Call it “vacation syndrome”- you have just arrived in a new country where there are sights to see, tastes to try, new adventures to experience. You don’t know where the local gym is, and your usual routine is interrupted by the novelty and excitement of being in this foreign place. So your usual exercise routine slides a little. And then a lot. And before you know it, by the time you get back home you have to scramble to pick back up whatever healthy workout habits you had established before you left to go traveling.
That is a common story for travelers, whether you are traveling occasionally for business or pleasure, or living life as a digital nomad. But that doesn’t have to be the case. There are plenty of ways to take advantage of your surroundings to get in great exercise while traveling. Let’s take a look at how.
Pack For Your Workout
One way to ensure that you are ready for exercise while traveling is to prepare before you leave home. Packing for your workout doesn’t have to mean lugging along a ton of additional gear (you are obviously not bringing your weights and treadmill along with you), but could mean throwing in a few travel-specific additional items that can help make a big difference as you pack.
Include a pair of good sturdy shoes that are comfortable for hiking, walking, or running. Pack multipurpose clothing items that can work for workouts or days spent sightseeing out on the town. Leggings and tank tops can be easily transformed into a stylish outfit with the addition of layers, then stripped back down to a great workout outfit.
Consider buying a travel yoga or exercise mat- these thinner mats fold or roll up to be extremely small, so you can conveniently fit them into your suitcase. An exercise mat is a handy thing to have while you travel; it will allow you to set up your workout station wherever you are. So you can do some sun salutations on the top of a mountain, or challenge yourself with sit-ups and push-ups on the beach.
A few other helpful items you may want to pack include:
Your smartphone or tablet
A jump rope
If you already have these items ready and waiting to be used in your suitcase, then getting into your workout while traveling will be even easier- without any need to go searching for the nearest gym.
Do An Online Workout
No matter where you are, you can always get in a guided workout by using an online program. Checking in with your usual online fitness routine can help you stay grounded as you travel, and make sure your workout plan is on track. There are plenty of online fitness classes to choose from, so consider what your top priorities are.
If you are going to be traveling in a place with limited internet access, you may want to look for an online fitness class that allows you to download videos ahead of time. That way you can tune in and follow along even in the depths of the jungle, or wherever you may be exploring.
Plan A Social Workout
Sometimes working out by yourself can be a drag. Maybe you need the motivation of exercising alongside other people, whether that is virtually or in person. If that is the case, you can look for group activities on sites like Meetup or even Facebook.
Yoga sessions outdoors, group hikes, and even dance clubs are all great ways to get out there, meet new people, and get active. Plenty of hostels offer workouts like rooftop exercise or yoga sessions, where you can mingle with other travelers while taking in the surrounding environment.
Check Out Your Surroundings
One of the best ways to ensure that you are getting in a great workout while traveling is to make it feel like an adventure. There are so many fun activities to try as you explore a new place and many of them will help you get in a good workout without even noticing that you are exercising. Here are a few:
Go For A Hike:
Discover the terrain that you are visiting by taking a long hike in the mountains. Challenge yourself to reach a particular vista and watch as the lay of the land spreads out way down beneath you. Bring a friend along and you can make it a race to reach the peak!
Rent a bicycle and explore the surrounding landscape- whether that is an urban environment, a beach path, or a riverside excursion. You will have your muscles working and keeping you fit as you take in the sights and sounds to be experienced.
Dance Dance Dance:
Love hitting the club to go dancing? Taking a dance class, or simply sweating it all out at a dance party, is also a great form of exercise.
Swim, Surf, Snorkel, Dive:
If you are staying near a river, lake, sea, or ocean, then checking out the water sports and activities available is a must. Learning how to surf not only keeps your body active but also allows you to practice a new skill. Swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving are all also activities that will naturally keep you feeling fit and strong as your muscles keep working to help you dive down deep and stay afloat. Try signing up for a free diving class, then practice on your own- you will be so enthralled with the beauty of witnessing the depths of the sea around you that you may not even remember that you are getting in a workout at the same time.
Walking is the best way to get around when you travel. Not only will you be able to people watch, learn more about the place you are in, and open yourself up to the beauty of what surrounds you, but you will also be getting exercise as you get from place to place. Where possible, always opt for a walk or bicycle ride instead of the subway, bus, or taxi. Walking equals sightseeing, so look out for surprising features hidden in the landscape as you go.
Whether you are setting aside time (and part of your budget) to go specifically towards exercising while you travel, following along with an online course in your new surroundings, or getting active out in the local environment, there are plenty of ways to keep up your workout routine as you travel.
Take advantage of where you are to make your program more exciting, enticing, and enjoyable. Use working out as an opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills, or see new sights. Getting active is a great way to explore the world, which is really what traveling is all about in the end.
When you’re having a rough day, a little sunshine and a cool breeze can work wonders for health. There’s just something about being surrounded by nature that lifts your spirits. Time outdoors makes even the most stressful of days seem just a little bit better.
