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Life Post Yoga Retreat: Maintaining the Bliss Buzz

Traveling and spending time at a Yoga Retreat or Training Center is one of the most beneficial ways to deepen or re-ignite a yoga practice. Yoga retreats and immersive training centers are an oasis of physical, mental and spiritual bliss! We are fed high-quality, often organic, whole food meals, and we typically do not have to even worry about cleaning our plates after the daily feasts. A daily, often rigorous schedule of asana, pranayama and meditation rejuvenate our minds and bodies while the support of like-minded teachers and fellow yogis hold the space for our transformation and emotional release. We experience decreased responsibilities, limited social media and an absence of addictive substances during the days lived at our yoga sanctuary. We are taken care of and lovingly provided for and held. We often connect so deeply with our fellow yogis on retreat that we question how we ever lived without them in the first place.

Ahhhhh, yes, the blissful bubble of yoga immersion! The environment and community encourage our self-expression and exploration of deep, authentic conversation. We feel so connected, healthy, centered and serene which is the perfect internal environment for our highest selves to shine through.

So, what happens when we leave our yoga bubble and go back home?

We discover on our retreat how easy it can be to consistently practice and embody a yoga lifestyle in a controlled environment purposefully constructed to support yogic principles and transformation. The real world might suddenly feel harsher in contrast to the cozy yoga shalas, yurts and tents we had grown accustomed to. We won’t automatically have many hours a day carved out of our schedules to practice yoga and meditate. Social media, news and other distractions are abundant. And what? We must feed ourselves and clean up? This might feel like too much to handle.

The greatest challenge of leaving a yoga retreat is carrying our recently connected, healthy, centered and serene selves back into the habits, stresses and relationships of our daily lives. It might feel like our yoga saturated bodies and souls transformed in some way making reintegration into the regular world uncomfortable. It may take us time to relate in a new way to our external environment.

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When I return from trainings, retreats and other Yoga Trade travel opportunities, I often find it takes me a period of adjustment. There are obvious extremes I will adjust to like the climate change between the jungle of Costa Rica and my home in Germany, but more importantly, I give myself time to acclimate my inner climate to my regular life at home.

Here are a few tips I find helpful to help integrate, prolong the yoga-bliss-buzz, and stay grounded in the regular world after a yoga immersion:

1. Home Sanctuary

Create a small retreat at home. If you don’t already have a sacred practice space in your home, find a small room or corner that you can create a mini yoga sanctuary. Bring your yoga mat, any props, a pillow, candles and incense. You may even create a small altar with items that inspire you. The space doesn’t have to be big to feel like a little slice of bliss at home. This home sanctuary might even inspire you to consistently practice and dedicate more time to your self-care and well-being than before.

2. Nourish Your Physical Body

If the diet you followed on your retreat was very different than your regular diet, it might be a shock to your body to jump back into old diet regimes – especially if at the retreat, you avoided sugar, alcohol, caffeine, etc. You may even consider incorporating any new eating habits you learned that really worked for you. Take some time to fuel and nourish your body with what it needs and take it easy on cravings. Treats are good, but over indulgence after a week or longer on a retreat might leave you feeling less than optimal.

3. Set Goals

We often quickly embrace the schedule at a retreat as we experience the luxury of so much free-time and limited responsibilities. If your regular schedule doesn’t allow for 3 hours of asana and meditation every morning, set a realistic goal that will still get your body moving and soul connected. You might wake up 30 minutes early every day and go straight to your sacred practice space. Maybe you find a local studio with a lunch time or evening class that you can attend a few times a week. Find a self-care and yoga goal that works with your reality! A consistent physical and mental practice will help you stay grounded and connected to your highest self, long after the retreat buzz wears off.

4. Reconnect

Taking time out of our lives to focus on self-care and personal growth often requires a sacrifice in another area of our lives. If you disconnected on your retreat from loved ones to focus your energy on your relaxation and transformation, take time when you return to reconnect with them. Spend some quality time and share your retreat experience with your partner, family and friends. Ask them what they have been doing while you were gone. These honest conversations will help rebuild and strengthen any weakened connections during your time away.

