True Nature Travels Blog

2018, a new year, that perhaps brings new resolutions. When you reflected on the past year to make those New Year’s resolutions, what emotions came up? Did you first focus on all you did well or on all your failures? Very often, our goals from the New Year evolve from frustration with what we did not accomplish in the past year. With this yoga sequence I encourage you to answer the question again: In reflecting on 2017, did you focus in on what you deemed your failures or your successes? But, this time, the answer is your successes. As you bring your hands to heart’s center, meditate on how it feels to be proud of yourself, no matter how big or small your accomplishments. And thus begins the journey to self-love.

Start moving through a sun-salutation on your breath, on your time. This practice is for you, for your body and mind. Perhaps you stay in downward dog, seeing how it feels to press through one foot at a time, or perhaps you move through multiple sun salutations. Continue breathing.

With each breath in, bring in kindness, and with each exhale, let go of the self-doubt, the negative self talk. In five more breaths we’ll walk our feet to our hands, and slowly roll up, meeting at the front of our mat in mountain pose. Stand tall, grounded as the earth holds you, as you begin radiating self-love to the beings around you and then out to the world. By showing yourself gratitude, your energy begins to radiate love and kindness to all beings. We’ll move through one more sun salutation, first inhaling our arms to the sky bringing in all the loving energy from around you to your heart.

We’ll meet in Down Dog, lifting our right leg to the sky and exhaling to step your right foot forward between your hands, aligning your knee over the heel. Keep your left leg strong and firm, while lengthening your tailbone toward the floor and reaching back through your left heel. Look up to your thumbs, and feel the energy in your body as your heart lifts up, your left heel reaches back, and your right foot stays grounded. On your next exhale release your arms to the floor and step back into Down Dog.

As you walk out your dog, return back to your thoughts of appreciation for yourself. Bring your left leg to the sky and into high lunge, once again feeling the energy radiating different directions. On your next exhale return to Down Dog, and on your own breath we’ll meet back at the front of our mat in Mountain Pose. On your next inhale, we’ll hug our right knee, and if you’re able, give it a kiss. We’ll then meet in Tree Pose, hands to prayer or reaching up as you extend your branches. Trees are ever changing, with the seasons, the weather, the soil composition, their inhabitants. Just as trees, we are also changing, and the negative self-talk may always be present, but we can continually focus in on our positive self-talk. From tree, we’ll move into Dancer, shifting our weight onto our left foot, bending our right knee behind to hold in our right hand. Lifting our right foot towards the sky, as the left leg stays strong and the left arm reaches forward. Feeling the opposition, but feeling the strength.

No matter how the thoughts in our mind may fight each other in opposition, you are grounded in strength. It is this strength that others can feel as you shine your light of love and kindness out to the world. Bring your right foot down and repeating on the left side, giving your left knee a hug, meditating in Tree Pose, and then slowly moving into Dancer, all on your own time, listening to your body. When you are ready, we will meet back at the front of our mat, eyes closed. In cultivating self-love, we can encourage ourselves to grow in a more positive light that shines out to others around us.

Start 2018 out with an act of self-love and join us on one of our many retreats:

About the Author

Alexandra Ross is thrilled to be working as the Operations Manager with True Nature! As a Yoga Teacher and Artist with a Master of Public Health in Environmental Health, work experience at the Environmental Protection Agency, and a passion for travel, her life’s path weaves into the mission and values of True Nature Travels. Since first traveling to Costa Rica at the age of fourteen to study ecology at remote biological field stations, she saw the power that experiential travel abroad has on one’s growth. Since then, she has worked the organic fields of a spiritual and intentional community and continued to travel, immersing herself in the local cultures.

True Nature Travels Blog

HalloweenHalloween is around the corner. Soon, the streets will be filled with children’s laughter as masked little ones run from house to house, gather treasures and filling their pillowcases with treats to be enjoyed for the rest of the holiday season. For years it has been a tradition of mine to gather with friends to watch scary movies and show off our best costumes, and while I enjoy the time spent with good friends, this has never been my favorite part of the holiday. My favorite part of Halloween has always been answering the ceaselessly-ringing doorbell and handing out candy to the ghosts, witches, superheroes, and princesses that yell “Trick or Treat!!” from the porch. Besides being absolutely adorable, I find these trick-or-treaters are also wise beyond their years. Take a moment to watch the trick-or-treaters running around your neighborhood this Halloween and you may notice that their eager little faces and over-excited laughter have something to teach you.

