A CONVERSATION WITH JANINE MARTINS

A CONVERSATION WITH JANINE MARTINS

Janine Martins is a yoga and meditation teacher based in Grand Cayman. She creates personalized, private yoga experiences for her clients in their homes and in outdoor spaces.


Introduction

Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Janine Martins has undoubtedly picked up on her profound yet subtle wisdom that manifests itself through stories, insight, and acute observations. Following a conversation with Janine you may find yourself feeling more centered and focused as her positive vibes permeate everyone around her. 

After Janine’s ayurvedic morning routine I was able to ask her questions about her business, her personal yoga practice, as well as her life growing up in Cayman. Just as in everyday conversations, her responses were deeply thoughtful, eloquent, and uplifting. Keep reading to get your fill of inspiration and good vibes!

How and when did your yoga journey begin? 

In the winter of 2008 I was living in my university town. I signed up for a 7 week yoga course at a shop that sold yoga and activewear.  I was walking home after yoga one evening and realized all of a sudden that I was smiling ear to ear… blissful. I saw the snow on the ground and the people around me. I felt so deeply present in the moment. I didn’t realize at the time what the class was doing to me… but a while later, January 1st 2009 to be specific, I began my 1-week intro-pass to Bliss Yoga in Cayman.  I went every day for 7 days. I fell in love. One day before class I was bending down at the water cooler to fill up my bottle and suddenly thought, “I could totally be a yoga teacher.” The thought went out of my head just as quickly as it came. After that week I continued to practice yoga 6 days a week for about 8 months. I was obsessed, I couldn’t stop going. It made me feel so balanced. I found a routine, I went to work, I came home, I had my tea out on the balcony. I was meditating but I didn’t realize I was meditating. I was doing a lot of things naturally that I didn’t realize until years later. 

“I’m coming back here. I know I am coming back here. This is my calling.”

Flash-forward to 2016 — I left Toronto again and was back in Cayman. I knew I was not doing what I was supposed to be doing with my life. I had experienced burnout and other traumatic experiences that had hospitalized me. My soul was crying out.  I asked myself what it was I really wanted to do. “I want to teach yoga.” Within 3 months I had found a place to do my teacher training, but my passport did not arrive on time so I had to find a new place. That’s how I ended up going to Bali and Singapore. Two weeks before I was supposed to go I got into a car accident and again, thought I wasn’t going to be able to go. But it all came together. I completed my yoga and my reiki training at the same time with Tirisula Yoga. We were in Singapore for 4 weeks and Bali for 10 days. In Bali while driving from the airport to the property, I experienced déjà vu multiple times. “I have been to this corner; I’ve seen that person’s face – I feel like I have been here before.” The Balinese people kept asking me where I was from; they thought I was Balinese. I thought, “I’m coming back here. I know I am coming back here. This is my calling.”

What kinds of yoga do you teach?

I try to be open to many different styles of yoga and utilize different practices. I don’t pigeonhole myself to one. The several I do draw on are hatha, vinyasa, kundalini, yin, and restorative. I only teach what I feel drawn to but I customize those experiences to my clients. Everyone is unique so what my client needs is not necessarily what I need.

“I customize that practice for my clients based on their physical and energetic needs and what else they are doing in their life. I have to take into account the whole person.”

What kinds of practices do you find your clients typically need?

Many of my clients are already practicing very yang-centered practices such as CrossFit or working out at the gym. They don’t need to do Ashtanga or the very disciplined practices…they already have that. I find that what a lot of my clients need to do is to slow down. They need to feel, need to breathe. It is not so much about moving fast and doing 50 poses, but about being in one pose and feeling it and breathing in it. It’s not only about the physical practice but on honoring what the other practices are. Meditation is a big part of what I offer my clients and I think very quickly a lot of clients discover that is what they need a lot more of than movement. 

I try to stick to the practices that are a bit more traditional and a bit more energetic-focused as opposed to “here’s a system… go do it.”  I customize that practice for my clients based on their physical and energetic needs and what else they are doing in their life. I have to take into account the whole person. This is what Ayurveda says: you are a whole person, you’re not just this sixty minutes. What else are you doing? What else is going on in your life? 

What practices do YOU need?

