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Practice With Consistency

Patanjali tells us that practice becomes grounded when it is pursued consistently, with earnestness, over a long period of time. For many of us, we feel as if this is almost impossible. We may have a busy work and/or school schedule, or maybe kids, family and pets that demand attention. So how are we able to maintain our daily practice consistently despite our daily lives? Now this is where Sutra 1.12 comes in- abhyasa and vairagya. Effort and non-attachment.


In order to create or maintain a practice with consistency, we first must make sacrifices. We need to practice vairagya, non-attachment. Letting go of expectations. If you believe that your practice is only your practice if you have a full hour to move through a flow or have a lengthy warm up, cool down and 10 minute Savasana, this is one of the first sacrifices we need to make. This expectation needs to be released. Some days we may only have ten minutes of free time; so we step on our mat, do one round of Sun Salutations and we’re out the door. Or maybe we only have time after a long day at work when your energy seems to be spent, so it’s legs up the wall and supine twists before you’re off to bed.


If you have children or pets that want your attention, work them into your practice. Instead of disturbing your peace by shooing them away, let them be. Even try to include them if you can. For me, I know my home practice isn’t complete without a cat laying on me and joining my Savasana.


Or maybe distractions aren’t your problem, the only time you have free is after a long and grueling day at work. Is the first thing you want to do when you get home from a busy day to jump onto your mat, flow through vinyasas or power through standing poses and inversions? Well, maybe. But for most people, that’s not the reality. You’re drained, unmotivated and tired. You just want to lay down. So what do you do? Work this into your practice! Take any last drop of abhyasa (effort) you have left. Practice vairagya (non-attachment) by letting go of the belief that a practice only counts if you flow through vinyasas and inversions. Sit your legs up the wall, stretch out the day, then head to Savasana. Is this any less “yoga” than going to class and breaking a sweat or handstands? Nope, it’s not. Sorry to break it to you, but Yoga isn’t simply a workout routine. Yoga isn’t something that fits into a box or category and it sure isn’t something that is the same for everyone. “The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.” (Sutra 1.2)

Yoga is simply taking the time to tend to your body, release that which no longer serves you and slow (if not stop) your racing thoughts. So whether to you this means flowing through a well rounded routine or taking ten minutes at the end of the day to surrender, any cultivation of mindfulness and release of “the mind-stuff” is Yoga. Any practice is still a practice no matter how small, and consistency is still achievable even with only ten minutes to spare. Remember that.


In conclusion, the biggest key to consistency is practicing with non-attachment. Letting go of the expectation that you need a full hour or rounded flow to practice. Let go of the expectation that you need complete silence or solitude to practice, and begin working with what you have; whether it be pets, kids, or a busy schedule. Adjust your practice to your own needs, and treat yourself gently when your energy is spent elsewhere. Approach your mat with an open mind, adjust your practice to your own needs, and peace will soon follow.

 

 

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After her battle with anxiety and depression led her to seek alternatives, Maddy has been practicing yoga daily for three years. Now she is training to become a certified instructor and shares her journey through YouTube: Sacred Synchronicities and on Instagram: @sacredsynchronicities.

Return To Center

Amidst a time of great change, it becomes easy to find yourself feeling lost. We have all been there. If not, you most likely will be at one time or another. But don’t worry or fear, for this is all but a part of the process. You know the saying “Not all who wander are lost.”? Well although this may be true, I sure am lost. Is “lost” necessarily a bad thing? No, of course not. The word “lost” simply has negative connotations attached to it from years of misunderstanding.


So what do you do when you’re lost? Well, you return to what is familiar to you. Sometimes this leads people to revert back to old habits. I, myself, am not ashamed to admit this is exactly what I have done. Quite recently, as well. When I am lost, I revert back to something I know all too well and something that comes quite naturally to me; my state of anxiety and depression. In this case, I have realized that it is because it gives me a sense of familiarity; a sense of security. We are often taught to react to situations in a certain way. For example, if there’s a conflict in the family or you lose a close friendship, it is often implied that you must feel sad. This situation was “bad”, so immediately you must grieve. There is nothing wrong with grieving. Of course, it is natural and can be a healthy coping mechanism. However, there may come a time when you rely on feelings of grief and depression as a crutch due to their sense of familiarity. Now this is what I’ve done.

Return to center. So, what does this mean to you? To me, returning to center means exactly that. Return to center. “Center” meaning the stillness and contentment of my inner Being; of our inner Being. We all have different ways of doing so. For me, yoga and meditation has helped me immensely. I am writing this right now as a result of a deep yoga session. Before that, I was constantly reflecting back on previous events. What “should” have been done or if things could have been handled differently in the past. I felt lost, and the first thing I needed to do was admit that to myself; so that’s exactly what I did.