Embrace your playful side and re-learn how to play make-believe


What always amazes me most about Halloween is the imagination. Sticks become magic wands, buckets become cauldrons, and a little bit of face paint can morph a child into a jungle animal. When you or I get dressed for Halloween we put on a costume. When a child gets dressed for Halloween, they become a new person. The trick-or-treaters take their costumes more seriously, and yet, they have more fun than the lot of us put together. Because they know that Halloween is the ultimate game of make-believe.

This Halloween learn to embrace your playful side. Let your imagination run wild. Believe in magic, play pretend, and laugh as unabashedly as the trick-or-treaters on your street. We spend too much of our lives taking everything seriously. The best thing we can do is laugh from time to time. Let this holiday be a chance to become something totally new, and, more importantly, have fun with it.


Be the version of yourself you have always dreamed of being

I used to be a nanny and it always amazed me how early in the year kids would start mulling over their Halloween costume ideas. August would be coming to a close, the parents would be stressing about getting all the necessary school supplies, and the kids would already be weighing the merits of Wonder Woman versus those of Elsa. But it wasn’t just the costume they were debating; it was their identity. In the eyes of a child, Halloween isn’t just a day to play dress up. It’s a day to be everything you have always wanted to be.

So this Halloween, follow the lead of the trick-or-treaters and become exactly who you have always dreamed of being. Whether it’s putting on a mask or taking one off, it’s the time of year to embrace your truest self and let that version of you shine brightly. Like the trick-or-treaters, take your time to reflect and consider what it is, or rather who it is, you have

Halloween Costume

always wanted to be. Then wear that hat proudly. Because a costume doesn’t have to be a disguise. In fact, with children, it rarely is. Rather, it’s a reflection of the most authentic version of the person inside.

Connect with your inner child this Halloween

This Halloween, let’s take a page from the trick-or-treaters’ book. We were all trick-or-treaters once, and we all have a child’s wisdom hidden somewhere inside of us. I invite you to find it this Halloween. To be a little more playful. To play make believe and enjoy some unbridled laughter. To put on the costume you’ve been too afraid to wear. And to let your

costume act not as a disguise, but as a reflection of your truest self. We often associate Halloween with ghouls, zombies, and scary stories. But this Halloween I invite you to be fearless. Be as fearless as the trick-or-treaters who show up on your doorstep, bearing their hearts through their costumes, their faces flushed with laughter and joy. This Halloween, look around you and let yourself learn a thing or two from the trick-or-treaters.

True Nature Travels Blog

With the leaves going from green to red and the winds changing from warm to cool, it is no wonder autumn is considered the season of change. But it’s not just the environment that changes. Autumn heralds in a time of transition and invites us to embrace the energy of change. Of course, change can be uncomfortable and many of us may find ourselves desperately attempting to hide from this transitory season. But transition can also be exciting and beautiful if we meet it with acceptance rather than fear. These five tips will help you walk into autumn with open arms and make the most out of this season of change.

season of change 1

1. Transition towards stillness  

season of change 6Both spring and autumn have been referred to as “the season of change,” but don’t be fooled. These two seasons embody a very different kind of change. Spring is about diving into new opportunities, cleaning out the cobwebs of winter, detoxing, and revving up the engine to prepare for the full-force energy of summer. Fall, on the other hand, is about a quieter kind of transition. Now is the time to start slowing down and preparing for winter.

Start creating more space in your schedule for you time. Plan a few less social outings. Designate specific time for quiet practices that will help you move inward. Things like meditation, journaling, or spending a few minutes at dawn just sitting in nature. These kinds of activities will help your body ease off the loud energy of summer and prepare for the still, tranquil energy of winter.

2. Let the change come to youseason of change 5

It is important to consider how you approach change in autumn. Unlike spring, in which you want to be actively pursuing change and pushing yourself forward, autumn is a time for stepping back and letting the change come to you. Instead of seeking out opportunities, open the door, sit back, and let the change come to you. This change is going to be different than what you saw in spring; it will be less about embracing new and more about letting go of the old. Which brings us to the third way to make the most of autumn.

3. Practice the art of letting go

In spring, we watch the buds bloom into flowers. In autumn, we watch the green leaves turn red and begin to fall. To live in harmony with the seasons, we must follow nature’s lead. In spring, we start new things and blossom into bright, shining versions of ourselves. Autumn, on the other hand, is the time to re-evaluate what things we are holding onto that we know longer need. It’s a time to shed the old habits and patterns that no longer serve us. It’s a time to release, relax, and make more space in our lives for those things that matter most.

