In the hustle and bustle of modern life, finding moments of feeling grounded & calm can be a challenge. But what if we told you that you could infuse your daily routine with the grace and mindfulness of yoga? The beauty of yoga lies not only in the serene moments on the mat but in its ability to enrich every facet of your existence. Join us as we explore simple yet impactful ways to weave yoga into your daily life, nourishing your body, mind, and spirit.
1. Rise with Intent
Begin your day with a clear purpose. Dedicate a few minutes every morning to connect with yourself before you engage with the outside world.
Enjoy a gentle wake up stretch
Check in with your body, your mind & heart – how is it now & what does it need today?
Start with mindful attention to set the tone for a grounded start to the day
2. Take a Breather
Embrace the incredible power of your breath, as you navigate your day. Whenever you sense stress, struggle, or overwhelm, take a pause to invite a few intentional deeper breaths into your body. Whether you are at your desk, in your car, waiting in line, walking in nature or meeting a friend, this simple practice brings attention into the body and into the present moment, offering a refreshing wash of calm.
3. Yoga Breaks
Integrate short yoga breaks into your schedule. Use your lunch break or other free moments to practice a few rounds of sun salutations, seated twists, or forward bends (even in your chair!) Pausing to stretch your body releases endorphins and these mini-sessions will help reinvigorate your body and refresh your mind.
4. Mindful Eating
Transform mealtime into a mindful experience. Sit down quietly at the table, savor each bite, and appreciate the nourishment your food provides. This simple act of mindfulness enhances digestion, adds pleasure to your day and helps you connect with the present moment. (Bonus: it can also help reduce overeating and increase awareness of food choices.)
5. Moving Mindfully
Infuse mindfulness into your daily activities. Whether you’re walking, cooking, cleaning, or even commuting, bring attention into your body and feel your experience. This simple shift in awareness can make the ordinary feel extraordinary, helping you find more joy in every moment of your day.
6. Nurture your Grateful Heart
Take a moment each day to pause and dedicate it to gratitude. Reflect on three things you’re thankful for, connecting with your body, mind, and heart. This practice of gratitude and appreciation can infuse your daily life with positivity and help you lead with your heart.
7. Cultivate Connection
Explore the power of being present and listening mindfully when interacting with others and our world. Whether it’s a conversation with a friend, a family gathering, a work meeting, or even a walk out in nature, create deeper connections by fully engaging in the moment and actively listening to those around you. Listening is a superpower for living more mindfully.
8. Yoga Nidra or Meditation
Incorporate a short session of Yoga Nidra or quiet meditation into your day. Even just 10-minutes of guided relaxation or mindfulness can help you re-center and cultivate a greater sense of inner peace.
9. Evening Wind-Down
As bedtime approaches, create a soothing personal ritual for yourself. Consider a warm bath to wash off the day’s energy. Gentle stretches and restorative poses to relax the body and a few deep breaths to calm the mind. Before settling in, take a moment to recall those things you feel grateful for – setting the stage for a peaceful night’s sleep.
10. Practice Presence
Above all, commit to the practice of being fully present in every facet of your life, as best you can. Whether it’s sipping your morning tea, engaging in conversation, or working on a project, immerse yourself completely in the experience of each fresh new moment. Wake up, connect, feel & enjoy!
Remember, yoga isn’t confined to a mat or a studio. It’s a way of living mindfully and authentically. By weaving these simple practices into your daily routine, you’ll discover that the essence of yoga can infuse every moment with intention, peace, and a profound connection to yourself and the world around you.
Escape and rejuvenate with Maria and Richard in a tropical paradise. Visualize a week, where each day is bookended on your yoga mat, gazing at the Pacific Ocean. Maria and Richard are thrilled to curate this 7-day journey designed to reinvigorate your spirit. Nestled at the juncture of a lush jungle and the pristine beach of Chacala, Mexico, we will together delve deep into the time-honored practices, enabling profound healing and spiritual awakening.
I have been fortunate enough to go on yoga retreats in incredible locations throughout my adult life. Yoga retreats, for me, are digging deep with oneself, taking a break for self-care, and being within the community. For me, the collective group energy on retreat is so powerful, whether it be in meditation, having a meal together or in deep breathing conversation. The conversation you experience on retreat is rich and fulfilling because you are in the deeper headspace.That can be so rewarding for a person.
My memories from retreats include: Watching the sunrise over a secluded beach in Costa Rica, Zipping through the rainforest on a zipline, feeling like Tarzan swinging over the trees, swimming with dolphins in the Pacific Ocean with a group of eight retreaters,while schools of dolphins surround and swim with us. It was an incredible experience. surrounding us and swimming with us was an incredible experience. Swimming over a gorgeous reef in the bright blue waters of the Caribbean Sea.And of course, the yoga, The guiding practice which puts you in the right headspace to make this trip.
This experience is different from a regular trip. Getting in the mindspace of peace. where those experiences are so much richer than regular vacations. And so that it becomes an exercise in self-care in self-nourishment. I will treasure all of my experiences. Great connections I have made on retreat that will last forever. Retreat is truly a revitalizing experience. It enriches your life, and allows you to come back to the world rejuvenated. Rejuvenated by the sun, by connection, by laughter, by yoga, and a deeper connection with yourself.
