Could travelling be your escape strategy? As a seasoned travelling yogi, I’ve been around the world (and back again!). From Myanmar to Turkey, Hong Kong to Panama, I’ve seen mesmerising sunrises, swum in every ocean and climbed the highest peak in Bali. But no matter where I go, one thing I’ve learned is travelling cannot help me escape my inner self.
The first time I began journeying across the globe I felt alive, free and adventurous! There was an insatiable hunger to keep moving as I saw more and more of the world. I was fascinated by the different cultures and people, intrigued by the exotic surroundings, and constantly craved a different way of life.
Travel is an undeniably a beautiful thing. It opens your eyes to a world you didn’t even know existed. It expands your horizons, and connects you with others on a deeper level.
It also has its frustrations. Vulnerable and overwhelmed, I at times encountered accidents and sickness, got lost in a city not knowing the language, and had to quickly learn to get along with rude or selfish people.
Travelling also exposes you to your innermost fears and forces you to overcome them, however hard that may be. It shakes you violently, turns your world upside down, and spits you out as a different person.
Travel teaches you compassion and changes your perspective, making you unbelievably grateful for how beautiful this life is and what you actually have.
But what travel has taught me more than anything else, is that no matter where you go, there you are.
Indeed a sobering thought – Wherever you go, there you are. You can climb the highest peak or dive the deepest ocean, but you cannot escape you.
Travel has taught me that no matter how much I may wish, I cannot run from my inner self. And once I realised I can’t run and have nowhere else to turn, I began to step onto my mat, take a deep breath and turn inward.
Travel and yoga have been my two greatest teachers in life. One has opened my eyes to the world. The other has opened my eyes to myself. Whenever I find myself feeling sad or distraught on the road, I turn to my mat for comfort. And whenever I find myself elated or euphoric, I step onto my mat to keep my inspiration going. This can either be on my own time or even on an organized yoga holiday which can be great for this.
From the ends of the earth to the hometown where I grew up, nothing has given me greater peace or deeper grounding than my own yoga practice.
There have been countless times when travelling has given me glimpses of infinite happiness, as well as times when I’ve travelled afar only to find my problems trailing close behind. In both cases, the mantra wherever you go, there you are resonates deeply within me.
Recalling my experiences of travel, it dawned on me that I couldn’t escape from my mental afflictions – regardless of where I was. The only resolve was to be at peace with my body, mind and soul.
To this day, as I roll out my very-worn-but-loaded-with-character travel mat a sense of calm overcomes me. I might feel uninspired or unloved before my practice, but I know with confidence that afterwards the world will look a little less intimidating, a bit brighter, and a lot more manageable. I know that no matter who I’m with or where I am in the world, with my mat I’ll always feel at home.
Throughout all the ups and downs of my unconventional nomadic life, one thing has remained constant and that is my yoga practice. Yoga grounds me when the world shakes me up and down, and comforts me when I breakdown into tears. My yoga practice is my safe place all within myself.
In a world of confusion and excitement, my practice has given me a sense of belonging – a sense of home. I’ve learned that when I close my eyes during meditation or listen to the sound of my breath when holding downward facing dog, I am at home. Home is the euphoric rush I feel when I lay down in savasana. Wherever I may be, home is where I lay my mat.
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