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4. Stay grounded in your roots

As the cool autumn winds blow through, it is important to find your roots. Transition, especially during the season of letting go season of change 3and saying goodbye, can be incredibly difficult. To face these changes with an open, accepting heart, we need to feel supported and safe. Turn to the ones who love you unconditionally; find safe spaces where you can relax and be with your thoughts; dedicate time explicitly for self-care. The more grounded you feel in yourself and your community, the easier it will be to let go of that which is no longer serving you.

5. Seek out things that nourish

No matter how you look at it, letting go can be a painful process. The season of change is inspiring and beautiful, but it is also hard. So, make sure to take care of yourself. Eat warming, nourishing foods. Take baths, cuddle with a blanket, re-read your favorite book, spend time with your loved ones, or go for a hike on a tree-filled path. Whatever nourishes you, gravitate toward that. Fill yourself up so that you are in a good, safe place to let the rest fall away. To handle change with grace and acceptance, we must make time for nourishment.season of change 7

Embrace the season of change and enjoy it while it lasts

We are only a few months from winter; the season of hibernation and stillness. Autumn is our chance to prepare for this. It is our change to release so much of the weight we have been carrying and enjoy the freedom of making a little more space in our lives. While it may be hard at times to let go, if you follow these tips and truly embrace the season of change, you will find the changes in you can be just as beautiful as the changing leaves that have inspired people for years. So honor the energy of the season, embrace the transition, and enjoy everything that makes autumn truly spectacular.

 season of change 9

True Nature Travels Blog

You are ready and set to travel with your bike on an adventure. Have you packed all the essentials for your trip? This post will ensure that you do just that. You do not want to find out thousands of miles away from home that you left some essential items. While you want to keep your luggage light and bring as few items as possible, you must not leave out the essentials. It is better to over-pack than to find yourself in the middle of nowhere stranded and desperate. Here is a list of essential items to bring along on your trip.

Essentials packing list and tips on how to travel with your bike on an adventure

traveling with your bike on an adventure1

1. Hydration kit

It is crucial you say hydrated throughout your rides. When travelling, do not assume that you will find shops open. Especially when going on a biking adventure on a trail you have not explored before, it is likely that you will have to ride many miles before you can find an open shop. Bring your water bottle with you. The bigger it is the better. Also bring some electrolytes to add to your water to keep you hydrated for longer and to provide you with the energy you need

2. Cycling shoes

traveling with your bike on an adventure2There are two main types of cycling shoes you can choose from: road shoes or mountain bike shoes. While road cycling shoes are specifically designed to be used for cycling only, mountain bike cycling shoes can be used to both cycle and walk short distances. Cycling shoes offer you better performance and energy efficiency when you are riding than the standard shoes. Bring a pair or two of cycling shoes on your trip. Also, pack a pair of flip flops or standard shoes. No matter how comfortable your cycling shoes are, you will need to get off them at some point especially when not riding.

3. Tool kit

In the bare minimum ensure your tool kit has a pump, multi tool with chain breaker, puncture punches, glue, tyre levers and tubes. If you have some space left, pack some spare spokes, extra links of chain and some nuts and bolts. You will need the tool kit to disassemble and assemble your bike when packing.

Your best mountain bike under 1000 dollars is designed to offer top notch functionality. Similarly the best mountain bike for 500 offers high performance features. However, in case you encounter a puncture in the woods, you will be able to fix it at least in the bare minimum to get you to a trail center or a bike shop. Bring some lube or grease to lubricate your bike whenever necessary.traveling with your bike on an adventure5

4. GPS

Whether on your phone or a separate GPS tracker, you will need the GPS to navigate unfamiliar trails. You can also use it to record your rides and you can relive your adventure when you are back home

5. Cycling gear

These include breathable cycling clothes, helmet gloves, goggles, padded knee and elbow support. Your clothes should be breathable and of high quality fabric. If travelling during the rainy season, bring along a light weight water proof rain jacket. Pack your riding jerseys and t-shirts, socks and a light jacket for when you ride in the evenings or chilly early mornings. Depending on your itinerary, you can pack enough gear for each day. Otherwise if you will have time to clean you can do a few sets of clothes.

6. Camera

This is not a must have but it would be good to be able to capture those heart-warming views for memories sake. Remember to carry an extra pair of camera batteries or a camera charger for longer biking adventure trips.