The idea that spending time outdoors can improve your mental and physical health is more than just a happy thought. It’s also backed by scientific research. Time spent outside can relieve stress, balance the mood, boost the immune system, and could even improve your cognition.
Here are 6 ways spending time outside is great for your mental and physical health:
It could improve your memory. Walking in nature has been shown to provide greater benefits for improving short-term memory than walking in urban settings.
It may help relieve stress. Spending 20 to 30 minutes in the great outdoors has been shown to help lower production of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.
It could boost productivity. After spending time outside, you may find you have less difficulty concentrating on tasks which could improve your productivity at work or around the house.
It may speed healing and recovery. UV rays from the sun help the body produce vitamin D which plays a protective role for your health. Natural light may also speed the recovery process.
It could relieve anxiety and depression. Natural light has the potential to elevate your mood and may help with symptoms of anxiety and depression. It could also improve your sleep.
It can help boost mental energy. If you struggle with mental fatigue, a little sunshine may do you good. Spending time outside may have a restorative effect on the mind.
These are just a few of the many ways spending time outside can benefit you. It may require you to make a few simple lifestyle changes or to simply be more intentional about how you spend your time, but the results will be well worth it. If you’re suffering from anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, spending more time in nature could help. It is still wise to consider seeking professional help.Online counseling makes it easy to get the help you need from home. Spending more time outdoors could boost your mental and physical health, and there are plenty of simple ways to do it.
Here are some ideas to start spending more time outside:
When possible, try walking, biking, or jogging to work or to other places you frequent like the coffee shop or the library.
Spend your lunch hour or work breaks outside. Find a local park or simply go for a walk around the neighborhood for the added benefit of exercise.
If you like to work out at home, try taking some of your workouts outside. Stretching, yoga, and bodyweight movements are all easily adapted to the outdoors.
Instead of meeting your friends at a bar after work, find a restaurant with outdoor seating or invite them over for a barbecue or bonfire at your house.
Spend 15 minutes a day on simple outdoor tasks like weeding or, if you have a green thumb, start a garden and dedicate some time to tending it each day.
If you really want to immerse yourself in the great outdoors,consider a True Nature retreat. Explore exotic locations like Costa Rica, Iceland, and Mexico while engaging in service projects, taking educational tours, and practicing yoga with some of the world’s best instructors. A nature retreat is the perfect way to get away from it all and you may just find you return home feeling relaxed, refreshed, and ready to tackle the next phase of your life.
It’s so easy to get sidetracked when stress becomes too overwhelming. We focus on so many external factors like job performance, appearance, and meeting societal expectations that we forget what makes us happy and fulfilled. So much so that many people abandon their health goals or even kick-start new ones, but for the wrong reasons, which only means they won’t last that long. The only way to lead a truly healthy life is to love and respect yourself through every decision that you make.
Sure, we can all slip up, enjoy the occasional sweet treat, feel down or overwhelmed, we’re only human. It’s up to us to recognize and ultimately change the patterns that push us into that lack of self-love and self-care. The bottom line is, people who love and cherish themselves will love and cherish their bodies with good, nutritious food, water, sleep, and activity. Such people will respect their own boundaries, and not push themselves for the sake of meeting arbitrary societal criteria of perfection.
In this noble pursuit of self-love and self-respect, healthy habits can come to life and become a way of life, not just a temporary refuge. Here’s how you can start evoking that feeling of self-love and self- respect through healthy choices every day.
Give yourself a break
Dedication is a wonderful trait, but if you over-give, you end up feeling fatigued, both mentally and physically. Be it in your work, relationships, or any other aspect of your life, too much of a good thing can indeed be bad for you. That’s why getting enough rest is vital for your wellbeing.
Start by setting a sleeping schedule that will give you enough restorative shuteye to feel energized for your daily workload and responsibilities. That, however, isn’t the only way to rest. Think back to the last time you had a vacation. Maybe it’s time to book one today and give yourself a few days off.
Respect your body’s nutritional needs
It takes discipline to consistently eat healthy and reap the rewards in the form of higher energy levels, stronger immunity, and better mood, not to mention a better physique and more self-confidence. If you focus on your diet from meal to meal, and you constantly lack the structure to follow through on your nutrition, you should buy in bulk and have enough healthy foods at your disposal to make nutrient- dense meals every day.
Start with getting organic bulk whole foods that can become the basis for your everyday nutrition. Enough of healthy, lean protein sources, healthy, whole grain flour, and snacks like dry fruit and nut mixes can make your nutrition much easier for your budget and your everyday routine. Feed your body and mind right, and you’ll have the basis for self-love and self-respect.
Step out of your comfort zone
Practicing self-love through exercise might seem like a leap to so many people who don’t have a set workout routine at their disposal. Yet, it’s a vital step in building more self-love in your life and resetting your mindset to appreciate what your body is capable of, and what it can become capable of in time.
Perhaps you’ve settled on a good yoga routine to begin with, but you can sometimes give yourself a challenge – not just so that you can build more muscle or lose more weight, but to experience the excitement and self gratitude for doing new and challenging things in life.
