True Nature Travels Blog

yoga tips
Yoga soothes and rejuvenates, and it helps us practice mindfulness as we grow stronger.
To tap into the kind of positive energy that yoga brings, we need to think about more than just how we move. We have to pay attention to the rhythm of our breathing, the atmosphere, and our emotions. We need to bring them in balance. But how exactly can we do that? By using music. Music brings harmony to life. It gives us those three key ingredients that we need: rhythm, atmosphere, and emotional connection that can elevate yoga from a mere workout to a truly profound experience. Here’s how to create your own perfect yoga playlist.

Consider the time of day

morning yoga
Morning yoga is usually meant to energize you and get you going, while a nighttime routine might be aimed at relaxation. Upbeat music might not be a great idea if you’re trying to let tension go and soothe your mind enough to help you sleep after a workout. Tailor your playlist to the time of day and the goal you’re trying to accomplish with your workout. Allow the playlist to create the right environment – either that of fast-paced, energetic joy, or that of a
safe, soothing relaxation

Think about your audience 

Are you working out alone? Then all you need to consider are your own needs. However, if you’re a
yoga instructor or a YouTube influencer with a large following, then you have to put your audience first. Think about what they need and how you can help them focus on the workout session, how to make them get through the tough parts and motivate them to keep going. 

Make sure that the playlist transitions from song to song smoothly and that your audience gets to hear relaxing tunes when they need to slow down and hold a pose, and picks up the pace when it’s time to move. 

Create visuals


creating a yoga playlist

If you’re creating a rockin’ playlist to go with your yoga, why not include some visuals to ensure you enjoy a more complete experience? If you’ve got an ear for good music, then you could put your skills to use and create the perfect mix that will inspire you to become fully immersed in your yoga workout. You can use a simple online video maker and browse through music visualizer templates to easily create a video to go with your playlist. Once you’re done, just download your video in full HD and you’ll have the perfect thing to accompany your yoga sessions.   

Match the music with the pace


If your yoga sessions tend to be more than 20 minutes long, then you likely have different sections in your workout. This is especially true of Vinyasa or Ashtanga types of yoga, which incorporate a lot of fast-paced movements. You want to find the songs to match these parts, and then have your playlist change as the workout winds down and your breathing slows. If you get it right, music will guide your movements and help you achieve perfect fluidity. This is especially important for beginners, who often feel like they’re stumbling through their asanas. If you want to learn how to be more graceful, then a good playlist is a way to go. 

Figure out the length of your yoga playlist


A playlist that lasts exactly as long as your workout does can be a great way to motivate yourself. After a while, you’ll learn the playlist by heart and your body will get used to moving to the rhythm. You’ll also have a pretty good idea of how much time is left before it’s over. 

If you are preparing this playlist for your class, make sure to adapt it to their pace and adjust things as you go. If you see that most of the attendees struggle with certain sections, make sure there’s an upbeat song playing to motivate them to break through their limits.  

Consider incorporating silent sections into your yoga playlist


Depending on the kind of yoga you practice, silent sections in your playlist can be very useful. Do you want the workout to be a meditative experience that encourages mindfulness? Then don’t be afraid to introduce silent sections into the playlist. This will give you some time to focus on your breathing and let tension go before you are gently eased back into the workout. 

Creating your perfect playlist will take a while. You might not get things right the first time, but this only means you get to play around with music until you get things right. When you’re done making a playlist, test it with your workout and see how you feel about it – did the music energize you? Did it help you get through difficult asanas? If the answer is yes, then you’ve done your job right.  

True Nature Travels Blog

Begin the Week

Enjoy a simple and gentle yoga practice with True Nature Leader, Farah Nazarali. This routine targets all the major joints and muscles and is simple and accessible for those new to yoga and those who enjoy moving at a slow, relaxed pace.


Join Farah’s monthly subscription and get yoga videos, meditations, and inspirational talks.

VIDEOGRAPHY: Dustin Anderson Filmed at Inveremere Beach, Nanaimo Canada April 2020.



Farah is an inspirational yoga teacher, podcast host, and advocate of yogic practices that support health, happiness, and harmony. She is the founder of Drishti Point Yoga Podcasts and is currently the podcast host of In Conversation: The Podcast of Banyen Books and Sound. She has interviewed hundreds of spiritual teachers, Masters, and renowned authors and seamlessly integrates this wisdom into her teaching.

Farah specializes in teaching Workshops, Retreats, and Training locally and worldwide. She has a deep love for all things yoga and is profoundly inspired by the sacred texts of yoga, the teachings of Buddhism, and wisdom traditions that lead us to love, truth, and being of service.