7. Insect repellant and sunscreen

traveling with your bike on an adventure6You will be out in the trails for the better part of the trip. Bring some insect repellant and apply before starting your rides to avoid having your fun rides and adventurous spirit dampened by insect bites. If you have severe insect bite allergies, consider sticking to open road trails. Also, some sunscreen will come in handy on those hot and sunny days.

8. First aid kit

You never know when you or a fellow rider may need one. You may pack the smallest kit size possible but ensure it has all the essentials of a first aid kit. Bring the first aid kit together with the tool kit on every ride.

9. Lock

Bike theft is rampant across the world. Therefore, pack at least one certified lock for your trip. In fact, it is recommended that you use a minimum of two certified locks to lock your bike. At any point you are not riding whether visiting the washroom or taking a meal break, ensure that you bike is locked.

To successfully travel with your bike on an adventure, you will need to pack all the essentials for your trip. While you want to keep your luggage weight at the minimal, it is important bring with you all the essentials ranging from biking gear and equipment, hydration kit, first aid kit, repair tool kit, GPS to self care essentials.

traveling with your bike on an adventure3

True Nature Travels Blog

Do you ever feel like lying on the beach for a week straight or going in and out of museums and art galleries just isn’t quite what you want from your vacation? Like there’s got to be something more? So did I. I wanted my vacations to be more interactive. That’s what led me to go on my first adventure vacation; and I’ve become hooked on traveling this way ever since.

An adventure vacation can mean a lot of things. It can mean rock climbing in Greece, surfing in Costa Rica, mountain biking in Italy, or practicing yoga in Peru. Whatever adventure vacation you decide to take, one thing is certain: you’re going to learn a lot. Here are the top three things I’ve learned from years of adventure vacations.

1. The joys of stepping outside your comfort zone

adventure vacation: mtb
Photo Natesh Ramasamy by on Flickr

Getting outside your comfort zone is hard and uncomfortable. It means leaving what you know and diving into the unknown—something that’s never easy. An adventure vacation is all about embracing this space outside your comfort zone.

I have always been terrified of mountain biking, but on my adventure trek to Machupicchu, there was an entire half-day of mountain biking. I wasn’t going to miss out, so I pushed myself. It was terrifying, but in the end, I had a huge adrenaline rush and a giant smile on my face. And now mountain biking isn’t so scary to me! So, on your next adventure vacation, expect to be a little uncomfortable from time to time, but know that what lies outside of your comfort zone is worth discovering.

2. How to trust your gut and respect your limits

adventure vacation: rock climbing
Photo by vincenzo di giorgi on Unsplash

When you’re pushing yourself to your limits—something that you often have to do during an adventure vacation—you learn to listen to yourself. Sometimes, you find that your limits are greater than you ever realized and you’re able to push yourself further than you’d imagined. Other times, you learn to take a step back, do a little less, and respect the needs of your body.

Where these limits are, and how to find them, is something you can only learn by pressing right up against your edge. That’s something an adventure vacation can help you do.

3. That ten seconds of confidence can change your life

adventure vacation: bungee jumping
Photo by RP Norris on Flikr

The first time I went bungee jumping, I stood on the edge of the bridge, stared down, and wondered what in the world I had done wrong to end up here. Then, I took a deep breath and jumped. The rush of adrenaline that filled me was incredible and the joy I felt seeing the world from such a different perspective is indescribable. Turns out I really love bungee jumping; but I would have never known that it I hadn’t had a few seconds of confidence.

Adventure vacations are full of those moments. From deciding to sign up for an adventure retreat to all the small moments of saying yes along the way, your confidence will be called upon time and time again. But what you’ll learn, when the fear subsides and the wonder sets in, is that a little bit of confidence can go a long way.

Is an adventure vacation right for you?

If you want a vacation that has a little more umpf than your traditional beach holiday, then an adventure vacation is for you. If you are tired of the city streets and want the feeling of dirt between your toes and wind in your hair, then an adventure vacation is for you. If you want to embark on one of the most exciting, life-changing journeys of your life, then an adventure vacation is for you. Sign up for one of True Nature Travels’ adventure retreats for a week that will stick with you for a lifetime!

About the Author

Sarah Dittmore is always seeking a new adventure. When she’s not Author_Sarah Dittmorebarefoot hiking in the mountains of Peru, kayaking around an island off the coast of Italy, or camping in a rainforest in Costa Rica, Sarah writes about her adventures on her travel blog, Autobiography of an Adventurer. Join her as she travels the world and documents the wild and wonderful things she discovers along the way at

True Nature Travels Blog

You’ve heard of karma. And you’ve heard of yoga. But karma yoga? What even is that? While karma yoga can mean a lot of different things to different people, the general idea is taking the philosophy of yoga and putting it in action. This means stepping off of the mat and into the world. It means humbling your ego, serving your community, and being part of something bigger than yourself.


