Interview: Yenifer Canelón; owner of Salti Hearts
In 2013 I emigrated to Bali to carry out a marketing internship. On arrival at my new home, I was greeted by an enchanting mermaid. Upon closer inspection, I found that this being was not a mermaid, but a beautiful, kind, bubbly woman named Yeni. The pint-sized goddess was a surf instructor at the retreat I was interning at, and she quickly became one of my very dear friends.
Yeni grew up on a little island in the Caribbean within an archipelago called Los Roques. Having such a great story to tell, and an exciting business she’s been raving about, I thought it was more than appropriate to interview her to get all the deets.
I’ve always wondered…where do mermaids come from?
Yeni: It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I was very lucky to be born and raised in Los Roques and spent my childhood in the water and among nature. Through this I developed a deep appreciation for the marine environment and fell in love with surfing. At the age of 6 I was riding a longboard without a leash and cruising into a perfect little peeler, oh I could just go back in time… I always feel so alive and free when I relive that feeling! Surfing has shaped my life in so many ways, it’s a part of me.
Living in Bali is a dream! What was it that brought you here?
Yeni: As a free surfer I’d always dreamed about Indonesia, and then after so many years I finally found my way to Bali. After spending almost 2 years just surfing and travelling around, I realised that I wanted to stay longer and perhaps build a life on this island, then I was lucky to find a job that brought me the opportunity. I worked as surf coach for a women’s retreat and instantly felt a connection. Teaching within a female environment brings so much energy – it was and it is something very special. After more than a year, and spending a large amount of time working for others, I realised I was ready to step out of my comfort zone and venture on a lifetime trip. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how everything would work out for me, but nowadays I feel so blessed. I followed my heart and created a life from my simple surf lifestyle – it’s my business and my everyday dream job.
You now run a surf retreat for women from Bali – What do you love most about your business Salti Hearts?
Yeni: Predominantly that it’s so much fun! I love what I do, and I do it with all my heart. I’m the founder, owner and operator of Salti Hearts, and I get to live my dream every day adventuring around Bali with a group of amazing women. The retreat has been running for almost 2 years now, and every group of women I meet along the way reassures me that I’m in the right place and doing what I am meant to be doing.
Salti Hearts creates a space where women from around the world can come and share their journeys, inspire each other, try out something that could be totally new to them, or take their skills to the next level. We surf, do yoga, and occasionally step out of our comfort zones, everyone learns so much about themselves; it’s truly amazing. I feel very lucky and grateful to hold the space and be part of their transformation. It’s not only about surfing and all the fun that this brings to your life, but also connecting with your inner soul and the highest energy through the practice of yoga. Another thing I love about this Salti journey is that I get to experience and learn about everyone’s culture and traditions, and at the same time and share my passion for surfing and dedication for yoga. Each woman can choose to spend 3, 5 or 10 days at Salti Hearts to experience this beautiful Island life – a grateful, healthy and happy way of living.
Can you tell me a little bit about Salti Hearts’ vision and mission?
Yeni: Salti Hearts is an authentic and raw surf and yoga retreat on the island of Bali. I say raw not only because we gather women from all over the world to come together to a space of freedom; a space where there are no labels, but also because every single person inspires one another on such a deep level. We truly believe that when women come together, amazing and powerful things can happen. We envision helping women gain confidence on and off the surfboard, and continuing to do so for years to come. Our mission is to share the saltiness with as many women as possible. To help them understand that what they have experienced here through surfing and yoga they can be kept alive in their hearts every day for the rest of their lives.
Who is Salti Hearts for?
Yeni: Every woman! All women 18 and up who feel ready to experience surfing, yoga and the life of a Salti lady.
Where’s your favourite spot to grab a bite to eat after an early morning surf with your squad?
Yeni: Oh…there are so many great spots for post surf nourishment! If I had to choose, I’d have to say that my ultimate favourite place is Bungalow Living Cafe, located on Pantai Berawa, Canggu. It’s a unique Cafe homeware store where you can have the best Hazelnut latte in town! They have the most delicious bites ever, plus you can buy a special piece of Bali to take back home with you.
Favourite food to start your day?
Yeni: I try to eat very healthy every day and my breakfast changes daily, but my favourite would be overnight oats with cashew nuts, chia seeds, coconut shreds and fresh fruit – mango, dragon fruit and frozen blackberries … Yummm!
Best months to be in Bali for an epic surf trip?
Yeni: Bali has amazing weather all year around and a very tropical climate. I would have to say the best months for surfing would be from the end of February until June, and from September until the beginning of November when it’s not ‘rainy season’.
Describe your ideal wave!
Yeni: My dream wave it right here in Bali! A perfect reef break with a long left hander and a great wall to play with and at the same time. I love getting a fun little barrel… just perfect! Where the water is so clear that you can see the reef and it’s so glassy that you can surf for hours.
You’re really into yoga too – what is it about yoga that compliments surfing so well?
Yeni: Yes, yoga is a part of my daily routine, whether I’m running a retreat or not. Yoga and surfing paired create the perfect base for a healthy lifestyle. We all know how good yoga is for the soul and the body, and when you mix this ancient practice with surfing it’s the perfect balance of fitness and mindfulness. So you get the benefits of both worlds! I’m so grateful that I get to share both of these with my girls every day they’re on retreat.
Do you have anything exciting planned for the near future with Salti Hearts?
Yeni: Totally! I have a 5-year plan in my mind and in my heart! Next year we are running two special 10-day camps in Bali and on the beautiful island of Nusa Lembongan (30 min boat ride from Bali), so that’s really exciting. Additionally, I plan to extend the Saltiness overseas, creating these experiences in other magical surf destinations around the world for my return guests, and others who may not be able to travel to Bali.
Something I obviously have to mention…your dog Bowie is absolutely adorable!!! Where’s he from / what’s his puppy story?
Yeni: Bowie is our sweet Salti Hearts mascot! He’s a rescue Bali dog. His story began as soon as he was born, as he has 1 blue eye and 1 brown eye. Because of this ‘abnormality’, he was dumped into the back of a truck at a rescue centre in Ubud called ‘barc4barc’, and was left there with his 3 sisters. The next day, two wonderful, big-hearted Australian women took the 4 of them into foster care. One of my dear friends Giovanna ( or “G”) noticed the adorable pup while at a Bungalow cafe and took a photo. She posted it on Instagram and my heart instantly melted. I thought about Bowie for 2 days and decided that I had to meet him, and at least give him a little squeeze! That’s when I knew I was in trouble.
Bowie has been with us for almost 1 year, and he is the most amazing, sweet, well-behaved companion I could ask for. He makes every day better and absolutely adores the girls at Salti Hearts! Today I couldn’t imagine not having him around. He is part of our Salti Tribe and a dear friend to all of our lovely guests!