How did I get here ?
I guess Costa Rica sparked my interest…but Cambodia was really the game changer.
Rewind to Jan 26th….
Just another day, nothing particularly interesting. I went to my 830 AM lab (I was studying Geophysics at the time), and proceeded to come home and do homework. I threw on a documentary in the background-Happy. I was doing a lab but I kept looking up, watching how people all around the world live their lives. What is happiness? What is purpose? Why are any of us really here? Some would argue chance, some argue with faith. Some say happiness comes from duty, and some say from day to day enjoyment of life. I’m the latter. I sat there, and realized amid all of this privilege – because yes, I know I’m privileged. I was detrimentally unhappy. I’ve had a love affair with yoga since I was 16. It comes and goes but there’s something about it that always brings me home. So I figured, maybe I’ll defer this semester and do some yoga training. After looking online at prices to do a yoga teacher training I realized it was insanely expensive in Canada, and the price was much lower in some places…particularly, Cambodia. So I booked my training through bookyogateachertraining.com to study at Blue Indigo in Siem Reap. Do I know anything about Siem Reap? No. Anything about Cambodia? No. Anything about Asia? No. It was a Thursday and I would leave on the Monday.
I’m on my way! This was definitely the scariest day of my entire life.
This was Hong-Kong from the clouds. I thought it was pretty spectacular.
Okay. I’m here, now what!?
So, it’s known that I did little to no research right? I arrived at Blue Indigo and met my teacher Krishna, and my fellow students Irina, Cindy, Heather and Lori. Little did I know what a profound impact all of these people would have on my life. I was instructed to relax, meditate for a bit. This was the meditation shala. My yoga teacher training was to be much more traditional that I had initially believed-or sought out. It was blistering hot there considering I had just come from Canada’s winter, and so I wore shorts around…although no one else was wearing shorts? At first I thought it was just cultural and I didn’t know to respect that…yet. There’s a reason why locals do things the way they do, see below.
This is what 4 hours of not wearing shorts at night in Cambodia does to you!
That Sunday we went to practice yoga and meditation at a Buddhist temple on the banks of a river. It was a profound experience. We were able to partake in a blessing ceremony and I was surrounded by incredible women and men.
We practiced yoga on the banks. In the background you can see water buffalo crossing the river as we meditated. So amazing.
There were so many children at the temple which had been orphaned or given to the temple because their parents couldn’t take care of them. This was there home. We also did Karma yoga at the temple, helping to clean it up and teach the children English.
The place where we lived had the most beautiful trees and plants all around and throughout it-which was sort of our oasis because Siem Reap is quite a dirty and busy city.
This was the road that I lived on. it was full of vendors and crazy wires and always busy. It was such a different way of life to absorb. In the beginning I hated it because I was so used to Canada’s cleanliness and order, but once i got used to it I saw the beauty in the chaos. This is probably a good metaphor for life huh?
This was the amazing entryway to our beautiful Blue Indigo.
Me and my friend Heather decided to go to Angkor Wat. A UNESCO world heritage site as well as Cambodia’s most famous temple-and for good reason. We went without knowing too much about it’s history (I actually learned all of that after), and just enjoyed it’s humbling presence! Being in something so exquisite and old makes you realize how many others have walked where you have, experienced different lives. It makes you feel strangely connected to humanity-in my case anyways.
Everything was exquisite-down to the smallest details. I was a bit disappointed because it was so beautiful but so crowded and busy…that leads me to tell you why Bayon was actually my favourite temple. Bayon is the temple of compassion. I did not know that when I went there. Bayon was less busy, and actually had monks moving around it-doing monk things(!?). When we were done with Angkor Wat our tuk-tuk driver asked if we wanted to see more, and of course we said yes. So he took us to Bayon where you’re greeted by a towering temple like a pyramid of smiling faces.
I actually had a really crazy experience at Bayon. I walked into a room where monks were meditating and I felt like I had really invaded something. So I sat down, cross legged and began meditating. I tried to think of some kind of mantra, something to fill my mind with. To my brain the first word I could think of was compassion. Here I was, meditating on compassion, in the temple of compassion-without knowing it was the temple of compassion! That seems like more than a freak accident. This was my first spiritual experience.
We finished the night with a trip to the night market, and of course curry-in a PINEAPPLE! The night markets are quite contrasting to the temples.
At this point the yoga training was starting to become more intense, and I started getting closer to my classmates.
Yoga was starting to turn a new leaf with me. I realized it was about the breath and the mind, much more than the physical body-breakthrough!
We were starting to feel like a little family. We are all very very different; Heather works on super yachts all around the world-she’s travelled way more than most and is so intelligent and humble. She has the nicest demeanour, she can make anyone feel comfortable at any given moment. Her strengths come from her glowing personality. Then you have Cindy, who is from Germany, lives in Australian, operates a non-profit organization in Cambodia dealing with and helping children and is an absolute boss woman. You have Lori who is wise wise wise. She has been through a lot, and has a lot of lessons to teach. She understand things, humanity, the world, energy…how to harness it and give it. She teaches the best lessons in patience, kindness, and open-heartedness. There’s Irina, who has lived absolutely everywhere. Haas more education than anyone I know and is a professor in Cambodia and is aiding the government in resolving their problem with waste removal in rural communities. WHAT A BUNCH OF AMAZING LADIES.
We were doing all kinds of yoga. Integrating our mind, body and spirit.
My personal favourite was aerial yoga-for me it was like moving meditation. My body was so occupied and focused that my mind had to slow down.
The next couple of weeks were busy. Heavy training all the time and personal study. I knew that my time in Cambodia was beginning to come to an end and I had a plane ticket booked home for the end of my training.
Before I realized I was not ready to leave, and I was liberated with realizing I could stay.
I was definitely not done with my time in Asia. This is how I learned to be a budget backpacker-out of necessity because I had barely any money to go on to do this, and I was taking a huge risk.
We received our certificates-we were now yoga teachers!
I was so lucky to have gone through this experience with these incredible women.
It was time to prepare to be on the road again. I would leave to meet someone in Thailand the morning after the training was done.
Welcome to the next part of my journey.
I learned so much in Cambodia about myself through silence and stillness, which is hard to learn in a world where everything is constantly moving so quickly.
My time in Cambodia came to an end.
I’ll write about Thailand soon.