True Nature Travels Blog

Happy Holidays

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

True Nature Travels Blog


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.

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 an insatiable appetite for sugary foods.

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 sadhanaSadhana 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.

Inner Resources

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.

InstructionsFind 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.

InstructionsAs 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.

True Nature Travels Blog

Natural Ways To Clean The Air In Your Home

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.

Natural Ways To Clean The Air In Your Home

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.

Natural Ways To Clean The Air In Your Home

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.

True Nature Travels Blog

Eating During COVID-19


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

 

Eating During COVID-19


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

 

Eating During COVID-19


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 Blog

SAFETY FIRST

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.


SAFETY PROTOCOL

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 info@truenaturetravels.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
  • Quarantine
  • Termination/Layoff
  • 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.

 

SINGLE UPGRADES

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.

 

True Nature Travels Blog

True Nature is heading to a new continent!

We are thrilled to announce Morocco as our newest destination!

Marrakesh, also known as the “Red City” for it’s clay buildings, is a magical place in central Morocco. The city itself is brimming with markets, gardens, palaces, and mosques. The retreat center, which is located 15 kilometers outside of Marrakech, is another world compared to the bustling city, creating the perfect setting for a peaceful retreat.

This boutique retreat center is nestled in an old private olive grove on a 8.5-acre private estate with a breathtaking view of the Atlas Mountains. There is a pool, outdoor gym, outdoor cinema, yoga/activities pavilion, and a painted dining tent. The estate comprises three pavilions and two luxury bungalows, as well as outdoor areas. Meals are prepared the old-fashioned way – made from scratch, with a fixed daily menu that relies on local, fresh ingredients, some from our own gardens.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THIS LOCATION

  • Menus featuring farm-to-table, authentic Moroccan cuisine with a twist
  • A small library of design books and guide books for guest borrowing
  • An African-inspired indoor dining space
  • The retreat center has been featured in dozens of magazines and television shows
  • The estate is comprised of three pavilions and two luxury bungalows
  • A grand reception area under a domed ceiling with seating and a fireplace
  • An arcaded terrace with tiled tables where breakfasts and lunches are served

We know you will love this location as much as we do, stay tuned!

True Nature Travels Blog

 

Equity & True Nature

The True Nature community prioritizes equity, diversity, inclusion, and social justice for our global family of participants, leaders, partners, staff, and students.

We value our differences. We are a multi-racial and multi-ethnic community. We come from mixed socio-economic backgrounds. We are immigrants and the children of immigrants. Our leaders, participants, and partners represent a diversity of histories and backgrounds.

We respect one another. True Nature is deeply rooted in the fostering of mindfulness and the creation of a loving community. We strive to build a transformative, holistic, cultural, and joyful travel experience in which we provide a gateway to discover the world and provide service through meaningful ways.

We engage in discussion and learning about power, privilege, and injustice. True Nature is committed to empowering our global family by connecting with cultures and communities around the world. We believe in the importance of cultural exchange and growth.

We evolve. We are committed to self-improvement, and to our part in creating a more equitable world. We work to increase access for, and to better welcome and embrace communities that have been historically marginalized and underserved. We invite you to travel the world with us and be a part of our community.

Our Values

True Nature is committed to equity and inclusion in our:

  • Retreats and Programs
  • Hiring and Professional Development Structure
  • Community Culture
  • Curriculum and Instructional Practice
  • Global Vendor and Partner Relations

True Nature is dedicated to these values and practices and will continue to learn and grow through the mission of becoming one global family.

True Nature Travels Blog

COVID-19 has connected the world in a way which has never happened before.

Through the struggle and the hardship has been born resilience and insight. The C19 Insight Sessions are an opportunity to connect to people of the world. A chance to hear stories of how this challenging time has impacted us in different parts of the world, in a very similar way. Join True Nature’s Founder, Joshua Canter for these heartfelt, thought-provoking, and insightful sessions which we hope you enjoy.

Episode 1 features an interview with Luca Francia from Tuscany, Italy on March 31, 2020.

 

True Nature Travels Blog

There’s no denying that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has put a stop to almost all outdoor activities. With increased home quarantines and social distancing measures, cancelling outdoor adventures has become the new norm. This may leave you bored, anxious, and searching for ways to stay fit. We feel ya! That’s why we’ve put together this guide with ways to stay sane and active during the pandemic. Find the original article here.

How to Deal with a Complete 180 of Your Lifestyle

To give you a quick background on us, Reet and I travel full-time, most of it in an RV exploring top outdoor destinations in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. We spend part of almost every day mountain biking, hiking, paddleboardingkayaking, snowboarding or rock scrambling. Needless to say, our lifestyle and our company revolve around recreating in the outdoors.

