[fusion_text]I started traveling about five years ago after leaving my position as a graphic designer at Eastern Washington University. Seven years as a student and employee of higher education led me to realize that I was missing a certain type of personal fulfillment. My desire was to study and teach ashtanga yoga. And I wanted, even needed, to travel. So I left my job and started the work to make it happen. My first trip was to India and I got three glorious months. Two in Mysore with Sharath Jois and one in Kovalam with David Garrigues, a magical time of release, healing and preparation for the return to a new life. When I landed back in Spokane, Washington, my then home of ten years, I packed up my little car and drove across the country to Philadelphia, PA. Leaving behind everything I knew to be familiar — family, friends and any remaining belongings with the idea that I would return in a year. This was 2012 and it was the most exhilarating and terrifying thing I had ever done.
Now five years later, I’m constantly moving and leaving behind the familiar for new and uncharted territory. As a traveling teacher, the environments and their variables continually change creating quite a challenge in retaining solid connection to the nourishing aspects of a daily routine. Staying balanced. Keeping in touch with the steadiness required to go into any mysore room and be ready to give the students everything I’ve got means striking that balance is an absolute must. Thankfully I’ve got some tools for that.
Practice (abhyasa, yoga sutra 1.13)* is the key to remaining grounded as I travel. And though there can be inconsistency within the consistency, the value never diminishes. There in lies the practice of non-attachment (vairagya, yoga sutra 1.15)*, the second part of this equation for developing balance in travel and teaching. These two core principles are what the entire system of Yoga rests on (yoga sutra 1.12)*. Traveling to teach, as I see it, is the full embodiment of what it means to study these concepts inside myself, to evolve and develop a stillness that I can share and express with the students I travel to. It is through the cultivation of these two (abhyasa and vairagya) that the other practices evolve.
In my recent experiences as a traveling teacher I see that all of us who love this ashtanga yoga to the point of devoting our time in study, practice and sharing of the lineage, come to it with similar backgrounds but with personal accents. Things we’ve gleaned from our teachers and our own personal experiences. This invariably leads to some level of inconsistency and interesting variables in every situation. I love that because it’s what keeps us all moving and evolving. And it returns us back to the same thing… Abyasa and Viraga.
I have learned an incredible amount from the students I’ve met along the way and developed relationships with some really wonderful, kind and interesting people. Some of the places that I’ve visited this last year include, Durham, NC, Missoula, MT, Washington DC, and most recently Edinburgh, Scotland. I can’t believe how full my heart is. These students are so open to learning and sharing… it’s really a powerful thing.
This month I am studying with and assisting David Garrigues, my teacher of ten years, in Kovalam, Kerala, India. This is his fifth year coming here to share the lineage with people from all over the world. So blessed with the opportunity to come and practice with him for the fourth time in these last five years. The sounds, sites and feeling of southern India are undeniably unique, and the shala – AYS Kovalam – is chalk full of loving and devoted students. Next stop – return to Edinburgh for a short “round two”. See you soon!
* Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – translation and commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda[/fusion_text][section_separator divider_candy=”top” icon=”” icon_color=”” bordersize=”1px” bordercolor=”” backgroundcolor=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_text]Joanna is joining us back in the mysore room at the beginning of March.
She’s also running two very special workshops designed to enhance your practice. Learn more about these here.[/fusion_text]