“Every one of a thousand cities around the world had it’s own special sunset and it was worth going there, just once, if only to see the sun go down.” – Ryu Murakami
Life is too short not to experience every last drop of it. Journeying to foreign lands makes you realize how much is out there. There is this whole world out there, painted on this vast canvas, and most people see just a small portion. Even if they do travel, they are so caught up in their thinking that they miss what is right in front of them. If we are truly present, we can get totally enamored with something as mundane as staring at our hand. Imagine what is possible if we become truly present to the vibrancy of being in a tropical paradise or in a boundless snow capped mountain expanse. This is what going global with your yoga practice is like. Whether you have a working practice or are a beginner, yoga and travel create such a beautiful aggregation of mind, body, spirit, and the connection to everything around you.
Here are the top 10 reasons to go global with your yoga practice:
- Getting to know yourself on a deeper level. Lao Tzu once said that, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” This is how I have experienced the journey into Self exploration, and when I travel to foreign lands to inhabit my body with yoga, the exploration process is accelerated. There is a sort of magic that happens when you get back to simplicity and quietude. You can transcend the ego by witnessing it through thoughts and actions. Global yoga retreats not only get you out of your comfort zone, but they also tap you into Source energy because you will not be watching TV or driving from here to there. You are with nature and ultimately, you are with yourself.
- Deepen your practice. There is something to be said for practicing yoga twice a day with the same community of people for a week or so in a place where most of the people have never been before. Often times, global yoga retreats are held in spaces that are charged with sacred energy of volcanos, rainforests, mountains, bodies of water, lay lines, and ancestral rituals. This energy takes your practice to new heights as you unite your energy with the grounds.
- Exploring new cultures. I will never forget what a 40 some year old college professor from the United States, Marshall, told me one fine day in the rolling hills of Lake Katchipuri, Sikkim. He said, “You’ll learn a million times more traveling than you would spending a million dollars on graduate school. Save your money and see the world. That is where true education is.” I value education, in all forms… but what he said really resonated with me, and I continue to learn from those places and people I encounter all over the world. You are my teachers, both land and tongue, and I thank you from the bottom of my swelling heart.
- Breaking free of routine. The Western culture runs on routine. I witness a lot of the same in day to day living. Wake up to an alarm, read off of your list of “To do’s,” get in your car, drive to your first destination, then your second, third, forth, suddenly it’s dark, it’s dinner, it’s bed. Wash, rinse, and repeat. Breaking free of routine is therapeutic on so many different levels. It awakens the right side of our brain and gets you to critically think as well as stirs up the creative centers in the body. When this activation begins, we are inspired to get back to gratitude, purpose, and truly living, fully alive.
- Connect with nature. Unless you live in close to the Equator, you are probably in four walls most of the day. You might even look at trees once in awhile from what feels like a distant view. You may have some plants, but when you go global with your yoga retreat, you are often in places that are in the center of Mother Earth. Places where the land hasn’t been paved over. Nature walks become a way of living and we start to reclaim our birthright of living amongst the wild.
- Slowing down down. We live in societies that run on caffeine and the clock. I witness the process of shedding these habits over the course of the week and often the first few days aren’t pretty. It can be uncomfortable to shift into a routine that follows the rising and the setting of the sun, rather than the multiple alarms we have set on our digital devices. We don’t know what to do with ourselves when there are few distractions around for us to abide in. Globe trotters usually settle into this slower, more simple way of being by mid-week, and by the end of the week, they don’t even care where their phone is. I know that for myself, I am not interested in anything that glows, other than the sun and candlelight for about a month after I return to the States. I need reminders every few months that this isn’t all there is to life, and so I travel as often as I can. I drink up every moment of every day that I can truly unplug and slow down.
- Health boost. Before I moved to Central America, I was sick all of the time. I ate healthy and exercised, read a ton of positive literature, practiced yoga and tried my best to stay healthy, but I was still getting sick every couple of months and had white spots that would break out on my skin from candida. After breathing fresh air, destressing, drinking clean water, and eating freshly harvested fruits and veggies as my main diet, and doing yoga in natural sunlight to soak up Vitamin D, I stopped getting sick and my spots, that I have had many times throughout my life, disappeared and haven’t come back.
- Getting down to what matters. I have experienced such incredible transformation during my yoga travels. I will journey an intention and some questions I have about my path in the beginning of my trip and as the trip progressed, I receive my answers. I am brought back to what really matters to me, in my heart. I am not crowded with other people’s opinions of what I should be doing, I am left with only me in a space that nurtures my truest nature. I am brought back to the present moment and the miracle of each breath. I get back to what truly makes me happy. When I am in the present moment, there is only love, and from love spring forth all things.
- Building a like-minded community. Let’s face it, we all want connection. From the moment we are born, we crave intimacy. When you go global with your yoga practice, you meet others who have similar interests, beliefs, and lifestyles. You often partake in the same daily rituals in lands that hold no memory other than what you are creating in this moment together. Lifelong bonds are formed, and I believe that community is more necessary than ever in this ever changing and evolving world that we live in. We need to pull together to remember what it means to help, love, and nourish one another.
- Gain new perspective. Going global with my yoga practice reminds me that I have much to learn from so many different places, people, animals, and circumstances. The practice of yoga brings me back to center so that I can be open to new perspectives on ways of being, acting, living, relating, and expressing. It is such an eye-opening experience to see more peace in, say a homeless man on the streets of India than a person in the States with a lot of property and prestige. It is really humbling to see how vast the Pacific Ocean is, and how small we are in comparison.