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Once again, what do we do when we are lost? We return to what is familiar to us. Although at first I was subconsciously reverting back to the familiar state of depression, I decided to roll out my yoga mat. Through this, I was able to to cultivate mindfulness and slow (if not stop) those negative thoughts right in their tracks. Now I know that we all roll out our mats for different reasons, but I feel as if this is something that can connect us all. Whether you roll out your mat simply to gain flexibility, aid in anxiety relief, or to cultivate awareness, we are all returning to what we know; whether or not this was our sole intention. We return to our inner stillness; our true nature.

The point being, never be afraid to admit that you are lost. There is no shame in being lost, for tremendous growth may follow. The most important thing to remember is to never breed resistance. Accept whatever comes your way as neither good nor bad. If it is what you wanted, express gratitude and say thank you. If it is not what you wanted, say thank you for the lesson and grow. If you find yourself being sucked back into old destructive habits, do not shame yourself. Simply accept this fact and use this awareness to put you back on track. Look within. Roll out your mat. Return to center.

 

After her battle with anxiety and depression led her to seek alternatives, Maddy has been practicing yoga daily for three years. Now she is training to become a certified instructor in hopes of helping others that may be found in similar situations.

The Fit Traveller

One of the greatest things I have learned from yoga and life itself is the power of CONNECTION. I am so grateful for all of the connections in the world and blessed with the connectivity that the path of yoga presents. One of these connections has been with Skye Gilkeson, aka The Fit Traveller. Although as of now we only know each other via the ‘virtual world’, it is amazing to share our passions for being Connection Catalysts within the global wellness community. The Fit Traveller is an inspiring portal for anyone interested in exploration, retreats, nourishment, and a lifetime of wellness. We are grateful to catch up with Skye and learn about her story here:

What inspired the idea for the Fit Traveller?

Many factors played a part in the creation of The Fit Traveller; my personal passion for wellness and travel and my love of journalism and visual storytelling were all key. I knew I wanted to combine all of that experience to create a space that was both inspirational and informative; that helped people better their lives through health and wellness and broaden their horizons and life experience through travel. I’m very proud of the way The Fit Traveller does just that and continues to evolve, guided by that ethos.

Can you tell us a bit how travel and wellness has shaped your life?

Travel has been a constant in my life from a very young age. I grew up in country Australia so I was always on the road, travelling with family or playing away for representative sport and music. Those early adventures had a profound effect on me. I was very independent and very curious. Travel fed both of those traits in abundance. I loved exploring new places and meeting new people. My first significant international trip was at the age of 15. I went on a sports tour to the US and Europe. I made a decision on that trip that as soon as I finished school, I was going to leave Australia to see the world. When I was 18, I went backpacking around the globe for a year with a friend. I then lived in Spain for a year while at university and I have travelled consistently for most of my life in between those big trips and ever since. Travel is a huge part of who I am. I genuinely believe it makes me a better person. So it makes sense that I have shaped that passion into a business. 

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Wellness has always been an integral part of my life. My mother was a very big influence growing up when it came to healthy eating. We didn’t have junk food in our house – just simple, nourishing food. Even at school, I was always very conscious of eating in a healthy way. Being involved so intensely in sports at school also meant staying fit and being active was just part of my everyday life. I ran a personal training business while completing my post-graduate studies and I loved helping people make small and bigger changes to the way they lived their lives. It is something I’m still very proud of. I have had some personal health struggles too, so I really value my health and hope to encourage others to do that same in any way I can. 

How did you connect with Yoga Trade Travel Rep, Mary Tilson? 

Mary was our yoga instructor during our stay at the Hariharalaya Retreat Centre in Cambodia. There really was something about Mary. I got to know her as an instructor during that time and as a friend and colleague after leaving the retreat center. We were in regular contact and very supportive of each other’s similar paths. That connection grew organically into a business relationship. She is now our Yoga and Wellness Editor and shares her active adventures with our readers when she is on the road. I am very grateful our paths crossed in such a wonderful way. 

What is one of your favorite places you have traveled to this year?

It would be so difficult to narrow down one place to be honest. I have been travelling almost full time for the last year and a half. Most recently, I visited to the Canadian Rockies with The Hubby. I loved that trip as we got to spend so much time being active out in nature. The more time I spend in the mountains, the more I fall in love with it. I have always been a beach girl but the mountains are wooing me more with each trip. There’s really nothing like hiking a mountain with your partner with no one else around. It’s the ultimate indulgence in many ways. 

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What is your advice to people that want to start a business that will enable them to live a life of wellness travel?

Start small. While it can look like a glamorous life from the outside, it can be very tough. I always say, don’t give up your day job just yet. It’s important to know how you really want to live your life; what your non-negotiables are, what exactly your business and your particular niche is and what you are willing to sacrifice to make it happen. Focus on your personal skill-set, formulate a business plan and start with weekends away or short trips and get a feel for how that life would be. It’s an extraordinary way to live, but it’s not for everyone. 

How do you create community while traveling?

