Your body is an amazing instrument fine-tuned to detect the slightest sensation, like a weightless fly that lands on your arm. But with so many distractions and a mind full of busy thoughts, how much time do you spend feeding those senses? Try some of these little indulgences to get out of your head and back into your body- and fully enjoy your summer.
Touch. There's no better time than summer to slip off your shoes and go barefoot in the park. Feel the soft grass that cushions your feet and get reconnected to the earth. Bonus points if you pack a picnic!
Taste. Farmer's markets are overflowing in the summer months, so treat yourself to some local, fresh (and organic!) fruits and veggies. So good, you can almost taste the sunshine that grew them.
Smell. Candles are great in the wintertime, but hot days call for essential oil. Light citrus scents like grapefruit and lime are refreshing when diffused or misted through your home. Jasmine oil makes a nice chemical-free replacement for perfume. Or make time for one of the simplest pleasures of all- stop to smell some roses.
Hear. Take a walk at night and listen to the frogs and crickets. Find a path or park far from busy streets and remember- this is not a workout! Stroll, wander and enjoy the stillness of a warm night.
See. When was the last time you sat to watch the clouds float by? Carve out 10 minutes this week and find a peaceful place to sit and observe. Watch the waves, sunset, birds...anything that puts your mind at ease.
Taking Your Yoga on the Road
Can't fit a yoga mat into your jam-packed suitcase? That doesn't mean you can't take your practice with you. Here are 5 ways to stay inspired and committed to being the best version of yourself even when you're away from the yoga studio.
Part of living your yoga means taking care of your body. If you're hitting the road, food options can be limited so make sure to pack some easy snacks, especially if you're prone to low blood sugar or food sensitivities. Fruits and veggies may be available at gas stations and airports, but the taste and quality is usually lacking. I pack my own apples, carrots, cucumbers and zucchini slices (with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of salt). I also toss a few protein shake packets and coconut butter pouches in my bag. They're great blood sugar stabilizers and they don't take up much room.
Flying to your destination? Take advantage of the distraction-free zone to dive deep into a good book. Here are some good vacation yoga reads:
Happy Yoga by Steve Ross
Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss
The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice by T.K.V. Desikachar
Prep your phone with soothing music that will help you find your meditative state even in the middle of a busy airport terminal. Right now I'm listening to Enter One by Sol Seppy, but my go-to quick relaxation song is The Flow of Let Go by Anugama. Stay connected to San Diego teachers as they discuss modern day yoga on The Yoga Frequency podcast. Or listen to a guided deep relaxation meditation from The Honest Guys.
These simple movements can be done while seated with limited space (and you won't get any dirty looks from the person in the seat next to you).
Neck Stretches & Shoulder Shrugs. Relax your right ear towards your right shoulder for several slow breaths. Then release your chin to your chest for several more breath cycles. Return to center and repeat on the left side. Follow it up by tensing your shoulders up to your ears and releasing for 3 sets.
Seated Back Bend. Place your palms on your knees and sit tall. Draw your navel in and up as you lift your chest. Use your palms to gently traction back against your thighs, pulling your shoulder heads down and back as you gaze up. Even a mini back bend can be energizing!
Seated Twist. Place your right hand outside your left knee. Use your left hand on your armrest or at your side. Lengthen and lift your spine as you twist to your left, allowing your gaze to come around to your left shoulder. Hold for 5 deep breaths. Release and repeat on the opposite side.
Last year while traveling through India and Southeast Asia, I embarked on my first solo backpacking adventure. I ambitiously set a course that took me from the islands off the southeastern coast of Thailand, into the jungles along the western peninsula, through Bangkok and all the way to the north- in a week. By day 3, I'd already missed a bus that derailed my plans and sent me scrambling to reorganize my route. Determined to make it to the northern hills before the monsoons set in, I settled into a 24-hr bus ride. By the time I arrived at my destination- and spent 2 more hours searching for my guesthouse that was only 2 kilometers from the bus terminal- I was mentally and physically exhausted. Ready for a hot shower and some warm food, I discovered there was no food until dinnertime and there were no motorbike rentals available to get me into town.