Yogic philosophy and its relation to service


Traditionally, yoga wasn’t about the poses, or asanas. “Yoga” is a Sanskrit word that translates in English to “union.” The roots of yoga are founded in a philosophy of union. Union of the mind, body and soul. Union of the self with the divine. It’s the concept of oneness—of each individual being a part of a universal consciousness.

There are four main paths of yoga: Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Karma Yoga. Raja yoga is the yoga of mind and body control. Its focus is on meditation and energetics. It is from Raja yoga that hatha yoga and modern asana practice developed. Bhakti yoga is the path of devotion and focuses on devoting yourself to worship of the divine. Jnana yoga is the yoga of wisdom and encourages people to study the ancient scriptures such as The Upanishads.Karma Yoga

And then there’s karma yoga. Karma yoga is the yoga of action. It’s about purifying your heart by learning to act selflessly in service of others. Through karma yoga we learn kindness and compassion without an expectation of gain. The idea being that learning these lessons helps us to step away from our ego, freeing us to move one step further on the path to enlightenment.

Service can be a powerful means of releasing yourself of your ego, learning to act from pure intentions, and connecting with the bigger picture. Service is at the heart of karma yoga and it is this belief in the power of karma yoga and the importance of giving back that is at the core of our company.


How you can practice karma yoga in your life


TKarma Yoga Servicehere are many ways to embrace karma yoga in your life. Whether it’s giving a neighbor a helping hand or traveling abroad to engage in global service, the opportunities are endless.

Whatever you choose to do, making service a regular part of your life is key to practicing karma yoga. We recommend making a weekly commitment to engage with a local charity, giving your time and talents to support the work they do. Another option is to make global service an annual tradition. Or both!

When it comes to karma yoga, it is important that the service comes from a selfless place. It is about giving to those in need, sharing love, and spreading light. Some ways to encourage this mindset are to practice keeping a mental mantra. Something that reminds you the purpose of your service and keeps you grounded outside of the ego. Another useful practice is to get to know the people you are serving. Rather than thinking of service in the abstract, get on the ground and communicate with those you serve.

Let yourself be humbled by their knowledge and experience. Forge meaningful connections and let yourself be touched by their lives and stories. In this way, karma yoga can become more than just a practice. It can become a way of life.

True Nature Travels Blog

I often joke about my good karma. Specifically, my good travel karma. I’ve never missed a flight. I’ve never been pick-pocketed. I’ve always found a place to rest my head no matter how little planning I did beforehand… I’ve been traveling for years and all of these travels have been surrounded by an air of good fortune, generosity, and luck. Or, you might say, good karma.

Whenever I contemplate my good travel karma, I find myself returning to this quote from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist:

 “When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.”

good karma lantern

The Alchemist is the story of a young shepherd who changes the course of his life drastically when he sets off on a treasure hunt. Throughout his journey, he discovers not a treasure of gold and gemstones, but an inner treasure. A deeper treasure. He discovers the treasure of pursuing one’s passion.

Good Karma TakeOffMuch like the main character of The Alchemist, the course of my life changed thanks to one decision I made at a young age. While my friends were getting their acceptance letters and packing for college, I was booking flights and planning a five-month solo journey through regions of Africa and Asia.

When I look back on that trip, I often think what a miracle it was. Everything worked in my favor. My parents, for some reason even they don’t understand, decided to let me—an 18-year old girl with little to no experience living away from home—take off on her own to explore the world. When I thought I wasn’t going to be able to afford it, my local Rotary club decided to give me a $2,000 scholarship to support my journey. Whenever a knew obstacle appeared, so did countless warm-hearted people willing to help me. And it wasn’t just that trip. good karma safari

It’s been that way every time I take to the road. Good karma surrounds me like a protective barrier whenever I take off for another trip.

Which is why the term “travel karma” became such a common word in my vocabulary. But where did this travel karma come from? Am I just lucky?

No, not exactly. It’s not luck, not really. At least, I don’t think so.

I believe that when I’m traveling, I’m where I’m supposed to be. I’m doing what I love and following my passion. In return, the universe is conspiring to help me realize that dream.

To me, that’s what karma is. It’s not a sheet of checks and balances. It’s not an eye for an eye. It’s not, “if I do this good thing I’ll get something good in return and if I do bad I’ll be punished”. That may be what karma means to a lot of people, but not to me.