I have found social media to be really helpful with connecting with likeminded people while travelling. Going to retreats, group exercise or yoga classes or chatting to people who own small businesses like healthy cafes around the world is a great way to connect with someone you may never have otherwise crossed paths with. I have met some really interesting and inspiring people that way. You have to put yourself out there but the rewards are incredible.

Where do you see yourself and the Fit Traveller in 10 years?

I would love for The Fit Traveller to be a household name in 10 years – a one-stop-shop for wellness, travel, conscious eating, style advice and general healthy living information and inspiration. That’s what we are working towards. 

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Favorite mantra?

“Start where you are”.

Anything else you would like to share?

The Fit Traveller is always looking for new voices so if there are any writers, teachers, photographers or creatives who have a story to tell or some wisdom to share by contributing with content, I would love to hear from them. 

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Skye is a journalist, a former personal trainer, a freelance writer, photographer, intrepid traveller and a passionate advocate for helping others reach optimal health and wellness. Skye created The Fit Traveller as both a beautiful online space where readers can feel uplifted but also a place that will inspire them to think differently, move differently and perhaps look at their lives a little differently. After launching The Fit Traveller in November 2014, Skye decided she needed to launch herself fully into building The Fit Traveller community and creating the best quality content for readers. Skye and The Hubby hit the road in March 2015 to travel full time. The Fit Traveller hopes to help you create a life you love by showcasing content that is both informative and inspiring – crafted from in-depth storytelling, beautiful imagery and authentic personal experiences. 

CONNECT:

The Fit Traveller | @thefittraveller

4 Benefits of Living a Yoga Lifestyle

Ready for more peace in your life? Get these four tips for why you should be living the yoga lifestyle.

You don’t have to be a yogi to lead a yoga lifestyle. There are amazing benefits to living the healthy, happy lifestyle of yogis. Minimizing stress, feeding your body good foods, exercising throughout the week and practicing kindness with yourself and with others are key components to getting that yoga lifestyle. Read on to learn what you need to do to step off that yoga mat and into the life you want:

Tip #1: Feeding your body

Yogis often are very focused on what they put into their bodies. That’s because what you eat directly affects your yoga practice. Negative substances have a negative effect — even in a short amount of time or with short exposure.

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Healthy, raw foods and good proteins that form a healthy diet should be the focus of your meal plan. A very common healthy diet for a yogi consists of feeding your body whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans. Yogis often are known to minimize their intake — or abstain altogether — from alcohol and coffee, as these substances can lead to dullness or hyperactivity.

At the end of the day, eating like a yogi is really about doing what is good for your body, clearing your mind, and listening to what kind of nourishment your body needs at each time it is hungry or thirsty. It’s okay to be hungry. It’s good to be hungry. But you do need to practice healthy eating to feel good and have the energy to carry you through the day.

Tip #2: Avoiding stress

The yogi life is all about peace and harmony, and that’s exactly what a yoga practice can do for a person. The meditative quality of practicing yoga leads a person to clear the mind, let go of worries and stresses and to focus on bringing positive energy into his or her space.

You can do this with yoga or you can try stress-free living with many other practices — including meditation, prayer, or an activity that is peaceful and sets you at ease such as cooking or reading. Find that zen activity for you that allows you to escape and let go.

Tip #3: Exercising every day

Exercising to keep the body strong and healthy is a key component of a yoga lifestyle. I love to slip on my Alo yoga pants every day and do something active — yoga, walk, run or simply just stretch.

It’s empowering to put my mind to this practice every day, knowing that I’ll feel good if I just push myself to get active in some way. I try to do exercises that will help me relax and feel good. When those endorphins release at the end of my exercise time, I’m always so glad I made myself be active. You, too, can make this a key part of your life by beginning every day with a dedicated time for exercise or making your lunch hour the time you go to the gym. Do what works for you to get you in the flow of being active.

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Tip #4: Being good to others

Finally, yogis make it a priority to exhibit kindness — both to themselves and to other people. This is a hallmark of someone who deeply cares about the yoga practice. It actually begins to change the way you react to other people. I’ve known so many yogis who go out of their way to be generous and charitable to people who really may not deserve it.

At the end of the day, the yogi knows that it is in his power to spread positive energy and that it benefits him to be the best human being he can be to another person. That kind of mindset — that leads to positive change — is a lifestyle that cannot be replicated hardly any other way. It’s empowering, freeing and healthy.

In conclusion, if you’re ready to find more health and happiness in your life, then start practicing the yoga lifestyle today. You don’t have to practice yoga every day or be a yogi to get the positive results you want that can make your life more enjoyable for you and for the people you surround yourself with day in and day out. It’s more about the way you live your life infusing it with these four principles. Your fellow yogis would agree! Get started today with a peaceful, positive journey for your life, and the positive effects will become part of who you are for a lifetime.

 

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Melanie Nathan is an entrepreneur, digital marketer, writer for Huffington Post and beginner yoga enthusiast. Connect with her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/melanienathan) to learn more.

