Nine months ago I left the United States. I’ve been to 30 cities, 7 countries and 4 continents. I’ve offered yoga to people from all around the world.
What started as a trip to Southeast Asia to complete my 200 hour yoga teacher training, evolved into a new life of long-term travel, teaching and exploration, to a joy, love and self acceptance that I have never felt before.
But let’s take a step back. Because as much as I believe I’m finally living my truth, things weren’t always this way. From 2011-2015 I lived in Chicago, working in a corporate job for a huge public relations agency. About a year and a half in, I started to feel something stirring in me, something in my gut telling me to GO! To travel. To complete my yoga teacher training. To do something more meaningful with my life. But I was afraid. Afraid of who I would be if I stopped being who I thought I was “supposed” to be. How could I support my Chicago lifestyle as a yoga teacher? How could I throw away six years of college education that led me to my current role? Out of fear I was static, staying in a job that wasn’t fulfilling, partying all the time, trying to fill the void I felt with so many unhealthy things — substances, food, toxic relationships. Trapped by fear. By “what ifs.”
And I won’t say it was easy to take the leap. That one day I was able to snap my fingers and just let go. Because getting to the point of letting go was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It took years of self reflection (through yoga and meditation), therapy, and support of friends and family to finally develop the strength to walk away. And then in the fall of 2015, I did it.
I stopped being attached to the life I thought I was “supposed” to live.
I sold or gave away most of my belongings, and moved to Northern California for a temporary volunteer position at Ratna Ling Retreat Center. Ratna Ling is run by a small community of people and is grounded in the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. While I was ready to take a leap, leaping across the ocean still felt a little too far. So I began in California, and it was there that I dove into my mediation practice, learned a lot about non-attachment, and had an incredible yoga mentor who guided me and encouraged me to begin teaching to retreat guests. After a year of self work and study, I finally shed the last of my attachments to the identity I had worked so hard to live up to for most of my adult life, and was ready to start fresh and pursue my dreams. I found Sadhana Yoga School’s Bali yoga teacher training and knew it was the right one for me. I flew to Bali on a oneway ticket at the end of October.
Needless to say, yoga teacher training was completely eye opening and empowering. I met people from all over the world, others who left their corporate lives behind, or who spent time traveling and opening themselves to new experiences.
I was so inspired, and realized I didn’t want to go back to the States. I wanted to share the beautiful gift of yoga with as many people as I could, in all parts of the world. So I decided to take another chance — I found a retreat center in Spain on YogaTrade.com and sent them an email, telling them my story and asking if they needed a teacher. They said yes. And with that, I was off. First to spend time exploring Thailand, where I had the opportunity to teach in an intentional community in Khon Kaen called the Mindfulness Project. Then, to Spain, where I taught yoga and helped in the garden at Suryalila Retreat Center, in exchange for room and board. After Spain I traveled to Portugal to complete a Permaculture Design Course, and taught there in exchange for a small discount on the course. And now, I am in Sydney, Australia. Australia offers an opportunity for Americans (as well as several other nationalities) to obtain a working-holiday visa, allowing you to live and work for here one year. While I love volunteering, the reality is that travel does cost money, so I am currently working as an aupair, and hoping to also teach yoga part-time.
So many people think they can’t travel because it’s too expensive or they are afraid of being alone. I had these fears too. But what I realized is that, first of all, you are never alone. There are so many others on similar journeys, especially in various communities and projects. Like-minded people who want to offer their love, support and inspiration, and who will also find those things in you. Secondly, there are almost limitless opportunities to volunteer or do work exchanges as a yoga teacher. Many websites exist that can help you find these opportunities (see list at end of post). So often we get tunnel vision about what it means to have a job, or a career, but once you open your eyes to living your life in a different way, the possibilities are endless.
For years I struggled in my life — feeling not good enough, unfulfilled in my work, going through the motions of each day without purpose, living in fear. But ever since I opened my heart to this path, things have just fallen into place.
And I truly believe that when you’re on the right path things are easier, they flow. We don’t have to struggle. We can choose happiness. Sometimes our biggest obstacle is ourselves, but life is far too short not to live your dreams. So if you’re feeling that stirring inside of you, maybe it’s time to take the leap. The worst thing that could happen is you end up back where you started. But I promise, after opening the door to your dreams, you’ll never be the same, no matter where life leads you.