For me personally, I need a combination. I need a vinyasa flow or a power flow to get my energy moving. But I also need yin… I need restorative, slow practices. I am very breath-focused. So if you practice next to me in a class I will sound like the Darth Vader next to you. You will know I am there. 

Having been raised in Cayman, what about this island have you come to love most? What makes you most proud about being Caymanian?

One would be the physical place — the landscape. I love how beautiful it is…the birds, the iron shore, the sand, how different Northside is from West Bay. And then the history…The sand front yards and the conch shells that line the driveways. I love this culture of small family living and people being so connected to the ocean and so connected to each other. I love having these traditions of making up songs and taking care of each other.

“Even if they didn’t always have the words, they always really wanted to take care of everyone. That sense of community, that’s what I love so much about Cayman.”

My grandmother and great grandmother…they were poor black women, they didn’t have any education. They raised my mother on their own. But they still told her, “Anne, go to the big school.” That was their way of saying go to university. Go before you get married. Make sure you can take care of yourself. They were two unmarried women who would die spinsters with no property other than their shop and their home. And even in the shop my grandmother was giving away things all the time. She had lists full of things that she gave away that people owed her money for. And that is what she was known for — being a very kind woman. There was so much love for each other  Even if they didn’t always have the words, they always really wanted to take care of everyone. That sense of community, that’s what I love so much about Cayman. We might not always say it the right way. It may not always come out in the right tone. But there is really a sense of “we have each other’s back.” 

When conditions are safe to travel, what are your top three destinations you would like to visit?

Spain, Portugal, and Cuba!

Cayman Fast Five:

  1. Favorite coffee spot: Jessie’s Juice, Americano
  2. Most peaceful place: Northside, Barefoot Beach
  3. Go-to lunch spot & what you order there: Tillies – Vegan Kale Salad, Tostones, or Snapper Ceviche
  4. Day-off activities: Paddle boarding with Vitamin Sea, breakfast at Island Naturals (Acai Bowl), or a massage @ No. 11 Spa
  5. “Guilty pleasure”: “I don’t feel guilty about anything I eat or do — everything I do is something that is a gift to my body. If I want to indulge I give myself permission to indulge. I am making the conscious decision to do it.”


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An Inside Look Into Janine Martins’ Morning Routine

An Inside Look Into Janine Martins’ Morning Routine

With her cultivated beauty and infinitely good vibes, island renowned yoga teacher and sound healer Janine Martins is as elegant at 6:00 am as she is at Tillie’s disco brunch. When I arrived at her Snug Harbour home, the sun had not yet risen. She greeted me with a bright face, sporting a palm tree pajama set with a fresh mug of Cat’s Claw tea in hand. With no time to waste and a beautiful Thursday ahead, we started right in on her morning ritual.

Janine follows an Ayurvedic morning routine. Ayurvedic medicine, or Ayurveda for short, is one of the world’s oldest holistic whole-body healing systems. It was developed more than 3,000 years ago in India. Ayurvedic physicians believe that daily routine is absolutely necessary to bring radical change in body, mind, and consciousness. Consistent practice is known to reduce inflammation in the body, cleanse it of toxins, reduce symptoms of illness and disease, and overall improve the quality of daily life.

Janine’s morning ritual commences with a simple but important step that needs no explanation — making the bed. This is her way of letting her mind and body know that sleep is over and it’s time to start the day!

The Routine

Step one: Janine splashes cold water on her face seven times, ensuring that the eyes and mouth are cleaned in the process. Once complete, she dries her face with a clean towel.

Step two: Hydration! Janine usually opts for a glass of water (sometimes with lemon) or an herbal tea. Some of Janine’s go-to herbal teas include Cat’s Claw, Ginger, Sage, Mint, Ashwagandha, and Tulsi. For our morning together she elects Cat’s Claw — a powerful antioxidant that supports immunity and is known to cure headaches.

Step three: Janine uses a tool to scrape her tongue as a means of removing tongue bacteria. She gently scrapes from back to front for 7-14 strokes. This practice also helps to stimulate the internal organs through energetic connections with the rest of the body and improves digestion by increasing sense of taste.

Step four: A couple times a week she also practices oil pulling, an ancient practice that involves swishing oil in her mouth to remove bacteria and promote oral hygiene. It can be done with coconut, olive, or sesame oil. Once measured out, Janine swishes the oil around her mouth for 15 to 20 minutes, spits, and rinses.

