What’s it like to be a travelling yoga teacher?
I get asked this question a lot. Of course, I experience it in many different ways. Sometimes it’s wonderful and sometimes very tiring. Never boring, but sometimes lonely.
Gaining new perspectives
For as long as I can remember I have loved to travel. That moment, the hours at the airport, in the plane, to be on the way – a place where no demands exist, where anything can happen and nothing can be done. It feels like time stops just a little bit.
I think that’s basically what makes me love to travel. That insolence. Voltage. Letting go. Then to discover new places and meet new people. Gaining other perspectives, understanding and getting insights into the various conditions of life, has given me humility and understanding towards people and different living conditions in a deep and earnest way.
Finding deeper meaning
Before I started travelling as a yoga teacher, I travelled with adventure as a goal and a strong desire for something different. I travelled and worked in the US in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1987 I travelled on the Trans-Siberian Railway through many different countries to India and there something clicked for me. A soul meeting with a country – that’s how it felt.
After that, my trips were all about India and yoga. Now I travelled to deepen my experience of yoga and learn more. To experience that feeling of belonging and meaning that the practice of yoga has always given me.
A new found freedom
When I started Yogashala Stockholm in 1999 to share the treasures of yoga in one place, I thought my travelling days were saturated. But that was not the case. Over the next 10 years, I combined being the main teacher and owner of the yoga shala with travelling mostly to Mysore to meet Guruji. To be with him and learn more. These were unforgettable years at the yoga shala and with Guruji. There was so much learning and so many wonderful meetings.
In 2009 I was ready to leave the security of my permanent base at Yogashala Stockholm. At the same time, this meant leaving students I’d taught in Stockholm regularly since 1995. This was very hard and I still find it difficult as a travelling yoga teacher not to be able to meet students under regular conditions. The freedom I won by being unbound also gave me a feeling of loneliness. A rootlessness and being constantly on the way. This is something I often need to work at – to feel calm, grounded and present wherever I am.
Challenges and blessings
Routines that are important for maintaining a regular sadhana and practice are constantly changing. Sleep, food, climate, time zones and people. So, at every new place I come to, I quickly create the routines needed for my sadhana, my wellbeing and my presence. This has given me flexibility and created an independence to the outside.
I often choose to go back to the same places – yoga studios, retreat centres, and to the students coming to me around the world. In this way I find a context, cooperation and continuity in which mutual respect prevails.
Travelling as a yoga teacher is fantastic in many ways. To be able to visit different yoga schools and retreat centres around the world is a gift. To meet so many different people. To also meet the same people who come back again and again – this gives me a sense of deeper commitment in each individual.
The schools and retreat centres I go to have all done a lot of work before I arrive. Organised, marketed and prepared in various ways for the course to be provided. Getting to a place where I feel respected, appreciated and welcomed means that I can fully dive into the teaching and be fully present with the students. There’s nothing else I need to think about. This is a blessing as a yoga teacher and something I appreciate with all my heart.
Coming back to myself
To leave something always means giving up something. But giving up something also means that something new can happen. Being able to teach around the world with so many beautiful people has given me something I couldn’t have dreamed of. Lovely meetings, strong processes and beautiful places. But also melancholic farewells and all these hours of packing and packing up. Planning flights. Hours spent in the car, on the plane, on the way. All of this is part of my life as a travelling yoga teacher.
I have learned to create a home within me wherever I am. Of course, I miss my loved ones, but so far we’ve found a way of both maintaining and deepening the relationships. At this moment in my life I can’t imagine anything better. I’m so happy and thankful for what life has given me so far.
Perhaps one day I’ll find that glade and the place where I want to root myself. But right now I’m content with my travelling roots and meeting people in different countries. Coming back to the most beautiful places to meet with people I love and respect.
Thank you to all who makes this possible.
Life is an adventure of our own design, intersected by fate and a series of lucky and unlucky accidents - Patti Smith