Hillary Marshall
Graduate Interview

yoga-trapeze-van

Where are you from originally?

I was born and raised in Georgia but lived in Charlotte, North Carolina for four and a half years before we hit the road.

Can you share some details about your travels? Who are you with, what you are driving, etc?

My husband, Andrew, and I became full-time travelers two months ago. We plan to travel for the next one to two years in our self-converted RAM ProMaster campervan. We spent about 10 months converting the cargo van into a campervan and reducing our possessions. We travel with our six-year-old dog, Dexter, who is always up for adventures.

We had been shifting our lifestyle for me to transition from a corporate job to teaching yoga full time for about a year when we decided to build a van. So we were already in a lifestyle change period where we were letting go of preconceived ideas about what our life was going to look like. My salary alone was going to cut down by probably 80% for several years so we started to make some lifestyle adjustments.

Shortly after I achieved my teaching certification from Yoga Teachers College®, we were chatting one day and my husband just said, “I want to do the van thing.”

I immediately responded, “I was already going to quit my job to teach yoga full time, I’m 100% game to do the van thing.” Within two weeks, we were the proud owners of an empty cargo van! (Along with a little bit of thinking, “what have we done?”)

The hard part was letting go of possessions, expectations, and fears around what we thought our life was going to be like. We had spent years setting up a great life. We enjoyed the lifestyle and ability to travel that our jobs afforded us, but we weren’t enjoying our work life. I do not look back on this period with regret; it helped us grow and understand ourselves better, and it led us to the decision of buying a van and taking this amazing journey. We love the new adventures and experiences that every day brings. Traveling is one of our passions and to get to do it every day is a real privilege.

Vanlife isn’t all sunshine and roses, there are hard and frustrating days where nothing goes the way you plan. However, sometimes the difficult experiences in life help shape us and allow us to better appreciate all of the amazing experiences that this lifestyle gives.

Where do you set up your Yoga Trapeze®? How did you manage it?

I won’t take any of the credit… I asked my husband to install it in our sliding doorway. He made it work using an existing hole in the van on one side and a threaded insert in the van body on the other side; it is very sturdy. It isn’t the perfect setup, it is a little too wide and close to the floor, but it works. Living in 64 square feet (six square meters), you grow accustomed to a bit of snugness. When I get inverted, I just hang over the edge of the van. We also use it as a chair! It is very comfortable to lounge in.

What’s one piece of advice you wish someone had told you before you began the journey?

You won’t be bored! I thought I would have too much free time and end up bored. I thought I would have time to read, time to practice yoga, time to bike, time to hike, time to create a website, time to teach our dog new tricks, etc. The road, however, is a busy place, just like “normal” life. You need to clean, cook meals, organize your belongings, plan the next day, drive, walk the dog, hike, mountain bike, read the map, etc. You have to prioritize the things you really want to do, otherwise, you won’t find time for them. This is true for everyone, wherever they are in life!

How do you do yoga during your trip?

Incorporating yoga on the road has been a bit of a challenge for me, requiring some adjustments to the way I do yoga. I had a regular practice before we hit the road, where I practiced five times a week and taught at least three times a week.

Being on the road full time… my yoga practice has not been as consistent as it was before.

I have noticed that I’ve lost some of my strength and flexibility since we have been on the road, but, the great thing is, yoga isn’t about that. The arm balances will return and the flexibility will return even faster. Yoga, to me, is more about finding that time to get out of my head and breathe. I’m a planner, organizer, strategist. I’m always thinking of the next thing and how to do it the most efficient way. I don’t “live in the moment,” except when I’m consciously moving and breathing.

So I’m trying to incorporate yoga into smaller sections of my day. Instead of an hour-long yoga session, I’m stopping in the middle of a hike for a 10-15 minute session. Or using the yoga trapeze for 10-15 minutes, weather permitting. My goal is to get back to longer sessions but for now, 10-15 minutes is a win.

I took a free jazz yoga class at the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, and we have visited over a dozen national parks in the two months that we have been on the road. An idea that I have is to contact the park offices maybe a week or two before we plan to visit a park to see if they would be interested in having me teach a free yoga class to park visitors and/or staff.

How do you connect with others?

While on the road, I connect with others mostly through social media. The vanlife community is strong on Instagram, so we spend time connecting there as well as at meetups. Last year, we attended the Asheville Vanlife Rally and Floyd Yoga Jam in our van. We made connections at both of these festivals, and have stayed in touch and even met up with one of our van friends on the road.

Do you want to share a way our readers can reach you (such as Instagram)?

Yes, they can follow along on our vanlife journey by following @dolly.the.rambler. We post about our travels, our dog, Dexter, and most importantly about the van. We love answering questions about vanlife and van builds. I also have a yoga and fitness account, @fitforthisjourney, where I try to inspire people to take small steps to include yoga and fitness into their life, while traveling or at home.