According to Sri Pattabhi Jois and his Yoga Mala, the space where you do your asana practice (poses) should be open and clean. In the west we are used to shalas being spacious and with a lot of room in between yourself and your neighbor. The studios are clean, have a good temperature and are QUIET. Most of us even expect a yoga space to be this way. However, yoga is about being able to quiet the mind to ground oneself and to stay focused. We practice these things on the mat to be able to apply them in our everyday life. Sticking to a regular practice while traveling is of course challenging in many ways but I believe it to be beneficial for me and for my practice to face these challenges. As yet a Staying Healthy On The Road post and to give you inspiration to keep rolling out your mat wherever you are, I share with you some of the places I’ve been doing my asanas the last few months. In some of them I had to take a few extra breaths to focus on myself instead of outside distractions, whilst in others magic happens(ed). I believe we need both sides of the coin, or it’ll get boring ;)
1. Hostel floor next to yesterday's stinking beer cans
Beds on Bohio, Jaco, Costa Rica
I am grateful for the spacious privates and their including patios in this place. Hostels are always a challenge for yoga practice since it’s never silent. This is not the first hostel where I’ve been doing my morning practice, nor is it the only or last one. It is, however, the only party-hostel I would stay at and where I keep showing up regularly. The smell of yesterday’s party (or the sounds of it during night) is part of the experience and I breathe through any annoyance that might come up. In addition to remind myself about the gratitude I feel for having a mat-sized patio outside the room.
2. In the jungle together with all kinds of friendly animals that want to join me.
Practicing in the jungle is amazing in so many ways; the colors, the clean air, the heat, the curious hummingbirds and playful toucans, and the sounds of the forest. However, every now and again mosquitos, ants and simply all kinds of bugs like to join in. And sometimes cats. That is fine though, I like that kind of company, it keeps me staying humble.
3. Together with 22 awesome women, every morning for 22 days, on an uneven and semi-broken wooden floor
The challenge for me –who is used to yoga alone- was to suddenly share my practice with others every day, and to be guided through most meditations. Sharing and creating connection in that way open up the heart and let you go deeper in your practice. I am forever grateful for what these lovely ladies shared with and taught me.
4. On the beach when waves are coming in, removing the sand under my balancing point
The picture speaks for itself. Balance and alignment are obviously affected. Good fun to play around with both of these asana foundations though!
5. On a friend's dusty floor while the news broadcast is blasting out from the radio at 6am
Deep breaths and a strong Drishti to go within and connect are what help me stay grounded and calm in these kinds of situations. Yet a place to grow if it’s added to my practice every now and again.
I guess it all comes down to one thing really; learn to lie on the floor everywhere. And all yogis I know love being on the floor so it actually doesn’t take long no matter where we are before our feet are up the wall.
Where do you find it most challenging to do your practice, exercise, meditation or workout? Share in the comments below!