True Nature Travels Blog

Steady & Steadfast: Finding Resilience with the 3 iRest Yoga Nidra Resolutions

Our teachers want to continue sharing with the TN community despite the distance, so many are sending in Meditations, Yoga sessions, and Talks. Today, we have this wonderful talk and meditation by the lovely Lisa Feder, owner of Being Well Yoga in Austin, TX. The first 10 min of this audio recording is about Sankalpa in iRest Yoga Nidra followed by a 15 minute meditation called Steady and Steadfast: Finding Resilience with the 3 iRest Yoga Nidra Resolutions.

You can support Lisa & Be Well Yoga during the pandemic by following them on Facebook and Instagram for updates and online classes.

Lisa’s Facebook
A Year of Mindful Wellness Facebook
Being Well Yoga Facebook
Being Well Yoga Instagram

Be well and enjoy!

Published author and Yoga Instructor Lisa Feder is owner of Being Well Yoga in Austin, TX. After a 25 year career in marketing and strategic planning, she found Yoga while seeking to balance the stress and challenges in her day to day. In her words, “I love watching what happens when a workplace implements a regular Yoga class program. The employees come in visibly wearing the stress of the day, and leave with a new perspective, recharged and reconnected. It’s awesome.”

True Nature Travels Blog



True Nature Founder, Joshua Canter, and his talented wife, Luna Ray, have compiled a playlist to bring you back to your breath during this time of high-stress. Enjoy Luna’s powerful kirtan songs and Joshua’s calming guided meditations to help bring you back to center as you adjust to your new normal. We are wishing you and your loved ones health and safety. Happy Listening!

You can also find the playlist here.

True Nature Travels Blog

Do you have 4 minutes today?

“One of my students is struggling with trying to fit meditation into her work day. I asked her if she has four minutes. She said yes, I said let’s meditate together for 4 minutes. After our meditation, I asked her if it would be helpful if she had a 4 minute meditation. She said, yes please!  This track is my love note to all students who struggle with meditation. Start small and build on every success.” – Farah

*Footage from Playa Uvita, Costa Rica 2020

Find more about Farah and her upcoming retreat here.




Farah NazaraliFarah is an inspirational yoga teacher, podcast host, and advocate of yogic practices that support health, happiness, and harmony. She is the founder of Drishti Point Yoga Podcasts and is currently the podcast host of In Conversation: The Podcast of Banyen Books and Sound. She has interviewed hundreds of spiritual teachers, Masters, and renowned authors and seamlessly integrates this wisdom into her teaching.

Farah specializes in teaching Workshops, Retreats, and Training locally and worldwide. She has a deep love for all things yoga and is profoundly inspired by the sacred texts of yoga, the teachings of Buddhism, and wisdom traditions that lead us to love, truth, and being of service.

True Nature Travels Blog

From my own healing journey as well as knowledge from my studies, I have learned that disease stems from disharmony in the body. If you dissect the word itself you’ll notice that it is “dis- ease,” in other words, there is a lack of ease somewhere and it could be stemming from the mental or the physical body which could be stemming from the mental or the physical. I bring this up because of the current state of affairs, which I want to say respectfully now, I am sending my love and ultimate respect to anyone who reads this that has lost a loved one or is suffering themselves currently from the virus. Below are my personal rituals for health that keep my immune system strong and my mind clear during times of increased stress.

Currently, I am an Ayurvedic practitioner in training past studies/certifications on primal methods of healthy & holistic living for the past 7 years: YTT, CMT,  western herbalism, aromatherapy, culinary, the subtle and energy body (chakra system) and a dedication to my own health journey with nutrition and various gut health methods dealing with immune triggers and parasitic infections. I am here to share with you my personal rituals and suggestions during these chaotic times that I have found to be a major help with our current realities. Health has become more than a passion, it is now a lifestyle that I hold my own power with. In the times of losing my focus, I choose to return to my empowerment and re-making my health my mission, my focus, and my life path. I hold my own hand right back into vitality with full compassion and least resistance, and find that love is more supportive in this journey than being driven by fear. 

A virus can be terrifying when it threatens to take our precious lives, especially since we have steered so far away from ritual with death in our culture. This thought itself can cause tension and stress in the body and without notice, we carry it every day, lowering our chance to fight disease because we stay in that state of a lack of ease. Anxiety and fear are branches from basic stress and are things that people deal with on a daily basis. When we stay in our stress, our body experiences the “fight or flight” effect, leaving us in our sympathetic nervous system. Our body is literally trying to fight what it thinks is life threatening which then releases hormones called adrenaline and cortisol throughout our body. Those hormones can cause an excess in our heart rate, shortness of breath, tightness in our bowels, etc. This is meant to only truly operate when there is an emergency situation and is not meant to feel (even a softly) every single day. Once this sensation is over, we re-enter our parasympathetic nervous system which has the opposing effect from SNS. Too much of this back and forth has a powerful hold on our immune system which over time will drain our bodies. If you are a person that is very sensitive to the effects of caffeine or stimulants, then you can think of this as the crashing effect. 