So I was stuck, hungry, tired and alone. I trudged to my bungalow and unpacked my soggy jungle clothes, hanging them out on the railing to dry (despite the humidity and approaching thunderstorm). Then I took my first real look around. From my vantage point, I could see the tiny village of Pai below, rolling rice fields and terraces, a garden overflowing with giant blossoms, and rays of sunlight filtering down through the ominous clouds. I sighed and took a seat on the porch. I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths, feeling my feet on the ground and savoring the smell of the approaching rain. I breathed into every ache in my neck, back and feet. I noticed the stillness around me, a peaceful change from the constant roar of bus engines and bustling cities. And I sat like this for the next 90 minutes, as the rainstorms came and went. By the time people began gathering for dinner (an authentic Chinese feast!) I was renewed and open to the experience in front of me.
When the chaos or apprehension of your journey threatens to upset your state of mind, pause where you are. Notice what's happening around you. Feel your feet strike the ground as you walk. Move with ease instead of rushing. Scan your body and choose to release tension. Simple mindfulness techniques will bring you back into the magic of the moment so you can enjoy the ride.
Feeling frazzled, overheated or burnt out? Here are a few simple ways to calm your nerves and temper the intensity:
Nothing will zap your energy and leave you feeling lethargic or cranky faster than dehydration. If sipping plain water isn’t your thing, try adding 1 tsp to 1 Tbsp of Liquid Chlorophyll to your water. Chlorophyll is a natural deodorizer, a caffeine-free energizer and it helps alkalize the body. The peppermint flavor is extra fresh and cooling on a hot summer afternoon.
Take a Deep Breath
Sitali Breathing is a technique used in yoga to cool the body and emotions. To practice sitali breath, find a comfortable seat with a tall spine, and rest your hands in your lap. Roll your tongue like a straw (or purse your lips like you’re sipping through a straw) and inhale, feeling the air cool your tongue. Then close your mouth and exhale out through your nose. Sitali breath is a good exercise to use for emotions that generate heat in the body, like anger, irritation and impatience. This breath can be practiced anywhere from a few cycles to a few minutes, until you feel cool, calm and collected.
Overexertion, whether physical or mental, can fry your nerves. Any movement done mindfully and slowly is a calming remedy. Try countering your excess heat with these 3 cooling, soothing yoga poses:
Camel. Release heat by stretching your abdomen, solar plexus and chest. Start with your knees hip distance apart and place your hands on your lower back. Hug your navel in and up as you lift your chest and gaze up. If your lower back feels supported, place your hands on your heels for more opening across your chest. Time: 3-5 breaths, 1 or 2 sets.
Butterfly. When overheated, we become more self-critical, agitated and competitive. Surrender your efforts and turn inward with this fold. Start from seated and bring the soles of your feet together. Interlace your fingers around your toes and round forward. Feel enough space in the front of your body that you have room to take deep, steady breaths. To lessen the intensity, prop each knee up with a blanket or block. Time: 2-5 minutes
Legs Up the Wall. The ultimate restorative pose, this gentle inversion helps you shift into a state of rest and relaxation. Lay down with your tailbone towards a wall and slide your legs up. If your hamstrings are tight, position yourself farther from the wall or bend your knees. Time: 5-15 minutes.
Disclaimer: All information and resources found on JennaMillerYoga.com are based on the opinions of the author unless otherwise noted. All information is intended to motivate readers to make their own nutrition and health decisions after consulting with their health care provider. I am not a doctor, lawyer, psychiatrist, therapist, or your mother, and I don’t play one on the internet. Consult a doctor before making any health changes, especially any changes related to a specific diagnosis or condition. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.
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