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5. Be Gentle

Did you discover yourself feeling more gentle, compassionate, honest, open and free than ever before on your retreat? The yoga retreat bubble is the perfect place to truly practice and embody the teachings of yoga. Sometimes, the real world with all of the challenges, stressors and calamities that inevitably transpire makes acting like an enlightened yogi nearly impossible. If you find yourself losing your calm, go easy on yourself. Don’t beat yourself with unhelpful self-talk, “I was just on a yoga retreat! I should be better/kinder/calmer than this!” Be gentle and patient with yourself. The yoga bubble is a perfect place to practice the lessons and teachings in a controlled environment, and the real world is like the exam we get to finally apply what we learned. If you want to incorporate the teachings and be better at being you in the world, practice.

I hope these tips help you ease back into daily life post-retreat with more grace and patience while maintaining the yoga bliss and teachings. Namaste.

 

 

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Sarah is a Yoga Trade Travel Representative. She loves to explore herself and the world through the lenses of yoga and travel and constantly challenge herself to uncover truth and unity within and around her.

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Self-Care While Traveling: Erase Sitting Stiffness

A love of travel means you will frequently be on planes, trains and in cars for more time than the average person. As yogi travelers, when you arrive at your destination, being ready to hit your mat for your practice or teaching is of utmost importance. If you find your self walking stiffly off the airplane on arrival, perhaps its time you consider a new travel buddy.


As a lover of travel and a Teacher Trainer, I too spend a lot of time in transit. Instead of considering your travel time passive or as an opportunity to catch up on work, I recommend you use this time for myofascial release work. I do not typically spend a lot of time sitting during my work week – I have a standing workstation at home and am on my feet as I teach my classes, so unlike the average person, sitting is not my most frequently occupied position. After being cramped and stumbling out of my seat enough times, I knew something needed to change.


Myofascial release and tools are nothing new – I’m sure we all have a foam roller gathering dust at home, but as travelers we need a portable tool. I am a huge fan of Roll Model Therapy Balls: grippy, pliable rubber therapy balls that range in size from a tennis ball up to softball size. These tools are always in my carry-on, no matter how short or long the trip is. In fact, some of my best hamstring massage is done seated on an airplane!


I don’t normally roll my hamstrings or glutes daily, choosing instead to spend the time on my shoulders and spine, so the opportunity to fluff up my posterior chain is something I now look forward to when I travel. Fluff it up? Yep, you read it correctly! When you use a soft and grippy tool for self-massage, the tool helps to stretch and improves the sliding surfaces of your tissues over one another, simultaneously increasing the amount of hydration between layers. This doesn’t happen with a tool that just creates compression, however. You knead a tool that has grip, grab AND compression, which is why I love my Roll Model balls.


Even through your clothing, whether it is jeans or spandex, the grip of the balls is able to create the needed shear for ultimate muscle and fascia rehydration. My favorite moves while in transit? The Hamstring Helper and Neck Release!

Hamstring Helper:

Hamstring-Helper

Place a Roll Model Ball under your thigh, in the belly of the hamstrings. Move your leg around slowly, playing with swinging your foot from side to side, bending and straightening the knee, and adding additional pressure with your opposite leg. I prefer the ALPHA ball for this, as its softball size is able to create enough pressure even if the car or plane seat is super soft.

 

Neck Release:

Neck-Release

The headrests often push your head forward of your shoulders, which can create tension at the front of the neck. To help alleviate tension in the anterior neck and chest, use any size of therapy ball to twirl your skin. This will create the shear needed for rehydration without deep pressure. To do it, pin a therapy ball in place anywhere on the front of your neck. Spin it in one direction, maintaining the pressure into the skin to help twirl your skin and underlying fascias around the ball. Then, mobilize your neck by moving your head away from the ball and/or up towards the ceiling. You can maximize the pin, spin and mobilize effect by bringing your chin towards the ball before you spin so that the ball is able to capture as much tissue as possible. (Deep pressure at the front of the neck is not advised, but pin, spin and mobilize with your hand is totally fair game!)