You Are Ready Now

“If not now, when?”

This is a question that has stayed with me ever since my 200-hour teacher training back in 2013. When I was applying for the training I remember experiencing constant flashes of doubt and fear. I had only been practicing yoga for a few years and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to become a teacher. I mean, my handstand was almost nonexistent, and I have never in my life considered myself to be flexible, and standing in front of a classroom full of people expecting me to tell them what to do?? Yeah, right. Teacher? Me? No Way.

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But my teacher, she told me something different. With a smile she asked me the question: “If not now, when?” I’m sure I had a look of confusion, and shock, painted across my face, but then she said the words, “Caitlin, you are ready now.”

It’s easy for us to come up with excuses for why we aren’t ready now… It’s even easier to sit back and wait until we think the timing is juuuust right… Basically, it’s easy to stay confined within the walls of our perfectly constructed comfort zone.

But easy is not what makes us grow.

The harsh reality is: we may never think we are ready. And if we stay trapped in that mindset, waiting until the perfectly ripe moment, life will surely pass us by. Fast. The chances will have expired and we will have to live with regret, thinking about all the things that could have been if we were just willing to go for it.

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You are ready now. You are ready for whatever it is that you have been putting off: a new job, a yoga teacher training, traveling to a new country, meeting new people, or stepping into a whole new way of being. Drop the limiting beliefs and transform the feelings of self doubt into compassion, curiosity and motivation to experience something new.

Give it a go, and let yourself be open to what’s possible. Sure, new things can be scary, challenging, and even awkward, but it’s the scary, the challenges, the awkwardness that will eventually lead us to growth. Because when we allow ourselves to stay with those feelings and learn to not run away from them, they lose their ferocity and they become a little less intimidating.

And we realize that deep down inside, we knew we were ready all along.

 

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Cait Lawson is a 26-year-old yogi, surfer and entrepreneur currently living in Rincon, Puerto Rico. Her goal as a yoga/SUP yoga/surf instructor is to empower others to drop their doubts, to discover their own strength, to let their true light shine.

Connect:

http://www.sunburntandsalty.com/

Yoga for Self-Confidence: Bending to Breakthrough

 

Everyone has experienced a sense of insecurity—missing the winning goal; unrequited love; unexpected unemployment…the list goes on and on. It’s human nature after all, to recognize and learn from our experiences…and move forward.

However, when these experiences build-up over time, growing into a lack of self-confidence and paralyzing fear, it can conquer us in a life-altering way. The reality is, we all have experienced and will continue to experience these moments throughout life. The secret to our ability to move through fear and muster the courage to take steps and action that will re-build our confidence is knowing what tools you have on hand when faced with these challenging times.

Developing a strong practice and connection with the postures of yoga is not only a means of physical exercise, but is a holistic tool that has been around for thousands of years helping people move through life challenges that can impact one’s self-confidence, ranging from anxiety, to depression, addiction and fear.

Attending yoga class whether in a studio or a gym can be intimidating. Often times, new or even existing yoga students are afraid of the media images that promote yoga class as hours of sitting still or body postures that look humanely impossible.

When in fact, the practice of yoga is meant to serve as the opposite, time on your mat that is dedicated personal space to move physically and create an opportunity to connect more closely with yourself, ultimately finding comfort in your own presence.

Yoga can boost your self-confidence through:

Stress Relief & Emotional Management

There is a lot more to yoga practice than getting into shape physically—in fact, this isn’t the main objective at all. One of the major causes of mental overload is stress, which can be a trigger for depression in certain serious cases.

Yoga can help you release these stressors through a series of meditative and relaxing breathing exercises, which can increase the circulation of oxygen in the mind and body, thus enabling your overall flow of energy.

This may help you recognize and process your stress more effectively as it arises, which in turn will eliminate your fear and boost your self-confidence.

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Body-Positive Community

Yoga helps people of all ages to create a peaceful and inviting space together, outside of society’s expectations. Many body-image issues are related to the need for control, whereas yoga is about fostering the courage to let go. Silencing the mind and focusing on the breath and the body can break the habit of perfectionism, and instead creates a deep appreciation for your body’s positive capabilities.

Attending local yoga classes are a great way to have fun with like-minded friends and to build new relationships that are not rooted in physical appearance.

Release of Negativity

Yoga allows us to pause and silence the mind for long enough to actually reflect on our bad habits and negative thought process — and better understand how these may be driving our actions. We often paint lesser images of ourselves at a young age when insecurity is heightened—especially how we’re portrayed by others —which can trigger self-loathing. Often as we move through adulthood, we’re still carrying those skewed portraits of ourselves, despite their falsity.

Yoga can erase the whiteboard and offer a clean slate for newfound self-acceptance; a chance to bend until you break through all of the bull—negativity, rather, that’s been standing in the way of your hopes and dreams.

What if I Can’t Find Time to Make it to a Yoga Class?

