What I Learned Teaching Yoga In Antarctica
“Antarctica has this mythic weight. It resides in the collective unconscious of so may people, and it makes this huge impact, just like outer space. It’s like to the moon.” — Jon Krakauer
Having the opportunity to be a yoga and wellness guide aboard a ship in Antarctica was a dream come true as i always wanted to be a successful yoga teacher training enthusiast. My senses were alive and heighted by its spectacular beauty. To be able to experience the pristine waters, the icebergs and the wildlife — and to breathe and feel the crisp, clean air — felt like gift. There was a very special energy that came with the incredible journey, which I can only describe as a sense of lightness. Time and space just felt different there. Yoga and meditation definitely have a place at the bottom of the world.
As I felt the ship start to make to make its way for Ushuaia (the southern most tip of Argentina), I could feel the indescribable excitement of not really knowing what was about to come my way. Starting the descent, with the ship sailing to the bottom of the earth, I only knew to surrender to the moment and be grateful.
In Antarctica, I was surrounded by its one-of-a kind beauty and mystery. Being overwhelmed by nature really allows one to see things from a different, better perspective. My mind felt at peace here; my breathing was easy and my vision was clearer. Looking around Antarctica, you realize that there is so much left for us to learn from Mother Nature and the universe.
“The thing that is most beautiful about Antarctica is the light. It’s like no other light on Earth, because the air is so free of impurities. You get drugged by it like when you listen to one of your favourite songs. The light there is a mood enhancing substance.”— Jon Krakauer
A part of my role as yoga teacher training and wellness guide, I taught passengers yoga on a daily basis, and had the benefit of having meals with them as well. As much as they learned from me, I learned from them.
The passengers came from all over the world; some were hoping to accomplish visiting their 7th and last continent, while others were working on fulfilling personal bucket lists. It was humbling to connect with everyone and listen to their stories. I believe we are all connected. There is a richness in everyone’s story, as we are all humans sharing in the human experience.
Needless to say, practicing yoga first thing in the morning was a great way to start the expedition. Being able to open the body and experiencing deep breathing before embarking on a new adventure helped deepen the connections with nature and to one another.
We spotted penguin colonies, whales, seals, seabirds and fauna, just to name a few. Yoga and meditation helped keep the guests and crew in the moment, grounding them and deepening their experiences.
The polar plunge — in which you jump into the freezing-cold water, with temperatures at around -1 celsius — was, surprisingly, one of my favourite experiences in Antarctica. The frigid water becomes almost a place of healing. Letting go and being in the moment is part of this exhilarating thrill.
Life can be rich with experience if you allow it. Combining adventure with yoga, mindfulness and meditation can help forge a deeper sense of meaning — and this is just the tip of the iceberg.