Crafting a life that is authentic to each of us is often a process. It was like that for Catarina Marques Silva as well. She worked in art conservation and corporate customer service before creating her own job and lifestyle as a travelling yoga and meditation teacher. By getting clear about what she wants and directing her energy towards her desires, she has created a life that she loves by helping people find inner peace.
Sometimes we meet people whose energy just immediately impresses us. Cata was one of them. I met her in a traditional Huichol ceremony in Mexico, where a travelling group of indigenous people shared their tradition and medicine (more information about Huichol traditions in a previous post here). Cata had offered to facilitate meditation for the whole group before the ceremony. I went to sit next to her, as I was naturally drawn by her energy.
What happened that evening was exceptional because we were in the middle of the dry season in Oaxaca, but a massive thunderstorm with heavy rain arrived from the mountains. We were meditating outside under a palapa surrounded by constant lightning and the sounds of the storm. Cata led us through a powerful guided meditation to get grounded and prepare for the ceremony.
The rain luckily stopped in a few hours, and we were able to start the ceremony. It was facilitated outdoors, under the vast sky, in a circle around a carefully designed fire. I sat by Cata throughout the whole night, sharing an altar and a mattress with her. Having her centred queen energy beside me during the intense night was a gift.
I learned that she is a yoga teacher, and I knew I’d love her classes straight away. Yoga is so much more than postures and physical movement for me. It’s about moving energy, finding peace and focus, creating space in your physical and mental planes. Sometimes it’s about releasing, sometimes about allowing. And it’s always about connecting.
So, I went to her yoga class in Puerto Escondido, and I absolutely loved it, as I had anticipated. She combined all those elements that are important to me in yoga, and after nearly two years without almost any guided yoga, I felt like entering a piece of heaven in her class.
I had a chance to enjoy her yoga sessions for about a month’s time in a beautiful yoga deck by the ocean at One love yoga studio. She also organised an ecstatic dance event and a woman circle, both of which I’ve wanted to experience for a long time. I felt like this lady was doing something that she loves, and she was clear about her soul purpose or mission in life. She also seemed to lead an authentic and fulfilling life. So, I wanted to learn more about her.
Following your mission is often a process
It could be said that teaching yoga is Cata’s third career and very much aligned with her calling. But finding her way to make a living out of it didn’t happen overnight.
She studied art conservation at the university and worked in the field for some years after graduation. Travelling and moving around was already part of that job; the work location changed every four to six months, and she was leading teams in different sites around the country. But the reality of the job wasn’t quite matching Cata’s desires. It was about taking paintings from the ceilings and dealing with chemicals. It was also physically quite challenging.
She found yoga in 2008, initially to help her with her ailments caused by her job. Very soon, her yoga practice became highly important to her.
In 2012 her ex-partner found a job in Amsterdam, and they moved to the Netherlands together. It was hard to find a job there in her industry, and she felt it was time to try something different. So, she got a job at Booking.com customer service, which was very stressful and demanding. Sitting in the office eight hours a day and creating a life in a new city was overwhelming, and yoga became even more important to her. It provided a sacred space for her to relieve the stress and clear her head. After two years of office and city life, she decided it was time to take steps towards her dreams.
“I took two months unpaid leave and went to India, Kerala for a yoga teacher training. I came back to Amsterdam and didn’t feel ready to teach, but my friends encouraged me. So, I started by doing free classes in the park on Sunday mornings”, Cata says.
Soon Cata extended her practice and teacher training to Yoga Nidra. It’s a state of consciousness between being awake and sleeping, induced by a guided meditation. Cata herself had difficulties meditating earlier because her mind was going all over the place. But Yoga Nidra opened the gates to meditation for her.
In this practice, she could relax, release, and let all the good hormones take over her body. Soon she was teaching Yoga Nidra in a yoga studio in Amsterdam. The first “official” class was scary, and she felt awkward, but she got good feedback. After a while, she got a permanent teaching position and started teaching yoga as well.
For about a year, she worked part-time for Booking.com and taught yoga on the weekends. But she was tired of the city life and busy schedules. She knew she couldn’t keep up with two jobs. It was time to take another step towards her dream life which included sun, nature, and a different rhythm than the big city could provide.
“In December 2018, I quit my job, left my apartment and my relationship, and went to Indonesia to get my YIN Yoga certificate. I had to choose where to put my energy, so that life could unfold towards what I wanted. And I wanted to travel and teach yoga,” she shares.