If it seems impossible to carve out time in your schedule to take a yoga class or follow along to a yoga video at home, try taking your focus to your breathing in moments that challenge your peace of mind. Something as simple as focusing your mind on the words, “inhale” and “exhale” as you breathe in and out can help to pull you out of the mental story your mind is weaving about yourself, your abilities or the circumstance triggering the emotions, and bring you mentally, physically and emotionally grounded back in the present moment.

Performing a set of simple breathing exercises, postures and meditation can help you to begin to bend mentally, emotionally and physically to break through self-doubt, fear, sadness…whatever negative energy is holding you back from where you want to go, be, do and experience in this lifetime.

Bend so much that you have a breakthrough.

 

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Dr. Jodi Ashbrook is the owner of Open Doors Yoga Studios in Hingham, Massachusetts, founder & CEO of The BE Brand ® and President of Dr. Jodi Inc. She is passionate about creating experiences where people can grow, reflect and believe in themselves.

Getting Clear

Twenty something quits stressful job after years of striving to be the successful, career woman, finds happiness and la la la – you know the cliché. Yes, that’s currently me, however I am struggling with the “la la la”….

From a young age I knew I was going to work hard and make my way towards a generous salary, seniority and to allow my job to define who I was for a sense of entitlement; and that’s what I did. I worked up to seven days a week, sometimes 17-hour days, always checking emails, no matter the day, time, vacation or occasion. My most recent position came with all of the above and every, complacent female in her 20s living in Manhattan’s fantasy – a relocation package to the West Coast.

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As a native New Yorker, I had been relishing in the idea of escaping the concrete jungle for some California sunshine. I was offered what would be perceived by most as a dream job and I of course said yes without hesitation. However, it never felt like the right choice. I knew – being who I am – that either way I would have to go and have this experience because I never wanted to wonder “what if?” but it truly never felt right. The company made it very attractive for me to make the move and it was a no brainer, so off I went.

I wore black, Every. Single. Day. And I did not smile in that office, once in the eight months I spent out West. It’s kind of hilarious when I look back and realize how dramatic I was being but, the story I told myself was that I was in the ultimate mourning. I was flying back to New York every other weekend and became an expert at being miserable. The amount of negative energy that permeated out of my skin infected anyone that was near me. A colleague and now dear friend nicknamed me “The Moody Yogi” (pretty fitting) I was forgetting that this was a situation I had put myself in. I made these conscious decisions on my own, no one – not anyone, forced me or insisted that I go. I felt stuck and I felt trapped until the misery was too much to bear and I decided I was going to quit. I didn’t have much of a back up plan other than the fact that I love yoga and I always wanted to complete a teacher training.

Most of my adult life I have struggled with being fully present in the now. I have always been fixated on past events or planning the future. Previously, when I decided I was going to try out therapy, my therapist told me in my very first session that everyone has a book. In this book are the pages that are already written: this represents your past; then you have today, that is half written and a bunch of empty pages following which represent your future. She told me I was petrified of the unknown and she was absolutely right.

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So, after I went into my boss’s office and broke the news; I drove back 2,600 miles east and I was off to Nicaragua for a month long, intensive, ashtanga yoga teacher training.

Nicaragua was tough, it was like nothing I have ever experienced before. I’ve traveled a ton and I’ve certainly “roughed it” but this was on a different level. Anyone who has gone through any type of yoga training can vouch for me and agree that it is draining. Not only physically because you’re practicing up to six hours each day and learning so much about the practice and yourself, but mentally because you’re being tested and challenged in so many unfamiliar ways. Mix this with PMS, a lot of different personalities and living in a remote little town in the middle of nowhere with four foreign roommates and every, creepy, crawler that exists in Nicaragua’s climate is nesting in bed with you. I had a mosquito net and one night I thought I was being pretty inventive. I sprayed the net and my bed with the Hercules of insect repellant that one of the girls had concocted. When I awoke, there was a graveyard of species on my bed and on my net. The concoction had worked so well that the critters were dying as soon as they touched the surface. Turns out dead bugs are just as creepy as live bugs. And scorpions. Scorpions in your room are a whole different story but we worked out a removal strategy that I can discuss another time.

“Happiness is within you and it doesn’t matter where you live or what you do for a living because wherever you go, there you are.”

So here I was in Nicaragua, sleeping naked every night for the sheer fact that it was so unbearably hot, eating a restricted diet that included no sugar (take sugar completely out of your diet and see how irritable you can become) taking a shower and brushing my teeth with salt water. Had I not bought such cute colorful yoga clothes prior to my training, I would have been in black, mourning, again. But what the hell, right? I chose to go to this training. I selectively picked the dates and country and signed myself up. I paid for the trip and booked my flight and purchased the necessary study materials. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been in a situation where I’ve repeatedly said “how did this happen?” over and over and over, only to remind myself that I put myself in that very situation. The first two weeks of the training were brutal. I was keeping a journal and every day I wrote “today will be the day I break through” and each night I went to bed crossing the days off the calendar, counting down to go home. Again, never living in the present. Always fixated on what comes next. My time in Nicaragua taught me gratitude. For the first time in my 29 years of existence I felt true gratitude and was truly so grateful for all of my blessings and the life I have been given. Additionally, it made me want to be a better human. If I had only walked away with those two things, it was already more than worth it but I had walked away with new friends, a new practice and an experience of a lifetime that in many ways changed who I was as a person.

