Portland yoga instructor to walk across country, teaching and learning along the way

Bernie McDonald on a recent walk from Portland to Limerick. (Photo courtesy Bernie McDonald)

On Sunday, Bernie McDonald is going to walk from Portland, where he’s lived for about a year and a half, to Old Orchard Beach, where he’ll teach an evening beachfront yoga class.

The scenery will change, but that’s a pretty good description of how his days will go for the next 9-12 months thereafter as well.

Bernie — “Berndog,” if you will — is planning to walk from Maine’s most populous city to America’s most populous state, California. His schedule, at this point, is fairly liquid. He told me today in a telephone interview he doesn’t want to get too ahead of himself, or box himself in with obligations to arrive in certain places at certain times when he’s not sure where his path will take him or what weather he’ll encounter, for instance.

But the general course, he said, is as follows:

I’ll be walking town to town, stopping to teach yoga classes, take yoga classes and talk about my adventure.

Berndog — who will blog about and seek donations for his trip through the website BerndogYoga.com — has lived all over the place in his life. He grew up in Missouri and moved to Anchorage, Alaska, then to near Cambridge, England, and then to New York City before settling in Portland in February 2012.

At each stop on his life journey so far, he’s walked more and more. By the time he reached Portland, he said, he’d decided to live without a car or bicycle at all. Now he wants to take that evolution to the next level and go sans wheels all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific:

I’ve enjoyed taking these big jumps and seeing different cultures. … Just the way you meet people is entirely different when you’re on foot. You can’t get that when you’re going by in a car. I don’t want to miss out on all the conversations and experiences you get when you’re walking.

McDonald has been teaching yoga classes at Justice in the Body on Portland Street, and will teach one last fundraising class before departing — for donations for his trip — at Greener Postures in South Portland at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

So how does one feel in the last days before walking across the country? Bernie told me he’s very excited, but he didn’t hide the fact that there’s some anxiety involved as well — he’s jumping without much in the way of a safety net, here:

Someone was taking my picture this morning and said my eyes look busy. There are logistical concerns, there are friends I have here that I’m leaving. My mind is getting pulled in different directions. It’s a stressful thing. … [But] I’m super excited about doing this.


Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.