Josefine Bengtsson Is Living the Yogi Dream on a Paradise Beach in India
“I truly believe that when we arrive inside, we will automatically start living sustainably, take care of the environment – nature, animals, human beings – and think about future generations.”
Last year in March, my best friend went to India to participate in one of Yogiakademin’s retreats and basically came back a different person. Later, in the summer, we both went to spend a week at their retreat in Bretagne, France, and I can’t tell you exactly what happened to me, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt so good in my life. Seriously.
In about six weeks, we’re leaving again for a little paradise beach in south Goa, and I’m so excited to both check in with myself and to see the beautiful people who make this dream come true. One of them is Josefine Bengtsson, founder of the Yogiakademin travel company, and one of the warmest, lightest people I’ve met. So I thought I’d share some of her brilliance with you, and hopefully inspire a different kind of sustainability – one that comes from within.
Hi Josefine! How are you?
I feel sooooooo good right now. I am in many ways living my dream – sharing yoga, and living together with nature and my best friends here at my paradise beach in India. Eiiiiihh!!!
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do!
Hmm… In many ways, I have dedicated my life to understanding myself, and from that place also understanding others and the world in general. In a way, I’m constantly asking myself the question ”who am I”, and the deeper I get into it, the more difficult it is to put into words.
Right now, I am filling my days with yoga and meditation. I am mostly traveling and teaching retreats on beautiful places in the midst of nature around the world. And I really appreciate every single day I can share these practices with people because I just love it so much and really, really believe in it.
What made you discover and fall in love with yoga and meditation, and how did it become your full-time occupation?
When I first discovered the practice of yoga and meditation, it was like a new life started for me – a life with more presence, love, and harmony. This shift was so powerful that I saw no other choice than to share it with people around me; with you. I might sound a bit religious, but I truly believe that spreading these practices alone will make the world to a better place.
Before making this shift I was a hardworking girl. After five years of studies at Stockholm School of Economics, and one year of working as a Strategy Consultant, I knew what it’s like to live a stressful and demanding city life completely driven by the mind; a mind that is never satisfied; a mind that is either in the past, analysing, or in the future, planning.
So when I first met the practice of yoga and meditation on a beach in Thailand, it was like finally finding a place where I could relax and let go of this striving for a moment; a place where I could be myself and let go of the stressful city life; a place where I could just be with the sensations in my body; a place where I could heal.
Big question: What does sustainability mean to you?
Yes, that is a big question. For me, this is something that comes from within – from the soul and heart – and not from the mind or by following rules. I truly believe that when we arrive inside, we will automatically start living sustainably, take care of the environment – nature, animals, human beings – and think about future generations.
Of course, it is important to, in a way, know and also share information about the chaotic state of the world, but, it is also easy to get stuck there, paralyzed by the negative and all the sad things happening to our environment instead of actually doing something to make a change.
I am spending almost half a year here on this small hidden beach together with the moon and the sun, the waves and the wind, the trees and the wild animals. While here, I automatically start thinking about nature and the sustainability of this world. For example, when I see plastic bags in the ocean or trash on the beach, I feel pain in my whole being. I need to pick it up. But when I’ve been in a city environment for too long, I automatically close down, and don’t see the trash anymore…
I understand that everyone can’t live like this, but all of us can find moments of soul space even in the city. We don’t need to get lost in every single detail of the news, but instead we can find time to go out in the nature every day. Because when the trees, oceans, and animals become our best friend, we will think an extra time before buying meat or throwing plastic bags on the street.
“I believe the only way to make a real shift in this world, is by being the change!”
What is the idea behind Yogiakademin, and what is it that you want to offer the people who come to your retreats?
It is actually very hard for me to put this amazing experience into words. Pure magic is what’s created on every single retreat. I would say it is something more than a regular Yoga retreat, as we mix and match different forms of Yoga, such as Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Restorative, and Yin with Breathwork techniques as well as dancing, and Vipassana and Osho meditations.
Along with that, we are enjoying amazing healthy food in beautiful places, like a paradise beach in Goa, a castle in Bretagne and a house in the Swedish archipelago. I am so very grateful for getting the chance to share my passion on these beautiful locations.
What is the magic of spending longer periods of time in silence, and why do you think more people should try it?
It sounds like a cliché, but silence has truly showed me that the only way to happiness is to be in and accept the present moment. And the only way for me to enter this moment is by first shut everything off and allow myself to just arrive in my body. When in silence, I am automatically arriving into acceptance of what is showing up in that moment. A kind of deep trust appears and almost hugs me.
Silence is my medicine. Again and again, I am realizing the power of shutting everything off to just meet myself for a moment. It gives me connection, grounding, gratefulness, love, healing… and so much more. I am a true believer in that silence not only improves your life, but makes the world a better place.
What would you like to say to those who think that meditation only means sitting still and quiet in a lotus pose?
Hihi! Meditation can be anything. For people living a lot in the head, the active forms of meditation, such as shaking and dancing, can be soooo efficient and powerful. These are techniques that efficiently guides us to the inside of our bodies, and I have been totally in love with them for years.
What would you say are the benefits of breathing exercises, and would you like to share one of your favorites with us?
Wow! The breath is so powerful, and using it in a more conscious way can help us meet ourselves and find that deep stillness that I think all of us are longing for.
I would like to share one of my favourite breathing techniques – a so called Pranayama. This technique will wake you up and get the energy flowing. It involves short, quick, and dynamic exhales where the lower belly will work as a pump, pressing the breath out from the nose. The inhalations will come naturally. This activity is increasing the level of oxygen and decreasing the carbon dioxide in the body.
Set your timer to 15 minutes. Find a comfy seat. Take some deep breaths. Place your right hand on your lower belly and start to, quickly and powerfully, pump this area by pressing the breath out from your nostrils. Relax your belly and allow the inhale to come automatically.
Start by doing 20-50 such pumps, then hold your breath for a few seconds before exhaling. That is one round. Do 3-5 rounds, and if there is time left, find stillness and allow the breath to be natural. Stay present!
Finally: What’s on the horizon for you and Yogiakademin?
Keep your eyes open. Together with my amazing crew, we will continue to create magic and share retreats all over the world. Eiiihhh! It’s just too magical to stop. We will take it further, jump up a few levels. I am soooooo excited for what’s to come!
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