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I’ve come full circle and I have learned that there is so much more to life than work. It’s one thing to be truly passionate for the work that you do and I honestly admire that in many of my peers but I know now, while looking back on all of the years I spent building someone else’s empire, no matter what the paycheck was, never truly made me feel of service. That’s the funny thing, when you begin the journey to self-discovery, self-love and an overall deeper meaning of self; you just want to be a decent human being. That becomes the bigger picture and the ultimate goal.

I still feel incomplete. I feel discontent but I think this is who I am as a person. I am never satisfied and I am always craving something bigger and better for myself. It’s a gift and a curse. But in the same notion, I am the happiest, most fulfilled and most free I have ever been.

Happiness is within you and it doesn’t matter where you live or what you do for a living because wherever you go, there you are. All of you. It’s something I have heard and have been told for years; but now, I truly understand. I take each day as it comes and I’m a little less fearful of the future nowadays.

 

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Melissa is a registered yoga teacher as well as a Reiki practitioner. She is currently wandering the globe and enjoying life for all of its offers. Connect on Instagram at Melissa_Gee or email at MGee228@gmail.com

Trust Your Process

After a pretty sleepy December we’ve finally started to see some solid surf strolling through this little corner of Rincon, Puerto Rico. Tres Palmas woke up, and from the 413 just above the cow fields people stopped their cars and whipped out their iPhones to take witness of the beautiful, blue mountains of water rolling across the sea (and I only say this because I did it, too). It was simply majestic and something that this surf town hasn’t seen in a little while.

Over the past year I’ve noticed an urge to get out into some bigger waves. As my surfing armbalanceworkshopis improving and my confidence getting stronger I’ve felt a desire to start pushing my limits, mindfully that is… but surfing bigger, heavier waves is something I thought I’d never want to do. And now it’s actually starting to feel more like a reality. It’s kind of a personal thing, I guess. Because surfing has been and always will be for fun. But I’m ready for it, I think, and sometimes it feels good to really see some growth and transformation, ya know?

Anyways, I got out there a couple of times. I managed to catch a few smaller waves, and I took a few on the head as well. I experienced fear, elation, frustration, and anxiety. I was humbled. And I didn’t even paddle out on the “big day,” because I was flat out scared shitless. And you know what I did? I beat myself up for it. Thoughts like, “You should have been out there. You’re such a wimp. You’re not good enough. You’ll never be good enough,” started pouring through my mind. I was super harsh towards myself. And I caught myself getting sucked into the vortex of negative energy and limiting beliefs.

I wasn’t practicing the one thing that I always preach – and that was compassion.

Just as I’ve learned compassion towards myself on my yoga mat, I must apply that same compassion towards myself in every other area of my life – surfing, work, teaching, relationships, – and just as I couldn’t expect myself to nail Crow Pose during my first-ever yoga class, I can’t expect myself to be an expert in bigger, heavier surf within just a few sessions.

Compassion reminds us that we must place our trust in the process and allow our journey to unfold exactly as it should. Not how we think it should. Because really, in yogaseq2 or surfing or life, what is the final destination? Well in life I guess it’s death, but there is really no prize for being the first one there. So as long as you’re kicking there is always an opportunity to expand – to go bigger or deeper or further. There is always room for growth.

But there’s no finish line. So why rush?

This awareness of a need to prove myself, or prove my self-worth, through big wave surfing, seems to shine a light on where I am trying to prove myself in other areas of my life. I want to be the best surfer that I can be. I want to be the best yogi I can be. I want to be the best yoga teacher. I want to be successful and well-liked and always going 110%, full-throttle every single day. But that’s not always the case, because life is life. It has its ups and downs, flat spells and mackin’ swells that come through and rattle you, shake you up a little bit… So whether it’s my surfing, my teaching, my personal yoga practice, or my relationships with others I’ve committed to returning to the practice of trusting MY process: slowing down, doing the work that I need to do, letting go of the rest, and just enjoying the journey that I’m on.

When we trust the process, our process, we know that we are on our right path. Enjoy the place you are at, because it’s exactly where you need to be. Trust that growth and transformation is happening, especially during the times that you don’t see it. Because it’s there. It’s happening. And when we let go of our story as to how the end result show be, that’s when we usually end up surprising ourselves. Trust YOUR Process!

 

 

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Caitlin Lawson: Professional Surf Bum. Yogi. Teacher. Student. Ambassador of Love. Usually a little sunburnt, always salty, and currently living in Rincon, Puerto Rico. I love this island. The ocean keeps me grounded and I can never turn down a good adventure.

