Two years ago, as I was nearing 30, I found myself completely lost, out of a job after nearly 10 years in an industry that I had (for the most part) loved. I’d been bullied out of my corporate job by my boss, a man who told me I was a distraction when I walked across the trading floor because of how I looked and dressed. The entire ordeal left me with severe anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia. I knew I should take some time out. So I booked a one-way flight to Australia and decided I’d just go with the flow.
After traveling for months through Australia and Bali, I finally landed in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Immediately I felt an unexplainable peace. People were charming and friendly; the children were so full of wonder; the scenery was mesmerizing. I reveled in meandering along soft dirt roads, discovering secrets kept in hidden shops and cozy cafes. It felt safe.
Most people visit Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat – a huge complex of ancient temples spanning 402 acres, built in the early 12th century by the Khmer king Suryavarman II, and dedicated to Vishnu, the Hindu god of preservation. I bought a three day pass and got lost in the labyrinth. Roaming through magnificent temples, witnessing Buddhist monks silently pray, I allowed myself to begin to heal. Like the bygone pagodas that were slowly being reclaimed by massive trees and gnarled vines, I realized that my trauma was part of my journey, to help me grow and change. What’s meant to happen will always happen, I thought, reflecting on the beautifully morphed landscape. It was the first time in months that I was able to relax and let go. As my mind settled and my anxiety loosened, I began to process my trauma and move forward.
Siem Reap gave me back a part of myself that I thought I’d lost. After just three days, I felt lighter and happier. I had been planning to attend yoga teacher training in the coming months, but the gleeful children of Siem Reap revealed my desire to work with kids. Like me, how would they cope with stress and trauma? I wanted to help.
Today, I teach yoga and mindfulness to young people in preschools and primary and secondary schools across London, offering them tools to cope with anxiety, stress, and trauma in a holistic way. I am Ambassador of the Girls Network, mentoring girls aged 14–19, and empowering them with self-confidence through yoga. Angkor Wat’s temples have withstood the evolution of centuries: wars, weather, vegetation—yet they still stand strong. It reflected my own strength back to me. In the #MeToo era, I stand firmly in my strength as I help lift future generations.
About our author
Puravi Joshi is an ex-banker turned yoga teacher who leads hatha, vinyasa, and restorative yoga classes in London. She also teaches yoga and mindfulness to children. Learn more at puravijoshi.com.