Even though, I have experienced such incredible retreat and travel destinations,whenever I see a new retreat destination that want to go to, which are primarily destinations where my teacher will teach, I think,” Is this location accessible to me?” I am a person with Cerebral Palsy, which is a disability that affects my movement and speech.Despite the well known fact that I like to challenge myself, am really a person that really wants to live life,and will travel terrain, even if it may be difficult,It has been suggested on 4 occasions that I not participate on a retreat because the terrain is too difficult. Of course, this is very frustrating to me when I am told that this retreat is not open to me. Open to me because the terrain may be too hard or the altitude may be too high, or that the trails may be too difficult as would be in Machu picchu. Because I want to experience this with all my heart. By taking this away from me, it is taking away the chance for me to study with my teacher, which is something I treasure doing in these incredible locations.
As I have stated before, I have had some incredible experiences on retreat,despite the fact that I haven’t been able to attend every retreat I’ve wanted to. Even though I was able to attend these retreats, some of these places where I retreated were more accessible than others to people with disabilities. None were totally accessible and had many obstacles. For example, at one place I had to, to hold onto a person in order to walk around the property. Although people that were on retreat were more than willing to help me out, as an adult who values his independence and ability, this is hard for me. The yoga space at almost all of these facilities were upstairs, or down inaccessible paths. Now, I could get you all of these yoga spaces, but being on a yoga retreat, you would think the first thing a property owner should do is make the place where the primary practice is held, accessible to everyone. Even though I have been able to overcome obstacles and go on retreat in these awesome places. When it comes to a person with a more advanced disability, or uses a mobility device, such as a wheelchair, they would have no chance of going on most of the retreats I have been to.
Before describing what is needed for accessibility for people with disabilities, I would like to talk a little bit about the need for yoga retreats for people with disabilities. In a society where people with disabilities often feel discriminated against in many phases of their life, they are required to go to doctor appointments or cannot find a job in the field they want, are unable to get a leg up in an ableist society. Retreats can be very nourishing for them.
In offering them an accessible place to go, they are able to rejuvenate and refresh, and come back into society. With that openness and freshness, this is really important. There is a growing, accessible yoga movement in society today and a press of making the practice accessible to everyone. It is imperative, as we make the practice more accessible than it is, that the accessibility extends to retreat locations. So, we are able to invite people with disabilities to enjoy the richness of retreat. I understand, some retreat places that are indoors may be more accessible than outdoor retreat places, but people with disabilities are individuals with different interests, and they should be able to decide where they will wanna go and have several options, just like anyone else.
When we think of accessibility, we often think, can a person with a disability or in a wheelchair get in the door or access the basement. When looking at a yoga retreat, the accessibility extends to many things other than the front door. It extends to things like- Is the lodging accessible? Is the shower accessible? The toilet? The yoga space? The activities and other aspects of the retreat. People often think when they hear that they need to make a space accessible for people with disabilities. Their first thought might be “Oh my gosh, that will cost me a fortune.”Instead of thinking that you are just making a space accessible for a person with a disability, it may be helpful to know that by making a space accessible, you are benefiting many different populations and that principle is called universal design. Universal Design is the design in composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent passable by all people, regardless of their size, age, ability or disability.
For example, think of a walking shower. Yes, you may first think of benefiting a person in a wheelchair. However, you would be benefiting someone with a large statue, or someone who is older and does not move it well, or someone who has had an injury that may or may not go away. With universal design, you are making an environment accessible, usable and pleasurable to use. Everyone benefits!
Above, I alluded to the example of getting to the yoga space and my experiences retreating. Many of the walkways to those yoga spaces were rocks. They were not paved and were not easily accessible. Someone who is older, who is in a wheelchair, who uses crutches, would have a tough time getting to that yoga space. The solution does not have to be elaborate, but just make the surface smooth. So that way of getting to the yoga space is accessible for everyone and everyone can use it.
One of the things that I mentioned that was very meaningful to me is the excursions on yoga retreat. Finding accessible excursions does not mean that the excursion has to be any less enjoyable, but instead looking for options that everyone can participate in, regardless of their accessibility level. For example, if you are going on a boat cruise. Look for a boat that is accessible. If you are going hiking, look for a trail that is accessible. I understand, on the True Nature website that most of the retreat locations are out of the United States; therefore, some countries may not have accessibility guidelines. However, it is important to make spaces, wherever you are, that are accessible to people with disabilities.
Welcoming a disability and people with different needs, like age or a different body type, is important. This not only welcomes people with disabilities, but if a retreat center is accessible, it increases your opportunity to bring in revenue. Because you are welcoming not only the guests you welcomed in before, but you are extending the invitation to another population, a population that may have previously been exempt by your center.
As the accessible yoga movement grows into the business of accessible yoga travel and/ or accessible yoga retreating. People with disabilities are able to experience the power of retreat. It allows people with disabilities to easefully explore new countries, through hotels and activities that are accessible. Shouldn’t people with disabilities be able to choose a yoga retreat in a new country and just be able to go? To be able to attend a retreat in a new country, just because they want to, without having to be restricted? To see a sunrise over the ocean, a sunset over a mountain, to experience the rainforest and view the wildlife?