Fear and stress start to steal moments of our precious lives, becoming all we breath, eat, sleep, and talk about. Can you feel the current fluttering of energy around in the world? The desire to fight it is there, the awareness is there. We have the power to change the focus from fear based decisions to decisions made from hope and love. I believe that now is all we have we and we can use this as an opportunity to make changes, not just for the world but really for ourselves as individuals. If we start with ourselves and truly become our own master and teacher, the way that we can positively impact one another will become limitless. The habits we can start to introduce will slowly become who we are, connecting us back to ritual, the old ways of life that our ancestors lived. Just as the earth knows how to heal itself, our bodies can do the same. With the proper dedication and tools, we can fight back and make a change.

Where do moments that cause SNS and PNS present themselves to you? Is it overworking, social media, over-socializing with non-nourishing interactions? Are you eating the right whole and nourishing foods, taking herbs when needed, giving your body proper somatic exercises, limiting stimulants and caffeine intake, etc.? Life is all about balance and at first, a change in the lifestyle can feel like a complete shock but in the end, it will become so effective that it’ll become who you are. Trust me, I still fall back into old patterns of excess with my vices, especially with coffee and chocolate which almost immediately trigger an immune response in my body when I over consume. However, as irritating it can be having to deal with health issues, I am committed and determined to stay happy and healthy. So, what do I do? I continue to push on forward with my breath and focus my mind on the goals, the sensations I feel when I feel good and then I just continue to let go and enjoy my life. I’m riding this train with you and truly believe this is an amazing opportunity for a lot of us to regain the motivation to make changes in our lives and come back together in our truth.

skullcap - rituals for healthI don’t want to lie and say that this is the easiest of processes, but I can say the ultimate result of being more present within ourselves becomes the most rewarding gift. There is something special and mysteriously juicy about being in love with life again, even with destruction around. In Ayurvedic medicine and its sister science, yoga, I’ve learned a number of beautiful stories of archetypes which each hold shadows and light within themselves, yet there is always a solution and intertwining on the struggles becoming the greatest teachers. Everything results back to loving ourselves and life again, looking at all the new-found treasures. Both Ayurveda and yoga teach us devotion to something beyond our self but always remembering that it starts with self. We must fall in love with our own self, spiritually and physically.

I find when I start to give myself these times of solitude where I engage in the presence of my day with focus on happiness and feeling good, I get to truly be myself and be happy. I feel connected to spirit, hope and a love for what is still beautiful in this world. I live again like no one is watching. I almost feel like I was swept into a tornado of paranoia in the last year or two (longer than I expected), feeling I must document everything, know everything, and be everything and if I wanted to rest and do nothing with one of my days, I’d be punished for it. I’m finding that it is much more enjoyable when I give myself this discipline to just be with myself, understanding my body and how I can have a tremendous impact on the way it functions internally and externally. It definitely takes consistent self-motivation, and the deepest amount of trust and compassion to continue coming back to being with your body and its rhythm, but at the end of the day, there is no other motivation than that which keeps you coming to the practices these sister sciences have to offer. 

 Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating whole organic foods? Do you keep your main extremities warm during this time of year? Are you washing your hands and keeping up with basic hygiene principles? Are you washing your vegetables especially if they come from anywhere but your own garden? These are basic questions that help me personally come back to why. With all this being said, here are some rituals I include in my life daily that I have found to be most effective in strengthening the immune and happy muscles.

Rituals for Health

With all this being said, here are some rituals for health I include in my life daily that I have found to be most effective in strengthening the immune and happy muscles:

• Yoga, picking a kind that you resonate with and let yourself evolve with it.  If you’re inspired to try a few different kinds, go for it. Just try and really pay attention to which ones you can be the most present in.
• Dancing of any kind, especially in an energized, respectful space (like ecstatic dance for instance), is an amazing way to raise overall positive vibration in the body. Finding different archetypes of ourselves that we can play with that start to lead to the mysteries of our muscles and skin. Unraveling stories that were stuck and bringing our energy body back into balance
• Gardening
• Hiking (nature walks)
• Cutting down social media time!… I can’t stress this one enough. Social media can do a lot to our basic psychology that we are not even aware of. How can living in a world of feeling we always need to share what we are doing to everyone else make us feel calm? It comes back to that feeling of someone always watching, anxiety at its fullest. I do believe it can be a great tool to share and be inspired, so limiting to a small amount a day can help show the positives in all ways.
• Walking
• Journaling
• Alone time (more important than we think. How else are we going to be able to really see where we are stressing ourselves out if we keep filling our days to the point of not even knowing who we are anymore?)
• Cooking
• Singing
• Self-care rituals like baths, self-body massage, etc.
• Cranial Sacral! I’ve completely fallen in love with this
• Exercise
• Good sleep
• Reading
• Music lessons
• Time with animals

