Yoga under the Icelandic midnight sun — Iceland’s first international yoga volunteer camp
When I decided to become a volunteer for SEEDS in Iceland and initially wanted to join the Environment & Sustainability workcamp. Because the camp was already full for German participants, I had to choose another camp and was even happier when I saw the new Yoga under the Midnight Sun workcamp, Iceland’s first international yoga workcamp.
Altogether as nine beautiful souls, we spend nine days of pure connection, inspiration and kindness bound together by yogic practices. We came from Canada, Finland, Spain, the USA, Poland and Germany and all of us shared a great passion for living and travelling all over the world. We stayed in a cosy accommodation of SEEDS in Reykjavík, where we practised yoga, prepared & cooked food, played music, laughed, cried, slept and got to know each other. For me, it was just perfect, as I could combine my wish to travel to Iceland, meet people from all over the world, volunteer and to do a yoga retreat.
Hatha Vinyasa flow yoga practice
The camp was different from a traditional workcamp in the way that the work part consisted of up to two daily sessions of two hours vinyasa flow yoga, breathing exercises and meditation. In this way, the camp had the touch of a yoga retreat. We usually started the day around 8.30 with our yoga practice. The times of practice has been collectively decided each evening to make sure we get enough sleep. We hydrated ourselves with enough water, tea or coffee if we wanted. But for the full breakfast, we had to wait until after the session. A full belly and yoga is not the best combination.
Still sleepy we sat down for energizing pranayama (yogic breathing) for the breath is prana, which means life force. After an extensive hour of Hatha Vinyasa flow guided by our teacher Tobias, we finished with 15 minutes of silent meditation. In the afternoon we finished our yoga flow with a long Shavasana. Each session started and ended with the chanting of OM, the sound, and vibration of the universe. And speaking of the beautiful Sanskrit mantra Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu. The meaning is translated as: “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.” Wonderful words to be guided through the day.
Overall, I can say that yoga practice and meditation has grown me into a much more compassionate and patient person.
Magically intense and powerful experience
The camp involved a lot of sharing and exploration. I mean we explored not only Reyjkjavik and some of the most stunning nature in Iceland. We also learned more about ourselves in a new way. The atmosphere was from the first moment to the last filled with positive energy. It might be the yoga spirit or just the combination of ourselves or both.
Whatever it was — it was rare, pure and special. It felt like we were all present at the moment and not somewhere else in our minds. This enabled a great connection and full experience of each moment spent together. There was a feeling of being heard and seen by the others, being accepted the way we are. No matter our personality or where we come from or which stage of life we are in now. All that mattered was what we shared together right here and now. Be it the yoga, the amazing food we prepared, the beauty of the country or the laughter.
Teachings and Spirit of Yoga
We all came with an open mindset and were able to listen to the stories each one of us shared. It was fascinating how similar our thoughts are on topics like our values and wishes in life. To share our excitement and wondering which paths to take and the challenges we face.
I learned about attachment and letting go when the camp ended and I had to let go of the people and our time. Yoga taught us a lot of letting go and flow through our own path of life.
Two excursion days to see Iceland’s stunning nature
We had the opportunity to go on two tours during the 7 camp days. We made the golden circle tour and south shore tour with the SEEDS van and Tobias as our driver. That meant we had no time rush and could spend on every site as much time as we wanted. Because of the beautiful midnight sun, it didn’t matter if we arrived home at 2 in the middle of the night. We were lucky enough to have sunny days on both our trips and not a single rainy day during the camp. Sun and gigantic waterfalls combined result in the most beautiful waterful I have ever seen. We took postcard-like pictures of the famous Gullfoss waterfall, the boiling hot Geysirs or the volcanic crater lakeKerið.
In southern Iceland, we saw the famous Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, the gigantic Solheimajökull glacier and the black-sand beach of Reynisfjara near Vik. The waves often underestimated by tourists of their dangerous nature force.
How about food?
The accommodation was vegetarian or ashram style. But among us 8 volunteers, only three were vegetarians, so in between the many downward-facing dogs of yoga, there was enough place for the one or other secret hot dog in downtown Reykjavik
As in all SEEDS camps, we cooked and washed our own dishes. But the food we cooked was exceptional. I would have never expected such a delicious mouth-watering experience in a work camp. It just happened that we were blessed with the most talented volunteers in cooking. With all the dishes and a great variety of food on the table, it was difficult to ever feel hungry. From spicy over sweet to Icelandic, all tastes were satisfied.
And we have eaten to best granola ever! Check out this granola recipe and try, but no guarantee it tastes as yummy as the one we ate.
Between the Yoga practice, we had enough free time to explore Reykjavik. On top of the to-do’s are definitely visits to one of the many hot pools with geothermal water. We visited the Sundhöllin pool for ultimate relaxation after yoga. Another awesome option, especially for sunny days, was the geothermal beach Nauthólsvík, which has free admission during summers. And there are more swimming places to be explored in and around Reykjavik.
On the weekends there is a huge indoor flea market full of Icelandic stuff to haggle for. You can buy or at least try for free lots of traditional foods only available in Iceland. Foodstuff like dried fish, fermented shark and flatbread. Or Icelandic chocolates and liquorice. You can also find Jewellery from Lava stones or other gifts and of course Icelandic woollen sweaters. I found a yoga style pants from iglo+indi, an Icelandic fair fashion brand for only 100 Icelandic Krona.
The Indian Embassy in Reykjavik offers free Yoga classes for the public, so we took the opportunity and experienced a slightly different yoga class then we practised in the camp.
Who is SEEDS?
SEEDS was founded in 2005 by great vision and purpose. Now SEEDS is one of the leading non-governmental, non-profit organizations in Iceland and one of the largest volunteer hosting organizations in Europe. The mission is to mutually promote intercultural understanding, environmental awareness through environmental, social and cultural projects.
Learn more about SEEDS here and maybe you will become a volunteer in Iceland as well? This is a unique experience for all who love Iceland!
Thank you, little puffin yogis: Conni, Yanni, Jenna, Paula, Elsa, Arantza, Irene and fantastic yoga teacher Tobias for this wonderful time and magical energy.