The Yoga of Place


I’m at Watarrka, in thesis isolation mode, uploading this post via a very slow satellite internet connection. I know that most people who read this blog (Jammiegirl excepted) won’t comprehend the remoteness of where I am or the reasons why I can’t post easily. In the rest of Australia and certainly in the US, there’s mobile phone reception and ADSL everywhere. Here, where I am, we don’t even have a corner store, let alone mobile phone reception. ADSL is a just a sick joke. Look Watarrka up on Google Earth. I’m in one of the most remote places on Earth.

Nonetheless, when I look out the window where I’m sitting, I can see the scene that’s the blog’s header picture above: King’s Canyon (Watarrka). There are no hoons screaming past my house, there are none of the streetlights that Alice Springs HAS TO HAVE on every bloody power pole in the interests of ‘safety’ (for whom and what, I don’t know). Instead, there are Desert Oaks, Spinifex, Eremophila and Acacia species in winter bloom (it’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere) and the ever-changing colours of the sun playing on Watarrka’s walls and angles.

This place is YOGA. It is deeply, deeply spiritual and highly conducive to PhD writing, reflection and thought.

gibber and spinifex

There is nothing you could give me that would make me swap my remoteness with city life.  No money, no material goods. No offers of eternal happiness. This remoteness, this yoga of place, is something – contentment, union, wholeness- that city life can never ever give. This is where insights happen. Where growth happens.

Where your world is taken apart and reconstructed, one tiny bit at a time…

When I live in a town or a city, I begin to die. It is always the way with me. I do not expect you to understand, nor is this a critique of your life. Cities and towns are where the life is slowly (or quickly) sucked from me. The bush, the mountains, the desert (but ironically, never the seashore where the city folk bring their ‘stuff’) nourish me, make me whole, give me the union and strength and courage to go on.

Along time ago, in my childhood, I knew this. When I am depressed, the bush and desert heal me. I find the small, quiet voice within. The watcher. It speaks to me in silence, compassion, non-judgement – never in the streets or busyness of the city, but ever so effortlessly here, and ever louder, surrounded by nature.

Here, my life is writ large and effortlessly. What must be done comes easily, races from my fingers to the glow of the computer screen, from tiny stirrings within to my conscious thoughts like liquid light. I am filled, flooded, with inspiration, energy, peace.

Stripped bare, I find me. Who I am. What I am.

And most importantly, what I am not.

No white noise. No noise.

This is the yoga of place.


4 thoughts on “The Yoga of Place

  1. What beautiful pictures! The city also slowly eats away at myself, no matter how much I love the bustle, after a few months I get cranky, irritable and clausterphobic.

    I need the ocean, but not the tourists ocean, the isolated, rough, unforgiving ocean.

  2. Wowza! I sooo have to come and visit you guys and entice you to take me to Watarrka, not that it sounds like a difficult thing to do! 😉

    Its beautiful.

    Although throughout my grown up life, I’ve always lived in and around cities (although preferrably close to nature in some way – oceans, nature reserves), I get what you’re saying.

    I find I experience a real buzz when in nature. An absolute high, and I find my thoughts speak in poetry rather than prose. And, if I don’t get away often enough from the urban world I know, I suffer too.

    Living in the wilds of Thailand last year was the best experience I’ve ever had, in terms of waking up every day to such beauty and naturalness.

    I think to some extent whether we know it or not, all people crave that contact with nature (think of all those suburban gardeners). And when we don’t have that on some level, things get antsy.

    Beautiful piece of writing, I got a real sense of the primal kind of love you have for this place!

  3. I’ve just started a yoga blog and stumbled across yours. I was wondering about this issue yesterday. Part of yoga is to center yourself within, not to let the noise around us penetrate, to give the mind prevalence over the senses.

    So I stand in Tadasana, so willing to completely surrender to the experience, and dogs bark, the point I fixate is not in the distance but on the wall of my small place barely five feet away…. And the immersion, not surprisingly, never turned up quite the way I hoped.

    Maybe it’s not altogether me and my lack of self-discipline. Maybe it’s place to a degree. This place isn’t yoga. It’s just plain every day. I’m sure I can bring more yoga into it. But it’s not easy.

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