To keep the immune system healthy, another important thing to remember is to take time and clear your bowels. Yes, pooping is a very important thing that for some reason has become “shameful” or “embarrassing” to talk about with one another. An herb to help with this is: 2 tsp of licorice powder daily if you are having trouble with consistent moments 2-3 times a day. Enemas 1 week on and 1 week off is another method if you are in need to cleanse or just got through with being sick. Enemas at least twice a month is suggested for optimal health. 


Spring is what we in Ayurveda call Kapha season, with Kapha as the ruler of the immune system and vitality within us. Wet, damp, heavy, and sluggish. Very similar to the sensations we feel when sick. 

Eating foods that mimic the dosha will cause an imbalance in our immune system’s response to fight off invaders and can keep us sick if we are already sick.

Warming, nourishing, and pungent are ways to evacuate the mucus that Kapha can bring. Spices + cooking herbs like coriander, cilantro, sage, thyme, rosemary, ginger, turmeric, and asafetida. All are brilliant, effective, and delicious ways to add some nourishment into our food’s warming and nourishing modalities. Some are digestic and some are going to help expel any excess mucoid plaque still lingering around. For all my fermenting friends, switching kraut with kimchi is more effective during this time due to kraut being cooling and alkalizing and kimchi is warming. Bring in soups, broths, limit carbs but add in carb-y proteins like legumes, and never forget your leafy greens that present themselves around this time. Limit avocados, cold drinks, chocolate, sugars, bananas, and airy like chips, etc. We want simplicity for our digestive tract. I suggest start to really pay attention to how something starts to make you feel and if it adds mucous or sluggishness, remove it from your diet temporarily. 


Some of my favorite adaptogens, diaphoretics, warming, and nervine herbs I’d like to share with you are:

• Tulsi
• Elderberry syrup
• Echinacea tincture or tea
• Reishi
• Astragalus
• Licorice
• Cinnamon
• Catnip
• Yarrow
• Skullcap
• Orange peel
• Rose
• Motherwort
• California poppy
• Nettle

An important reminder is that to be effective, herbs need to be taken daily and not just once a week. It takes a minute to get into the routine but once you are in it, it becomes as easy as making your morning coffee. I suggest looking at the ones that pop out to you and reach out to me or another herbalist friend who can help you learn how these will affect your body’s current state. With this information, have a ritual drink or tincture daily, and start to feel the magic of our plant allies. 

Essential oils

(If pregnant, please consult with a practitioner near you to make sure they are safe for your pregnancy)  

• Ravansara
• Elemi*
• Grapefruit
• Blood Orange
• Cardamon (on belly for digestive support)
• Tulsi (lung support)
• Frankincense*
• Palo Santo*
• Myrtl*
• Naoli*
• Clary sage
• Marjoram
• Eucalyptus
• Rosemary 

*The essential oils that have a star next to them can be made into a blend and put on a handkerchief in a jar. Take it with you on a plane and breath it in throughout the flight. Feel free to email me for further detail on that one. Also, during this season I use either Ravansara or Elemi daily. I take four drops, rub together and rub over my lymph where my jaw is and also, I rub it on my chest. Tulsi is another to use on the chest for respiration. 

So, what’s the key to health? Health is always evolving, so learning to flow with it is the key.

  • Limit fear
  • Make lifestyle changes that bring in more vitality
  • Incorporate ancient ways of being and living into your daily life to connect us truly back to the mother (our earth)
  • Be with the seasons
  • Trust your plant allies
  • Trust each other,
  • Still try and live life to the fullest even amongst the chaos that’s being presented
  • Spend time with loved ones
  • Do things that bring you joy
  • Meditate
  • Somatic breath
  • and connect deeply back to yourself.

These are our roots and trusted companions which help us through our lives. For some added support, stay hydrated, start taking vitamins C + D, and make sure you get good rest. Another thing, I highly suggest getting outside everyday for even fifteen minutes in nature along with cutting down your caffeine intake.

Please feel free to email me for any support or extra rituals for health that I didn’t list here at If you are nervous about any of these suggestions, please consult your health care provider before trying. 

My information has come from many teachers throughout the years and I am currently studying at the Dhyana Center in Sebastopol California. Blessed be to you all.