Sometimes changes are needed in all areas of life
It took several years of small steps and preparation before she took the big leap. She started by travelling around Asia and staying in different spots for longer times, connecting with the yoga communities and teaching yoga. During her time in Asia, she had decided that Amsterdam was not for her anymore. She didn’t like the city lifestyle, where the productive mindset constantly pushed people to do more. However, she went back for three months, worked a lot to save some money, and shipped her belongings back to Portugal.
Everything has worked out for her since she decided to change her life. Before the pandemic, she lived and taught from Sri Lanka and gained more experience. Sometime during spring 2020, when the pandemic was storming around the globe, she decided to go back to Portugal. She wanted to find a new home from her homeland. And she did. She built a life from scratch in Aljezur, surrounded by nature and the ocean.
“I was very lucky as I really found a home there again. It was everything I could wish for, and I’m also closer to my family. I found a beautiful group of new friends that are more tuned in to what I do and who I am these days”, Cata says.
Cata says she knew she had to find a new group of friends more on the same wavelength. Many people in her life grew in different directions, and while some old friendships still exist, she had a desire to meet people who speak the same language as her.
Sometimes when you change your life and start living from a place of authenticity, it might mean that many things around also need to change, like some people and the living environment.
Lifestyle changes are often followed by a bigger awakening that impacts our values. Finding the things that are true to us and becoming our authentic selves is a process of letting go of old and allowing new things to come along.
Success is about having a balance between giving and receiving
After creating a new home in Portugal and living there for 18 months, Cata decided to go to Mexico for the winter to find new inspiration. And this is where we met.
“My work is on hold, and I rented my place. I needed to get inspired again and meet new people. I found a place to teach and came to Puerto. Travelling and teaching yoga makes my travel more sustainable and gives me a purpose; it also puts me in contact with the people I want to hang out with”, Cata shares.
While she loves the lifestyle she has chosen, she brings up that it can also be demanding and exhausting. Every time she goes to a new place, she needs to start everything from scratch; find a place to teach, housing, community, and necessities for living. She also works for herself, which means that she is constantly creating her own job opportunities, and she needs to live in uncertainty as in her line of work, stability is not the strongest benefit.
When we talk about success, Cata says that for her, it’s about being able to do what she loves, being recognised for her work, and getting paid for it—having a balance between giving and receiving.
What a great indicator of success in life and work!
Cata adds that she leads a simple life and doesn’t need many luxuries. She tries to buy locally produced stuff and invests in travel and good shoes. And she likes to treat herself by eating out and connecting with inspiring people.
An important ingredient for a good life for her is that she has the time to do the things she loves without expecting an outcome. She enjoys learning ukulele, and she’s focused on the process, not the outcome. It sounds like play for me, something that we all should do more.
“This was a plus when I dropped my scheduled life, to have the freedom to decide where I want to live, to be able to eat local and seasonal, to have time to cook, to do my own practice. It’s important to be centred and connected to myself; having a morning ritual is very important to me”, Cata shares.
Be mindful of where you put your energy
What characteristics have brought Cata to where she is today: living an authentic lifestyle that she has created for herself? She’s been adaptable but also set strong boundaries, really tuning into what she wants in life and what she doesn’t want. Having a mission and trusting herself has helped her move forward with flow. Sometimes compromises are needed, but it’s important to be motivated and work for your desires.
She’s got more clarity on her mission as her journey has progressed. She sees herself as a mediator, bringing her tools to help people feel better, more in balance and more in connection with themselves. Right now, the tools are yoga and meditation, but this can change. She found peace from these practices when she was busy and stressed, and now she wants to help others find it too.
“Yoga gave me headspace and peace, and it helped me to feel good in my body. I want to help people be more conscious about their choices for themselves. I want to support them to discover their deeper layers and connect with their higher selves, to drop their masks”, she adds.
What can we learn from her? She started her journey by taking small steps; certifications, giving free yoga classes, doing two jobs simultaneously, and saving money. It took her years to prepare her way out from the standard lifestyle. I see familiar ingredients here; courage, persistency, faith and doing the work – following what calls you and being mindful of your time and energy.
“If you don’t like what you are doing, don’t get stuck. If you don’t feel ready to take big steps, take small and experiment with them. Then when you feel ready, put more energy in. This way, you can create new opportunities for yourself. If you are loving what you are doing and growing into that direction, everything will unfold for you”, she encourages anyone who wants smaller or bigger changes in their life.
Find out more about Cata and her yoga classes and retreats in Instagram by following @cata.thehumanyogi