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Feeling out of place after leaving the United States for years is normal but finding yourself again is the hardest part. Sam Reynolds found her purpose in life through travel. Though she traveled the world, her greatest journey has been the journey inward. In 2013 Reynolds moved to Rwanda after falling in love with the country and the people during a month-long trip the year before. She couldn’t believe that after going through the 1994 genocide, the people of Rwanda were one big community and had learned forgiveness even with a past that they had a right to be so angry about.

Reynolds moved abroad in 2008 to study international law as a part of her Master’s degree. After she completed her Master’s, she stayed in Prague for five years guiding students to new countries with a focus on European history and Holocaust studies. Visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on a regular basis for that amount of time became heavy work and she was ready for the next part of her journey,  causing her to sell everything except for one bag when she moved to South Africa with her former partner. She had no plans or a job, but she wanted to experience life and to live it fully. She spent time exploring South Africa, Namibia, and Swaziland, and evenolunteered at a wildlife reserve. Living moment to moment, she searched for long-term opportunities in southern Africa and eventually found a youth village in Rwanda, Agahozo-Shalom.  The youth village houses more than 500 orphaned teens. This program was modeled after Israeli youth villages created after the Holocaust making it a perfect fit. Reynolds became a mentor to girls at this “place to dry your tears” and while it was a challenge it was extremely rewarding.

It was difficult at first to remember the names of so many  kids and because they had their hair cut short but she knew that they remembered her. An unforgettable day was one one little girl said “when I see you I love you” and that was the breaking point. This was the realization that everyone should live with love regardless of where they are from and that everyone is connected.

After returning home Reynolds knew that a lot had changed. She ended her five-year relationship. She felt very out of place, didn’t know anybody, her friends were gone because time had passed and she couldn’t find work. Before returning all she wanted “was cheese pizza” but then she realized “it didn’t even taste that good” because there is more to life than these minimal luxuries. She became a vegan and focused on nourishing her body with healthy food. She also spent the first few months at home sleeping and catching up on rest without a car or a phone. One day her mom invited her to try a yoga class where she found some light shining into her life. Yoga was a way to find energy and to heal, so she found a small studio that offered 30 days for 30 dollars. She attended 28 days out of 30. She knew that she had to stay but was broke so she offered to clean the studio in exchange for classes. Following this time period the manager of the yoga studio offered her a yoga training for work in order for her to begin teaching. This was “humbling, honest work… that meant something to me,” and it was the first time in a while that she felt her purpose. She found a way to reconnect with herself and transformed her life to focus on wellness and healthy living. For Sam, yoga is a lifestyle that cultivates clarity, freedom, and compassion, both on and off the mat.

For the first year back in the US, Sam felt “like a kid again.” During her yoga training, she was inspired to try more fitness classes like barre, salsa, and boxing. It was a period of exploration. In November 2015 Reynolds graduated from the training and began teaching soon after. Going through various life phases, she returned to Miami and taught yoga at Miami Beach, then she visited Rwanda for her kids’ graduation and to teach her first international yin class. Upon returning, she broke her foot jogging six days after her travels. Yet again, another bump in the road. She had interviews for jobs lined up but for 30 days she was in a cast and  couldn’t teach . She was unable to live in Miami forcing her to return back home and live with her family for two months. In January 2018 Sam was offered teaching positions in Miami life.

She was waking up with a smile every day, she loves to teach and doesn’t sweat the small stuff. Reynolds mentioned that daily she thinks “who am I going to help today,” “nothing is permanent,” and “everything can change in an instant,” so just take life as it comes. Perhaps her biggest revelation was that “in order to change the world, you must change yourself.”

Sam currently teaches regularly at TruFusion Coral Gables. She’s an adventurer at heart and loves to try new forms of movement.  Her mission is to help students find a healthy balance in life and create an inner journey towards freedom and empowerment. She encourages students to find their “Tru” self. Her next goal is to lead wellness retreats abroad, so that she can share her passion for travel and yoga. For more information, follow Sam at @journeysforthesoul or via her website, www.JourneysForTheSoul.com  

Written by: Polina Raykov

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