It’s been very interesting teaching yoga / being present at events around the world, doing the exact same thing in different contexts. Here are some things i noticed.
Germany: incredibly honest. People are mostly comfortable talking about their suffering and dont feel like failures for admitting it. But they are all completely exhausted
China / shanghai: high performance, speed, sincerity, respect for teacher, great listening, phone addiction, everyone had new clothes. High value on flexibility, often over-educated in sanskrit etc. Not unusual to meet people with a 3hr daily practice who never sees other people
California: bright and cheery, won’t admit to suffering, hard to break through to something real, common to meet people who get enraged easily, obsessed with image
New Zealand: muted, sluggish, dull, friendly, interested in morning tea, gleeful and self-congratulatory, high levels of “trying to be a good person-ism”, lots of swearing
Bali: huge mix of nationalities, often people running away from something that’s gone wrong at home, but very sincere, more attractive than average, open to learning, proactive, diverse, hopeful, optimistic, hedonistic, deluded, appreciative. Not as bad as i thought it would be
Russia: completely insane
Manchester: some kind of outpatient clinic. The ruins of a civilisation. Heartbreaking. Kindly. Emotionally deprived and underprivileged
Japan: overwhelmingly gender segregated. Hysterical respect for the teacher, like a pop star. Buttoned down, people suffering from social expectations. Exhausted
Spain: family mood. Lively. Shared food as part of every event. Celebration. Intimate. Excited. Easily swept into trends
Thailand (hedonist island full of foreigners):
Polyamorist nightmare, aggressive gymnastics, lost souls, a few gems, an overlay, natural beauty, unhappy attractive people pretending to have a good time, surreal, normal rules dont apply
Perth Australia: people less self-conscious than average, love being naked anytime, really funny classes, sensitive people have to stick together, & recognise each other in a harsh culture of racism and alcoholism.
Rural fiji: super christian, scared of any connotations with witchcraft, relaxed and yet exhausted, everyone needs a sleep, hard to take a deep inhale. Kids everywhere joining in, family mood, fun, not too serious
Switzerland: nervous breakdowns all round when we were three minutes late to class
Rigid on rules, plainspeaking, direct, friendly
Saying “but didnt you make the rules up” upsets people
Crete: glorious, very sincere yoga teachers, battling against religious prejudice against yoga.
Naturally very yogic diet
Not too much problems with excessive struggle in their practice
Nicest air
Israel: soulful and anxious. Struggle in the bodies. Serious, down to business, yoga is not a hobby. Depth but quiet, direct
South China: incredible depth & sincerity, not embarrassed to say the most beautiful cheesy things, very loud in chanting, most people comfortable singing in group or by selves, respect for teacher, showers of gifts, so much elegant flowing linen, hungry and open. Phone addicted!
Mysore, India : weirdly enough, hungry for yoga. Often burnt & disillusioned by charlatans preying on westerners looking for gurus. Strong pressure on career success & survival. We’d often attract rebels who hadnt got married to plan etc & need support & global friends. Joyful
Netherlands: proudly openminded, sometimes to the point of not noticing areas of not being openminded. Hard to shock. Educated, informed, overworked, bodies full of tension & hardworking effort to become better
Naive & dorky
Singapore: slick and organised, buttoned down, well-behaved, money was good, bodies full of precision movements, lots of enthusiastic young women in tight pants, stylish, v few men, not much interest in becoming soft
Ok last one
Slovenia: embarrassingly grateful that we came at all, open-minded, radical, ok with calling the workshop “teaching without power structures”, struggle in bodies (recent war leaves traces), trouble inhaling, serious, sincere, US gymnastics has not fully infiltrated.
I forgot Ireland:
Dublin - trendier than expected, eclectic, warm, frazzled group, yes there is voluminous talk, a few ‘tigers’ just completely addicted to self-improvement, a lot of nervous glee over silly neo-tantra stuff
Northern ireland v different:
Emotionally sober, hilarious, serious about tools to undo trauma, tension in faces, hospitable, heavy, warm, many at breaking point & so giving the gift of total honesty which broke everyone’s heart open, serious about healing relationship w alcohol
Festivals is a whole other can of worms for another day

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