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5 Reasons to Practice Yoga While You Travel

Versed travelers know well how difficult it can be to stick to your regular daily preferences when you go away for a few days, or even weeks. You fill those hours with as much sightseeing as possible, trying to see, taste, and feel the energy of this new destination you’re visiting. Is it, then, realistic to find the time and the patience you normally have for staying true to your yoga practice and healthy eating choices?

Surprisingly for many, it actually is quite possible and doable. In fact, if you need further convincing to continue with your yoga morning flows even when there’s an exciting tour for early birds, keep reading to inspire yourself and stay healthy and fit on the go.

Immersing yourself in the moment

Unlike many other forms of exercise, yoga combines incorporating your natural breathing pace with the movements and asanas you perform. As an essential ingredient to a healthy yoga practice, breathing represents an opportunity for increased, deepened mindfulness. When you let yourself enjoy the present moment, while soothing your body and mind through controlled breathing, you can truly experience your adventure on a new level. Take some time in the morning to start your day with yoga, and it will help you retain that awareness of your surroundings and the joy of new experiences. With better awareness, you can do your best not only to rejoice in the beauty of those new localities you visit, but also to stay mindful of your carbon footprint, in an effort to become a more sustainable yoga traveler.

Connecting with the local culture

Although Asia is known as the birthplace of many notable philosophies that focus on peace and serenity, many of its local hotspots are now very fast-paced and bustling with visitors. However, when you take a trip to some of its most renowned destinations, you’ll see that Asia strives to retain its Zen essence. What’s even more relevant is that you, as a traveler, are more than welcome to become a temporary part of that community. For instance, practicing yoga in Hong Kong is still a staple of modern life, and it has become simplified with the use of apps that let you join a class you desire, no matter where you come from. That way, you can taste the true life of Hong Kong beyond the typical highlights, and experience its innate, life-loving rhythm that you’d otherwise miss in its urban eco-system.

Inspiring reflection

How many times have you caught yourself overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and authenticity of your travel destination? A yoga routine lets your mind process these events and emotions, and in fact become much more grateful for the opportunity. In the haste to see the world, we often take it for granted. Yoga helps you stay rooted in your ability to appreciate the present moment and the gift of travel, which we tend to leave behind as soon as we hit the road.

Experiencing relaxation amidst stress

As beautiful as it is, travel also often comes with a hefty dose of stress. It may be caused by anticipation, waiting for your next flight, or by the mere change of perspective. We tend to get used to a certain way of life, and leaving it all behind for a limited amount of time can be a challenge for those who like their routines. Whatever the underlying cause may be, practicing yoga can help you soothe your stress reactions and be more resilient to any other potential triggers. This is especially relevant when you visit hectic spots such as Baghdad or Cairo, where the tension is practically palpable. Yoga is a simple, yet powerful way to stay calm in such environments and see the world through a new lens.

Staying healthy and vibrant

Not every journey is a luxurious one, nor it should be. However, when you do put your body through a lot by taking exceptionally long bus rides, spending hours in sweltering heat, or trekking for hours, yoga can help alleviate the pain. Even daily sightseeing can cause sore muscles, and add to that dehydration if you don’t drink enough water, and your body will start craving a soothing yoga session.

Even though yoga in its essence is so much more than a simple stretching, devoting a fraction of your time just to unwind in comfortable stretching positions will help your muscles heal. That way, you can renew your energy for the next day’s adventure and keep the pain at bay.

 

Sophia Smith is beauty blogger, an eco-lifestyle lover and a food enthusiast. She is very passionate about natural skincare, yoga and mindful living. Sophia has contributed to a number of publications including Mother Earth Living and How to Simplify.

Post Surf Yoga Practice: 10 Poses to Ground and Restore Energy

PHOTOGRAPHY by: Megan McCullor

Surf is incredible. The raw elemental energy of being in the ocean and chasing waves creates a feeling inside like no other. Physically one of the best upper body and abdominal workouts I have ever experienced, plus the rush of adrenaline that comes from riding a wave and harnessing the awesome power of the sea.

So what effect does this have on our bodies?

Spending extended time in an adrenalized state causes the sympathetic nervous system to go into overdrive. This is a necessary function for our survival, our “fight or flight” backwash-surfmode. Air passages dilate and blood vessels contract, providing more oxygen to muscles and blood flow to the heart and lungs. Awareness is heightened and strength and performance increase, all part of our body’s natural functions that get us out of dangerous situations alive…aka beast mode! If we’re lucky enough to be travelling yogis and surfers in this lifetime, chances are we are not often using this function for pure survival; we’re in it just for the thrill of it. Our body’s ability to perform activities like surfing and other high-energy aerobic workouts depend on the sympathetic nervous system. But we need some yin to this yang, to understand that our softer sides play an equally important role in our lives.

Enter the parasympathetic nervous system. Of course our super awesome physical bodies have the natural solution. Sometimes referred to as “rest and digest” mode, the parasympathetic nervous system is the relaxed place in which our bodies can truly rest, restore and rejuvenate all the spent energy that occurs in the opposing state.

So how can we access this cooler, calmer place?

In any style of yoga practice our breath is the primary pillar on which all other elements can balance. Through our breath we can release excess heat and energy. Fresh oxygen is supplied to the blood and tissues and our nervous system responds. By practicing calming, supported, gentle postures in combination with deep cooling breaths we can access this restorative state. Think ujjayi, but without heat and constriction in the throat. Deep sighs through the mouth can be done at times throughout this kind of practice.

Ujjayi = Ocean breath; steady, full and gently audible like rolling waves.