 

Try these two techniques to practice self-care while traveling. Enjoy the new bounce in your step as you travel onto your next adventure!

 

 

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Alexandra Ellis is an Integrated Yoga Tune Up® Trainer, RYPT-500 & founder of AE Wellness. Her teaching & studies focus on injury prevention, rehabilitation & wellness, inspired by her studies at UC Davis where she earned a BS in Exercise Biology.

Breaking Up

Breakups are heart wrenching. We’ve all been through them. Your whole world is turned upside down. Hopes, dream,s and expectations dissolve like dust. You wander aimlessly through your life, struggling to put one foot in front of the other.

Simply acknowledging we weren’t happy was the first step. Initially I felt relieved; like a burden had been lifted. I smiled to myself in my Yoga practice that next morning. So many things began to make sense! Life 2011-11-12-21.03.45made sense. It’s difficult to explain really. It was like okay, this is meant to happen. During the next few days, I had a whole slew of emotions coming up. I felt fear, frustration, relief, anger, disappointment, defeat, and a deep sense of sadness. I was fragile and vulnerable. I felt completely out of control emotionally. I’d like to think that I am a pretty mindful person. During this time I did not feel like myself. I would drive somewhere or be somewhere and completely forget how I got there or what I was doing. It was strange. I was so absorbed. I tried to busy myself with work or projects. I was careful, however to make time for myself. I practiced a lot of Yoga, although sometimes that meant lying down and crying on my mat. I tried to eat right and get plenty of sleep. I surrounded myself with friends and people who offered support. Each day I made an effort to do something small for myself that made me happy. I would treat myself to something nice, call a friend, or think of a happy future. I felt like a child having to relearn simple tasks. In a way, I felt more present. Taking things one day at a time. Never anticipating what the next day would be like. I felt feelings I had not felt in a very long time. When you attach yourself to these feelings and expectations you suffer. It is so much more painful when your plan disappears before your eyes.

When I was younger, I loved being single and independent. Now I was afraid to be alone. So many thoughts were spiraling through my head. What will happen when? What will the future be like? Slow down brain.2013-04-25-22.34.14 Breathe. Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling right now. Everything is in a constant state of flux. Everything is really only temporary. I felt so many different emotions I couldn’t even remember how I’d felt before the breakup. It was very hard.

When you love someone so much you want him or her to be happy. I always think of the Police lyrics, “when you love someone set them free.” Whether or not you have a role in their life afterwards, is a different story. It physically hurt me to see him in pain. My stomach was in knots, even though I had caused some of that pain myself. This made me feel overly sensitive and very fragile again. I found myself getting choked up over the beauty in my life. I was moved by people’s words, thoughts, and actions. I cried at the littlest of things.

Each day slowly began to get easier in some way. When I had a real bad day, the next would be a little better. I tried to be very gentle with myself. As painful as breakups are, they teach you things. They challenge you, they beat you down and they give you strength all at the same time. The next time someone close to you is going through a breakup, reach out to them and tell them they are not alone. You can never say this too much! It is so helpful when you are feeling helpless. I am so grateful for the family, friends, and coworkers that said this to me. I honestly never got tired of hearing it. Those words are like a light you are following through a tunnel. You will get there eventually but it takes time. It may even take lots of light and many tunnels. This cool song by FC Kahuna called Hayling keeps playing on a few different Pandora stations lately. The lyrics say, “don’t think about all those things you fear, just be glad to be here.” This is so simple yet very profound.

 

Melanie is Vinyasa yoga instructor, and holistic health counselor based in Oakland, CA. She has a deep love for Yoga, and believes wholeheartedly that taking care of one’s body is essential to living a happy life.  http://www.melaniekaufman.com/

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