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Blog Home > Archive (December, 2018)
Ann Stafford loves natural history. Fortunately for us, she also loves sharing facts about natural history with others. We first came across Ann when we discovered her blog CaymAN Nature (she is quick to point out her name in the middle of the two words) while researching for another post of our own. We found her blog to be so full of great information that we wanted to learn more about the author behind all of this first-hand Cayman knowledge!

Growing up in the English countryside, Ann’s parents taught her to identify plants and animals at a young age, and what they didn’t teach her, she learned through countless books. In 1973, Ann and her husband moved to Grand Cayman. She immediately fell in love with the island and began to immerse herself in learning about the native flora and fauna. Around this time, she unfortunately began to witness many native plants being destroyed by invasive species. Ann dedicated herself to conserving the native plant life and educating others on conserving the food chain in Cayman—if the native plants disappear, so will the native animals who depend on them. 

In order to educate others, Ann works to spread and publish her findings. In addition to her blog, Ann gained such an in-depth knowledge of Cayman plants and butterflies that she co-wrote the book Butterflies of the Cayman Islands with visiting entomologist Dr. Richard Robinson Askew. Ann is also a photographer and contributed images to the book Flora of the Cayman Islands. For a time she even lead tours of the island for a groups of journalists for the Department of Tourism.



In addition to butterflies and flora, Ann is especially interested in the early settlement of the Cayman Islands, including survival, livelihood, and exports. One livelihood custom in particular stood out and left her with a desire to learn more. This custom just happens to involve gravestones! On the island, you can find many gravestones shaped like small houses instead of the rounded shape the majority of us are familiar with. These gravestones were built in the 1800s and can be found in a variety of locations including Old Man Bay, North Side, and Bodden Town, to name a few.

On her blog, Ann explains in more detail: 
"The graves were marked, not by mounds of earth and headstones, or great massive tombs, but by houses in miniature, just large enough each to cover one person; mostly about six feet long, two feet broad, and one and a half high, with a sloping roof and full gable end, in which was inserted a small slab containing containing the name of the occupant, his age, and the day on which he entered his narrow home, 'the house appointed for all living.'" 



To learn more about these house-shaped gravestones and the Cayman natives buried there, you can visit the cultural page on Ann's blog.

Today, Ann guides guests around Grand Cayman on Nature and Historic Tours, sharing Cayman's fascinating history with others while she continues to share her countless nature photographs on social media and her blog. If you're looking for a unique tour experience, give Ann a ring next time you're on island! 
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If you’re looking to keep up your workout routine while in Cayman, want to jumpstart a relaxation habit you can take back home with you, or just want to try something new, there are a few fantastic yoga studios on island I would highly recommend. Bliss Living Yoga and Cayman Yoga Club offer a variety of classes seven days a week. Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or have never downward dogged in your life, there’s a class that will be fun, relaxing, and challenging for you.

Plan Your Class

You should look at the class descriptions on the studios' websites to see which type of class interests you the most. There are plenty of offerings each day of the week for all levels of yoga skill. The two studios are located between West Bay Road and Esterly Tibbets Highway, near Camana Bay, which is around a ten-minute drive from Christopher Columbus.

Both studios allow drop-in classes, so there's no need to call ahead—just arrive around fifteen minutes before class time so you can sign in at the front desk and get situated. If you don’t want to worry about packing a mat, you can borrow one for the class. A mat is complimentary for your first class, but you can also borrow one for a small fee for successive classes.

A single class is around $24 USD, but if you think you’ll come multiple times, a class pack might be a better deal. They’ll ask for just a few pieces of information and then you’ll be ready to get your yoga on.

What Should You Bring?

Wear comfy clothes you can freely move around in—t-shirts, tank tops, athletic or yoga pants are all great choices. Yoga is much easier to do barefoot, but you can wear socks if you would be more comfortable. You should also bring along a bottle of water, which you can bring into the studio with you, and a mat and towel if you want to bring your own. The studio will provide blocks, straps, blankets, bolsters, and other props you might need.

What To Expect

After you sign in, you’ll remove your shoes and store your belongings in cubbies—the yoga studio itself is a phone-free zone. Once you find a spot for your mat, you can start stretching or kick back and relax until class starts. Each class is lead by a trained instructor who will talk you through each pose as well as demonstrate proper technique.

I attended classes on two ends of the spectrum, one Flow class at Bliss Yoga Studio and one Power Vinyasa class at Cayman Yoga Club.

Flow

If you’re looking for a way to relax your muscles after a long flight, find some quiet time amid a busy itinerary, or just take your time with a workout, this is a great choice. The flow class is an hour long and focuses a lot on your breath, stretching and holding poses, and the meditative aspects of yoga. It’s accessible to all skill levels, from beginner to advanced. Many of the poses in this class were seated, and several props were used, which helped everyone modify poses to suit their flexibility.

My class was an early afternoon session with Janelle. She had a fantastically soothing demeanor and helped me relax my sore, plane-ride-agitated shoulders. I’d highly recommend this class to anyone, but especially for any first timers—you’ll get a good idea of what yoga is all about without getting into many difficult poses.

Power Vinyasa

Power Vinyasa is a rigorous class that focuses on working your whole body and the breath as you move from pose to pose. This hour-long course is designed to make you sweat and really challenge yourself. All skill levels are welcome and anyone can get a workout from this class, but I would recommend that you are already comfortable with flowing between poses (e.g., downward dog into the Warrior series) before attending this class.

Photo courtesy of Cayman Yoga Club

I attended a later evening class with Janine, who included some much-appreciated motivational wisdom within her instruction. She was also incredibly gracious and gave me some tips on improving a pose I struggle quite a bit with. If you're nervous about taking a class, don't worry, your instructor is happy to help and guide you—it's what they're there for! 

Get Started!

Don’t let vacation throw off your fitness resolutions this year. Stop in for a yoga class next time you’re on island, relax, and take that Cayman vibe back home with you! And don't forget you can also visit a traditional gym or take a bike ride around the island for other great ways to keep active while on the island. 

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