Yoga on the Road

Got the summer travel bug?  Remember to add some yoga to your travel days and nights. 

Child's Pose on the road

I encourage my student's to do a little bit of yoga everyday, even (and especially) when they are traveling.  I took a weekend road trip recently in a rented camper van.  I could stand up in the van but didn't have enough room for full sun salutations.  So I did a few yoga poses on my air mattress before and after bed.

Twisting right and left in the van

Happy Baby on the ceiling

It's a great idea to stretch in any way possible when you are on the road.  All of the sitting and holding the body in one position for too long is damaging.  If you can get up every couple hours and stretch, do it.  Set reminders on your phone to stop driving and take a stretch break.  Or, when you are on the airplane, get up and walk the aisle and stretch.  

If you have room in your suitcase or backpack to bring a foam roller or tennis ball, do that too.  You can massage the feet, calves, hips, buttocks, shoulders -- anything that feels knotted and needs some relief.

And no need for yoga clothes, pajamas work just fine in bed, in the tent, in the camper, or on the hotel room or guest room floor.  Yay!

Yoga Retreats Rock!

I recently was fortunate enough to attend a week-long yoga retreat in Yelapa, Mexico with Baxter Bell and his Yoga For Healthy Aging students.  I went as a student, not as a teacher, and that was a real treat.   

Twenty nine of us yoga students attended class in the beautiful Sky Temple twice a day.  Some students were brand new to yoga.  Some were spouses of long-time yogis.  Some of us were teachers.  Some were in shape, some were out of shape, some were in between.  Some were nervous about the experience, some were eager.  The age range of the students was 30s - 70s.  The smiles on our faces here truly represent how we all felt at the end of the week.

The great thing about the type of yoga Baxter Bell teaches is that it is accessible.  Each morning and afternoon I looked forward to class.  I never dreaded marching up the steep stone steps to the yoga platform.  Each class was slightly different.  We always had a healthy dose of meditation, poetry and music at the beginning and end of class.  I practiced deep yoga in a fun, supportive, educational, magical environment.  And guess what, we didn't do any downward facing dogs or sun salutations all week!

The view from the yoga deck at Sky Temple

What did we do when we weren't practicing yoga each day?  We had long conversations with new friends, we hiked on the beach and in the hills, we sat on the beach, we read books, wrote, went into town and shopped, went on mini travel excursions, we talked with the locals, we bird watched, we took photos, we experienced a different culture and pace from our normal lives.  We listened to the waves crashing on the beach.  We sat and stared into space.  We ate and drank.  We chill-axed!  And, we never threw paper in the toilet or drank out of the tap.

If you find yourself dreaming about attending a yoga retreat someday I suggest you find a teacher, program or studio you love.  Find a type of yoga that works for you with an instructor you can imagine learning from for an extended period of time, then...go for it!  Even if you go alone, like I did, chances are, you won't regret it.  You will learn many things from the experience and may even really enjoy it. 

Open your heart to a new yoga experience and see what follows.

Find Your Happy Place

Yosemite, top of Nevada Falls

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” 
― John MuirThe Mountains of California

A couple weeks ago I went to Yosemite.  It was the first time I'd been there since 1999.  A long over due trip.  It was inspiring, awesome, majestic, poetic, breath-taking, jaw-dropping.  The day I got back I booked a reservation for my next trip there.

Nevada Falls

I got my Yosemite fix, but I need to return, soon.  The mountains are my spiritual place.  For some, it's the ocean, for me, it's the mountains.  I moved to the Tahoe area to be in the mountains.  I have a beautiful view of the mountains from my home.  I'm lucky.  But there is something really wonderful about being IN the mountains and not just looking at them.  Experiencing them.  Being present IN nature.

Half Dome from The Tunnel View

While I was hiking a gentleman stopped me and said, every time I pass you, you have the biggest smile on your face.  It was true!  I was grinning like an idiot all along the trail.  I was in my happy place.

Vernal Falls

In our yoga practice we continually try to find a place of peace and presence.  Nature also helps us cultivate inner peace and helps us live in and appreciate the moment. 

And, yoga physically aids us when we are on the hiking trails.  Our practice gives us strength, focus, agility, flexibility, stamina, patience, balance ... and a killer attitude!

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.” ― John MuirOur National Parks

Here's to your happy place! May it be found in nature.

Consider a Cleanse

I'm 8 days into a 21 day cleanse.  This cleanse is a variation that comes from the book: Eating Clean: the 21 Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation and Reset your Body by Valpone.  You can also check out the Netflix documentary called What's With Wheat? on a similar topic.

Through the years I've seen friends and family members try different cleanses and I always thought they seemed too difficult or too weird to try.  Or, I just wasn't interested (read: I was threatened). But then recently all the signs were telling me to try one.

What the heck?  I gave birth to my second son WITHOUT ANY MEDS so I can do just about anything, really.

The cleanse I'm doing for 21 days is basically this.

Caffeine (even decaf coffee)
Added sugar
Citrus (except lemons)
Night Shade Vegetables (peppers, tomatoes, eggplant)
Pre-packaged foods

1 tblsp of organic apple cider vinegar diluted in 8 oz water with honey/day
Fresh, organic fruits and vegetables
Eggs (I added this)
All nuts (except peanuts)
Organic chicken, turkey, fish and beef once/week
Brown rice & Quinoa
Lots of water
Herbal tea
Mineral water
Organic maple syrup, honey

Then, after 21 days I can gradually add in the foods I miss and see how my body reacts. Based on that, I decide if I want to add them in again, and to what degree.

After 8 days I've noticed some changes.  At day 3 all the inflammation left my body, especially my face, fingers and even toes.  At day 3 I started sleeping better.  I have more energy after I eat a healthy meal and don't feel sluggish.  Sometimes I feel too amped, like I'm seeing crisper around the edges of things.  (No, I'm not also on acid.)  Sometimes I feel just odd, and wait for it to pass.  Some days my eyes have dark circles under them, but I'm thinking this will go away.

When I tell people I'm on a cleanse they laugh and say it sounds boring and some even get defensive and say they don't want to do one.  I never asked them to do it with me, but they still feel like I'm challenging them or something.  I'm not.  Really.  It's just something I wanted to try and now I'm trying it.

What does this have to do with yoga?  Well, many of the yoga passages I've been reading lately have forced me to rethink some of my daily and nightly habits.

This yoga thing isn't just about what happens on the mat.  In fact, it's really about what happens off the mat,  and we are forced to ask ourselves - can we carry our yoga with us as we go out into the world, or onto the couch with our nightly habit of red wine, dark chocolate and Netflix?  Our yogic teachings may be telling us to consider a cleanse every now and then and just see what happens. Notice, without judgment.  That's what I'm trying to do, and so far, so good.