To me, karma is the magical way everything falls into place when you’re on the right path. It’s the way the impossible just seems to work out. I like to think it’s the universe’s way of nodding its head and saying, “yes. This was what you were meant to do. This is the path for you.” And I truly believe if we listen to our hearts and follow our passions, good karma will surround us.

So find your passion and embrace it. Discover your true nature and live it with every breath you take. There will be challenges. There will be obstacles. But if you’re doing what you love and living a life that is true to your deepest self, karma will be there to help you every step of the way.


About the Author Author_Sarah Dittmore

Sarah Dittmore is always seeking a new adventure. When she’s not barefoot hiking in the mountains of Peru, kayaking around an island off the coast of Italy, or camping in a rainforest in Costa Rica, Sarah writes about her adventures on her travel blog, Autobiography of an Adventurer. Join her as she travels the world and documents the wild and wonderful things she discovers along the way at

True Nature Travels Blog

Global service is becoming a popular new way of seeing the world. Individuals are traveling to all corners of the globe to help build houses, teach English, and more. For a lot of people, this global volunteer work is the most attractive form of travel. Not only do you get the chance to give back to the world while traveling, but you end up getting as much (if not more) than what you give. But what exactly do you have to gain from joining a global service project? Well, for starters, here are five things you will learn from global service.

1. You will learn how to adapt to any and all situations

global service lesson 1

When you engage in a global service project, you are signing up to be thrown outside of your comfort zone. You will be in a culture drastically different than your own, living with far fewer luxuries, and often surrounded by people who do not speak your native language. It may sound scary—and let’s face it, at times it is—but once you learn how to thrive in these conditions, you will feel as though you can thrive anywhere. Global service teaches us how to find our center no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in.

2. You will learn where your limits lie and how to push past them

global service lesson 2

During one of my first global service projects I stayed in a sparse concrete room with no running water. I took cold bucket showers every morning and got served an identical breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day for two months. But you know what I told people when they asked how my trip was? I told them it was the most incredible experience of my life. And I wasn’t lying. I learned more about myself and what I can withstand in those two months than I had in the 18 years of life that had come before. Don’t be surprised if you walk away from your first global service project feeling stronger and more capable than ever before.

3. You will learn how to connect to people without language

global service lesson 3

Of the many global service projects I have done, only one was with a community that spoke English as their first language. The language barrier can sound like a hurdle, and in some ways it is, but all in all I think the language barrier is one of the greatest gifts of global service. Because when you can’t speak to one another, you can’t waste time with small talk or get hung up on your different opinions. Instead, you are able to drop into a deeper connection; the kind of connection that can only come from trying to mime your way through dinner talk. If I had to pick one top lesson that global service has taught me, it would be this: people are people no matter where you go, and that’s enough to form a powerful connection over.

4. You will learn to respect the complexity of global issues

global service lesson 4

When I left home for the first time to travel and volunteer for five months, I thought I was going to change the world. I saw myself as a savior leaving home to fix the world’s problems, one country at a time. I never lost my passion for global service, but I came home with a much more realistic view as to the role of service on a global scale. The more I traveled and worked with different communities, the more I realized how complicated all of these issues are. There are no quick fixes to the world’s problems, but serving around the world will give you a much more complete understanding of the depth of global issues and what we can honestly do to help.

5. You will learn that the best thing you can give is love and kindness

global service lesson 5

I’ve given money. I’ve given food. I’ve given school supplies, fresh water, clothing, and more. Of course all of these things were appreciated and helped many people, but over and over again there was one thing that I gave when serving abroad that was most appreciated and most impactful: my unconditional love and kindness. And while my material gifts could help in a tangible way, I continued to see that my most valuable gift could not be quantified. No matter where you go in the world, there is nothing as powerful as extending love and kindness to those around you.

These are the top five lessons I have learned from a long commitment to global service, but the truth is, the list is endless. If you really want to know everything global service has to teach you, get out there and give it a try for yourself!

True Nature Travels Blog

Summer is (practically) here. And I don’t know about you, but my feet are itching. I’m dying to get out of the house and get my adventure on. I dream of wet hair, bare feet, and dirt under my nails. So as summer creeps up on us, I’ve been working on my summer adventure bucket list. Everything on this list is designed to make my summer the best (and most adventurous) one yet. If you’re looking for a dreamy, adventure-filled, straight-out-of-the-movies kind of summer, look no further. This list is for you.