 

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Why to Get Yin With It

All right, I feel you sister (or brother); you don’t want to slow down. I, too, have heard that sweet little voice that can transform into a booming drill seargant, “Run faster, bitch.” You immediately build walls at the suggestion of taking a rest day or offer that your mind cannot focus in even momentary meditation. Moving slowly for an hour? Pshhhh, not a chance. Filling your precious workout time with a Yin yoga class is the road less traveled… that you would rather leave untraveled.

While the benefits of a sweat crunching, power-style yoga classes are endless, all exercise and no recovery is a recipe for injury and breakdown. Moving through a class where there is no goal of sweating or strengthening allows your body and mind to practice releasing, or in yogi speak, letting go.

So what exactly is Yin yoga? In Chinese cosmology, the yin-yang theory describes how everything has a dual aspect. While yin and yang seem to be opposing forces, they IMG_3967complement and interact with each other to form continuous balance. One can see the polarities by simply looking into his or her life and surroundings, such as hot and cold, day and night, and feminine and masculine.

While our yang practice stimulates and encourages our dynamic vinyasa practice or even activities like running, Yin yoga is a practice that focuses more so on the connective tissues of the body, such as the ligaments, tendons, fascia and bones. These systems in our body respond best to slow, steady load, and in return, they will begin to relax and release when given the time to do so.

While connective tissue can be found in each bone, muscle and organ, it is most concentrated at the joints. By not utilizing the full range of joint flexibility, the connective tissues will, over time, shorten to the minimal need required of the body’s activities. Gently moving into a pose and holding it for what may seem as an eternity, a yin practice can help to rebuild and restore a normal range of movement.

Yin yoga is often accompanied with props, such as blocks, blankets and bolsters. By practicing at a slower pace and only moving through a handful of postures, the class will often be a sequence of poses that open the chest for breath work and dive deeply into the hips.

Now that we have discussed the benefits of Yin yoga to your super-hot, yoga body, how else can practicing slowly quickly help your yoga practice? Let’s roll out your head and heart. Through reading this article, perhaps you have either uploaded a picture to instagram (and labeled it #yogaeverydamnday), asked the dog to be quiet, checked your facebook notications, glanced at a text message, felt stressed in determining how to respond to said text message, thought that you should do the dishes, realized you left the dish soap in the car with other groceries, wondered if a yoga studio near you offers Yin yoga and started to plan your next meal.

Hopefully you didn’t engage in all of them.

It isn’t surprising that most people are resistant to incorporating rest. The culture that we live in rewards those who hold workaholic, stressed-out, type-A behaviors. Scant value is placed upon recovery until tendonitis creeps in, joints uncontrollably pop, debilitating pain radiates from one’s lower back and we are so frazzled and bombarded by our own lives, that we have catastrophic freak-outs.

If you are consistently choosing recreation that mimics a jam-packed life, the body will break itself down.

Being softer, slower and more mindful, a Yin yoga practice will encourage an opening IMG_5733within the energetic pathways of the body and mind. Through moving stagnant energy, vitality within the body will blossom: organ function improves, immunity levels rise and emotional well-being is renewed. It is about turning inward and growing a peaceful awareness within oneself. This intimate practice requires preparation for a heart-to-heart with sensations and emotions, a discussion usually avoided by most.

From an outside perspective, Yin yoga may appear to be seen as lounging in comfy poses on one’s mat. Being still breeds ground for a straying mind, and it takes practice to deliberately stay with the rough or unsettling emotions and thoughts that may surface. Mindfulness is like a muscle; it must be exercised, and it needs practice.

Yin yoga offers the space to develop the skills needed to stay with and process those dark areas within. As I have been working through a physical imbalance within my body, embracing Yin yoga has started to grow greater attention towards my body’s abilities and signals.

For you to-do list makers and task-oriented folk, here are ten benefits of Yin yoga:

* Restores balance in the nervous system

* Regulates and improves energy vitality within the body

* By lubricating the joints and increasing synovial fluid, greater flexibility and mobility is inspired

* Opens up the fascia within the body

* Helps to balance hormones

* Encourages good posture by stimulating the entire spine

* Releases tension in the lumbar spine (low back)

* Massages and tones the bowels, aiding in improved digestion

* Offers a deepened state of relaxation

* Complements and enhances a yang practice (vinyasa, bikram, etc.)

This mini-list is only a taste of what a delicious Yin yoga practice can begin to produce. Take time to settle in stillness, reach your mental edge and listen to what your body, heart and mind are trying to tell you. Just as the day bleeds into the night, and the moon lingers in the morning sky, Yin yoga will shine light onto those dark, untraveled pathways.

