Why Yoga Is Like Travel


We travel, not to escape life, but for life not to escape us. Anonymous.
TRUE masters of yoga believe it’s not about bending your body into a certain pose, but what you learn about yourself on the way down. The more you allow your body to unravel, rather than push it, the better the results. Go with the flow. Learn to sit with yourself, and any discomfort. Find your edge. In essence, it’s all about the journey, not the destination. Sound familiar?

I am in a yoga class and I am brimming with fear and loathing. It’s cold, my muscles are stiff, I have a headache, and my regular teacher is not here today. Instead, her replacement is what I’d call “hard core”, the yang to my yin. And I’m hating on her and the rest of the room.

Why do they have to breathe so hard? And why, oh why, does the woman in front of me have to stand at the back of her mat right on top of me? Go to the top of your mat, the instructor said. Get your bum out of my face. These are the vicious voices which are dancing in my head. I have become the poster girl for “observing my thoughts” and today, they’re not pretty. But that’s OK. As long as I don’t attach.

The more I practice yoga while I’m not travelling (and often when I am) the more I realise how closely the two concepts are aligned. Travel writer Freya Stark said: “To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” When it comes to yoga, think of your body as that strange town. Want the ultimate freedom? Jump on a jet or go to a yoga class. Want to challenge your body and mind? Head to a new destination or get back on the mat. Need to relax? The list goes on…And recently I have noticed an Australian company which has combined the two philosophies.

Photo courtesy of YogaEverywhere

YogaEverywhere, created by Remy Gerega, has produced a range of stunning yoga mats and accessories inspired by the Australian landscape. They are eco-friendly, biodegradable and recyclable with 100% natural tree rubber bases and a micosuede top printed with water-based inks. And these all-in-one yoga mats and towels are popping up everywhere.

Photo courtesy of YogaEverywhere

Boasting 15 designs, mainly showcasing Australian beaches including Coogee, Bondi and Manly, I decided to test the Whitehaven Beach mat which pays homage to my home state of Queensland and one of the most spectacular beaches on the planet. These mats promise to buck traditional yoga mat trends in that the more you sweat, the better you grip. And so I stepped on to my Whitehaven Beach mat where I was surprised at how it felt like the silica sands of this iconic Whitsundays beach itself. Had I encountered a magical mat? Was this my new flying carpet?

Photo courtesy of YogaEverywhere

For someone who leans towards cooler yin yoga, which is mostly floor work, I found the 3mm thick mat a little too hard for me. (I am used to a thicker mat I call “the sponge”). I was also a little worried about messing up my pretty design with my sweat, although these mats can be washed. (I use a gripped yoga towel which is easy to wash on top of the sponge). However, if you are more inclined to do a lot of standing power poses in a hot class, this could be the mat for you. Certainly the scenery will help you when the going gets tough. And I can see how this mat has grip and grit. At $129 a mat, they aren’t cheap. They’re also quite heavy, weighing 2.2kg but are easy to carry with a clever dual-purpose stretching strap which is included. My verdict: I’ll keep “the sponge” for my regular yin classes, but the Whitsundays is now a firm favourite for my home practice, and looks spectacular on my polished timber floors. Robert Louis Stevenson said: “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” And so it is with yoga.

Photo courtesy of YogaEverywhere

The Global Goddess was gifted her Whitehaven Beach mat by YogaEverywhere. Photos of the mats in this blog courtesy of YogaEverywhere – http://www.yogaeverywhere.com.au

Photo courtesy of YogaEverywhere

Dear Pageant Girl

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IT’S Saturday Night Fever meets Sunday Morning Mass at this Samoan church service. Purple and white sequins adorn the altar and it’s as if Barry Gibbs himself has dressed the congregation which is resplendent in all white, bar the punctuation of purple ties. A sea of solemn heads, topped with white hats that would win any Melbourne Cup contest, are bowed in prayer. And so, too, is mine, yet I doubt we are speaking to God about the same subject. Why, God, why, did I choose to wear my leopard-print dress which stops just short of the knee to a conservative South Pacific church service and where in the name of hell is Dear Pageant Girl when I need him?
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Let me introduce you to Dear Pageant Girl: Sydney’s Peter Sereno who, when he’s not promoting Samoa, is making the world a better place, one beauty queen at a time through his website, blog, industry commentary and training of pageant contestants around the globe.