I am not an expert on which countries offer truly accessible locations. But I do know this, to go on a yoga retreat, with a teacher you love, is a gift. It is physically and mentally rejuvenating. Retreats offer the opportunity for the much needed self care that every person should be entitled to. The opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life can be life changing.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if a person in a wheelchair was able to experience those gifts of retreat without having to ask dozens of questions and/or encounter barriers at every corner? To be able to go on retreat, move around without obstacles, participate in activities, and just be another member of the group?
Ryan McGraw approaches every class with the belief that everyone can do yoga. As a person with cerebral palsy who has been practicing yoga for 15 years, Ryan is well aware that yoga poses can be adapted to meet the needs of the student, no matter their level of ability.
Ryan earned his 200-hour yoga teaching certificate from Prairie Yoga in 2011 and completed two adaptive yoga teacher trainings with Matthew Sanford. He received a Master’s degree in Disability and Development from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2013 and created an adapted yoga manual for people with disabilities for his master’s thesis. He continues his studies in accessible yoga with Gabriel Halpern in Chicago.
Ireland, the Emerald Isle, is known for its verdant landscapes, charming locals, and a rich tapestry of culture and history that stretches back thousands of years.
Irish Culture and Traditions
Irish culture is a melting pot of influences from its Celtic roots to the impacts of Viking, Norman, and English invasions. The Irish have a legendary reputation for their hospitable and convivial nature. A warm welcome or the ‘céad míle fáilte’ is not just a saying but a way of life here.
Music and Dance
One of the most distinctive aspects of Irish culture is its music and dance. Traditional Irish music, with its lively jigs and reels, has a unique sound that captures the energy and spirit of the country. Similarly, Irish dancing, with its intricate footwork and rhythmic movements, is a celebrated art form that brings people together in joyous celebrations. The most famous form of Irish dancing is the traditional step dance, popularized by shows like Riverdance and Lord of the Dance.
Another quintessential aspect of Irish culture is its pub culture. Pubs are not just places to grab a pint; they are social institutions where friends and strangers alike gather to share stories, laughter, and good company. It’s a place where music, dancing, and conversation flow freely, making it an integral part of Irish social life.
Mythology and Folklore
Ireland is steeped in mythology and folklore, with ancient tales passed down through generations. The country is dotted with mystical sites like Newgrange, which dates back to 3200 BC and is older than the pyramids of Egypt. These tales and legends add to the enchanting aura of Ireland, making it a land of magic and mystery.
Irish cuisine may not be as renowned as its European counterparts, but it has a unique flavor that reflects its agricultural heritage. The country’s rich pastures produce high-quality dairy products, such as cheese and butter, while its coastlines provide an abundance of seafood. The Irish also have a love for hearty and comforting dishes, with staples like stews, fish and chips, and the infamous black pudding.
History and Heritage
Ireland’s history is a complex tapestry of triumphs and tragedies that have shaped its identity. From ancient Celtic tribes to Viking raids, from English rule to independence, the country has a long and storied past that continues to influence its present. Visitors can explore this history through landmarks like the Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle, and Kilmainham Gaol.
In recent years, Ireland has also gained a reputation as a hub for innovation and creativity. The country’s tech industry is thriving, with multinational companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple establishing their European headquarters here. This juxtaposition of ancient history and modern progress makes Ireland a fascinating destination.
Ireland is a country that has captured the hearts and imaginations of people from all over the world. Its vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, rich history, and welcoming locals make it a must-visit destination for any traveler. So pack your bags and get ready to discover Ireland – you won’t be disappointed! Sláinte! (Cheers!)
Are you feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or stuck in a rut? If so, it might be time to consider embarking on a retreat. Participating in a retreat can have remarkable effects on the brain, fostering a rejuvenating experience that positively impacts mental health and cognitive functioning. Let’s explore the five incredible ways in which retreats can transform your brain and life:
Reduced Stress: Finding Serenity Amidst Chaos
In the fast-paced world we live in, stress has become an ever-present companion. Retreats offer a welcome escape from daily stressors, allowing your mind to find solace and rest. Scientifically, this is attributed to reduced levels of cortisol, the notorious stress hormone. As cortisol levels decrease during a retreat, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your overall mental well-being.
Increased Mindfulness: Embracing the Power of Presence
Mindfulness practices are often at the heart of retreat experiences. Through meditation, yoga, and contemplative walks, retreat-goers are guided to cultivate present-moment awareness. This newfound skill doesn’t just stay on the retreat premises; it translates into daily life, enhancing focus, attention, and emotional regulation. As the brain becomes more adept at being mindful, it paves the way for a calmer, clearer mind.
Improved Mood: A Ray of Light in the Darkness
Depression and anxiety can cast dark shadows over our lives. Retreats, with their nurturing environments and mindfulness practices, have been shown to improve mood and reduce symptoms of these mental health challenges. By synergistically addressing stress and fostering mindfulness, retreats create a supportive space for emotional healing and growth.
Enhanced Creativity: Unleashing the Imagination
If you’ve ever experienced creative blocks, a retreat might be just the ticket to reignite your imagination. The change in environment, exposure to new experiences, and opportunities for self-expression can spark a surge of creativity. Some retreats specifically incorporate creative activities like writing, art, or music, encouraging participants to explore uncharted territories of their creativity.
