Why we do Yoga when travelling

Posted on   April 11th, 2013 by  admin

What’s it like travelling to exotic locations and setting up your yoga mat?

Well if you’re a yoga teacher it should be easy right? Not necessarily.  Right now I am in a little fishing village in East Bali called Amed. The striking feature of this location is a giant volcano, which dominates the surrounding rice fields. Here life is simple. Children sit beside an early morning beach fire while playing with black stone pebbles. Fisherman return with small catches of silvery fish. Wives march to the boat to claim the fish for their morning feast. There is no sense of mine and yours as families coalesce around our villa, wanting me to hold their babies and tell them my name. Walking up the beach small boys with fishing lines play games with me, barring my path and saying I love you-they say these things only because they’ve heard their fathers do the same from their junks at sea. Pulling out my Yoga mat here feels downright exotic and out of place. As yogis we’re told, Yoga is natural everyone should do it, its healthy and relaxing. But looking around at these simple people, the children and the beauty of nature, how can my practice compare to the richness of their lives. Relationships are uncomplicated, creation is effortlessly expressing itself and a child delights in an insect crawling up her shirt. Still, I’m a YOGI- or that’s how I have defined myself as I travel the globe- and to teach one must practice. Placing my Mat on the terrace I begin with Pranayama its hard not to open my eyes and watch the boats floating on the glass like sea. With my eyes closed I could be anywhere. But with eyes open I can actually view the metaphor unfolding in the waves that only appear to disappear. The sea holds the waves, just as consciousness holds my thoughts. You cannot separate the one from the other.

It’s these things I want to contemplate and understand. Why do I think I need a thought to exist? And who is even needing that thought? Would a fisherman even bother to wonder? His practice is fishing so he can feed his family. That’s all that matters. If I wanted to fish? I would need my cell phone, my life jacket, insurance, a boat licence and the list goes on. What’s the difference between me and the fisherman? A fisherman innocently fishes, I having forgotten my innocence have buried myself in relative knowledge, ideas and ideologies, I have turned places into destinations, travelling from one country to the next searching for the meaning of my existence. The fisherman doesn’t wonder, because those thoughts were never introduced. As Human beings our experience can never tell us about the nature of the one who is experiencing. But I think because I have been educated, and now initiated into the yogiverse that my spiritual notions will lead me to the truth about myself. That’s why I started Yoga in the first place.

But what we yogis forget in looking for ourselves is what a fisherman has known since men began fishing. In order for there to be a fisherman there has to be a fish and to learn how to fish someone had to teach him.  You can’t cast a net without knowing how to throw it. In the same way as a yogi, seeking oneself the seeker has to be there first; without a seeker what search?  In seeking answers wouldn’t it be useful if someone said, ” Find out who is looking. This is Self; this is what you’re looking for”.

I have been travelling for the last three years, My oversize suitcase and heavy Yoga mat have been replaced by an efficient blue Samsonite and a lightweight foldable mat. I have practiced in California deserts, Swiss mountainsides, South African riverside mansions and in a tiny hut on an Indian beach. Travelling has meant not being pinned down to one place or one time and an understanding that just as a fisherman must endure the waves on top of the ocean, no wave can ever disturb that which is ever-present, unmoving and still beneath the surface. I was lucky, on my travels I came across the traditional teachings of the Upanishads with a wonderful teacher. Upanishad means ‘sitting close to the truth’, having gained a deeper understanding of myself, travelling has been transformed from a chore to a delight. No longer thinking that there is some sense of fulfilment in a destination. I have learned that a destination only has meaning when I am there to enjoy it. To know this is YOGA, for which no practice is needed. Then why do I still roll out my Yoga Mat when I get to yet another beautiful destination? For the sheer joy of moving and stretching and opening this wonderful body vehicle. To participate in the constant play of the creation is our birthright, and what’s more beautiful and enjoyable than that!

Rachel Zinman – Jeanes (Rachel Zinman Yoga)




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