoga moment
There are too many! Plus, there’s a huge difference in yoga moments as a teacher, versus as a student. As a teacher, anytime a student has a breakthrough in my class reminds me of why I do the work I do. And I’m not just talking about being able to ‘do’ something physically for the first time…I’m talking about a new way of ‘being’ as well. As a student, I’d have to say the first 300 hour teacher training I attended was an overall highlight. Being in a close-knit yoga yogaintensive environment of other teachers for over a month was inspiring, eye-opening, and fulfilling in ways I wasn’t even aware that I needed until after I experienced it.
Favourite yoga haunts
I spent a decade of my life living out of a backpack, while living and teaching across Asia and Africa. In that time, my big dream was finding a place to set some roots, and eventually build my own retreat centre from the ground up. In 2019, that dream became a reality, when my wife and I purchased land in Nicaragua and started the two-year process of creating our own sanctuary.
In January 2021, we opened the doors to Still Salty Escape (stillsaltyescape.com), and have welcomed students from around the world into our home, and into our hearts. Sharing such a sacred practice with people from all walks of life helps to make this big world a little smaller in a really supportive and loving way. And, for that, I’m forever grateful.
I like to tell people that travel was my greatest teacher, even before yoga was. This is why I’m so passionate about combining the two in retreat settings. I started my international retreat business, GLOW Yoga
Retreats (glowyogaretreats.com), eight years ago. And in that time, I’ve seen the empowerment of both the practice and the teachings of travel truly change people’s lives.