Improved Brain Function: Strengthening the Cognitive Arsenal
Scientific research has unveiled the transformative effects of mindfulness practices on the brain’s structure and function. For instance, meditation has been found to increase gray matter in the prefrontal cortex, an area associated with attention and self-awareness. Engaging in regular retreats can bolster brain health and cognitive abilities, empowering you to face life’s challenges with clarity and resilience.
Embrace the Journey: The Power of Retreats
Participating in a retreat is not just an indulgence; it’s an investment in your well-being. The benefits of reduced stress, increased mindfulness, improved mood, enhanced creativity, and heightened brain function are invaluable gifts that can positively influence every aspect of your life.
So, consider taking a step back from the hustle and bustle, and embark on a transformative retreat. Whether you seek solace in nature, immerse yourself in a spiritual sanctuary, or dive into an artistic haven, retreats offer a profound opportunity to nourish your brain and soul. Embrace the journey of self-discovery and growth, and let the power of retreats guide you toward a more balanced, inspired, and harmonious life.
Why Everyone Needs to Visit Peru: An Exploration of Culture, Nature, and Spirituality
Peru is one of those countries that seems to have it all. From soaring mountains to tropical rainforests, ancient ruins to colorful markets, and a rich spiritual heritage, it’s no wonder that so many people are drawn to this diverse and fascinating destination. As a travel and yoga enthusiast, I’ve had the opportunity to explore Peru several times, each time discovering new insights and experiences. In this blog post, I’ll share some of the top reasons why I believe everyone needs to visit Peru at least once in their lifetime.
The Incan Legacy
One of the most famous attractions in Peru is the mysterious lost city of Machu Picchu, perched high in the Andes Mountains. This ancient Incan site is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and for good reason. Machu Picchu is not only a marvel of engineering and architecture but also a portal into the civilization that built it. Exploring the ruins, you can appreciate the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Incan people, who created this wonder more than 500 years ago. But Machu Picchu is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Incan legacy in Peru. The Incan Empire was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America, spanning from the present-day regions of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile to Argentina. In Peru, you can see Incan ruins scattered throughout the country, such as the sacred valley of the Incas, Pisac, Ollantaytambo, and Choquequirao. Visiting these sites allows you to appreciate the scope and complexity of Incan society and their deep reverence for nature and the cosmos.
Breathtaking Natural Beauty
Peru is a country full of contrasts, from the arid coastline to the towering Andes Mountains and the lush Amazon rainforest. Each region has a unique beauty and character, and exploring them offers a chance to witness some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes on the planet.In the Andes, for example, you can hike through mountain passes and visit traditional villages, taking in the stunning scenery along the way. The Colca Canyon, the deepest canyon in the world, offers breathtaking views and opportunities to see Andean condors up close. In the Amazon, you can explore the vast rainforests, home to millions of species of plants and animals, and learn from indigenous communities who call the jungle their home.
Vibrant Culture and Cuisine
In Peru, you can experience a rich mix of cultural influences, from the ancient Incan traditions to the colonial legacy of the Spanish. This fusion has created a unique and colorful culture that is a delight to explore. One of the best ways to immerse in this culture is through food. Peru is known for its incredibly diverse and delicious cuisine, which reflects its mix of indigenous, European, and African heritage. From ceviche to lomo saltado to cuy (guinea pig), there’s a wealth of flavors and dishes to explore, each more tantalizing than the last. Beyond food, Peru offers a vibrant arts scene, with music, dance, and visual arts that reflect the country’s diverse roots. From the colorful costumes of Cusco’s Inti Raymi festival to Lima’s world-renowned theaters and galleries, there’s always something to discover and celebrate.
For centuries, Peru has been a place of pilgrimage and spiritual discovery. From the ancient Incan practices of honoring the divine in nature to the Catholic traditions brought by the Spanish, Peru has a deep and rich spiritual heritage that continues to thrive today. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the Sacred Valley, where the air is thick with the energy of countless generations who have come here to connect with the divine. Here, you can visit sacred sites such as the Temple of the Sun in Cusco or participate in traditional ceremonies and rituals led by local shamans. Combining these experiences with a yoga practice or other mindfulness practices can lead to a profound and transformative journey of self-discovery.
From Machu Picchu’s ancient ruins to the vibrant culture and food, varied nature, and soulful spirituality, Peru offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a yoga student, a nature lover, or simply a curious traveler, Peru is a destination that can enrich your life and expand your horizons. So come and explore this magical country, immerse yourself in its riches, and discover the wonders that await you.
I have always been one who appreciates cycles. The sunrise and sunset each day, the new moon growing to the full moon each month, and the annual shift of seasons are just a few of the cycles I have grown to love. We have come to the end of a cycle as we prepare to culminate 2020.This has been a year none of us will forget, and to many, it will be one of our greatest years of challenge, and also of growth.
As we come to the completion of this year it is a time of reflection, a time of intention, and also a welcomed time of celebration. Although this year was very different, and this holiday season will also be unique for many of us, we have the opportunity to embrace the end of this cycle, another year of life, of tradition, and of self-exploration of our own True Nature. As we complete this cycle we also have the opportunity to look on the horizon, a fresh pallet ahead, filled with opportunities.
