Yogi Aaron Shares His Passion For Yoga and Travel Plus His Top Packing Tips

Yogi Aaron

My name is Yogi Aaron, and I am a yoga teacher, and now own a beachfront yoga retreat on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica.

I was born in Victoria, Canada. Later, I ended up living in Vancouver, which is where I tell people I am originally from. I was lucky to have an adventurous childhood that brought me to a place just outside Edmonton Alberta where I snowshoed, took part in dogs sled races, canoed through northern Canada, and hiked through the Rocky Mountains.

I later moved to New York City, where I lived for 10 years. It was in New York, that my life really began to take shape. It was there that I started an underground naked yoga movement for men that would, over the following 10 years, spread to the rest of the world.

My time in NYC was spent building a supportive community of men who celebrated each other’s unique brilliance while exploring the depths of our consciousness in yoga practice. When I was not spending my time doing this, I was creating an online presence through filming DVDs. Probably the most famous DVD I ever made was Hot Nude Yoga Tantra.

Yoga, obviously, is my biggest passion and interest. I have spent the last 30 years of my life investing myself into studying it and using it as a tool to penetrate the vast unknown parts of my conscious. I use yoga as a tool to understand the mysteries of my life and the universe we live in.

Aside from yoga, I love to travel. Traveling and exploring this world is my next biggest passion. Life is my teacher, and the world is my classroom. It is here that I truly start to put to test everything I learn in yoga.

In traveling, one of my favorite things to do is to go hiking. I love to hike and traverse throughout the mountains. For me hiking is not only physically challenging, but I embrace the mental and spiritual challenge it offers as well.

I also love to eat and explore wines.

Yogi Aaron
in Greece

How and why did you get into traveling and yoga?

My yogic path began when I was 18. After I graduated from boarding school, I moved home with my Mum and my stepdad. (They would continue to embrace me for the next nine years, until I would eventually leave the nest to forge my own path. And I never looked back.) It was at that moment that I started to form a relationship with my body.

Yoga has the ability to take us deep within ourselves – within our body. And the deeper I went, the more I wanted to learn. It would honestly be another 11 years until I met my real first teacher, but until that time, I read a lot of books and took a lot of classes.

And then I started to teach.

Yogi Aaron

Initially, I viewed yoga only as a way to make extra money and attract new wellness clients to my coaching wellness business; I had no intention of becoming a yoga teacher.

But after a handful of classes, something began to stir deep within me. I had begun practicing yoga as a way to remain limber–yet what I gained from my new dedication was so much more: enhanced clarity and purpose, something I wanted to experience even more of in my daily life. I began to lose interest in the objects and pleasures that had once made me happy. I didn’t disconnect from the world; instead I noticed that the more I practiced yoga, the more my happiness sprang from within. I began to better understand this world and to view others without being blinded by lust or judgment.

Yogi Aaron

I realized I was good at teaching–and yoga embodied the knowledge I was passionate about and trying to share with others. All my skills, the New Age thinking, everything imparted by my past teachers came together in this one ideology and inspired me to step fully into my potential.

It was all cemented a few months later when I went to Los Angeles in December, 1998 to study with Bryan Rest. In the class he greeted us:

“Nothing matters except the breath. I want you to remember the entire practice why you dragged your ass to yoga class. Remember that intention and breathe into it.”

Bryan is particular teacher had an uncanny ability to bring life into yoga, making me see the parallels between my approach to yoga and my approach to the everyday; if I could breathe through a difficult posture, I could also get through anything life presents. All of a sudden it clicked, and I knew that this was how I too should be teaching yoga, a no BS approach to the practice.

In that moment in L.A., I gained a clearer direction for my life; yoga would be my path.

Yogi Aaron

How do you finance your travels?

I did not come from a family with a lot of means. I did not come from wealth. In fact, quite the opposite was true. Both of my grandparents were in or a part of World War II and immigrated to Canada to raise their families. One of the expressions from my grandmother that still rings loudly in my ears is:

“Waste not, want not.”

As a child growing up, a vacation was taking a trip to the lake for the weekend and sleeping in tents. I once asked my mother why were never went to Hawaii for Christmas, or some far off destination. He reply was,

“Because you will never appreciate it or remember it.”

While I completely agree with her, my feeling was because they never had money to take us.

As I got older, I kept asking myself, “How can I craft a life where travel becomes part of who I am?” As my yoga career started to blossom, I thought about leading retreats in different parts of the world, and quickly discovered that there were a plethora of people who wanted to travel with me.

Leading retreats around the world became a constant for me. I have led retreats in Hawaii, Australia, Bali, Thailand, France, Sedona, and of course, Costa Rica as well as many locations in the US.

I had one particular student, who lived in Australia, who came on several retreats with me. I once asked him why he did. He answered:

“HNY retreats were about the community and friendships that you created by bringing like-minded guys from all around the world to share a moment in time, the love of yoga and the experience of beautiful cultures and places.”

Yogi Aaron

How do you bring your things with you?

My #1 rule when I travel is to travel light. As light as possible!!!! Less is more.

People who bring a lot of stuff are simply masking a fear that is based on an illusion. They can not imagine how they will live without their “stuff”.

