Sometimes, finding your guru can feel like a curse. Gurus are dangerous. The inevitable is bound to happen. The moment you develop a passionate preference for something– a gym, a dance or step aerobics class, a psychologist, a personal trainer…– it becomes a “guru”, making it hard to find room in your heart to follow another.
“My yoga is better than yours”
I hate to admit sometimes, I’m a secret snob. After leaving New York City and my wonderful home at Jivamukti Yoga Center, I was convinced nothing would offer me solace for my yoga loss. I was a bereft lover. I didn’t want any lesser replacement. No, I’d prefer to let my yogic muscles atrophy than to have another’s watery imprint on my body.
Why? Finding my yoga home took years of seeking. I sampled different yogas as one might lovers, trying various asanas, philosophies, teachers, wearing it even if it didn’t fit or was un-fulfilling. When I found Jivamukti, everything fell into place. It offered me everything I sought in a workout high mixed with a rich spiritual practice of body work, meditation, spiritual lessons and kirtan chanting. Yoga technique was the base of the ladder to becoming an enlightened yogi and each class opened illumined discoveries about where my body led me on this journey.
If yoga was my prayer; Jivamukti was my church…my guru. I did not want to leave it.
Korea and yoga
In Korea, yoga has been something I’ve been reluctant to try again. Firstly, Korea doesn’t emanate “I wannabe yoga!“. New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, maybe…. not Korea.
Most Koreans think of yoga as a stretching workout– a kind of gym-yoga. Sivananda, Hatha, Bikram, Iyengar, Baptiste, Ashtanga? Good luck trying to find a studio offering it and in English! Thus, I was very skeptical about hitting the yoga studio-dating circuit again.
But then I heard about a yoga weekend retreat in Muju (a ski capital in Korea) and felt a strange lift of hope.
It was a yogatastic weekend at the Ayurveda Yoga Camp at the Muju Farm Life Center
Learning to love again isn’t easy.
The heart can have many loves, but learning to love again after you’ve found a great love, isn’t easy. Last weekend, Daegu’s Ayurveda Yoga Academy (Facebook site) held a yoga retreat in Muju. Some friends I knew were attending. The theme of the camp was “Eat Pray Love“.
I know what you’re thinking- anything that’s named after a Julia Roberts-Hollywood movie has to be a little cheesy. I was skeptical also. But if it was cheesy, I assure you, the cheese was good…
It wasn’t what I expected and maybe this is a good thing.
It was my first yoga retreat and the last thing I wanted was to remember my old guru. One can find frustration in comparisons. So I’d decided I’d keep an open mind and use the retreat “to get my sweat on“. Pure and basic.
Ironically, there wasn’t many workout yoga classes for me to drown myself in. Instead the folks at Ayurveda Yoga opened my mind to re-sculpting expectations of what yoga is and can be.
Drawing an international crowd from Korea to U.S., Canada and the U.K., the camp was conducted simultaneously in English and Korean.
A yoga practice isn’t only about perfecting a bunch of sun salutations and downward dogs.
The camp wasn’t just focused on the physical body and yoga; nor was it a “guru”. I was an aid to help yoga lovers awaken their own inner guru.
Drawing from Acro Yoga, Ashtanga and meditation classes, ranging from Vipassana, Kundalini- Osho, forest walking (read more here), drawing and dance; the program served up surprising one-hour experiential samplers aimed to inspire us to basic yogic tools and creative self-expression. There was even a class on how to use a neti!
The camp helped me push through my yoga baggage, sharing what a yogic practice can embrace in creativity, self-exploration and experiencing. I was a baby bird again and surprised that a little yoga studio in Korea could offer classes inspired by known yogic practices.
Am I still skeptical of finding my yoga love life in Korea? Sure. But the Ayurveda Yoga Camp gave me the first step to opening myself to love’s possibility again. I was rediscovering my own inner guru- opening my mat, mind and heart.
Any yoga-love stories to tell about finding their guru abroad?
- What is a Forest Walking Meditation? (Muju, Korea)
- Getting my Yoga Teacher Certification in India
- What is it like inside an Indian Ashram?
- Traveling to Dharamsala with a purpose
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