Week 3: “A year is a long time to walk.”
Name: Bess Prescott
Profession: Travelling yogini, occasional writer, adventurer
Website: No website (yet!) but you can check out some of my travel writing on www.elephantjournal.com
RUNTASTIC: Hey Bess, welcome to our FUNtastic Four interview series, it’s great to have you with us. How are you? To start with can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am definitely a little bit crazy. When I quit my job to travel the world alone and gratify my yoga obsession, I got a few sideways looks… but I’ve always lived a little unconventionally, so my friends understood that I needed to go.
RUNTASTIC: Let’s just jump right in there with our next question. I’ve read in one of your recent travel blog stories that you quit a corporate lawyer job in 2011 to start an adventurous trip around the world. So how did that happen? How did you get to that point of turning your life upside down?
I’ve been practicing yoga since I was 15 – I was sports-obsessed so when I picked up my mum’s yoga video one day I found an incredible way to quiet my mind and balance out my body, and I haven’t looked back. I did my first teacher training in 2011 in Australia, started teaching (nights and weekends around my “real“ job) soon after and absolutely loved it. Teaching fulfilled a dream of mine and showed me that anything is possible – life is too short to sit at a desk. And adventure is in my blood: my dad is a sailor and my mum met him on an island when she was a young, care-free traveller. So I was always fated to be an explorer.
RUNTASTIC: So what does yoga mean for you?
Everything is yoga. The word means “union“, so to practice yoga is to recognise the essential unity in our world, and to act accordingly: without judgment, and with complete acceptance of things as they are. Our bodies are our most accessible form of reference to the world, so if I can be on my mat and see that there is no “good“ or “bad“ in my yoga practice, then maybe I can learn to stop judging myself and the world around me. My yoga mat holds up a mirror to my state of mind, so I can see my reactions and learn that everything I do or feel is a choice.
RUNTASTIC: Coming back to your trip, can you tell us a bit more about the most memorable parts of your trip? What was your number 1 highlight?
My highlight was the month spent volunteering at Manjushree Vidyapith, an incredible orphanage/school in India. I got to work with the most beautiful children in the world while gaining an incredible insight into Tibetan Buddhism. I spent a month there teaching yoga to the kids, getting them to practice their English, playing volleyball with the seniors and eating a lot of momos! It was a life-changing experience to be able to make a difference in the lives of these incredible children, and affirmed my decision to continue teaching yoga rather than going back to the corporate world. I discovered the secret of happiness, that Rabindranath Tagore described so beautifully: “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.“
RUNTASTIC: What did you learn at your high-flying corporate job that helps you now for the nonprofit world?
My years as a corporate lawyer taught me invaluable lessons about people and modern society. Most importantly, I learnt that so many people are unhappy because they are unfulfilled – that is, they are not fulfilling their potential and thereby making the world a better place. And why don’t they change things? Because they are scared. Every single person has something unique and invaluable to give to the world. It’s just that very few of us realise it, and even fewer have the courage to do it. I discovered that there is really nothing to be afraid of – it’s not like we’re going to make it out of here alive, anyway!
RUNTASTIC: You are a very inspiring person for sure but that said what inspires YOU? What fuels you to do everything you do right now?
I’m inspired by the desire to help others – to heal their bodies and find peace in their minds, or at least give them the tools to be able to deal with stressful situations and not let it affect their health and wellbeing. And other people inspire me: people who are living their lives with passion and purpose, following their dreams with full commitment and doing it all for somtething bigger than themselves.
RUNTASTIC: Have this trip changed your goals in life? Do you have any specific goals for the future? What are they?
This trip has shown me that anything is possible: if I want to create something good in the world, and I put everything I have towards that, then it can happen. My current goal is to teach yoga full-time, help as many people as I can to connect with their bodies and live a mindful life.
RUNTASTIC: So what do you think would be different today if you hadn’t taken that trip around the world?
I would probably still be sitting at my desk in an expensive suit wrestling with a pile of contracts, frustrated and unfulfilled, waiting for the weekend and dreaming of adventure….
RUNTASTIC: If you could give any advice to our users from what you’ve learned from your adventureous trip around the world, what would it be?
Life is short. Live your dreams. F**k the risks.