When we’re not in the RV, we take an international trip to India for a few months every year (typically in winter), as that’s where Reet was born and raised. We love to visit family, eat incredible Indian food, experience and learn from the culture and expand our initiatives to help the stray dogs of India (our other passion aside from the outdoors!).

This is where we are now, on March 25th, 2020. STUCK, INDOORS.

That’s right, India instituted a mandatory curfew (the strictest version of a lockdown) across the entire country a couple days ago. This means we literally cannot leave our house, past our driveway. Our worst nightmare…but also 100% necessary. So, we are trying to make the most of it and practice acceptance. We believe that the Indian government is actually doing the right thing to stop the spread of COVID-19, and is taking this threat to the people of India very seriously.

So, to help you cope (and perhaps even flourish!) during this time, we want to share our top tips for keeping our sanity and what we are doing to stay active during corona virus.

Benefits of Staying Active & Getting Outdoors During a Quarantine Period

Boredom is not the worst thing about being stuck indoors. Staying indoors for an extended period can cause lethargy, restlessness, disrupted eating habits, fatigue, and moodiness. Spending all of your time indoors can even cause a weakened immune system – something we all definitely want to avoid during this crazy time.

Physical activity is also very important for both your body and your mind.  Studies show that staying active will help you manage your weight, lower blood pressure, strengthen bones and muscles, and recover from illness faster.

Exercise is also a proven mood booster, reducing depression and anxiety, decreasing stress, and improving sleep and brain function. All things that we could all use a bit more of at this present moment!

Lastly, breathing in the fresh air of the outdoors and receiving a healthy dose of Vitamin D from sun exposure can help strengthen our immune system.

But how can you enjoy getting outdoors safely while on quarantine or social distancing?

Ways to Stay Active and Get Outdoors Without Leaving Your House

Since we are homebound for at least the next 21 days, we’ve had to get creative around spending time outdoors and ways to stay active during corona virus.  The good news is that there are more resources than ever before, as gyms, studios and workouts are being added online constantly to keep up with the online demand. Even better news: many of them are free!

A quick visit to YouTube alone will reveal a thousand and one home workout routines that’ll help kick your butt and build you some abs before the quarantine is lifted. Below we also list some top gyms and studios that are also offering free online workout classes.

Workout in Your Backyard

No need to worry about going to a gym – they are mostly closed now anyway. Your backyard is waiting. Hanging out in your backyard will help you get that fresh air, sun and outdoor exposure necessary for your immune system. Working out in the backyard will help you emerge from the quarantine with those abs you’ve always wanted.

Here are some top gyms, yoga studios and other resources that are offering FREE online workouts!

Or, create your own workout with lunges, squats, burpees or your other favorite routines.

Sustain Your Body & Mind with Yoga

While in India, I was planning on taking yoga teacher training to become a certified yoga instructor. I started my course in Goa and was only a week in when things started getting a bit crazy in India. Cases started piling up, states started shutting down, and a full lockdown was looking more and more likely. I decided to fly back to Reet in Chandigarh just 2 days before they halted all domestic flights and am now continuing my practice as much as possible. I absolutely loved my time at Trimurti Yoga and can’t wait to go back once this is all over.

Practicing yoga is a great way to stay active during the corona virus quarantine.  Whether you are a beginner looking to learn, or a seasoned yogi, here are some online resources for your yoga practice.  All you need is a yoga mat!

Avoid Extreme Activities

These confusing days shall pass and you’ll have all the time in the world to begin a new activity or practice your favorite extreme sport if you so desire. However right now you wouldn’t want to risk hurting yourself and having to make a trip to the hospital. Hospitals are the worst place to be right now to stay healthy, and avoiding them at all costs will help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Opting for more simple, safer activities and ways to stay active is also a great way to help ease the problems of an already overwhelmed hospital. It’s the responsibility of everyone to avoid taxing medical facilities any further. France has even banned recreational cycling because of limited healthcare resources and the risk of injuries.

Create a Workout Challenge with Friends

Feeling bored or unmotivated with your fitness routine at home? Kickstart your motivation by creating a burpee, jump rope or squat challenge online with friends or family. Match or beat each others’ daily activities to keep your body fit and the fun going. Practicing a new behavior every day will also help you develop better habits.

Using a tracking device like your FitBit or apps like Strava can help you measure progress and report in to other participants easily. Don’t forget to celebrate your success in completing the challenge with a virtual high-five, and a plan to celebrate in-person once we are past this!

Take Your Pet for a Walk

Pets need outdoor exposure as much as humans do. Just like their owners, pets can be quite irritable when not allowed to stretch their legs outdoors. Follow our guidelines below for leaving the house first, and check on your local government’s quarantine rules.  If it’s allowed, take your pet for a quick walk around the block. It will not make your pet mentally and socially healthier, it’ll help you burn some calories, too!