 

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Patty Blake is cycling, mountain climbing, animal loving and plant crunching VEGAN! She is registered Yoga Instructor, licensed Massage Therapist, certified Reiki Practitioner who loves to laugh and smash goals. www.thepattymelt.com

Travel Yourself Healthy

Earlier this year, my bearded better half and I decided to escape real, responsible adult life in the city for a travel adventure which is taking us from Costa Rica to Argentina, via all of the snowy peaks, sandy beaches, yoga classes, jungle treks and waterfall dips possible. The main motivation for our adventure was to give our sun-starved, tired out selves a year off the daily grind and be let loose without curfew deep amidst the great outdoors.

Perhaps I’d been a little too vocal about being addicted to a plant-based, superfood packed diet prior to our departure, causing friends and loved ones concern as they envisioned me passed out on a grubby floor somewhere – unable to cope with the distress of having to survive on buckets of hostel cooked pasta and nondescript fried street-meat.

Fortunately enough, discovery number one of traveling was that even if you’re on a trip typical of gap-year 19 year olds, you don’t necessarily need to eat like one. We’ve been eight months on the road so far and we’re still fueling our hikes with maca and chia seed porridge and my Instagram is still clogged with rainbow plates of salad conjured up in the most random of pit-stops.

Here’s my top five tips for staying healthy when you’re living out of a backpack…

1. TRUSTY TUPPERWARE

Yep, my first tip is to pack a good, air-tight tupperware. Forget fancy shoes or jewellery even exist – when you’re living half your life on a bus a girls best friend is reduced to a square plastic box. Whether your mode of transport is bus, car, taxi or plane, chances are your journey will deprive you entirely of anything resembling real, fresh food. This is mildly irritating when you’re on a bus for 4 hours but stomach crippling when you’re faced with a 22 hour bus marathon (yep, that happened). Before you depart fill your new best friend with something veggie based that won’t die too fast. Raw cabbage salads and chickpea-veggie mixes have been absolute winners for me.

2. OBEY THE POWER BREAKFAST

Start the day with something virtuous and you’ll be less likely to resign yourself to a image2greasy tray of street papas by lunchtime. Before traveling, I wouldn’t even have made it out of bed had it not been for overnight chia oats, a.k.a. the health food bloggers equivalent of potent narcotics, waiting patiently for me in the fridge. SO easy to make, even when you only have access to a kitchen shared with 30 other travelers and their half eaten saucepans of pasta.

The trick is to prep a decent stock of ‘the power mix’ to take with you ahead of your trip. For me this consisted of: chia seeds, maca powder and baobab, ground flax, sunflower seeds and cinnamon.

Then, all you need to seek out at your destination is a humble bag of oats, some fresh fruit for the topping and either almond milk (it’s been astonishingly easy to find), coconut milk or just plain old H2O to make the magic happen. Mix it together in the afore mentioned tupperware before you hit your bunk bed and in the morning you’ll have the healthiest brekkie ready to eat while everyone else in the hostel is queuing up to cook pancakes from a dodgy looking bag of pre-mix.

3. THE INTERNET IS YOUR FRIEND

Having arrived at over 60 towns so far on our travels, I’ve been amazed by how many wonderful, health obsessed people have set up shop in the far corners of this planet. I’ve met many of them through a phone app (have a search on your app store) which lists vegan/veggie cafes and restaurants and specialist/organic food stores. It was through this that I found a green juicery in a small town in Ecuador, a superfood-lovers paradise in Colombia and countless Hare Krishna centres offering bargain ‘menu del dias’ (super cheap veggie 3 course set lunches) in almost every major city. Having a quick search online and asking friendly hostel dwellers about where the nearest fruit and veggie markets are will save your tummy as well as your wallet too.

4. LEARN THE LINGO

Learning some of the local language is a given for most conscientious travelers, but don’timage1 restrict yourself to friendly basics if you want to eat healthy when treating yourself to meals out. You’ll have to do the leg work for your own destination – but below are a couple of the most useful Spanish phrases I’ve come to rely on so far:

Yo soy vegetariano – I am vegetarian

Sin carne o pollo, por favor – Without meat or chicken, please (in some countries ‘vegetarian’ is simply not a thing)

Sin azúcar, por favor – Without sugar, please

Tiene aguacate? – Do you have avocado? (curveball: some South American countries call it ‘palta’ instead of ‘aguacate’)

5. BECOME A HOSTEL SEARCHING NINJA

Bid farewell to that adrenaline rush you used to get when browsing hotels for your summer holidays as searching for hostels is the least glamorous part of a traveler’s job description. If you’re trying to salvage your healthy glow then save your sanity and prioritize finding a decent hostel kitchen, preferably one equipped with more than just a sieve and a saucer… although the challenge of trying to make a meal using only the most random and obscure of utensils will really revitalize your creativity in the kitchen.

 

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Suzie is a 200 hour qualified yoga instructor, travelling Central & South America with her partner whilst blogging about teaching yoga, keeping fit and eating healthy. See her adventures at lifeinfullcolour.co.uk and on Instagram @life.in.full.colour