“It is kinda my little letter and beauty advice to the world. The beauty pageant industry is still growing in Australia and the majority of girls have no idea. They think they are just beautiful and that they will get by on their looks. I’m Filipino so I grew up with beauty pageants,” he says.

“I leave little notes on the site and give them advice such as ‘don’t leave the house without your dignity’ or ‘if you are going to sabotage the competition, do it with a smile.

“My top five tips are fake it till you make it; treat this like a job interview; there is no such thing as natural beauty; the higher the heels the closer you are to God; and be open to everything. Walk like the world is your catwalk.” (I spend the next day practicing walking like the world is my catwalk. I end up looking like a constipated crab).

In 2004, Peter worked with Australia’s own Jennifer Hawkins to assist her in winning Miss Universe and more recently with the current Miss Samoa/Miss South Pacific Janine Tuivaiti(pictured below) to secure her the prestigious title.
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“I have seen the most beautiful girls with the most ugly personalities which no amount of make-up can fix. It is true what they say: beauty radiates from within.” Peter says.

“But beauty doesn’t win a competition, it is the ‘x’ factor and you can’t define that. It is an energy that can’t be taught. You can discover that and harness that but it can never be taught.

“My role is to expose you and say ‘I am beautiful, I am all that’.”

It’s not only beautiful people Peter promotes, but stunning destinations such as Samoa, in which this interview takes place. Even the name of the country itself possesses a raw beauty – the word Sa, meaning sacred and Moa, centre. It’s in this sacred centre of the South Pacific you’ll discover a land of magic and mysticism, of rainforests, reefs, waterfalls and the most beautiful of beaches such as Lalomanu, upon which travel gurus Lonely Planet bestowed the title of one of the top 10 must-see beaches in the world.
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So smitten was he with Samoa, Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson lived there for four years in the late 1800s in a large colonial-style building on the main island of Upolu. The Samoans loved the author and called him Tusitala – or Teller of Tales. And it’s simple to see why Stevenson found so much inspiration in this nation.

Here, mahi mahi jump straight from the ocean onto your dinner plate, lobsters bathe in coconut milk fresh from the tree, and the papaya is as golden as the sunset. There are 361 villages in Samoa and one church for each village so you could go to church every day of the year. In between, check out some of the highlights such as the thrilling Papase’ea Sliding Rocks near Apia and the spine-tingling Sua Trench cave pool on the South Coast, accessible by a steep, wooden ladder.
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Some say Savaii Island, about an hour by ferry from Upolu, is the highlight of a Samoan sojourn with its markets, lava fields, canopy walkway, and blow holes down which a self-styled “coconut man” throws coconuts which are fired out into the ocean like canon balls.
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For others, it’s the smaller islands such as Namua Island, about 10 minutes by a tinnie from Upolu, which float their boat.
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Wherever you choose, there’s a range of accommodation options and one of the heavenly highlights is a night or two in a rustic beachfront fale. Forget your modern cons, and surrender to the sound of the waves crashing against the reef as you fall asleep under a thatched roof and mosquito net. (In my case, spending the night wishing a hot Samoan may mistake your hut for his and crawl in naked).
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If, as Dear Pageant Girl claims, the world is indeed your catwalk, then Samoa is the perfect destination in which to strut your stuff.
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The Global Goddess travelled to Samoa as a guest of the Samoan Tourism Authority. For more information on a Samoan holiday go to http://www.samoa.travel. Virgin Australia flys direct to Samoa from Brisbane once a week and several times from Sydney.

To unveil your inner Goddess, or to find out more about Dear Pageant Girl, go to http://www.dearpageantgirl.com.au
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