As yogis, we strive for balance in our practice, lives and bodies. Post surf yoga session, my favorite poses are grounding, cooling, supported and opening. There are many poses and sequencing options to create this effect on the body, these are my top 10:

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1. Garudasana (Eagle Pose) – opens upper back, neck and shoulders. Centring, grounding balance poses create acute focus within our practice and help develop ease in balancing on your board.

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2. Supported Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog on the railing) – great shoulder opening stretch without putting pressure on wrists and arms. Helpful in feeling all the actions involved in creating an aligned downward dog, without the challenge of supporting your own weight. Try to connect to externally rotating the upper arms and spreading the shoulder blades, creating space in the upper back.

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3. Supported Side Stretch – move from DD on the railing (a counter top or kitchen table works too!) to turn to the side and press hips away from your supporting hand. Opens side body and outer chain of back muscles, brings spine into its side bending range of motion.

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4. Utkata Konasana (Goddess Pose) – grounding and activating for the legs and quads, helpful to feel balanced in a wide stance. Stretches groins and hips.

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5. Prasarita Padotanasana C – opens low back, hamstrings, chest and shoulders. Forward folds are calming and cooling. With an added chest and shoulder opener this is a juicy post surf pose.

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6. Malasana – narrow the stance of your feet and come to a low squat. Stretches the achilles and calves, opens groins and hips.

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7. Supported Matsyandrasana – there’s nothing like a good twist after a surf sesh. This supported version is also calming, and grounding. Allow your weight to soften onto the blocks and hold for 2 mins each side.

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8. Supported Savasana – my favorite chest opening heart lifting supported back bend ever. Completely counter to the movements and actions required for paddling and riding a wave. If you do one pose post surf, let this be it. One block goes directly under the shoulder blades, the other supports the back of the head.

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9. Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand or legs up the wall) – this cooling, energy balancing inversion feels amazing on the shoulders and upper back after a day in the waves. Finish your practice with circulating calming energy. Hold for 10-15 deep breath cycles. This can be done supported, with legs up the wall for 2-5 mins.

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10. Savasana – lay it out, splay it out, melt onto your mat like butter on toast. Rest and digest for tomorrow is a new wave.

 

 

Lynn

 

Lynn Alexander is a yogi, surfer and Thai massage practitioner living in Costa Rica. Learn more about Lynn and connect with her directly here:

 www.moderndayoga.com

Where is Your Energy Going?

We have 24 hours a day to accomplish all our tasks, tend to our needs, interact with others, AND stop and smell the roses–if we’re lucky. Generally, in this part of the developed world the most dedicated and drained multitaskers and workaholics are practically given medals by their superiors, friends and family for their killer ‘work ethic.’

Who cares? We all should. In a time where, generally, our collective energy output is far greater than our energy input, we’re at risk of burning out and losing our connection to each other. I, for one, think that’s terrifying.

I am just as driven and hard-working as some of those superhero employees–heck I’m writing this at 7:00 AM before I head into work for a 10 hour day. I bet you are just as busy, too. Maybe you break up your work hours in a different way, but most of us are juggling two or more jobs and commitments all at once.

Whether we feel forced or inspired to spend our 24 hours a day working and moving, we DSC4840are draining ourselves of energy. Many of us continue to putter away at household chores and to-do lists, forgetting to turn-off our worker switch when we’re home and done for the day, too. While these items might feel like they need to be done today or every day, they aren’t going anywhere. Your chores are always waiting for you.

What’s not waiting for you is life. While you drain your energy on working in a variety of ways you deplete your resources, often losing touch with your lighter self- the one who laughs, who is truly present for their friends, family and other human beings, who takes warm baths and sees the odd movie. When you pour so much out of yourself you have to take some energy back in.

If ‘work ethic’ can be defined as the, “belief in the moral benefit and importance of work and its inherent ability to strengthen character,” as per Dictionary Reference, then a working definition for what I call ‘energy equilibrium’ could be, “conscious effort by an individual to balance energy input and output, for the sake of mental, physical and emotional health.”

So, how do you receive energy? You start by looking at self-love. Are you practicing it? If not, avoid judging yourself, just make a commitment in this moment to take better care of the unique and powerful vessel you’ve been given. Think of your body and brain as a vehicle and when that vehicle runs out of gas it breaks down and leaves you stranded.

Energy input starts with taking care of numero uno.

What do you naturally enjoy to do? What helps you to relax? What makes you laugh? What naturally soothes your sorrows? Ask yourself these questions and then listenphoto.PNG-2 closely to what your heart says in return. When you’re feeling depleted, refill your energy resources with activities, thoughts and movements that bring a smile to your face.
If all you need to do to bring your energy levels back into balance or find that ‘energy equilibrium’ is a walk around the park after work each day, or a massage a couple of times a month, then do it. A fundamental part of my self-care routine is meditating and practicing yoga every day, no matter what. Throw a bubble bath and a rooftop patio glass of wine on top and I’m feeling full of positive energy after a beautiful, but energetically draining day.

A key part of finding energetic balance is including positive interaction with other human beings in your everyday life. If you’re constantly surrounding yourself with people who take and take from you without giving, or who suck the life out of you with their negativity, you’re losing energy, too. Choose to surround yourself with people who fill you up, challenge you to grow and who take care of themselves—because that way you’re more likely to as well. Make your health and happiness just as important as your success and you’ll find balance in your life!

Namaste

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Eryl McCaffrey is a Yoga Teacher/ Studio Manager from Toronto. She’s also a Freelance Writer, who’s passionate about health and wellness. Eryl believes in the power of love to heal and advance the world. Her blog: twofeetheartbeat.wordpress.com