Where do you want to go in 2021? Who would you like to become? What parts of your life are most important? I invite you to pause this holiday season, to slow down, and to contemplate the gift of this life, the cycles, and your own True Nature.
Peace to you in this Holiday Season,
Joshua and the True Nature team
Self-care is critical to optimal health and well-being, and it’s one of the lessons that many of us have learned from the coronavirus pandemic. But how is self-care defined, and what distinguishes self-care from self-indulgence? This question has been on my mind for months.
For many people, self-care evokes images of a relaxing spa, a luxurious vacation, or being in a beautiful retreat setting. For me, though, self-care is a disciplined, daily practice that keeps me anchored, grounded, and connected to my heart. On the other hand, self-indulgence is an expression of privilege and can reinforce egoism, vanity, and gluttony.
My Personal Self-Care Routine
Almost every day, I wake up before sunrise to do some asanas, meditate, and reflect on my day before I eat, shower, and turn on my computer. Some days my practice feels mundane; other days, it is profound and blissful. Most days, it is simply an act of coming home to myself and to the present realities of my life.
This relationship between self-care and self-indulgence is so akin to my relationship with chocolate. I LOVE chocolate—dark chocolate of all varieties: dark chocolate and ginger, dark chocolate and orange, dark chocolate with figs. I don’t think I have ever met dark chocolate I didn’t like.
Dark chocolate is a sweet indulgence that gives me a momentary buzz of pleasure and sensuality. However, if I indulge in it too much, I notice sugar cravings and the beginnings of an insatiable appetite for sugary foods that inevitably leads me down the path toward consuming unhealthy carbs and bread, which make me feel lethargic, foggy, and hungry. However, in the right amount, a chocolate indulgence can add a sweet pleasure.
Self-indulgent experiences like facials, spa treatments, or luxurious holidays can be a step toward creating a self-care routine. But if there is no continuity in the form of a self-care home practice, the experience wears out, and we find ourselves hungry for nourishment.
One December, many years ago, my husband and I decided to attend a 10-day silent meditation retreat. I had no experience with meditation or doing a retreat, and I had no idea what to expect. The retreat involved eight hours of sitting meditation punctuated with silent walking, dharma talks, and mealtimes. The retreat was excruciatingly painful both physically and mentally, and yet profoundly insightful. Never before had I come face-to-face with my own thoughts. With nothing to do but meditate, I experienced the restlessness of my monkey mind, and I practiced a method to feel anchored in stability, focus, and present moment awareness. I experienced incredible lucidity, had profound insights about my life and noticed an increased vividness in sight, sound, and taste.
I came home excited about practicing this meditation technique, but after a few weeks, the habit of getting up early and meditating was no longer sustainable. Seeking more of what I experienced, I became a self-improvement junkie, going to workshops, seminars, and retreats hoping to re-establish a meditation practice and to experience the insights I had on my first meditation retreat. I would come home excited to practice meditation again and feel inspired by what I had learned. But inevitably, after a few weeks, my meditation practice would lose steam, and I would find myself disappointed and looking for the next course.
This pattern continued for many years until I met my Guru, Sri Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda. I received from him both inspiration and guidance in establishing a home practice or sadhana. Sadhana is the Sanskrit word for daily spiritual practice. Establishing a daily home practice has given me so much over the years. It is a daily anchor for me to nourish my body with movement. It is a moment for me to cleanse my mind and choose kind, loving, peaceful, and harmonious thoughts. And my daily practice allows me to connect with my heart and the deepest part of my being.
Practicing Self-Care Throughout The Day
In addition to a morning practice that nourishes me on all levels, I try to cultivate space in my day to rest, breathe, and reflect—whether that’s a guided yoga nidra or writing in my gratitude journal. I cook and eat nourishing meals to provide my body with the right kind of fuel. I choose my words carefully and mindfully, whether in emails or in speaking, so that my words and language do not create harm and division and instead contribute to harmony and peace.
While I appreciate spa dates, aesthetic treatments like facials, and getting my hair done, self-care is not as simple as getting a massage or facial, not to mention the economic privilege embedded in spa holidays, beauty treatments, and getting your hair and nails done weekly. On the contrary: true self-care requires discipline and commitment and is rooted in the foundation of self-esteem.
Self-Connected To The Whole
Self-care is an expression of self-esteem: valuing our body, our mind, our time, and our energy while committing to practices and habits that nourish us. Movement practices (yoga, Qi Gong, Tai chi, exercise), breathing practices, and meditation practices all restore our physical, emotional, energetic, and spiritual resources. Inherent to these practices is an understanding that the self is connected to the whole. To bring ourselves into balance and harmony is a blessing not only for ourselves but to all those around us.
In some Eastern spiritual lineages, this is expressed in the dedication that follows a practice—a dedication that the fruits of our practice radiate outward and benefit all beings in all realms. Lokah samastha sukhino bhavantu. May all beings, in all realms, experience happiness. This is the mantra I repeat at the end of my practice.
If you are overworked, exhausted, and always giving to others, a spa date can offer time to oneself. Undoubtedly, this is a rare and precious gift. The real gift is not the service but rather the time, space, and reversal of roles.
If you are overworked, exhausted, and always giving to others, a spa date can offer time to oneself.
