View From the Mat

The View From the Mat is a new travel blog that explores travel from the perspective of an practicing and always aspiring yogi.  More than a travel guide (although there will be practical advice!), the intent is to tell you a story about each place.  What makes a location special? There is something special about every corner of our amazing world — you just have to look for it. What cultural differences may you notice?  My yoga mat goes everywhere I do.  And it is more often than not, my magic carpet into a new awareness as a human sharing this planet with more than seven billion others.

I have been an avid traveler for most of my adult life.  Annual trips to Belize and Europe after college were my first taste of putting that new stamp in my passport.  Before each trip ended, I was already planning (and saving for) the next.  These trips were my gateway drug.  I was hooked, but my wanderlust really kicked in after a trip to Ethiopia in 2008.  As part of a medical mission team to remote areas of this amazing country, I realized that traveling is the most intense form of education.  It takes you immediately out of your comfort zone and forces you to reexamine and reevaluate your culture, values and good fortune.

Whether you are traveling to a highly developed country where they speak the same language as you (think United Kingdom or Canada) or a low-income country where daily life is a struggle, travel is a highly magnified lens through which we can learn about our place in this ever-shrinking world.  As you look outward at the world around you, something about every experience forces you to look inward as well.  Regardless of whether your dream is to fly to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower, stay in a casa particular in Cuba or do volunteer work in India or Africa, for most of us… we are taking a magic carpet ride into a new realm, albeit temporarily.  New foods, new languages, new rules, new surroundings.  It can be overwhelming but it can also be satisfying, especially if we do it with open eyes, an open heart and an open mind.  That is where this blog (and my yoga mat) comes into the story.

Traveling is sometimes scary, always exhilarating and never the same adventure twice, even when going back to a location previously visited.  As a yogi, this is something that I experience each and every day I step on to my yoga mat.  I do the same poses each morning but somehow, they are never the same.  Whether I am practicing in my own home, a hotel room overlooking Hong Kong, a cave in Turkey or a yoga studio in Helsinki, I am forced to confront my perceptions and beliefs  both of myself and those around me.  Most people know yoga as a combination of physical postures and breath exercises.  But for the daily practitioner, it is so much more.  It is the awakening of a more subtle energy, and (hopefully) the freedom to work on creating and maintaining stability in the body and mind.  Ultimately, it is the opportunity for the yogi to notice and change their experiences, not just for themselves, but for the people with which they are sharing space. Since we are sharing space on this crowded and rapidly shrinking planet, this is my magic carpet ride.  

Just as traveling takes me out of my comfort zone and gets the adrenaline pumping, stepping on to my mat wakes me up and makes me feel alive.  This is the perspective from which I would like to share my travels with you.  Yoga is a common language in every country I have visited — a language that reverberates all around the world. Whether you are a new traveler, an intrepid explorer or merely dreaming of visiting new places, this blog is for you.  You do not need to be a yoga practitioner. You merely need to have an open heart and an open mind, and a love for learning from the world around you.

 © CommonFate 2018