Chelsea Shapouri is a Lifestyle Consultant for women and an Elemental Yoga Instructor based in Santa Cruz, CA. In her work, she offers Ayurvedic lifestyle modalities, Yoga, Breath work, Meditations, and Ayurvedic Recipes. Every client and student is rare and special to her. Chelsea’s mission is to find their unique rhythm, their primal-natural state, and from there support them with techniques and recipes that are meant for their bio-individuality. Harmony for the emotional body, physical body, and mental state is the embodiment she lives by and wishes to offer. Bringing people back home to themselves with techniques they can simply do themselves is what she lives for. The art of service is the art of love and she shares what has helped her heal for the hope to help others heal. Stay connected to Chelsea and read her story through social media or her website: Primal Harmony

True Nature Travels Blog

Maybe it’s the joy of eating decedent chocolate truffles while cozying up near a fire on a cool and cozy night or it’s the influence of Valentine’s day around the corner; either way something has me feeling romantic and inspired to get experimental with some chocolate in the kitchen. I love exploring different ways of bringing pleasure through our pallets while at the same time bringing a sense of sensuality throughout the body. Personally, I find life very romantic in more avenues than maybe the social norm.

In the program I’m studying in currently, we are learning about all types of spices and the healing properties they bring to our bodies. Something so small yet so powerful can bring a type of healing or awakening with just a single bite of food, magic in pure form. 

Magic from spices, magic from moist and rich chocolate truffles; combine them and we have a journey of the senses. To me, that’s what food is all about, an exploration of senses that bring us to a state of euphoria. It is another chance to love everything that is happening to us and find that area of romance in our lives.


The community we get to share the food with, the process of making the food, and then the pleasure of tasting the masterpiece that was curated is all a ritual that gets to bring us as people back to life’s richness. I feel what a day like valentine’s day can be a reminder for is all forms of love, intimacy, devotion, and connection. Do they not all have the same meaning in a form? There is definitely an avenue of marketing that gets brought around this time of the year that is fixated on couples, nice dinners, gifts, etc. but underneath that, there is just a gentle sweet reminder to come back to that feeling of mystery and excitement that everyday life can bring and to feed ourselves and others in a way that will enkindle and revive every cell of our being. 

We can be in love with our self without another’s love to justify the amount we feel and we can also make food that brings pleasure into our being for just ourselves and no other reason than that, because we deserve to enjoy the romance of life even if we are quote on quote single and alone. This time, Valentine’s day, it’s a time to take care of ourselves and enjoy a nice time on our own with treats and whatever sparks our fancy, or gather with the ones we love and share these forms of offerings and devotions to one another that is so ancient, it goes beyond modern times.


This recipe is simple, a little messy, and something that all ages and sexes will in my opinion truly enjoy. Chocolate will bring energy and pleasure while the spice factors will bring warmth and excitement. 

Nutmeg is a spice that is an aphrodisiac, slight sedative, and helps aid digestion and brain function. Paprika is heating so it can help warm your body temperature as well as start to move any excess mucus that is in your gut lining, causing a nice detox effect and a support to your digestive health. All Spice is known as a slight sedative and even anti-inflammatory aid. Then, we have the sweetness of Orange zest which’s flavor will bring such an unusual taste into your mouth that it’ll bring the, “mmmmmmm.. what is that” question into the mind as you take bite after bite. Why not have a relationship with our food in a way of fascination and charm? Why not have a great relationship with ourselves, others, and everything this beautiful life has to offer? 

These modalities are just other ways to spice up our lives a little bit more and bring in a little more play while exploring edges. Flavoring can be intimidating but so rewarding in the end, so I hope you enjoy the process of sharing this gift of food with yourself, the ones you love and truly enjoy the sense awakening that may just happen when you bite into these decedent little chocolate truffle treats. I hope you enjoy your time of making some of this delicious medicine and blessed be. Xoxox


Chocolate Truffle Recipe:

 8 oz of bitter sweet chocolate
¼ cup of butter or coconut oil (they will be softer with oil so make sure you refrigerate at all times unless eating)
1 cup almond butter (creamy)
1 ½ tsp of flakey sea salt
1 tsp of freshly grated orange zest
2 tsp of vanilla
1 fresh nutmeg grated about ¼ of the way or a little more (test first)
3/4 tsp of plain paprika
2/4 tsp of All Spice
Cacao powder for rolling 

Take the chocolate and butter and place it in a heat safe bowl. Then take the bowl and put it on a sauce pan filled with a little bit of water. Bring the water to boil then reduce the heat to low and stir the chocolate and butter until mixed. This is a double broiler type of action. 

