INTERVIEW WITH SARAH KINSLEY

_ Bora Ercan



I met Sarah in Bangkok in the summer of 2005. She had just come from Kathmandu and I was going to go there for the same purpose: Yoga. Though we did not spent much time together, we have become good friends and we have been keeping in touch by e-mails. Sarah and her boy friend are in the South of China, teaching English and yoga. I wanted to know more about the life over there by interviewing with Sarah and share with you.

Can you tell us how long you have been travelling and where you have been to? Where do you like most?

I have a bad case of wonderitious. I have been infected for a long time now. I left Canada when I was 18 years old. I worked in Kingston, Jamaica at an outreach center for elderly people with Leoparcy. I then moved to Central America to volunteer at local schools, learn to dive and speak Spanish. I was very lucky to get a job in the Osa Pennisula where the rainforest is especially rich.

After living in Costa Rica for a year and traveling around Central America I decided to take a job in Germany. I was a group leader responsible for taking German and Canadian students on exchanges. It was my first taste of Europe and I loved it.

After traveling around Europe I decided I was having too much fun and I better get back to school. I lasted 8 months at a small university in Canada studying Native, Environmental, Hispanic studies and working towards a Bachelor of Education. In the Spring, I hitched hiked across North America and back to school in the fall.

After my second year of studies, I worked on the Queen Charlotte Islands which are located in the Pacific Ocean near Alaska. I was researching the Native people's (The Haida) oral traditions and photographing the sacred land were the stories took place.

From there I headed to the Amazon River to learn more about a plant called Ayauasca which is used my Shamans throughout the area. I also had time to travel throughout South America.

I returned to Canada for my thrid year of univeristy which gave me time to prepare for my thesis research that would take me to the High Arctic to live with a group of Inuit hunters. My time in the far north was amazing. I am so grateful to have lived in the Arctic as it is not somewhere you get to go everyday.

I spent my last year of university in the Northern Thailand spending half my time at The University of Chaing Mai learning Thai and the other half visiting various Hill tribes to learn about there lives.

I finished my degree and traveled around South East Asia for awhile and made my way to Mother India. After that I returned to Jamaica to help run the program I had been part of 8 years ago.

I completed my Bachelor of Education through a practicum in Barclona, Spain. This allowed me to see more of Europe. I especially remember my time in Iareland as both my families are orignally from there.

I spent the next year in India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet studying Buddhist meditation and training to be a Yoga teacher.

That brings me to the present moment where I am teaching children at an International School and yoga at night in China.

You are in China and teaching English there currently. Can you compare and contrast education system between China and your country.

Technically, I am not teaching English in China. I am the second grade teacher at an International School for children from all over the globe whose parents are working in China. I love it because there are so many different cultures in one place and I get to learn about many countries. We follow an american curriculum so it is similar to teaching in Canada. Although I am grateful for this experience I now know my destiny is not to teach children but to teach yoga and be a university professor.

In China you must be having very good time, can you tell us about the nature, food, people and your pupils?

Believe it or not China is one of the hardest places I have ever lived because I find the language very hard to learn. In most countries you can get by with English but not in the area I am in right now. I live in a city called Qingdao, which is on the Yellow Sea between Beijing and Shanghai.

I am grateful to live within walking distance to the Yellow Sea and have found some great areas to hike. I live close to one of the five sacred Taoist mountians which is a great escape from the city. Being in nature is very meditative to me.

The Chinese in this area seem to love MSG and fried food so I end up cooking at home a lot. I consider myself a flexitarian and an opporartunavor but am still having a hard time going to the local DOG restaruant. For now, I will stick with my tofu and brocolli.

It is hard to tell you about the people becuase I can not speak their language. I am very curious to know what is going on in this country but its hard to tell with my lack of language skills and limited media in English. The Lonely planet for China is not even allowed as it mentions the Dalai Lama.

It is an interesting time to be in China as it is growing so fast and moving from communism to consummerism. In one city street, you can find all the designer name clothing and computers but also you find restarants serving dog and old folks doing Tai Chi in the park. If you look hard enough you can still find photos of Chairman Mao around.

Is yoga popular in Canada? As being a Canadian what is yoga for you and also what about christianity, jewish and islamic spirituality. Is there any parallelity between them all.

Yoga is very popular in Canada and it is becoming more mainstream everyday. I often worry that the essence of Yoga is being lost. It seems to be offtered at many popular gyms as a type of exericse hence losing its spirituality in the mean time. The first time I took a Yoga class I knew I was destined to teach it. Although, it was my first class , it came easy to me as if I had done it before. I left that class knowing one day I would train to teach in India.

Yoga for me is not just about holding a pose –its a way of life. In the original Yoga sutras by Pantanjali (a saint from India) it states that there is 8 limbs to the Yogic life and unfortuntly in the west we tend to think of Yoga as just the physical postures (Asanas- 3rd limb). There is more to Yoga then this. Once should take into account their relationship with themselves, their community and the environment, thier breath, their meditation, their diet and thier connection with God (what ever you precive him/her to be) to consider themselves a Yogi or a Yogini.

I believe the reason we say practicing Yoga is becuase it is practice for the real world. It is easy to be calm and centered in a quiet room with candles and soft music but can we take that practice off the mat and apply to everyday life?

Now, this is the true practice of yoga.

I have found through out the years with the help of Yoga and meditation that I am much more calm and centered in my daily round. I now wake up and crave yoga as much as I crave water or food. I believe the reason is becuase when I practice I connect with something deeper than my ego, something eternal and beautiful. This is something I do not want to lose touch with so I will continue to evolve by practice and study Yoga and meditation.

I really enjoying teaching Yoga as it gives me a chance to share this amazing gift I have found. It is remarkable to see the difference in my students from when they entered the class to when they leave. Yoga cross all borders and religions and goes directly to the human soul. It does not seem to matter where one is from or what form of religion they practice. We all have bodies and minds and it feels good to move them and open in ways that bring us closer to enlightment, closer to uniting with our higher selves and God.

The older I get the more aware I am that all roads lead to Rome as far as religions are concerned. We often think of the differences between this religion or that religion failing to see the similarites that unite us all as human beings. I believe Nelson Mandela understood this when he said, “The blood that unites us is thicker then the water that divides us”.

Someone once said “everything you need to know you learned in Kindergarten”. Right now, I am teaching my students about the Golden Rule. Every major religion in the world believes that we should treat others how we want to be treated. A simple thought yet profound. If only everyone could live by this-what a different world we would wake in.

What the image of the Eastern world on your mind. For example what about Turkey, our country?

I have a dream to visit Istanbul at sunrise. I will hold all comments until I walk on your soil and see for myself!!

What about your next step?

I will see where the wind blows me next but I have a feeling it will be back to school to get my Ph.D so I can teach at university and write books. I will continue to travel and teach Yoga.

Thank you

Namaste

Sarah kinsley

JANUARY 2006


Bora Ercan boraercan@yahoo.com
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