When I was working in Antarctica, yoga and meditation were my ways to stay ‘grounded’ at sea. It might not have looked like it does in the brochures, with a yogini extending gracefully into natarajasana against a backdrop of iceberg-speckled seas - actually, it looked more like yoga during COVID-19, yogini alone in a little room, trying to find stillness amidst the chaos - but it did help.
Since COVID-19 took hold of our year, sometimes I feel like the world we live in is a bit like being on the ship.
Inside, the world feels small. Outside it feels vast but out of reach.
Some days feel still like a lake, others are filled with turmoil and rough seas.
Things feel so uncertain, so unstable, you never know when the next wave is going to come or where from. So how can we find stillness amidst this chaos?
I did have some beautiful moments doing yoga in Antarctica, meditating to the sound of penguin calls and glaciers calving. It was amazing, but my favourite moment was actually a morning of yoga sandwiched between a table and a wall in the office, stuck on the ship in the middle of a storm. The seas were big, about twelve metres, and I was lying on my back trying to ‘be still’. It wasn't working at all. There was nothing to do but laugh, and even though I didn't find stillness, I felt so good for making time and having a go. There was yoga in the laughter and lightness and acceptance of the chaos.
So as the world rocks and rolls around us, I’m trying to bring the same quality of lightness and acceptance to my yoga practice. It can be hard to stay grounded when things are constantly changing around us. But as long as we can show up, accept and have a little laugh at ourselves, we can find ourselves in yoga, an inner compass to guide us home.
Written by Nina Gallo, an Antarctic expeditions' historian, Yogini and adventurer in the Blue Mountains, NSW.
Since Covid-19, Nina has launched an online shop The Antarctic Shop to raise awareness and money for Antarctica and penguin advocacy and conservation projects. We especially love her Yoga tights, made ethically with gorgeous prints from her travels.