Take the bowl off the sauce pan and wipe the bottom down to get all the water off so none of that moisture enters the chocolate. Once done, place the remaining ingredients into the bowl and stir with a spatula until incorporated. This is the fun part now of folk method cooking. YOU get to control the level of spice to your liking. Use mine as an outline then try it and see if you want more spice, add more paprika. If you want a little more sweetness, add a little more of the all spice & nutmeg. Have some fun with it.

Then refrigerate for about two hours. Pull out when done and then take a little cookie scoop or smaller spoon and start to spoon out some balls. Roll the balls in the palm and then place them in a bowl with the Cacao powder. Toss around a little and then place the truffle on a plate. Continue the process. Hands may fill up with some chocolate so I like to place them back into the fridge while I wash my hands and then start once again. 

Refrigerate for a couple more minutes and then serve when you are ready. Can hold up to one week in the fridge.



Chelsea Shapouri is a Lifestyle Consultant for women and an Elemental Yoga Instructor based in Santa Cruz, CA. In her work, she offers Ayurvedic lifestyle modalities, Yoga, Breath work, Meditations, and Ayurvedic Recipes. Every client and student is rare and special to her. Chelsea’s mission is to find their unique rhythm, their primal-natural state, and from there support them with techniques and recipes that are meant for their bio-individuality. Harmony for the emotional body, physical body, and mental state is the embodiment she lives by and wishes to offer. Bringing people back home to themselves with techniques they can simply do themselves is what she lives for. The art of service is the art of love and she shares what has helped her heal for the hope to help others heal. Stay connected to Chelsea and read her story through social media or her website:

True Nature Travels Blog

World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day is an international day marked on February 4th to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. In light of this upcoming day, we are grateful to share this powerful insight from True Nature Leader, Robyn Tiger.

Robyn is a Physician, Certified Yoga Therapist, and Founder of Yoga Heals 4 Life serving those touched by cancer, anxiety, and stress-related disorders. She is faculty for Trauma-Informed Yoga Therapy, the Medical Resource Director for Journey To Be Free (a nonprofit serving the cancer community), and serves on the Advisory Council for Yoga Therapy Today and Robyn serves those touched by cancer, anxiety, and stress-related disorders.

Surviving or Thriving? The Cancer Journey, Chapter 3

As a physician, I spent many years in Diagnostic Radiology with a focus on Women’s Imaging. It was my job as the “doctor’s doctor” to help clinicians identify what was causing their patient’s symptoms. Through a multitude of imaging modalities and biopsies, I searched for what was responsible, often discovering cancer. Although patients were incredibly grateful for my “saving their lives”, I visualized their situations quite differently having repeatedly watched the downward spiraling negative transformation that subsequently took place. I see this process, the cancer journey, as divided into 3 continuous chapters, the 3 rd chapter frequently being the most challenging and difficult.

Cancer Journey – Chapter 1

When do individuals first become cancer survivors? The moment they hear the words: “you have cancer” their lives are forever changed. Questions, fears, and concerns fill their thoughts and every part of their being. Life as they know it comes to a standstill. Many of my patients have described this chapter as the rug being pulled out from under them.

Cancer Journey – Chapter 2

The rush to cure begins. Treatment plans are created and put into fruition as soon as possible. Now its full steam ahead with a multitude of doctor’s appointments and additional testing followed by treatment, often a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. What are the consequences? These state-of-the-art treatments, although wonderful for treating the cancer, frequently result in physical limitations, emotional distress, and dampened spirit.

Cancer Journey – Chapter 3

After treatment, cancer survivors are released, free to go on with their lives, no longer under the rigid watch of their medical team. But instead of moving forward carefree…the opposite occurs. The stress response takes over instead of declining, reaching its highest peak of the journey. It is common in this chapter for survivors to be the most fearful, full of anxiety and worry, concerned if the cancer has truly left their bodies, if it will return, or if they will develop another. They feel completely lost and helpless, wanting desperately to be in control and take action to make changes for a healthier life, but they just don’t know how.

Through many years of close observation, I realized that a large portion of patient care was missing: How do we help patients heal? What do we do to help individuals beyond their disease? What resources can we provide to educate them particularly during “Chapter 3” of their cancer journey when they are most in need of this support? I was completely lost as to how to be of help. I knew that my job as a doctor was not nearly complete. Simply diagnosing cancer was not enough. Then I found my answer to fill this hole in-patient care: yoga & meditation.

Medical research has proven that specialized yoga practices diminish the side effects of cancer therapies during and after treatment. In addition, they significantly decrease stress levels, improve overall well-being, and increase longevity. Cancer survivors learn how to get in the driver’s seat and put the rug back underneath themselves, process what has happened, and be ready for whatever may come, in essence, to truly thrive.

