Anna Von Frances, a Canadian living in Mexico, is a single mother to baby Luna and seriously into all-things-travel. Anna is also a Yogi, founder of FullPowerYoga.com and gives weekly updates about her Shine A Life on the road as a single mum on her YouTube Channel. Find out more about Anna and her adorable baby Luna below in our exclusive interview with her.
First things first: Why Mexico and where next?
Oh the story of how we came to Mexico is not pretty. At 7 months pregnant, I was living in Antigua, Guatemala and as I got bigger, I was more and more reliant on my daughter's biological father, who was becoming less and less reliable. He started disappearing for days, not answering his phone, doing drugs, and finally put me and my daughter's health at risk. I just went to the nearest place with a good midwife that I could get to with all my stuff - and that's how we ended up in San Cristobal, de las casas. Now that I have a Mexican child, we are exploring this gorgeous country to see if there is a magical place somewhere for us to live more permanently.
Give one piece of golden advice for (single) parents traveling with tiny babies.
My advice traveling is the same as my day-to-day: don't get attached to any plans whatsoever. I don't even research a place anymore - why do I need to know all the stuff I won't be able to do 'cause I have a kid? We just show up and start asking around for good things to see and do. If we get a few done, we win. Keep the itin for when they are bigger. Also, it helps to stay somewhere you actually like to be, cause you may end up spending a lot of time in your room/hostel/hotel.
What does yoga mean for you and how is it part of your everyday life with your daughter?
I am just building back my practice now that Luna exists. Mostly we are chanting - that is a big part of my daily practice because it's interactive with my daughter (who loves music) and it keeps our vibration up. I want to meditate so bad, but I am exhausted at the end of the day which is my only time to myself. I do some asana postures with her but i find it hard to concentrate on my practice with the distraction of my gorgeous daughter in my face. We do a lot of skin-to-skin; I baby wear all day, and I think that's very much the union yoga speaks of.
How did you get into yoga?
Ha- I hated yoga. I thought it was exercise for former gymnasts and dancers. Then my friend told me to go to India and investigate, I became a yoga teacher and that was that. Now I spend all my time trying to teach people that yoga has nothing to do with flexibility and that many yogis don't even have Instagram - ha.
What can you recommend for people (parents included) wanting to incorporate yoga into their lifestyles, who are as inflexible physically (like me, ha!) as they are with spare time in their daily schedules?
I'm not flexible at all. I haven't don't any asana in 6 months and I can't touch my toes. If you are stiff, you get more out of it. Yoga will teach you there is no finish line, and it'll do it by making you feel foolish, so just let that ego stuff go. Do it with your eyes closed so you can just feel your body. If you wanna start small ('cause you do not need a lot), 5 sun salutations and 5 minutes meditation every day. That's it. Do that for one month straight and then call me and tell me if anything changed.
Can you describe what it is like being a single parent in a differenT country and culture? Do you feel it contrasts to back in Canada?
I love everything about NOT parenting in Canada. No judgement, hyper parents, organic bullshit. Plus there's a lot more kids and they are not brats. The only thing that is hard is the constant questions about Luna's dad - saying you are a single parent is NOT enough. They keep pressing about this important dad figure and I have not been able to perfect an elevator pitch that is classy and to the point yet. But it's worth it - everything else is mucho mejor (much better!).
Are there any legal issues with being a single parent in Central America?
Luna's biological father is not recognized on her birth certificate. What's been great about that here, is that it's so common, no one bat's an eye. In Canada, there's more hoops to jump through and questions and legal reprocussions. As far as I was told when we were still in Guatemala, he could ask for paternity, if he got it I would still just get full custody and then he'd have to pay and visitation would be up to me. It's called common sense, they use it lots down here - another awesome perk of Latin American living.
How do you manage by yourself, supporting you and your daughter and traveling around?
Since I have already been traveling for years on my own, I long ago, gave up the whole 80-hour a week life in Canada. I have a street promo company in Canada, Pink Mafia, that I operate remotely and I am certified to teach both yoga and English. My company has been automated online for close to a decade and I have been teaching for 5 years. Teaching allows me to socialize and make spending money or sometimes do a trade when I travel. After having Luna, it's much harder to teach since I can't live as easily in hostels on a trade or get caregivers while I'm gone. We rely a lot heavier on promo now and I have been working on my travel blog and YouTube channel as a way to connect with other mom's to create a community.
What has been the most emotionally challenging about lone-travel with Luna?
The only thing is I sometimes get scared of things I was not scared of before. Like traveling at night somewhere I have not been before - this was moot my whole life, now I get scardy mom about it.
What are the most important values you hope Luna picks up from Shine A Life on the road?
I just want her to be a good person who loves herself and others. a lot of our trips are nature heavy and she is learning a lot about the beauty of the natural world and I hope she wants to help protect it when she gets old enough to know not try and eat every piece of tree bark she touches.