The Ultimate Summer Adventure Bucket List


Explore your home town 

Adventure doesn’t have to mean going far. Some of the greatest adventures await just outside your front door. Spend an unplanned day exploring your hometown. Enter the shops you always drive past, eat at that restaurant you’ve always been curious about, talk to your fellow residents. Head to a corner of town you are less familiar with and start walking. The best way to get to find an adventure is to start walking and see where the wind takes you. This summer, get to know a side of your city you’ve never seen before!

Drive to the closest green point 

This is one of my personal favorite things on the summer adventure bucket list. It’s something I like to do whenever I’m feeling stressed. I open Google Maps, zoom out a little, and point to a green spot. I don’t look up the place or do any research; I just start driving. Sometimes I end up at parks, sometimes reservoirs, and sometimes beautiful trail heads! But wherever I end up, it always turns out to be an awesome (and much-needed) adventure.

Summer Adventure Bucket List: HikingPhoto by Fabrizio Verrecchia via Unsplash

Hike your local trails 

Whether they are in your back yard or a bit of a drive or train ride away, make the time to find your nearest trails and start hiking. If you are new to hiking, look for some easy trails you can do in an hour or two. For the more experienced hikers, why not make a full weekend of it? Bring your camping gear and turn a simple hike into a full-on adventure. Roots Rated is a great source for finding local hiking trails for all levels, so you can design an adventure that’s perfect for you.

Cook something new and exciting 

Surprise! Not everything on this summer adventure bucket list involves hitting the road. In fact, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home to have an adventure! The secret of having an adventure is stepping outside of your comfort zone; so why not do that with your meals this summer? Look for an exciting new recipe that sounds interesting and a little different than what you would normally make-then start cooking! For some ideas, check out these delicious recipes.

Try your hand at a new sport 

From badminton to beach volleyball, summer is a great time to try a new sport. Get some friends together for a casual game of basketball, head to the park and ask the local sporty-folk if you can join, or sign up for an adult summer sports league. It’s a great way to stay active this summer, meet new friends, and have an awesome adventure.

Summer Adventure Bucket List: KayakingPhoto by Kalen Emsley via Unsplash

Rent a kayak for the day

One of my favorite things about summer is getting on the water. Which is why kayaking had to be on my summer adventure bucket list. You can find kayaking tours and rentals near almost any river, lake, or ocean. Some large parks even offer rentals! So find your closest body of water, look up kayak tours or rentals in the area, and get paddling this summer.

Have a picnic under the stars 

Who doesn’t love the warm evening air of summertime? Make the most of it by having a summer picnic under the stars. Whether it’s a romantic picnic for two, a group picnic with your closest friends, or a family affair, an evening picnic is a great way to enjoy the summer weather. Many parks are closed after sunset, so this adventure has the added excitement of having to find an open space to host it! (Or, you know, a backyard could work too).

Take that weekend trip you keep talking about

How often have you said you wanted to visit ____ some day? Well, today is your day. Book that hotel or pack that tent, hop in the car, and get going. It’s time to take that weekend trip you’ve always dreamed of. It’s time to have that adventure you have always said you would have. It’s time to make this summer the summer of your dreams!

Summer Adventure Bucket List: SurfingPhoto by Filipp Nakhaev via Unsplash

Take a class outside your comfort zone

Why not? What’s stopping you? Book that yoga class that’s a little different from your go-to routine. Go to the beach and look into surf lessons. Take a dance class. Sign up for foreign language classes. Adventure is all about challenging yourself in new and exciting ways. What better way to do that than to learn a new skill or talent? If it makes you a little nervous, you should probably try it.

Rent bikes in your nearby city 

There’s a lot to see from the seat of a bicycle. If you live in or near a city, look into city bike rentals. A lot of cities have really affordable options. Then hop on the bike and start pedaling. You can plan a route or just follow your gut. Either way, cycling is a great way to get to know a city and see some of the hidden sights your city has to offer.

Go on the adventure of a lifetime

To wrap up this summer adventure bucket list, I encourage you to take a leap. A leap into an adventure you’ll never forget. Have you always dreamed of practicing yoga in Italy? What about surfing the waves in Costa Rica? Or climbing the famous rocks in Greece? Now is your chance. Follow your dreams and book the journey of a lifetime. Make this summer everything you’ve ever dreamed of… and so much more.

True Nature Travels Blog

When your lower back is tight, life seems to slow down and become quite tense. You may find yourself wincing even as you move around in bed. Lower back pain often stems from muscles that are unnaturally tight, either from a lack of activity or from injury. One way to lengthen and soothe these muscles is to do stretching, as well as strengthening the core, to ensure that your posture and muscles are functioning optimally.