My colleague and dear friend, Kathleen Ross-Allee, and I are both Certified Yoga Therapists, specialty trained and experienced in cancer recovery. We adapt and create safe and effective variations for every body, individualizing yoga and meditation practices to meet the needs of each person. We understand the need to include certain practices to lessen and reverse cancer treatment side effects and to exclude certain practices that could exacerbate an already existing side effect.

Together, our deep passion in serving this population has inspired the creation of a life-changing retreat for much-needed recovery and renewal in “Chapter 3” of the cancer journey. While immersed in the sense of comfort and community that a retreat setting provides, we teach individuals how to safely and effectively use yoga and meditation tools as lifestyle medicine. After experiencing firsthand, the benefits of these tools on retreat, they are able to confidently cultivate and implement a daily home practice. They leave feeling revived and empowered full
of resilience!

Are you or someone you love ready to take the next step for a more complete, healthy fulfilling life? Take an active role in your journey to healing! Join us this August in the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. Let us guide you in the transformation from cancer survivor to cancer thriver!

“You had the power all along, my dear!” –Glinda


From Survivor to Thriver: A Healing Journey for Cancer Recovery
Yoga Therapy & Meditation Retreat with Robyn and Kathleen
August 22 – 27, 2020
Asheville, North Carolina

True Nature Travels Blog

If you’re a self-professed homebody, you could seriously benefit from a change of scenery. Spending time in nature could improve your physical and mental health, ward off illness, and actually make you happier! As the Father of Western Medicine, Hippocrates, once said, “Nature itself is the best physician.” If you’re curious about the health benefits you can reap from being outside, read on! Below, we cover 13 reasons to soak up everything nature has to offer. Read on for the best benefits of getting outdoors.


1. Being in Nature Boosts Life Satisfaction

If you’ve been feeling blue, visit somewhere green! A recent study found that men and women who spent just 20 minutes in a park setting reported a 64% hike in life satisfaction. (hike- HA, see what we did there?)

The best news? Participants’ satisfaction levels had nothing to do with physical activity! Simply visiting the park boosted well-being. Of course, movement adds a plethora of additional health benefits.


2. Soaking up the Sun Elevates Vitamin D Levels

Regular sun exposure is the best source of vitamin D. An estimated 40% of U.S. men and women are vitamin D deficient, which can lead to some pretty scary health implications, including depression, cancer, and osteoporosis.

Penciling in your time outside around midday is ideal, especially if you’re short on time, as UVB rays reach their peak around noon. Exposure later in the day has been linked to skin cancer.

 3. Spending Time Outdoors may Lower Blood Pressure

Sunlight does so much more than boost vitamin D levels… It can actually lower your blood pressure! Researchers report that the nitric oxide present in the skin responds to the sun’s rays by widening blood vessels, resulting in lower blood pressure.

Although study participants whose blood pressure was in the normal range noticed a minimal drop, it’s believed that folks with high blood pressure would likely experience a more significant change.

4. Outdoor Time can Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation has been linked to a host of health problems, from autoimmune disorders to depression and even cancer. Various studies have shown that spending time in green spaces reduces inflammation.

Men and women of all ages can benefit from this natural inflammation-buster. From healthy, college-aged males to elderly patients,  there was a marked difference in inflammation among individuals who spent time in the forest.


5. Being Outside is Good for Eyesight

Surprisingly, spending time outdoors in childhood could lead to better vision later in life. A recent Canadian study found that spending time in nature greatly reduces the risk of myopia, more commonly known as nearsightedness.

Believe it or not, one-third of U.S. adults experience myopia, and one key contributor is a lack of outdoor time in childhood. If you have children, encourage them to spend time outdoors daily to preserve their vision later on. It’s easier than getting them to eat carrots right?

6. Outdoor Time Improves Sleep

Struggling to snooze? Going outdoors could improve your quality of sleep, according to Stanford Medicine. It seems that increasing the amount of time an individual spends outside helps to regulate body temperature, along with the sleep-wake cycle, otherwise known as the circadian rhythm.

While spending time in nature could lead to better sleep for people of all ages, the benefits seem to be most notable for men over the age of 65.


7. Being Outdoors Burns More Calories

Whether you venture outside to relax or workout, you’ll burn more calories than if you had stayed inside. While outdoors, the body works hard to balance CO2 levels and consume oxygen, both of which require more energy, leading to a higher calorie burn.

Outdoor workouts are particularly effective because the body must constantly adapt to the terrain. Plus, outdoor fitness tends to be more enjoyable, so you’re more likely to stick to a routine.

8. Spending Time Outside Increases Happiness

It probably comes as no surprise that outdoor time can have a positive effect on mood. In an interview with National Geographic, author Florence Williams discussed an experiment she conducted to track her own happiness over a one-year period. In addition to spending time with friends, vacationing, and listening to music, Williams discovered that being outdoors made her incredibly happy.