If you are used to being the giver, it can be incredibly healing to be on the receiving end, whether it is receiving a massage, a nourishing meal, or simply receiving someone’s full attention and presence. For people who work in a service-oriented profession, receiving is a crucial part of staying balanced. In fact, receiving and giving are both expressions of the natural flow of life energy. For most women who are habituated and conditioned to give, receiving nourishment from another can be a gift unlike any other.
Massage and other types of bodywork can also be an important addition to a committed home practice. There is no substitute for the healing power of touch and the feeling of an experienced practitioner who can untie the knots in our muscles and fascia, help us recover from injuries, and remind the body of what health feels like.
In contrast, self-indulgent activities offer a temporary pleasure that is limited to ourselves. A luxurious holiday is great but may benefit just us, whereas a meditation practice that grounds us in calmness benefits us, our partners, our children, our family, and our community.
Internal Vs. External
Health has both internal and external components. Attending to the internal is such an important part of self-care. This is another difference between what distinguishes self-care from self-indulgence.
Self-care practices are generally internally-oriented. Pratyahar, the drawing of the sense organs inward, is an essential limb of yoga and is the difference between exercise and asana.
Asana involves an internal component wherein our awareness is directed inward and not exclusively outward. Self-indulgent activities are, in general, exclusively outward and can be appearance-oriented. Grooming and tending to our appearance is important, but it is not the same as awareness, consciousness, and mindfulness, all of which include internalization of our life-energy. Having our nails done and getting a great haircut may contribute to feeling beautiful, but it is no substitute for genuine self-esteem, which comes from within. Valuing our qualities, our beauty, skills, and assets creates a radiance that can’t be captured in a face full of makeup.
Valuing our qualities, our beauty, skills, and assets creates a radiance that can’t be captured in a face full of makeup.
While advertising likes to convince us otherwise, beauty products are just products. Beauty does not come from a bottle of foundation; it comes from an inner glow and radiance. Often this radiance is the result of years of inner work and transformation. This is the third difference between self-care and self-indulgence. Self-care practices are ultimately about transformation.
Pleasure Vs. Transformation
Self-care practices like yoga, meditation, and conscious breathing promise transformation. I can attest to this truth. Yoga has given me physical health and has transformed me from the inside out. This transformation is the marvel and miracle of spiritual practice that opens us up to a greater potential inside that is beyond what we’ve been taught to believe about ourselves.
As we shed the layers of our past and subconscious beliefs that we have inherited, we are able to live with intention, clarity, and purpose. When our actions are rooted in ethics and integrity, we are able to transform everyday experiences into opportunities for personal and spiritual growth. This takes dedication and consistent effort. Transformation rarely comes without discomfort.
In contrast, self-indulgent activities are pleasurable. And, when the pleasure ends, we are exactly where we started. Self-care practices take us on an inner journey that challenges, changes, and transforms who we are from the inside out.
Finally, self-care taps into our inner resources: our ability to regulate our emotions, shift brain states, and move our prana from our heads to our hearts. Deep breathing triggers the relaxation response and can help shift us from a gamma brain state into an alpha or deep relaxation brain state. The ability to shift our brain waves into a slower rhythm can help us access our intuition, wisdom, and creativity.
Self-indulgent activities may help us feel relaxed, but they do not provide the tools to access relaxation on our own. Yoga conditions the body physically, mentally, and emotionally, impacting not only the muscles, joints, and tissues but also the nervous system, glands, and brain. The keys to cultivating different states of consciousness like deep relaxation, unconditional love, and healing at the subconscious level are all part of self-care practices like yoga and meditation.
Here are a few of the self-care practices that I use regularly to help me tap into my inner resources and cultivate a sense of inner calm and peace:
Self-Care Morning Practice
Before you begin your day, make a nourishing drink, sit down, and take time to pause and reflect.
Instructions: Ask the question, what can I do today to nourish me physically, emotionally, energetically, and spiritually? Choose one thing from your answer and commit to scheduling it into your day.
Ask: what can I do today to nourish me physically, emotionally, energetically, and spiritually? / Photo by Thom Holmes
Self-Care Mid-Day Check-In
In the middle of your day, take a 10-minute time-out to pause and be still. In the summertime, I like to sit outside, feel the warm sunshine on my skin, and let my mind wander while I stay attentive to my breath. When the weather is cold, I make a cup of tea and sit on my living room couch, and gaze out the window.
Instructions: Find a comfortable place to sit. Notice your sitz bones and feel yourself settling into your body. Feel rooted and connected to the Earth beneath you. Feel your core and the stability of your pelvis and spine. Notice the inhale and exhale of your breath and the movement of breath in the abdomen. Relax your back muscles and feel a sense of lifting through the spine. Soften the muscles in your face. Settle into your heart and be attentive to whatever arises. Let your breath anchor you in the present moment. Be attentive to where your mind wanders and what you feel emotionally and energetically.
Self-Care Nightly Practice
Many years ago, I learned a practice to help unwind at the end of the day, to integrate and process all the experiences of my day, and to prepare for sleep.
Instructions: As you lie down, notice your breath. Allow your breathing to slow down so that you feel relaxed. Count 10 slow breaths, allowing for a pause between each breath. Once you feel relaxed and at ease, recall to your mind the last activity of your day and work through your day backwards until you reach the moment of waking up. Notice the feelings and thoughts that arise. Keep coming back to the thread of working backwards through your day until the moment of waking up in the morning.
