As a traveller, we often find ourselves caught between two worlds. One is that of
grounding and finding home. The other is called wanderlust that we hear whispered on
I have travelled around the world for a few years now, teaching yoga in 5 different
countries and exploring many more. And there have been so many moments that steal my
breath in such staggering ways.
There’s that famous saying “you either sink or swim”, but I like to think that no one ever
sinks, we just learn a new way to swim.
There is the confidence that comes with becoming a solo traveller. Being able to step out
from a plane into an unknown place with no idea on currency, language, food or
geography and swimming.
And we usually learn how to swim in the challenges that we face whilst out in the big blue
The good times.
I find myself sometimes just too happy to contain it.
Those times when everything just seems too perfect. I feel too happy for it to last and I
have to register that this will be a time that I remember so fondly. So I take a breath and
do my best to bottle it up.
These moments are found sitting on a boat, sun on my skin, wind in my hair after just
coming up from a scuba dive and seeing a million turtles. Sometimes it’s sitting in a
friends hammock, listening to him DJ one of my favourite songs whilst looking out over
coconut trees swaying in the breeze. They’re in watching the sunset alone with a beer, or
with friends and cocktails. Maybe it’s the full moon as it rises over a volcano.
I remember my favourite thing to do on an island I lived on was to ride my bike in the
middle of the night – say around 2 am – and listen to music very softly so I can still hear
the silence of the island. It’s dark, but it’s warm. And the moonlight shows me where the
pot-holes in the concrete are and the stars guide me home.
The harder times.
We sometimes forget that the world continues to move in light and shadows, no matter
how happy and content we are.
In 2018 I was in Indonesia when a 6.9 earthquake hit at around 11pm. It sent us running
out of the house, and it made me shake like a leaf. I’d never felt an earthquake like this
before and I recall the main feeling was just utter helplessness. There’s nowhere to run to
and nothing you can do to protect yourself. You are at complete mercy to the earth and
you just hope she stops moving soon.
We slept outside under the stars that night. We woke up every now and then to little
shakes, then to another big one at about 5.30 am. Afterwards, we felt little ones here and
there. Some, we just listen and wait until they’re over. Others sent us running out of the
house again in fear. None of them as bad as the first one, but they still made my stomach
sink and my eyes go wide.
There are smaller things that happen as well. We lose our bags, we trip and fall and our
cameras break. Between twisted ankles, stolen credit cards and mosquito bites, we are
brought back to earth every time.
The lovers and the sadness.
There are lovers we find that we turn and leave again and again. It seems that being a
traveller means that you can’t enter a relationship without it having time limit on it.
And it sucks. It really sucks.
In one mind, it means that nothing is permanent and I can throw caution to the wind; fall
in love, experience all the glittery honeymoon phase and then run off into the sunset.
But then it starts to get to a point where that becomes tiring. When one has to ask how
long that can be sustainable? How many sunsets can I run off into before I fall off the edge of the earth?
And then, there’s grief.
At times, it feels like there’s an earthquake that only I can feel when I get news from back home that rocks my world, and no one else’s. Past lovers that decide to go in different directions left me feeling disconnected and alone. Anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas’ all missed due to this whisper on the wind that, for whatever reason, I just cannot ignore. It makes my eyes fill with tears and questions fill my mind of “but what for?”
And the answer slowly becomes clear, because I need to learn more ways to swim.
Wanders' are never satisfied with the ground we stand on. There’s this almost childish
need for more, more, more because we know there is another island with whiter sands
and taller trees. We know, somewhere in our bones that the lessons and knowledge we
seek are out there; in the big blue ocean that perhaps we will never truly reach.
But as we say in yoga, it’s not about touching your toes, it’s about the journey you take
I have learnt that in these empty reaches to the unknown, there are lives being changed
simply by my existence.
When teaching on an island once, as I was going around putting eye pillows on the
students in shavasana, I noticed one students arms and legs; little white lines dotted
across her. The marks of self harm. It broke my heart. I held my hands over her for just a
moment longer than everyone else, to send her some love and courage to face whatever
she held inside her.
Another girl in my class once told me that she thought a long time ago about doing her
teacher training but decided not to because she didn’t really like many teaching styles of
the classes she’d been to. She’s now a flight attendant. After my classes, she had
decided to do her teacher training and use me as an example of how she would want to
teach when she becomes a teacher herself.
I’ve been written notes and letters from students that I’ve known for a mere few days,
saying things like “You are just like a bird flowing in the wind of life, enjoying it, smiling
and laughing and it can only inspire others to fly with graciousness in the spontaneous
wind of life with you.“
We remember all the really inspiring and great teachers we had, but we also remember
the really terrible ones who didn’t allow us to believe in ourselves. But not all teachers
remember their students.
I plan to be a teacher that can allow students to be themselves and be proud of that. The plan is to empower people and be a teacher who allows them to be exactly who they
want to be without apology.
I open a lot of my yoga classes with the acknowledgement and detachment from past
memories and future imaginations and I’m learning more and more to be present with
whatever is given to me.
I’m learning to swim, in so many beautiful ways. And whilst I continue to put arm in front
of arm, again and again in hopes of finding a land to call my home, I am comforted in the
fact that a home is a place where we can be ourselves. And my home is my skin that
wraps around me safely and securely.
This is how I exist. This is how I inspire. This is how I respond to “but what for?”
It’s for this.
Short description of myself:
My name is Vanessa, but I prefer to go by V. I have been journaling and writing poetry since I was 8 years old and am now finally finding my voice writing my stories about living and learning overseas. I'm a yoga teacher by day, and a fire dancer by night which matches my Gemini twin sign perfectly. Movement is medicine for me and I write all about how I have found myself in it. Follow my blog or learn how and where you can take a class with me at www.mermaidyogaadventures.com and you can find me on Instagram @mermaidyogaadventures .