The boost in mood from being outside may be due, in part, to nature’s ability to zap anxiety and ruminating thoughts. A 2015 study published by Science Direct found that folks who walked in a wooded area reported a better emotional state when compared to study participants who walked in an urban location. If you live in a city, try to schedule regular trips to green areas for mood-lifting benefits.

9. Nature Relieves Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

One of the best remedies for stress, anxiety, and other mental health concerns is spending time in nature. According to NBC News, “forest bathing” is a Japanese practice that has caught on here in the States. To begin your own practice, simply spend time in a forest or wooded area regularly.

So, how exactly does becoming one with nature lead to improved mental health? Studies show that walking in a green environment lowers the stress hormone cortisol. While cortisol is vital for optimal mental and physical health, elevated levels have been linked to a menagerie of health problems, including anxiety, depression, memory and concentration problems, and even sleep disorders.


10. Outdoor Time Relieves Pain Naturally

Exposure to nature may be the best medicine for healing and pain relief. Research indicates that patients who undergo surgery experience quicker recovery and don’t require as much pain relief when exposed to green spaces.

In addition to recovery from surgical procedures, “green exercise,” or exercising in nature, is suggested for chronic pain sufferers.

11. Spending Time in Green Spaces Boosts Immunity

If you’re prone to illness, getting outdoors may help. Research suggests that spending time in nature wards off everything from diabetes and ADHD to cardiovascular disease and cancer. This is largely due to the relaxed state that nature promotes.

Forests are particularly beneficial for the immune system, as plants produce phytoncides, which have been shown to increase natural killer cells—a type of white blood cell in humans. Plus, sun exposure strengthens infection-fighting T cells.


12. Time Outdoors Increases Social Interactions

As humans, we’re social creatures who need regular interaction with others. Spending time outdoors is a great way to connect with other people, whether it’s at the local dog park, beach, or sports field.

According to Psychology Today, an active social life boosts feelings of well-being, as well as the immune system. Social interaction is also great for brain health, and can even ward off dementia. Plus, social folks tend to live longer! But really, we don’t need a study to tell us that we’re much more interactive when we’re not on our phones.


13. The Great Outdoors Generates Creativity

It’s not a fluke that the best ideas come to us when we’re in a relaxed state. A great way to promote creativity is by unplugging and enjoying time in nature. The key is disconnecting from technology, including social media, and giving your mind a much-needed respite.

In everyday life, most individuals are on a constant mission to accomplish as much as possible, resulting in decreased focus. Thankfully, it seems nature has the ability to restore attention, which can lead to improved creativity.

In fact, most of our ideas for TripOutside come from being on a hike and not from trying to force new concepts on the whiteboard.

How Much Outdoor Time is Enough?

Science suggests that spending 120 minutes in nature each week is ideal for optimal health and well-being. While getting outside daily could undoubtedly make you feel better, researchers note that the recommended two hours per week doesn’t have to be divvied up evenly. That’s great news for folks who live in urban areas, have limited access to nature, and those with hectic schedules. Whether you venture outdoors one day per week or seven, you’ll reap the rewards.

Tips for Optimizing Your Outdoor Time—and Staying Safe

We’d be remiss not to mention a few tried-and-true tips for enhancing your outdoor adventures and keeping yourself safe:

  • Know where to go: Although there is so much information available, it can link to analysis paralysis on where to go. We love apps like AllTrails that can help you find the closest hike or outdoor activity to you and filter by distance, how strenuous it is and read reviews from others.
  • Dress for the weather: Check the forecast before venturing out, and be prepared for possible weather conditions, such as rain or snow.
  • Wear sunscreen: Broad-spectrum sunscreen is a must, whether it’s bright and sunny or cloudy and gray. If you’ll be physically active or in water, opt for sweat and water-resistant protection.
  • Stay hydrated: Be sure to tote along plenty of water and a snack, along with a meal if you’ll be off the grid for an extended period of time.
  • Check-in with loved ones: Before making your way to the park or forest, let your loved ones know exactly where you’ll be, as cell reception may be spotty.

Venturing outside on a regular basis will undoubtedly have positive short-term and long-term effects on your overall health and well-being. While you’ll likely notice an immediate difference in your mood and energy level, consider keeping a written record of your outdoor adventures and any changes in your health, as many benefits tend to occur gradually.

Most importantly, enjoy your time away from the daily grind!

Ps: We also hope that by spending time outside, we’ll all appreciate nature more and work towards preserving it for future generations.

Original article here.

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.

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For the full list of our retreats, visit our retreat calendar and enter coupon code: WELLNESS100 in the ‘Admin use’ box at checkout.

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Offer valid for new registrations 1/1 – 1/31