These practices can help you establish a self-care routine that feeds you on all levels. The key is to do them regularly!
While I love to book spa dates with my girlfriend and indulge in luxurious meals, self-care rituals, and practices like yoga and meditation nourish me in ways that chocolate and facials can’t. Eating chocolate gives me a fleeting moment of pleasure, while eating a nourishing, wholesome meal provides me with fuel throughout my day.
A daily consistent practice is like a nourishing meal. My practice nourishes me on all levels and provides me with a stable, consistent source of energy. Each day that I choose it, it nourishes me. It reminds me of the words of Yogi Babi Hari Dass, “If you work on yoga, your yoga will work on you.”
Farah Nazarali is a yoga-junkie. She has deep love and passion for all things yoga- asana, mantra, kirtan, nidra, satsang, and the Sutras. When she’s not on the mat, she’s creating videos, producing podcasts, or conducting karmic experiments using the currency of love. She lives with one foot firmly in the digital realm and the other foot rooted in Nature, natural rhythms, and the unlimited potential within the human heart.
Keeping the air clean in your home is important to living a healthy life. Fortunately, there are some natural ways to clean and freshen the air in your home that are both safe and efficient.
Improving the quality of air in your home is an important step towards healthy living. Having clean air will help you feel better and improve the quality of living in your home.
Why is it Important to Improve Indoor Air Quality?
Having improved indoor air quality is important for staying healthy, especially if you have asthma or allergies. Pollutants in the air can cause headaches, eye irritation, fatigue, and an increase in allergies. Not only can pollutants come from grass and plants, but also smokers, household items, and gases.
Some of the most common air pollutants include secondhand smoke, radon, and combustion pollutants. Combustion pollutants include carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. These pollutants can occur from burning materials or improperly vented appliances such as space heaters, wood and gas stoves, dryers, water heaters, and fireplaces.
Other irritants found in the air include benzene, xylene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and ammonia. They can be found in everyday household items such as inks, paints, plastics, synthetic materials, and cleaners.
Keeping your indoor air clean is key to keeping these pollutants out of your home. Clean air will help you breathe easier and relax better.
Plants You Can Use to Clean the Air (According to NASA)
Plants are natural and one of the most efficient ways to clean the air in your home. They have been proven by NASA to help purify the air. In a 1980s study, NASA found that certain plants have the ability to help clean the air from benzene, xylene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and ammonia.
Some of the best plants for purifying the air in your home include: Boston Fern, Peace Lily, Spider Plant, Chinese Evergreen, Devil’s Ivy, Bamboo Palm, Weeping Fig, Flamingo Lily, and Weeping Fig. These plants can often be purchased through local nurseries, which is often the best option for purchasing plants as they typically do not use pesticides.
Essential Oils You Can Use to Make a Non-Toxic Air Freshener
Essential oils can be a great way to freshen your house without using toxic chemicals. Not only do they smell great, but they are a safer option to use. Luckily, there are some great essential oils you can use that will make your house smell fresh while keeping the air free of toxins.
Citrus scents such as orange, lime, lemon, and grapefruit give your house a fresh smell. For fall and winter, cinnamon, ginger, clove, and orange make for an inviting smell.
Essential oil air fresheners can be made by combining fruits, spices, and essentials in a pot of boiling water that is then brought to a simmer. A spray can also be made with ¾ cup of water, two tablespoons of rubbing alcohol, and your choice of essential oils. In addition, you can add one cup of baking soda to a jar with 15 drops of essential oils and one teaspoon of dried herbs.
A Clean and Fresh Home
Plants are a great way to purify your home from pollutants in the air. Not only do they look great, but they are also safe and efficient. In addition, essential oils can be used to keep your house smelling fresh while being free of toxins.
It’s no secret that the current state of things has brought more stress into our lives. The uncertainty of it all, the potential risk of catching the virus, and the overall state of things really have a heavy impact on people’s overall mental well-being. However, while feeling stressed and experiencing anxiety is completely normal and understandable in times like these, giving in to stress is definitely not recommended. What you should do instead is find ways to relax a bit and take your mind off of things. And food, believe it or not, can be a great helper in such a scenario. That being said, here are some food-related tips that should help you improve your mood and lower stress during these difficult times.
Make sure you’re eating healthy
In stressful and difficult times, the first thing that seems to take a hit other than our mental health is our eating habits. Stress is already known to – most commonly – affect our appetites negatively, so this doesn’t really come as a surprise. But if you’re not eating properly you won’t only be at risk of gaining a few extra pounds. Instead, your mental health will suffer as well. That’s why you should ensure you’re eating healthy. Add some superfoods into the mix and enrich your regular meals even further. For instance, there are numerous benefits of adding algae to your regular diet. So, check them out and enjoy all the benefits of chlorella. Not only will you start feeling better mentally but you’ll also boost your immune system, which is quite important in times like these.
Plan your grocery trips in advance
Since social distancing should still be practiced very much, having to go to a grocery store daily doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. And if you add all the necessary preparations to the mix – gloves, mask, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, etc. – you can see how this could actually hurt your mental well-being even further. What you should do instead is plan your grocery trips in advance. Write down all the things you think you’ll need the following week and stock up on your favorite foods. This way you’ll minimize the necessity to leave your home more than you need to and you’ll have a far more organized grocery run. Review your list at the end of the week and make necessary tweaks the next time you need to hit the grocery store.
