A short background on your journey. How did you get to where you are today?
Hey! I am Charlotte Skogsberg, originally from Sweden, but happily living on the beautiful island of Bali, Indonesia. I first got in touch with yoga some ten years ago, just by myself with a book. Back then, I had a corporate job and lived in the city. I was seeking something for my restlessness and feeling of emptiness inside. I always have had the dream that one day I would change it all and open a yoga studio on the cliffs of Uluwatu in Bali. I had fallen in love with the island of the Gods in 2001, during my first travel there. That was a dream, hidden somewhere in the back of my mind.
It wasn’t until years later, after some important life decisions, that I started the journey towards chasing that dream. With traditional training in Classical yoga with the Yoga Institute of Mumbai, I opened a studio in Biarritz, in the southwest of France (where I was living at the time). During a visit to Bali about a year and a half ago, I came in touch with some people and the dream of moving here came to life again.
Out of all the places in the world you could live, why Bali?
I think there are many places that I would love to live and there are many places that still have a strong place in my heart. I fell in love with this place (Bali) so many years ago and it seems to be an everlasting kind of love. As soon as I put my feet on the ground here, I feel at home. It truly is a special place. It’s the environment, the strong energy from nature, the chaos and the all of a sudden stillness that you can find.
How does a usual day in the life of Charlotte look?
My day starts at 5 am and begins with my own routine, my kryias and my sadhana. This consists of 10 rounds of sun salutations and a 30 minute morning run, followed by a short meditation, a shot of jamu (a traditional, herbal medicine made from natural materials) and a coffee before taking my first class. I teach yang practice in the morning, hatha, flow and vinyasa and in the afternoon my classes are slower, yin yoga, to follow the body’s rhythm.
How do you continue to challenge yourself each day with your yoga practices?
Each day I choose a concept from the yoga philosophy teachings and use it as an intention and focus for my daily classes. It is the constant practice of the teachings; patience and focus, in order to build the mental and physical strength that the practice or yoga brings.
“Yoga is far more challenging off the (yoga) mat, than on it”
Yoga is a very spiritual practice, how does this influence your life?
It teaches you patience. With patience and with practice, the rest will just follow. We repeat our less attractive behaviours and destructive patterns until we become conscious about them. Yoga gives you the mental stillness you need to start taking distance of your thoughts to see yourself and others from another point of view.
You watch, learn and observe without interfering or judging. When you become aware of this, you can start the journey of change.
“You need a certain space; to distance yourself from your thoughts, feelings and actions in order to become conscious about them”
Once you develop this consciousness you then can begin to control and deal with them. Meditation is a practice of creating this space in your mind. This space creates stillness. When you are still, you are present. When you are present, you can choose your actions. You don’t need to be on an automatic reaction mode anymore and you can clearly see the reaction you would have automatically had, as a result of remaining unconscious.
Can you share a few tips for others wanting to start yoga?
To someone who has never practiced and is just getting curious about it, I usually recommend to start for themselves at home. If you can just take 10 minutes in the morning and do a couple of sun salutations, you will so rapidly notice the first benefits. Always start light, don’t give yourself high goals to achieve because you’ll easily lose the fun of it and then you forget why you wanted to do it in the first place.
Try to focus more on consistency than performance. If you can come into a consistent rhythm of 10 minutes a day, you will soon unintentionally increase that time. A side from your own practice, you can eventually look for a teacher that motivates you with their teachings and ways of practice. Take your time to find one that speaks to you. Everyone is different and what corresponds to your friend might not have the same effect for you.
“Always remember that you are practicing for you, you are doing yourself a favour. So let it be your time”
You need to enjoy it and it needs to be a priority for you. Just like any other routine that you have and that you find natural to incorporate in your day.
Where is your absolute favourite place and time of day to do yoga?
Sunrise yoga is definitely my favourite. The dynamic type of asana practice should always be in the morning and the energy is best just before the light comes. Also, the stillness that comes with the transition of night to dawn is just perfect for finding focus and concentration. It is also a beautiful way to set your mind to start a new day. When you have that feeling, it really doesn’t matter where you practice. However, if you are blessed to have the access to beautiful nature, then that is definitely the perfect spot.
I have are two favourite spots that lie close to my heart. I currently have a big empty terrace with bright green rice fields in front, facing east. I get to start my practice underneath the stars and finish as the first rays of daily sunlight appear. The other place is a beautiful plateau in front of the ocean where I would go on a crispy, beautiful winter morning in Biarritz. There is never a single person in sight, just me (dressed very differently to when I practice in Bali!) and the natural sounds of the waves rolling in to shore.
Share with us your 5 most unforgettable places where you have been. What is so special to you about them?
Bomlo, Norway – I lived on this tiny island for a few months many years ago, out in the archipelago of Western Norway. It’s surrounded by extreme nature, high mountains and deep fjords. Its population can be no more than 200 and I saw for the first time in my life, the northern lights while I was there. It was such a show that the sky put up for us for over 15 minutes; changing lights and colours in the middle of the complete darkness of the night.
Mysore, India – I went here to practice ashtanga, Mysore style, during my travel to India. It is such a special place, I learned a few difficult truths about myself and I had some encounters that I will never forget (one with a very fierce street dog that bit me. I had to get 5 rabies shots over a period of one month, one that I had to give to myself in the arm while I was out at Uluwatu!).
Impossibles, Bali – What can I say, it is just stunning beauty and each time I go there, I’m speechless. I have a vivid memory of an early morning when I sat on the cliff during sunrise, taking photo after photo to try to catch the light.
The Basque Country, France – This is probably one of the most beautiful coast lines I have ever seen. It is where the Atlantic Ocean and the mountains of the Pyrenees meet. It has very dramatic scenery; white beaches, small creeks and green pine forest, that follow the coastline until it meets the mountain chain linking France and Spain.
Doi Saket, Thailand – One of the most peaceful, remote villages I’ve visited, north of Chiang Mai where I stayed in an ashram, during my yoga teacher training. I was one person when I arrived and a different one when I left.
Where do you see yourself over the next 5 years?
Somewhere on this planet, doing something that I love, surrounded (physically or not) by people that I love. So it could be right here or it could be somewhere else.
You’re obviously living your dream. What would your advice to anyone who’s just starting out a journey similar to yours be?
Take control of your fears. It’s the only thing that is stopping you. We remake ourselves over and over again. If it doesn’t work out, you start anew.
“Life is too short to not take action on what you want to do, but at the same time too long to accept a life that doesn’t fulfill you”
When I came to understand just that, I started changing my situation. Many of the advice that we will hear, seems like bumper sticker philosophy until we actually experience them. It is through experience that we learn, then it becomes real and we develop understandings.
So choose to experience instead of imagining and dreaming. It never goes as wrong as your fears tell you. And imagine if it goes right?
Follow Charlotte’s Yoga Journey:
Join Charlotte’s class each day at Serenity Eco Guesthouse & Yoga, Bali.