Make sure to follow precautions though. Wear a face mask and gloves, and get rid of any disposable gear as soon as your walk ends for added safety.  Have a bottle of hand sanitizer next to the door to rub down before you come indoors, and change your clothes and shower as soon as possible, especially if you have others living in the house with you.  Allow the recommended 6-feet of distance between you and other people you may encounter, and under no circumstances should you leave the house if you’re feeling unwell.

Beautify Your Garden

Gardening is not only a great way to stay moving and keep your mind occupied, but a vegetable garden can help care for your food needs as well while you are in isolation!  Gardening is another great way to get vitamin D, boost your mood, lower the risk of dementia, and combat loneliness!

Spring is the perfect time to start digging out those weeds and prepping for a beautiful flower or vegetable garden that extends all summer long.

How can you get started?  Add seeds to your next grocery list (even better have them delivered!) and allocate a section of your yard to your new garden.  Here is a list of things you can grow quickly during your quarantine!

Camp at Home in the Backyard

Are your kids getting antsy indoors?  Missing that camping trip you had planned?  One great way to bring the outdoors to them is to take a camping trip to the back yard!  You may not get the full experience, but you can still make it a memory of a lifetime.  Pack up everything you need to spend the night (or weekend!) outdoors, set up tents, hammocks, camp chairs and a fire (if it’s allowed in your neighborhood), tell stories, and sleep under the stars.

One day you’ll tell the story about the time you camped in the back yard because you were under lockdown.

It’s also a great way to teach kids about flexibility, acceptance, and making the best of disappointing situations.

Challenge Your Brain and Stay Sane

Meditation

This is by far Reet’s favorite activity lately. Although Reet has been meditating for a few years now, he has always thought he’d like to do longer periods, or even go to a guided meditation or Vipassana at some point. That someday is now. Instead of filling his new free time watching the news, he has decided to extend his meditations.  Instead of doing 10-15 minute sessions, he is attempting 45-60 minute meditations and hopefully longer as he develops his practice.

New to meditation?  Resources abound for beginners to meditation. Reet started his practice using Headspace, which has a 10-day free trial, and hundreds of guided meditations through their monthly paid plans. A free favorite of mine is Insight Timer, which features practically endless guided options by experienced mindfulness teachers, plus sound healing, talks and music.

If there’s one thing we all need right now, it’s patience.  One of the best ways I’ve found to practice patience is meditation. A saying that I take comfort in is: “This too shall pass”.

Learn a New Skill

Have you always wanted to learn a new language? Become more competent at maintaining your own bike or outdoor equipment? Master a new instrument? Now is the time!

I am working on learning Hindi while we are quarantined indoors, and Reet is working on increasing his fluency in written Punjabi. Apps like Rosetta Stone and Duolingo offer easy ways to learn or re-learn a language and challenge your brain during this quiet time.

And in case you have been living under a rock, YouTube is the king of 101 EVERYTHING. Learn to maintain or rebuild your bike and save some money in the process! Or dust off that old guitar and learn (or re-learn) to play! There are endless things to learn from others on YouTube. It will keep your boredom at bay, and challenge your brain in the process.

Need inspiration for new skills you’d like to learn? Udemy has over 100,000 online courses with expert instruction on topics like business, design, photography, marketing and personal development.

Stay Connected with Family and Friends

Just because you are stuck indoors doesn’t mean you have to be a hermit. Take time to connect with family and friends over FaceTime or phone calls. Staying connected with the outside world is important right now, and talking to others helps combat depression and loneliness. This is especially important for those over 70 who are isolated. Check in with grandparents and other elderly friends and family at least every other day.

Leaving the House or Traveling (we say don’t do it)

Even though we are a travel & outdoors company, we don’t recommend traveling at all right now, and truly believe that staying inside your house/yard is really critical to stop the spread of COVID-19. Flights have been suspended completely in India, both domestic and international. We know that flights are still running in the U.S. but we highly recommend not traveling unless it’s an absolute emergency.

Many of our outdoor shops are shut down during this period to stop the transmission of COVID-19, and even some of our destinations are shutting completely to tourists (e.g. Moab).  We recommend spending this time planning out your next outdoor adventure, and choosing dates at least several months out. Even road trips are risky at this point, but will be a great option once the pandemic has been contained.

The most responsible thing to do is not to travel, stay put and perhaps explore locally, if you are allowed and it is safe to do so.

Before Exploring Locally, Check Your Local Government’s Rules

In India, we can’t leave the house unless it’s an emergency… and we believe it’s for good reason.

Governments are cracking down when it comes to ensuring that social distancing is followed. Before leaving your house, make sure you’re not going to have a brush with the law by checking your local government’s rules on quarantine and social distancing. Quarantine provisions can be different for every state – outdoor activities can be considered non-essential trips – so it pays to check.

