Getting Centred in Central Vietnam

This is what I’ve been waiting for. Central Vietnam – Da Nang and Hoi An. I expected pristine beaches, tropical vegetation, UNESCO heritage listed buildings and extraordinary people. I wasn’t disappointed. But before I continue, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the tragic effects of the Vietnam war on the people of Vietnam.

Prior to arriving, I knew little of the war. And I still don’t know much about it. But what I did learn and what impacted me the most, was the use of Agent Orange and the effect it is still having on the Vietnamese people. Without going into too much depth, Agent Orange is a herbicide that the American’s air-dropped throughout Vietnam to destroy plants and trees where Vietnamese troops could find refuge. They used more than 43 million litres of the deadly herbicide and though his happened more than 40 years ago, the effects continue to be catastrophic. And I don’t use that word lightly. No one can be sure how many people have been affected and how many more will be affected. And despite this, the people still have smiles on their faces and I felt welcomed with open arms.

Da Nang was home to one of the major airbases used in the war, but today it is becoming one of the most tourist-frequented places in Vietnam. A stroll down the boulevard by the river in the evening is world class, as is China beach. There is something about doing Yoga on the beach. The sound of waves lapping on shore, the smell of  salt in the air, but what I enjoy most is that you need to get a little dirty. The sand is uneven, it goes absolutely everywhere, every pose feels different and so does every experience. It reminded me to approach everything with a beginner’s mind, that we are all eternal students and we can learn something from every experience, even if it is a pose we’ve done a million times.

After 2 days in Da Nang, it was off to Hoi An. I don’t like playing favourites, but if I had to, Hoi An would be it. It was the first place where I can truly say I was consistently relaxed. The pace at which the town moved was delightful, the beaches were pristine, and the architecture is a beautiful fusion of native and international flavours. It is also a shoppers paradise, so pack light! What I truly loved about Hoi An, was that the locals moved at their own pace. There was very little rushing and a sense of complete presence in everything they did. Our Western society is so caught up on multi-tasking and doing everything quickly that we don’t actually DO what we are DOING. When we eat, we’re on our phones. When we walk, we’re thinking about where we’re going. Even when we sleep our minds are filled with thoughts….

So my challenge for you is to practice presence and see if you can approach the most seemingly mundane tasks with a beginners mind. I’d love to hear how you go via the Nourish Yoga facebook page.

Next stop Hanoi! To see what else I’ve been up to and what’s in store for the back half of my adventure around South-East Asia with ZenFlow, follow the Nourish Yoga blog.

Namaste!

Stillness in Saigon with ZenFlow

Vietnam has always been near the top of the bucket list for me. The picturesque views of Ha Long Bay and landscapes of central Vietnam are among the world’s best. But I must admit, I’ve never been a fan of large Asian cities. Most are loud, polluted, congested, my personal space gets constantly invaded and my senses overloaded. So as you can imagine, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) was always going to be an interesting experience! In some ways, Saigon is all of these things, but there is something harmonious about the madness. Yoga (union) can be found everywhere. But there have been 2 distinct instances, both very different from each other, that I have felt this vast sense of spaciousness similar to that found in meditation.

My first experience was on the back of a motorbike. I must admit it was nice to be on the other side of the chaos. Crossing a road in a city with over 5 million motor bikes and incessant honking feels like a life threatening experience… Every. Single. Time. But the traffic is like a moving organism, a well oiled machine. It is honestly a spectacle. Though people don’t really obey road rules and there are no such thing as lanes, it all just works. Someone speeds up, the other slows down. You drive on the other side of the road, others go around you. And all this happens just centimetres apart from each other. Like a flock of birds, there are little to no collisions and road rage just doesn’t exist. I’ve never felt so calm and safe in or on a vehicle. Everyone moving together as one – it was simply magical.

The second experience was on a rooftop of a building I found down an inconspicuous little lane way off the main drag. If you think Melbourne has awesome rooftop bars and grungy lane ways, you aint seen nothing yet! I was alone, the air was fresher, the breeze was light, it was about to rain, and the noise of the city slightly muffled – I had never felt so present. The vastness of the city and the 360 view of the never ending landscape of buildings helped me feel spacious and surprisingly grounded. It felt like my heart was beating with the pulse of the city and we were one in the same. Very cool.

Yoga seems to have stuck pretty close to its roots here in Saigon. Hatha, Vinyasa, Iyengar and philosophy classes was all I found and I thoroughly appreciated how they respected the tradition. Poses were instructed in Sanskrit and most people didn’t use mats. Thankfully, I had my ZenFlow Air with me. Humid weather and my sweaty palms does not make for steadiness and ease! Coming soon – my official review of ZenFlow’s Air.

Next stop, Da Nang in central Vietnam. Famous for being one of the cleanest cities in the world with exquisite beaches and marble mountains, you don’t want to miss out on what’s coming next! Follow my blog  to see where else I land in South-East Asia!