Yoga and Traveling with Kelly Taylor – Exploring Bali and New Zealand
It is no secret that there are many skills to be gained and lessons to be learned while traveling abroad, especially when it’s a solo venture. There are small things like quick estimations of C to F and how to take unabashed selfies in beautiful places. Then there are the arguably more important things like how to fully trust your intuition. It is also no secret (to those of you who know me) that I am pretty much always thinking about yoga and its applications. Needless to say, my trek across the globe was also an exploration of how my practice has shaped me to this point and how it will continue to fit into my life.
Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind (citta vriti norodah). It is an exploration of what is left behind when there is nothing but you, nothing but the unchanging, equanamous Self. Because the nature of the Self is truth, consciousness, and bliss (sat-chit-ananda), embarking on the journey of yoga can feel pretty damn good. There are other parts of the journey too though. There are parts where you have to acknowledge and reconcile with the things that make it so difficult to slow the mind down in the first place. These are the uncomfortable and sometimes painful things that we often come up against, put into a box labeled “bad”, and ignore. Over the last year, my practice has been focused on opening that box in my mind and acknowledging all the things that hold me back. Before I left for my trip I was intent on enduring this discomfort. I was looking into the box and saying “I see you, I acknowledge you, and now it is time for you to go away.”
Then I flew to the other side of the world for the greatest adventure I’ve ever been on. It was an experience I will forever be grateful for. It was beautiful, restorative, energizing, and blissful. One of the most incredible adventures I had was walking the coast track at Abel Tasman National Park on the south island of New Zealand. It took me three days to walk the 60 km (37 mi) with a heavy pack, a poor assortment of food, and the constant threat of being heckled by the local weka birds.
During my last night on the track I sat in an estuary surrounded by mountains waiting for the tide to lower enough for me to cross. In that moment of complete euphoria and substantial discomfort it became clear to me that these two seemingly opposite experiences cannot exist independently of each other. It was a theme throughout my trip. The “best” moments were consistently paired with challenge, discomfort, and pain. The more fully I allowed myself to experience one side of the coin, the more fully I was able to access the other. That is when I realized that it’s not about looking into the box to make its contents disappear. It’s about taking the box apart because if discomfort and pain are stuck in there, then so are joy and bliss.
Yoga asana (postures) and meditation are the perfect tools to assist in taking apart that box and removing any labels we’ve consciously or subconsciously placed on certain experiences. It allows us a safe place to come face to face with every aspect of our being while practicing neutral observation. Eventually, the concepts of separation and opposites melt away as it becomes clear that there is no joy without discomfort, dark without light, or self without other.
You can find Kelly Taylor teaching yoga at evolution on Tuesday evenings Candlelit flow 7:30-8:30 and Sundays 5-6:15 pm Vinyasa I/II. Kelly also manages our front office and is developing our Yoga for Life Program.