If You Decide to go out, Preparation is Key

Getting outdoors during the Coronavirus pandemic isn’t just different because the streets are deserted. You should take precautions to protect yourself and others from transmission of the virus.  CDC guidelines explain how to best protect yourself and others, including washing hands frequently, maintaining appropriate distance from others, and staying home if you are sick.

During this pandemic, you can never be too safe or complacent. Don’t forget to include an alcohol spray or a bottle of hand sanitizers when heading to the outdoors. You might mindlessly touch metal railings and hold on to different surfaces. Having an alcohol or sanitizer ready wherever you go can allow you to enjoy outdoor sports during the COVID-19 can help reduce the risk of contraction and transmission.

If you do see other people outdoors, make sure you are allowing the recommended 6 feet of distance between you to prevent transmission. Symptoms can take many days to show up, so keep your distance from everyone – even people that appear very healthy.

Make sure you do not leave your house if you’re feeling unwell. Social distancing is meant to flatten the curve of the effects of the virus. When you’re not feeling your best, stay at home.

Staying indoors is an important mandate we ALL need to follow, but there are ways to still give our body the energy and vitality it can get from staying active and getting some fresh air. By following the rules, being extra careful, and getting a little creative, you can stay sane and active amidst this period of social distancing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julie SinghJulie Singh is passionate about outdoor adventure, wildlife and conservation. She spends her free time mountain biking, hiking, paddleboarding, and snowboarding, and she also loves to challenge herself with new outdoor adventures. Julie spent 15 years in Retail, Merchandising and Finance, leading teams and growing large businesses before she co-founded TripOutside with her husband Reet.

True Nature Travels Blog

Bees are known for their role in pollination and producing honey and beeswax. These insects are a monophyletic lineage within the superfamily Apoidea and are presently considered a clade, called Anthophila.

Did you get all that? You might have a pretty good idea about the importance of bees, but imaging saying that sentence to a child. They would look at you like you’re describing your 401K or tax filing procedures.

“Monophyletic lineage within the superfamily Apoidea and are presently considered a clade, called Anthophila.”

Way too confusing. Luckily, with a little help, teaching kids about bees can be a lot more entertaining and even fun for everyone involved. Teaching kids about how to respect and care for bees, which are necessary for so much plant life on Earth, is an essential step in helping to build a better, bee-filled future.

Here are a few great tips for teaching kids about bees in a fun way:

Abstain from employing convoluted dialect during discourse

…Huh? All that means is don’t use big words. No one likes to be in a conversation with another person and not understand 90% of the words being used. When talking to kids, you need to be even more aware of the language you’re using. You’re trying to make this lesson about bees fun. There is nothing fun about the word “eusociality.” Whenever you’re talking to children about bees, make sure you’re using fun and easy-to-understand words.

Don’t focus on fear

Since bees have the ability to sting, most kids are terrified of them from the get-go. Though you should inform kids about the dangers of bees, including sting pain and allergic reactions, don’t make them sound like monsters. It’s important to teach children about bees in a way so that they can appreciate them, and also so they won’t be afraid of them.

Use visual and tactile aids

Simply reading an article to kids about bees will not keep their attention. Not even for a minute. You have to make the entire experience engaging and entertaining. That’s where visual aids and physical objects can help win over your audience of young learners. You can bring in an empty hive, some honeycombs, a bee suit, honey, and a hunk of beeswax. PRO TIP: don’t pass along any of these items while you’re talking since you’ll lose their attention very quickly.

Include some fun bee-related games

Including games and fun activities is a great tactic for teaching children about any topic. Doing this will help break up the information the kids are attempting to absorb and will help them retain everything. Have the kids make buzzing noises, have them pollinate paper flowers with glitter, and build an imaginary bee colony of their own.

Plus, if you’re having trouble getting the kids excited about bees, you can always start talking about the way bees communicate and show them The Waggle dance!

Here are some important topics to cover when teaching kids about bees:

  • Different types of bees — There are more than 20,000 species of bees!
  • Difference between worker bees, carpenter bees, and queen bees — Worker bees collect nectar from flowers. Carpenter bees create tunnels between one and two inches deep and up to 10 feet long. The queen bee lays all of the eggs inside a colony and could lay over 2,500 eggs per day.
  • Pollination — Bees see all colors except for red. That and their sense of smell help them find the flowers they need to collect pollen.
  • Dangers that bees face today (pesticides) — Over the past 15 years, colonies of bees have been disappearing. Sadly, in some regions, up to 90% of bees have disappeared.

If you’re serious about teaching kids about bees — you can’t be too serious while you do it. You have to have some fun yourself so the kids can have even more fun. The more fun the children are, the more and engaged they’ll be throughout. Hopefully, doing this will give children a lifelong love and appreciation for bees and everything they do for the world.