Seeking Shanti in Spain

My love of the ocean, combined with my obsession with travel and yoga, means I am constantly thinking of ways I can combine all three. For a long time I have played with the idea of teaching at a surf camp somewhere in the world but the idea of being a vegan, straight edge yogi amongst hoards of drunken teenagers was never entirely appealing. That was until I found the surf camp that yogi dreams are made of!

I came across Dreamsea Surf Camp on my usual trolling of the Internet. I was looking MG_8227into different options in Europe and teaching in Spain was definitely at the top of my list: hot weather, beaches and conversing in Español… Perfect! A brief Skype conversation with the boss had me convinced that this was the place for me. All night partying and deep fried food had been replaced with culture trips, relaxing in hammocks and fresh healthy meals. Add yoga to this mix and it was destined for great things.

Fast forward a couple of months and I was making the journey from Australia to Spain. My laptop was loaded with e-books, a list of blog ideas, a thick journal and a strong desire to spend time searching for my peaceful place, my ‘Shanti’. I only had to teach one hour per day and I had great visions of using my free time wisely to reflect, learn, meditate, write and of course spend some time tanning, surfing and enjoying the local area.

My arrival at camp consisted of a line of tight hugs and big smiles from all of the team which instantly made me feel welcome. Within a couple of days I felt like I had known11693980_789525461146386_4689330774345889422_n these people all my life. I had sung, danced and laughed with them without feeling the slightest bit of embarrassment or discomfort. I don’t remember any time in my life that I have ever felt so comfortable in the company of complete strangers. So it is not surprising that before long I found myself being sucked into camp life. Staying up late, daytime siestas, goofing around with guests and staff, surfing, slacklining, ping pong tournaments, bike rides, paddleboarding, dancing in local bars… You get the idea. There was a lot of fun and much less reading, writing and reflecting than I had envisioned.

Then after two weeks at camp I spoke to my sister and she told me “You seem different… More laidback… Like the old Kirsty”… Cue panic! What did she mean? What had happened to me? Was I reverting back to ‘the old Kirsty’? Is ‘new Kirsty’ not laidback? I decided to write in my journal and realised that it had been over a week since I last wrote! I started to feel worried… Had I lost sight of what is important? It was as if I had pushed my spiritual practice aside for this life of fun and games.

After some reflection with a friend I suddenly realised that I was being way too hard on myself. I still made time for yoga, I still practiced mindfulness, love and compassion. I didn’t drink, I was sill vegan… I was still ‘me’. But I came to the conclusion that Shanti (peace) is not about always being disciplined or studying or meditating and all of these beautiful things. Shanti is a place of equilibrium. A place of peace. Perhaps my life had become so structured and disciplined that I needed this experience to teach me to laugh and be silly and do seemingly mindless things. Maybe yoga had allowed me to connect with myself but I needed time to remember that it is just as powerful to connect with others too.

So after three weeks in Spain I feel myself learning more about my Shanti more and more. Every day I move closer to that place of equilibrium. A place where I can love deeply, live fully and laugh loudly but still stay connected to myself and the source. Lucky for me, I have two more months in paradise to explore further.

The moral of this story? Sometimes what you think you need and what you actually need are two very different things. So do something that scares you, stop taking life so seriously and definitely don’t stop playing.




Kirsty is a passionate vegan, gyspy-spirit, summer-chasing anatomy nerd who loves kirtan, AcroYoga, dancing, random acts of kindness, being in nature, and being upside down. You can catch Kirsty somewhere around the world sharing what she loves.

Yoga Trade Gets Us Started

When Jenny suggested spending her birthday in Spain, I had no idea how we would afford such a trip, given our financial facts which included my decision to leave the business community and teach yoga for the last several years and Jenny’s continuing education, pursuing her doctorate in education, with an emphasis in Organization Change, our spending was reduced to necessities (what we need, not what we want). We were already living a simplified life with minimal income and expenses. We were not planning a vacation. We wanted a different way of living congruent with our core values.

It occurred to me that we could do volunteer work that might make travel affordable, trading our time for a DSCF8512bed and food. My first and only search was on Yoga Trade: Suryalila Yoga Retreat Centre in Andalucía, Spain. Within a short week or so, we heard back, Skype interview, and we’re in. We spent the most incredible three months doing so much more than we expected. The Suryalila job stated dish washing and clean up with general help in areas we may have experience.

We discovered an interest in sharing the Yoga Retreat Centre experience with the local community – a small town of 6,000 – Prado del Rey. Starting with 2 classes a week, one at the centre and one in town Jenny and I got local town people to translate and negotiate free space for the first community yoga class. Sundays in town and Wednesday evenings at the Centre with sunset and picnic options after. The first class was a huge success with over 30 at the Centre – many new to yoga!

While at Suryalila, we also provided a no cost yoga teacher training, coaching and support to individuals and Jenny provided business support and team leadership coaching to the Centre while helping to evaluate and install a new booking automated booking system.

Our efforts are over, for now, in Spain (90 day visa max) and we are working our way towards the Andaman Islands, India, (Thank you again Yoga Trade) sharing our knowledge of yoga, mindfulness and personal and business coaching with those who may benefit. Today, we are in Morocco teaching yoga at SurfMaroc (a Google search and several emails) and then the Andaman’s beginning November 1st pending work visa applications.

We left our home, our friends and families, to volunteer our time, experience and knowledge with others. We gave our possessions to family and friends who could make use, sold the car, and packed lightly with what was left. Clothing – mostly yoga. Although the days have been long, and the ambiguity of how we can keep this going longer is challenging, the experiences are incredible. Seeing the joy outside the United States that yoga and mindfulness training can bring to others is well beyond our initial beliefs.

Teaching others and teaching others to teach means more people will find moments of peacefulness in their lives – and the friendships we have developed will continue to spread this way of being around the world. We now have global relationships with too many to list, and invitations to keep up our efforts wherever we go DSCF9152including London, Dublin, Barcelona, Seville, Denmark, Washington DC, Italy, Austria and more. Traveling by foot, bus, rides from friends (Thank you* Javi), car loans (*Daniel, Harry, Thea & Gemma), travels to towns (*Emilio & Montse) to learn about local cultures, and by boat to Morocco – we are aware of our spending more than ever as getting from place to place is our major expense. We successfully launched a YouCaring fund raiser and are grateful to the friends that understand.

We have enjoyed the generosity and hospitably of many (*AJ, Lidiya & Paddy, David & Maria, Javi & his parents and many more) in efforts to keep sharing our mission to live a simpler life of service.

The road is our home for now.

Some of the unexpected: Warren did not plan on wearing out a pair of shoes in 3 months; riding the grape picker at sundown in the vineyard (*Mila!) Javi’s dog eating a kilo of the best Granada chorizo – tin foil and all – that we received as a gift (*Angel); Warren almost blowing up the truck teaching *Emma how to drive a manual transmission (*apologies Suryalila), 30 people showing up for the 1st community class from the town of Prado del Rey and then other towns (Villamartin, El Bosque joining in); the generosity of so many April-29-023(*Spanish people and immigrants); translation from so many including *Anja Dibbert, Academia Pradoventura Language School and her introductions to new yogi’s from around the world!! Jenny dancing like she was meant to . . . and so much more.


Sharing his personal experience with individuals & groups, Warren teaches yoga & meditation. His role with Sersano Wellness delivers Stress Management Programs to businesses promoting a Whole Person Approach: Meet people where they are & begin from there.