The 5 Stretches for Lower Back Pain

Knee to Chest

stretches for lower back pain knee to chest

A simple yet highly effective stretch that is used to align the pelvis (twisted pelvis is often a source of back pain) and gently stretch the lower back and gluteus muscles.

Lie on your back with the feet flexed, toes pointed towards the sky. Slowly bend your right knee then pull your leg up towards your chest. Make sure not to let the hips left from the floor. They should remain unengaged. Wrap your arms around your right thigh, knee, or shin, gently applying some pressure. Hold for 20-30 seconds then slowly extend the leg—foot still flexed—to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.

Lower-Back Twist

Guess what? All that sitting you may be doing is weakening the glute muscles and could be another cause of your lower back pain. That is why twists like this one feel so good because it digs deep into the gluteus muscle group.

Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat against the floor. Extend your arms out to the side in a T position. Keep your shoulders against the floor as you move through this stretch, and tighten the core to support the upper spine and shoulders. Lying on the ground, gently rock your knees side-to-side, beginning to warm the muscles. Then drop the knees to one side. If they can touch the ground, that is fine, but be sure to do so without lifting the opposite shoulder from the ground. If you need a bolster, that is fine. Hold for 20-30 seconds before switching to the other side.

Cat/Cow Pose

stretches for lower back pain cat cow pose

This pose is a quintessential yoga pose that not only stretches but also warms up the entire spine, preparing it for movement. Cat/Cow works by simultaneously working the entire spine, engaging the core, and lengthening muscles that could have contracted from sitting.

To do Cat/Cow, begin on your hands and knees. Wrists should be under shoulders, and your knees are under your hips. Your spine will be parallel to the floor. Begin by taking a breath. As you exhale, round your spine to form a C curve. Your gaze and tailbone both shift downward. Hold for a few seconds then inhale, letting your belly drop as your fill your torso with air. Gaze and tailbone both lift to form a concave back. Hold for a few seconds then switch back to the previous position.

Piriformis Seated Stretch

stretches for lower back pain piriformis seates stretch

Also called Gomukhasana or Cow Face Pose in yoga, the piriformis seated stretch feels good either sitting straight up or revolving around towards either side. This stretch is created to lengthen the piriformis muscle, which is often the source of sciatica, or a radiating leg pain caused by an aggravated sciatic nerve.

To do the piriformis seated stretch, begin cross-legged with a straight back. Cross your left leg over your right leg then place your left foot near the thigh. The right foot tucks back towards your buttocks. Depending on the intensity of the stretch, you can stop here. Optionally, you can place your right arm on your left leg and use that to help rotate you towards the left. Keep the chest open and low back long.

Cobra Pose

stretches for lower back pain cobra pose

Cobra is a fabulous stretch for working through the entire core. The core is more than just your abdominal muscles, it is a band of support that incorporates the abdominals (flexors and oblique), back (extensors), pelvic floor, and even the upper connections of the gluteus muscles. Therefore, if your abdominal muscles are tight, so too is your back.

Start by lying on your stomach with your legs extended straight back. The palms of your hands are planted in front of you, in line with the shoulders. Slowly push the body away from the floor so that you lift gradually and lengthen the arms. Keep your hips flush against the ground, focusing solely on the expansiveness of the chest and back as you breathe. Once you reach the maximum height of your stretch, hold for an additional 10-20 seconds. Slowly lower back down to the starting position and repeat this exercise 5 more times.

The Importance of a Strong Core

One of the reasons many people have low back pain is because they lack core strength. Now, strengthening your abdominals does not mean you have to do dozens of crunches or procure a six-pack. Rather, you want to work deep into the transverse abdominis, which is responsible for cinching the waist like a corset. One of the best ways to effectively work the entire core is by using a rowing machine.

A rowing machine is an incredible piece of equipment that enables a full body workout depending on your effort. You can easily improve your posture by maintaining a straight spine and engaged abdominal muscles. Rowing will also target the lower body, like the buttocks and hamstrings, which have an influence on your lower back as well.


Want to stretch out your lower back and soothe your pain? You can do these 5 stretches right now for immediate relief. In order to get lasting results, why not try out the rowing machine too? By giving your body total workout, you are fortifying your posture, engaging the core, and promoting overall health. Consider the rowing machine and these 5 stretches your go-to for combatting the tightness and lower back pain!