Yoga Van Life
How life on the road brings yoga into my everyday life. By Suzanne Borovcova Photos by Pierre Guilbaud
Reading time: 6 minutes
For Suzanne Borovcova, yoga means home, peace and a safe space to grow — but only metaphorically speaking. That’s because it is life on the road and the daily change of environment that helps her truly live and experience the yoga philosophy on and off the mat. She is currently living the yoga van life on the open road with her photographer partner, Pierre Guilbaud. Follow her journey here in these images, in which she also shares in her own words some of the insights gleaned from living the yoga van life.
“To be on the road, discovering nature, people and cultures with all their languages and beliefs has always been my dream,” she tells OM. “I like to leave an impact everywhere I go, by sharing my passion for yoga and conscious living. It somehow all clicked when I met my boyfriend, who is an outdoor photographer and who had already been living in the van for some time. Our view on life matched and we decided to discover this beautiful planet together, having our small home with us and being grateful for the freelance work that allows us to be outside for much of our time, enjoying the nature that surrounds us.”
Yoga can be done truly anywhere, it’s only on us deciding when and where we want to hold our practice. This fact gives me such relief and freedom to discover the world. Since I have been travelling and road-tripping (already for some years now), I have done my yoga practice every morning no matter where I am – sometimes I find myself by beautiful lakes, mountains or the ocean, and sometimes I wake up at a parking spot, just next to the road.
But my practice is still there, waiting to wake me up and prepare for the day. During the warm months or in a warm destination it is a bit easier to find the perfect yoga spot — nature is calling and waiting for us with open arms to reconnect with her and practice outdoors. For me, that is the best spot for my practice. The perfect and endless yoga studio. This possibility of being outside, breathing the fresh air, and using our senses to truly feel the place, adds another dimension to my practice.
During our type of slow travelling, there is no schedule, no plans and we rarely know where we’ll end up. Slow travel is my favourite way how to travel. You need nothing more than time and patience. In my opinion, that's the only way to fully tune in to the place you are in, the nature around you and meet with local people and explore their culture. It gives you a deeper experience that you wouldn't find through travel guides. I love that, but I also need a little stable point in my day. And that’s yoga for me. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning. It’s the best medicine for my body and mind, it’s always with me whenever I am getting lost in life or in my day.
Life is simple when we know what makes us happy. In our case, it is nature, sports and yoga. The best all together. So why seek more? This little home we have, our van, allows us to be close to it all the time. Simply just by opening one door. Maybe one day we will want to change our lifestyle and settle down, who knows? But I am quite sure that, currently, this is the perfect home situation we could ever dream of.
This has happened to me already so many times. We ended up in a beautiful spot to sleep with multiple other travellers like us. I do my sunrise morning routine, alone, everyone else is still sleeping. During the day, we exchange a few talks and the next morning, instead of waking up alone, there are suddenly four of us, practicing sun salutations together! I love sharing my passion, inspiring and creating moments like this.
Among other similarities between yoga philosophy and our van life is the act of non-attachment. In the van, it is mostly to things and places. Our backyard is unlimited. Conversely, the inside space we have is very limited. That means not buying useless things. It applies to everything, from clothes to food. Indeed, our outdoor sports gear takes up a bit of space, but luckily, for yoga, nothing is needed. It’s all within you (maybe a mat, but my travelthin mat is light and doesn't take up much room!)
By living in a van, I’ve learnt how much water we use in our daily life. In a real house, we almost don't realise it (only when we pay the bills at the end of the month!). But here, if we didn’t pay attention to our usage, our full tank (100 litres) would disappear in a flash. And so we care. Partly because searching for water streams every day is a bit annoying and also because we know that the water on this planet is precious and we want to leave it to nature as much as possible. And, in the end, the cold morning swims/showers in the Scandinavian lakes and rivers start to have a very beautiful charm as well.
What a wonderful world! Exploring new places out there in nature, every day, thanks to our mobile home. Exploring new inner adventures, feelings and the asana’s impact on me, thanks to yoga and meditation practice. This creates the needed balance and reset point for the mind after (or before) all our new experiences. Through this reset, we store them nicely inside and we get grounded and prepared for what happens next.
A few tips on how to stay true to your daily practice while travelling:
- Travel slow
- Nature is the perfect yoga spot
- Take your travel mat with you
- Wake up before others to have the peace and solo time for your practice
- Create a small routine to get grounded before going to bed
- Try a local studio in a local language
- Create unusual connections through yoga with your fellow travellers