Life as a traveling yoga teacher is like treading a tightrope: it requires a deep love of adventure, incredible balance, and a profound belief that the Universe will be your safety net. Years of continent-bouncing have taught me a few tricks to stay steady and to laugh when I take the inevitable tumbles:
- No Place Like OM. Do your practice. Whether it’s five minutes of meditation, an hour of Yin Yoga, or even a mindful stroll through a local park. Foreign environments easily pull our attention outward, creating restlessness and anxiety. During my YogaWorks teacher trainings, I typically wake up at 4:30am to carve out some inner space. Sounds brutal, I know, but it taps into a deep well of clarity and calm that fuels my entire day.
- Food for Naught. Poor diet is a major energy drag for dedicated travelers. Before leaving home, I pack my favorite super-foods and supplements, suss out local organic-food sources at my destination, and always stay hydrated. Being too controlling about food, however, can be a form of ego attachment disguised as healthfulness (and shrink your cultural horizons more than your waist). So, take the occasional cheat day and try that tasty-looking treat all the locals are enjoying.
- Insta-Fam. Love it or not, Facebook has shrunk our world into a cozy coffee klatch. If you’re visiting a locale for the first time, connect via social media with friends of friends to inquire about favorite activities, such as yoga classes, museum-hopping, etc. I get tons of helpful advice on what to do, and even schedule a few meet-ups with new buddies, some of whom simply want to practice their English. You’ll understand a place so much better when you actually meet its people.
- Sweet Dreams Are Made of These. What’s on your Bucket List? Will your dream destination enhance life’s mystery and grandeur, or disappoint as yet another tired tourist trap? For me, the bigger risk is complacency, so I’ll go out of my way to visit intriguing locales, especially if I may not return to that region anytime soon. Next up: Borobudur — the world’s largest Buddhist temple, which was literally buried in the Javanese jungle for centuries until its “rediscovery” in the 1800s. Mysterious and grand? Check.
- Let It Go. The longer I travel, the easier it is to jettison items that once seemed absolutely necessary: the dressy shoes, the extra pair of sunglasses (so L.A.!), the sentimental tchotchke that never actually leaves my suitcase. Life as a traveling yogi can be lonely at times, but decidedly less so than that of someone trapped by their possessions. Getting rid of “stuff” keeps me focused on connecting with friends, family, and students. Everything else is just excess baggage.
“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” -Anonymous
David Kim is an international Senior YogaWorks Teacher Trainer, who will lead the first-ever Yin Yoga Teacher training at the Santa Monica YogaWorks TT Center (September 28-October 2, 2015). Catch his classes on MyYogaWorks.com or follow his exploits on Facebook or Instagram @davidkimyoga.