Step five: Following the oil pull, a couple times a week Janine also uses a neti pot which is a form of nasal saline irrigation therapy. It resembles a teapot but has a longer spout. The pot is filled with a saline solution and then poured into the nostril. The solution flows through the nasal passage, flushes out excess mucus and accumulated debris, and exits through the other nostril. This process is then repeated on the other side. The neti pot has a number of known benefits including improved breathing, relief of allergy symptoms, easing of sinus headaches, and heightened sense of taste and smell.

Step six: Janine brushes her teeth using a homemade charcoal toothpaste. Activated charcoal is a fine grain powder made from wood, coconut shells, and other natural substances. It can help remove surface stains and improve bad breath. The paste is also free from dangerous detergents and artificial colors. In sticking with products that are both good for the environment and the body, Janine also uses a biodegradable toothbrush from  Woo Bamboo. It is made from one single piece of organically-grown bamboo with no fillers, laminates, or additives. The best part? You can pick it up here on island at Kirk Market!

Meditation + Breathing

Just as it is important to cleanse the body, it is equally important to cleanse the mind and spirit. Janine continues her Ayurvedic routine with Pranayama breathing often followed by meditation. 

Pranayama Breathing

Janine perches cross-legged atop a pillow on her recently-made bed and places her phone down in front of her. She opens her pranayama breathing app which defaults to a timer of seven minutes. The app guides Janine in her breathing — 4 second inhales followed by 8 second exhales. Janine concentrates her breathing in the diaphragm, feeling its expansion and retraction. If inspired, she will reset the timer for another seven minutes and repeat the practice. There are many amazing benefits of pranayama breathing including longevity, improved circulation, healthy heart, and improved mental health. 

Meditation

Without moving from her seat, Janine reaches for her phone to switch to her meditation app – Insight. Janine practices zazen — a form of seated meditation at the very heart of Zen practice. Aligned with this tradition, Janine does not use voice-guided meditations from the app but rather a timer which allows her to focus on her breath and feel her body. She is able to customize her meditation with bells as a signal to change mudras. Mudras use the hands to create a flow of energy in the body. There is a connection from areas of the hands to corresponding regions of the body. Depending on the day ahead, Janine will either meditate directly after pranayama breathing or later in the evening. No matter the time of day, she will always create space for at least 15 minutes but depending on how she is feeling may go all the way up to an hour.  

Morning Exercise

Janine listens to her body and makes adjustments that best serve her. That being said, her morning routine sometimes looks different depending on her energy, her schedule for the day, and even the weather. A couple times a week, rather than sitting for a morning meditation, she will hop on her bike and go for a ride. On these rides she will traverse anywhere from 15 to 25 miles, an exercise she believes to have a meditative quality

Breakfast

As part of the Ayurvedic routine, Janine prioritizes morning hydration with water or herbal tea; however, breakfast at that hour is not essential nor is it necessarily helpful to her body. Typically Janine will have her first bite of food later in the morning following a form of physical exercise — whether that be yoga, cycling, or a beach run. Some of her go-to breakfast items include a slice of toast with almond butter and fruit, oatmeal, or a smoothie. As she and I chat, she slowly and methodically peels a pomegranate — a task which she says allows her to practice patience and mindfulness. She tells me that pomegranates are excellent for balancing Pitta — one of the 3 doshas outlined in ayurvedic medicine. 

Wrapping Up: Janine reflects on the idea of “routine”

“The overarching theme you’ll find not only in Ayurveda but also in my work is that not of us are the same, not even day to day, week to week, never mind from person to person. So I don’t treat any of my clients the same. I don’t treat any week the same. I don’t treat my body the same. Same with meditation… sometimes I might do 15 minutes. Some days an hour. Some days I use a different preset. We have to approach our life with this mindfulness of ‘What do I need right now?’ So today, yeah, maybe I want this pomegranate. Maybe another day my body doesn’t need that. It needs something completely different…  Be willing to adapt and be flexible. Have these tools and ask yourself — What tool do I want to use right now in this moment?”

Coming Soon…

Did you enjoy learning about Janine’s ayurvedic routine? Would you like to hear more about her business, how she became a yoga teacher, her life growing up in Cayman, and her favorite spots on the island? Subscribe below and receive the next blog, “A Conversation with Janine Martins” directly to your inbox!

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