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Looking forward with Cynthia Bates

What made you think of moving away in the first place?
About two and a half years ago, I was returning from a meditation retreat in Colorado. As the view of the Bay Area appeared out the window of the plane, for the first time in 20 years I thought, “I don’t think this is where I am going to end up for the rest of my life.”

12 years ago I quit my corporate job so I could practice yoga more. I became a yoga teacher in part because it provides me with the time and impetus to practice. The deeper I go in my practice, the more I want to practice. Over the past several years that has begun to include periods of solitary retreat. This move is the next step towards opening up even more space for practice.

What factors went into your decision to move?
I have never wanted to have to teach yoga for money. What I mean by that, is that I don’t want to feel like I have to teach a class or private because I need the money. As a result, I have supplemented my income over the years doing part-time work in marketing communications. It has taken me many years to make a living in the Bay Area as a yoga teacher, but I realized to sustain a life here long-term I would have to continue to “hustle” and run all over town. This is contrary to the contemplative life that I am craving. As I approach 50 years old, I considered what do I want the rest of my life to look like? That vision was of a slower-paced life in a lower population density place. A place where I could connect with nature more and potentially grow my own food and be more self-sustaining.

Why did you pick Hawaii as a destination?
After the realization that I had several years ago, that the Bay Area was not a good fit for me going forward, I had a reading with a Vedic astrologer. In turned out that my chart had just experienced a huge shift at the same time as I had this realization. The places in the world that were best for me to live in had shifted. He gave me a list of places in the United States and world that have the best resonance for me at this current time. Hawaii was on that list and I felt immediately drawn to it although I have not been to Hawaii in over twenty years.

What do you hope to find and experience in Hawaii that’s different from here?
I would like to live closer to the land, to animals and nature. To be able to eat food that is grown locally. I would like to have a short and easy commute to where I teach yoga. I would like to slow my life down. I would like to take a break from so much focus on technology.

What are your plans for the first year?
I will be on the Big Island for about two months. I have rented a Bungalow near Hilo and plan to spend most of that time in retreat. I will also be helping my good friend Kim who just opened an Iyengar Yoga studio in Hilo (

After that I plan to travel to Kauai to visit another yogini, Melinda Morey who is also opening an Iyengar yoga studio. I plan to also help her to launch her studio and take time to feel out the island of Kauai.

In August, I will travel to Crestone, Colorado to be the retreat manager for my teacher Tsoknyi Rinpoche at his annual retreat there. I will visit a dharma friend in Denver on the way and spend about a month in Colorado.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten…I have purposely left my plans fairly open so that I can let the winds carry me and be open to all possibilities. I do foresee that I will be traveling for about 9 months to a year though before settling down again. And, I do hope to teach some workshops and individual sessions along the way.

Where do you see yourself in the next 2-5 years?
I do have an internal vision of where I would like my life to head but I am purposely not setting goals or expectations. I would like to see what happens when you open yourself to anything.

How has your practice prepared you for this life change?
My practice has driven this life change. Particularly my Buddhist practices, emphasize the preciousness of human life and the need to practice now. Human life is very delicate and can end very quickly. On the other hand, human life carries the possibility of enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. My path is becoming less and less about creating outer security and comfort and more about offering everything I have including my life to spiritual transformation.

Do you know a senior teacher on the Big Island with whom you will study or a studio where you will practice?
My practice has become very self-directed in the last couple of years. My relationship to my teacher in one of a heart connection vs. needing physical instructions and help. I am very excited to be a position to rely almost solely on myself and my own knowledge for my practice. That said, I have good yogini friends that I will be co-practicing with and this definitely sustains me.

Do you think you’ll come back to the Bay Area to live?  Will you come back for visits? Will you come to teach workshops?
I will definitely be back to the Bay Area but not to live. It will always be my home and my family, yoga family and teachers are here.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Lenka Gargalovicova says

    All the best Cynthia, I will certainly miss you during my visits at Adeline. I am very happy for you and from the bottom of my heart I wish that you will find what you are looking for….! Lenka

  2. Lenka Gargalovicova says

    All the best Cynthia, I will certainly miss you during my visits at Adeline. I am very happy for you and from the bottom of my heart I wish that you will find what you are looking for….!