Navutu Stars exists because the owners loved their first Fiji holiday. And a huge part of Fiji’s allure is its wonderful people. So of course we take every advantage to work with Fiji natives; they are this glorious island country’s most valuable natural resource.
We are very lucky to have found Torika, our resident yoga instructor. Born and raised in Fiji, Torika has studied yoga at home and abroad, but with a home as beautiful as Fiji it’s no wonder she can’t seem to stay away. We recently sat down with Torika to discuss Fijian folk tales, free time in paradise and life in Fiji through the eyes of a native.
Yoga background: in paradise and abroad
Torika worked as a yoga instructor at the Jean Michel Cousteau Resort in Fiji for nine years before spending time in San Francisco at the Bay Club Health & Awareness center to continue her yoga studies. She occasionally visits Navutu Stars’ sister resort, Navutu Dreams Resort & Spa in Siem Reap, Cambodia to guest teach and learn from other advanced international yoga instructors.
Special teacher + special place = special yoga
First, you should hear the way her peers speak about her: “Yes, she can be a bit shy and soft spoken,” says Colleen, but “she has magic hands and I truly believe she is an Earth mama. You can feel the energy flowing from her when just getting a hug.”
Perhaps the force is strong with Torika because she gathers strength from her environment. “Life is too short to be negative. Look beyond it and find the positive – learn from it, maybe it will open our eyes to something from a different perspective.”
She takes this approach with her yoga classes as well. “Navutu Stars was fashioned in its own special way. I can choose to conduct classes to match the environment. In this way, the experience is beautified by the breathtaking natural landscapes, so the students are easily drawn in and they bond with nature.”
Yoga in tropical paradise
We asked why environment was an important part of her classes. She cited her upbringing. “When you listen to our folk tales you get how closely connected we are to nature.” Torika believes many of her students need to be reminded of that connection. By coming to Fiji they are “withdrawing themselves from the busy western world lifestyle.
“Here, we can remind them that they are special and unique and who they are. And that they are completely showered with the love and care of nature.”
So what is her favorite type of yoga to practice?
“Meditation. It’s not all about cardio and getting your heart rate up. I conduct the class in such a way that minds won’t wander to another body type. We don’t want any competition. This is not the purpose of yoga. I want my students to ground themselves with trust, strength, peace and tranquility. The ocean swooshing in the background and sunrise always helps.”
It’s all hot yoga here
At Navutu Stars, Torika teaches “a combination of Iyengar, Ashtanga and Bikram yoga – more in a calm and relaxing way. Since I have a mixture of all levels in the classes, it’s best to blend them together so the beginners don’t feel left out and the advanced levels don’t get too bored.”
“The best part of my job is the opportunity to assist people on focusing on the positive, embracing life with hope, inspiration, love and enthusiasm. And the swimming of course!”
“Fiji is paradise! Fijians are genuine, warmhearted people. We are very family-oriented. People may have very little, yet they will share the last of what they have with someone who needs it.” Torika just hopes more people come and experience the warmth radiating from every corner of the country. “Don’t come alone,” she advises. “This place is too romantic to be experienced on your own. Bring a special someone and indulge yourselves in the serenity of our white beaches and crystal clear blue oceans.”
Any advice for first-time visitors?
“Get used to Fiji time. Everything happens a little slower, but it happens.”