Yoga found me at 23, an expatriated kindergarten teacher in Thailand escaping a Western world that confused and frustrated me. Yoga took me by surprise, led me by the hand and came with me when I moved to Cambodia a year later.
I moved to Cambodia for no reason at all, except that it called. It was a mystery, filled with questions I didn’t know how to answer, a past I could not understand, and a chaos that seduced me. Cambodia is a land of imagination for expats like me: what you truly desire comes to light and becomes the world you live in. I desired to heal a confused heart.
Cambodia is a temperamental guardian spirit that must be honoured, tolerated, obeyed and survived. She will give you your dreams, then steal your wallet and rob your house, and then reveal to you the most profound beauty a soul can hope to see. Cambodia is also hungry for love, despite her petulant violence.
I opened a yoga studio in Cambodia to find other people to practice with, and a community of powerful-hearted students grew up around me and showed me a different way of being in the world. They gave me strength to teach and deepen my inquiry. We sweated and stretched ourselves together in a land of do-it-yourself World-making and together we believed that a yoga studio was needed in a place like Phnom Penh, full of pain but determined to transform old ideas into new visions. My students convinced me. I transformed. I learned to hear what my heart wanted, and discovered that I had the power to realise it.
Before leaving Cambodia I invited a group of young Cambodians from backgrounds of human trafficking, abuse, violence and neglect, to study with me full time. I wanted to enable for them a transformation and healing through yoga that Cambodia had enabled for me.
Four years later, these young adults are the first Cambodian yoga teachers. They run their own yoga NGO that provides body and spirit-based classes to the general public, outreach classes to disadvantaged children in NGOs, and teens in need of trauma therapy. They are teaching the second generation of yoga instructors now, and use on their income as yoga teachers to support young brothers and sisters so they can go to school.
I first knew this group of spiritual adventurers and heroes as kids who were frustrated and hurt by a world that made no sense. Through yoga and the power of community, they have transformed. They are now healers and vision holders, and are passing this transformative light on to others.