Additionally, I have had so many things go missing in “checked” baggage that I do not like to check baggage any more. And so, no matter where I go, I only bring bags that can be “carry on”.

An interesting point – no matter how little I bring, I only use about 1/2 of what I bring anyway. It amazes me that there are items of clothes that I never use the entire trip.

How do you organize things in your bags?

When it comes to organizing my clothes and the things I need, it really depends on how long I am going for and where I am traveling to. One of the hardest trips I planned for what a trip I just took last May. I went away for five weeks starting April 21 until May 26. I started in England, then went to Belgium, onto Rome, then northern Spain, to Bordeaux, and then onto Madrid. The different climates I was going to have to deal with varied a lot as well as the seasonal changes.

When I prepared for longer or more varied trips such as this one, I throw all of my clothes onto the bed that I think I will need, and then pull out what will actually fit into my bags. Once everything is packed into my bag, I take everything out again, put it on the bed, and see what else I can take out again.

Sometimes I will repeat this process three or four times.

Yogi Aaron

Any gear you wish you had brought with you from the beginning?

One of my biggest passions is scuba diving. I am actually about to depart for a trip to the Maldives for three weeks. So following my rule of traveling with as little as possible, I now rent equipment where ever I go. Of course I would prefer to us my own, but traveling light means making compromises a long the way.

What inspired you to write your book?

Thanks here have been a few accomplishments I am really proud of. One of them is in writing the story of my life, “Autobiography Of A Naked Yogi.”

Yogi Aaron

As I was writing it, I was continuously amazed. Did these things really happen to me?

I remember thinking to myself as a child how ordinary my life was, that there was nothing spectacular about me. I saw myself as a regular kid growing up in a regular home, dreaming of a regular life. I’m not sure when I realized this wasn’t the case, that my existence was not going to be “normal.” Yet somewhere along the way it dawned on me: my life was to be different.

I believe in my heart and with every fiber of my being that each of us is extraordinary, here on earth to fulfill a unique purpose. All of us experience struggles, pain and sorrow–and hopefully joy in equal measure. What we do with it all–the good and the bad–becomes our story.

My book became my unique story.

My story is their to remind all of us that the possibilities of life are there for all of us, but often we forget. We forget what we are capable of, how to dream, to have courage to take the next step in our lives. We just forget.

I hope my book, my story, serves as a reminder of all what is possible for you.

Yogi Aaron

What is your best advice for other adventurers and travelers?

Making your dreams come to fruition is becoming easier and easier today. The world is getting smaller and smaller and the chance to take advantage of opportunities is increasing. Everywhere you look, there are small jobs, big jobs, volunteer opportunities, and work exchanges all around the world. So if you are a flexible person who can adapt to change and different situations, get out there and see a new place.

One of my favorite quotes from “The Fellowship Of The Ring”

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

The adventure of travel and leading yoga retreats led me to Costa Rica. And that lead me to finding the property that would one day become Blue Osa.

It happened when my driving companion (my then student, now Blue Osa’s co-owner) and Adam spotted a beat-up Century 21 sign, we intuitively pulled over. As we exited the car, three dogs and one angry French woman immediately began to bark at us. “No, go away!” she said. And so we did. But something told us not to give up so easily. We found a realtor. Toured the property. And… It was a MAJESTIC MESS! Well-meaning friends and family said don’t do it. The costs needed to get the place into gear seemed astronomical and all too risky, considering we were against the idea of partnering with investors from the get-go. But it just felt right. And like we always tell our students, “The bigger your faith, the bigger your life.” So, we went all in. Invested every last cent.

Take a leap of faith is sometimes all you have.

Too many of us are caught up in failure versus success. There is too much silly shame in failure. And by silly, I mean ridiculous. I wrote this one time:

“Begin to eliminate the words failure, success, achievement, win and anything else like these from your vocabulary.
Call every experience LIFE and be glad you have one.
Treat every experience with complete equanimity. Practice gratitude everyday. Thank everyone and the divine for all the experiences they bring you.”

If you can embrace all that is life. If you can truly do this, you will never again be disappointed by what greets you in your day.

Something I read once:

“It is our privilege as humans to experience failure. It is part of the human experience to fall flat on our face, not once, not twice, but several thousand times. I am so thankful for it.
There is great joy in being rejected, in hearing no, and in being ignored.
It is in the journey of that effort, that my life is given purpose and meaning.
It is in the journey of that effort, I am reminded that I am truly alive.”

What will the future bring?

Now, I am starting to settle down a little. JUST a little. I am focusing more of my time in Costa Rica. I am planning to adopt a child in the next year. I am also focusing my energy on teaching yoga again. In opening Blue Osa, I became more of a general manager. Now I am returning to teaching yoga.

My greatest passion right now is leading our One-Month Immersions. It is here that I see people genuinely conquer their fears and take big steps in their lives.

Life is a manuscript, and the author of that manuscript is that which you are…. e beginning and the ending of this manuscript are missing. You do not consciously know from where you have come; you do not know where you will go,” – Swami Rama.

Yogi Aaron

Visit Yogi Aaron on his personal website, on his retreat and spa website, and follow him on Facebook.

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