After yoga trainings, I always find myself thinking “Okay, this is when my daily, three-hour practice, including asana, pranayama, meditation, mantra and prayer, will start!”
But like any extreme resolution, my ambitious ideas soon falter due to…life. I have this great opportunity at my age and where I’m at in life to travel and explore. So during the winter, I grab my backpack and embark on a grand adventure. My travels have brought me to some very inspiring and sacred places, but travel also means an unpredictable schedule and location. Doing yoga in my tiny tent while it’s pouring out is not very conducive to relaxation, and I can’t always chant the Yoga Sutras in the middle of a hostel common room. So establishing a time to get on my mat everyday is not ideal.
But that’s where I begin to find the true meaning of yoga. Yoga is special, because it is not just limited to a physical practice. Asana is just the tip of the iceberg, the hidden gems are where the real magic happens.
How can I bring yoga into my daily life, when my surroundings are constantly changing? This is the question that I’ve been asking myself a lot over the last few years, maybe even when I started practicing. As well as causing a constantly changing surrounding, travel also brings its fair share of stress and exhaustion, yoga is the antidote. This is where I take the tools I’ve gained from my wonderful teachers and personal practice and put them to good use.
When I’m feeling a little scared of getting on a bus at night in a city, I remember how strong I felt in headstand. Or when I’m running towards the train that’s about to leave I remember my pranayama (breathing) practices, and I can use it to bring myself back to a calm state when I find my seat. Or when I’m a little nervous to go and talk to a stranger, I remember how nice it is to connect with people; yoga means union, after all.
Yoga has given me a greater sense of self awareness and self compassion, so when I’m feeling exhausted from travel, I know the signs and feel it immediately. From there, I allow myself time to recoup.
When I return home in the spring from wherever I’ve been exploring, I roll out my mat, and it stays there until October, when I head out again for the winter. I begin to share the practice of yoga again with my students, and I feel a deeper understanding of the physical practice, due to the fact that I’ve looked past that piece of it for comfort and strength out in the world.
Sometimes my practice is a few hours on the mat (everything included), and sometimes it’s me using pranayama to stop myself from hyperventilating because I just got on the wrong bus… 🙂