Try meal prepping
Additionally, since you’re already planning your grocery store run, why not plan your meals for the entire week? And while you’re there, why not also make them? Meal prepping can seem quite challenging for new and inexperienced cooks, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll notice just how much time-saving and stress-relieving it actually is. No more worrying and thinking about what you’ll have for lunch or dinner today – simply open your freezer, find the right container, throw it in the microwave, and enjoy your pre-made meal.
Don’t shy away from comfort food
Lastly, while eating healthy is good in general, eating comfort food is good for your soul. Of course, you should never over-indulge in comfort food, as comfort food is usually not very healthy. However, don’t avoid enjoying your favorite meal from time to time. Yes, it may not be the healthiest option but it will certainly boost your mood and lower your stress, at least for the time being.
These were just some food-related tips you should check out if you find yourself feeling stressed and overwhelming. The global pandemic is not something that should be taken lightly. However, you really shouldn’t allow yourself to stress too much about it either.
True Nature Travels knows that safety comes first, and as we start planning a return to travel, the safety and well-being of our participants, leaders, and partners is our highest priority. We understand that international travel carries heightened cautions at this time, and as such, we are working diligently with our partners to ensure proper safety guidelines, implement flexible booking policies, and offer additional insurance options.
Thank you for being a part of the True Nature family. We look forward to retreating with you.
As we start to look towards the future, True Nature Travels is continuing to assess the viability of retreats on a destination by destination basis. If your upcoming retreat plans are affected, you will be contacted no later than 30-45 days prior to your retreat start date to discuss your options.
We are working diligently with all of our centers to establish clear and proper protocols in response to COVID-19.
Tracking international measures taken by health authorities in the country
Securing detailed information from our centers on preventative measures being implemented in response to COVID-19
Establishing guidelines for pre-retreat communication to ensure all participants feel informed and supported before travel
Updating medical emergency plans of action to include COVID-19
Communicating with on-the-ground partners for real-time updates regarding the realities and conditions within the local community
For more information on actions being taken by the center for your specific retreat, please visit the “Things to Know” tab on your retreat web page or contact us at email@example.com.
SIGN UP WITH NO RISK
When you sign up for any 2021 or 2022 retreat, your deposit is fully transferable. There is no cancellation fee if you transfer to another trip, another person, or put your deposit ($350) on hold for a future trip until the final payment date.*
We want to make sure everyone feels safe to travel and we are here to help and support you throughout this journey.
*This offer is valid for new registrations made up until 108 days prior to the retreat date.
CANCELLATION & COVERAGE
We understand that there are a lot of unknowns with COVID-19 right now. As such, we have established a new partnership with a travel insurance provider, Trawick International. Their Safe Travels First Class and Safe Travels Single Trip plans provide the following benefits for COVID:
Sickness or Death of a traveler, traveling companion or non-traveling family member
Available only on the Safe Travels First Class: Cancel for Any Reason add-on
Trawick International insurance is treating Coronavirus as any other sickness for all illness-related losses. Customers are eligible to claim for medical expenses incurred during their trip, along with trip interruption benefits.
Cancel for Any Reason is the most popular and hard to find benefit in the market today! This benefit is available on their Safe Travels First Class. Cancel for any reason will reimburse up to 75% of the non-refundable trip cost and is available within 10 days of the paid deposit or when participants receive their revised confirmation letters.
This service is available to leaders and participants who reside in the United States.
Follow this link when you are ready to purchase Trawick International insurance.
We encourage you to research the insurance company and policy that best meets your needs.
When initially signing up for travel insurance, you can secure a policy based on the initial payment made towards your retreat registration. Upon the booking of your flight and final payment of retreat, you will be able to adjust the balance of your policy and pay the additional premium for coverage.
We are not insurance experts, so we encourage you to carefully review the terms and ask any questions directly to the insurance company.
**Please note, Cancel for Any Reason add-on is offered to U.S. residents only.
Additional insurance options are available for non-U.S. residents. Please email us for more
information if you are interested.
Don’t feel comfortable rooming with someone? When availability permits, we are offering participants the option to upgrade lodging from shared to single occupancy at a discounted rate. Please reach out to us if you would like to explore this option.
Priority will be given to participants who are not traveling with a dedicated roommate.
SUPPORT OUR GLOBAL COMMUNITY
When we face times of fear and doubt, we have an opportunity to focus on the gratitude and gifts of our lives. We have a chance to hold the ones we love close to us, to be grateful for the health we might feel in this moment, for the freedom we have to gather together when it is possible, and the ability to explore the world around us.
Throughout time, with the resources of our community, with our ability to foster presence within ourselves and our innate human resilience we find ways to brave the storms of time and time make it through. Here’s how you can help support our global community.
Seeking your next global adventure? Learn More about the diverse catalog of programs that True Nature offers each year. From meditating on the pristine beaches of Costa Rica--to hiking the sacred sites of Peru, from biking the rolling hills of Tuscany--to practicing yoga on the islands of Greece, True Nature offers experiences for everyone.