Set boundaries – and honor them
Oftentimes people know what their bodies love and what they can do to feel better in their own skin, and then they do something entirely else because someone else “nudged” them. Peer pressure, societal pressure, and that general sense of “wanting to be liked” is a common problem, so people don’t learn how to say no.
This is perhaps one of the healthiest skills you can learn to preserve and enhance your mental fortitude and wellbeing. It’s good for you to set boundaries toward people as well as yourself. Just like you’ve learned how to nourish your body with food by not succumbing to unreasonable cravings, you can say no to external influences that don’t bode well for you. Practice with a close friend of yours who knows what you’re trying to achieve, and then expand to others in your life, too.
Think about what you want and need
You’ve managed to say no to an overly sugary piece of cake at a birthday party? Or you’ve successfully managed to say no to the party you never felt like going to, anyway? Now’s the time to think about what you actually want to do to nourish your soul.
Do you want to enjoy a cup of tea by yourself, read a good book, or take a bubble bath? Maybe you’d like to see a friend, even if it’s just for a video call. Start practicing introspection, give yourself the time and space to consider your needs, and then be kind to yourself. Make yourself happy.
Life can get messy, complicated, stressful, dull. It’s what you do with it that will define your mindset and your behavior towards yourself. You can take the time to be kind to yourself when you fail and learn from those wonderful mistakes, or you can continue following the negative patterns. Practicing self-love and self-respect takes time to become a routine and a norm for many of us – now you have the tools to get started.
There are people who religiously work out and spend hours every week toning their bodies, all the while feeling like it’s some form of mandatory maintenance. Then there are those who, while training, use the opportunity to appreciate their spirit as much as their physique. They are grateful for their temple, they cherish their capabilities and happily work on building them up, in order to build themselves up one training session at a time. Exercise, as it turns out, can be a form of self-love, or merely a form of self-maintenance.
Although you might begin a new workout routine wanting a new look, you can use this new routine as a way to build up your mindset, your confidence, and above all, your appreciation of yourself. This will only elevate the enjoyment you feel with every workout and it will help you feel better in your own skin. In turn, that will unleash an avalanche of positivity in your thoughts and actions and inspire you to love yourself more each and every day. Here’s how you can start this positive cycle!
Define your own dress code
The “dress for success” mantra in the world of fitness doesn’t only apply to the success of your workouts and the performance you’re able to build up for each individual session. It’s about finding the clothes that make you feel good in your own skin, that make you feel like you can move freely and not hide your body. You can research the finest workout apparel for women and find form-fitting, but also loose bottoms, leggings, hoodies, tank tops, crop tops, you name it.
Wear your mind! Use a t-shirt with an empowering slogan so that it reminds you of your “why” every time you step up to the treadmill. Use your workout garments as a way to dress into your new role of a powerful, enthusiastic individual working her way to her goals. Treat yourself to a piece of clothing you like and wear it with pride – it’s just another way to nourish yourself!
Nourish your body right
Exercise is a great first step towards self-love, but it needs the support of proper nutrition. As the fundamental pillar of health and wellbeing, your nutrition will define how well your body adapts to your training, but also how energized you feel, how well you recover, and so forth. Too many women believe that simply cutting their portions in half or completely depriving themselves of food they love will do the trick. Nourishing your body and building self-love takes more than that.
You can start by creating a strong meal plan with all the needed micro and macronutrients accounted for. You can then elevate your energy by researching the best available women workout supplement options to see what makes sense for your training and nutrition needs. Learn what extra steps you can do for your body, and you’ll eliminate cravings, help your body recover properly, and elevate performance, all in one go.
Diversify your exercise selection
Some of us fear change, while others relish in the opportunity to try something new. Either way, trying out new movements, exercise plans, or even entire training approaches can be good for your body and soul alike. You can turn an ordinary workout into an adventure and take a hike in the wilderness with a group of people you love.
You can switch from an ordinary gym routine and take up a Zumba class or a yoga course. It can help you slow down or speed up. It can be a way to move your body differently and to keep your body alert and present in every movement, but it can also keep you motivated and allow you to avoid boredom.
Find your mantras
Positivity can stem from all kinds of places, your language included. We often derail our own self-love efforts by continuously being too harsh with ourselves. Would you ever use the same negative tone or words with your friend trying to lose weight, boost endurance, or simply get healthy? Hardly possible. You would likely use encouraging words, send empowering texts, and boost their self-esteem when they lack the morale to stay on track with their goals.
Look for affirmations and positive mantras that can fuel you to keep moving forward. It takes time to develop a positive mindset towards yourself, but self-love requires consistency, so you can practice in front of a mirror. You can have a few written down so that you can repeat them to yourself the next time you’re preparing for a workout. While you’re doing that, your mind will begin to internalize these positive thoughts and being to use them elsewhere in your life – which means you’ll have more love and compassion for yourself, and you’ll be a better companion to yourself in life.
Exercise can, indeed, become your therapy and a safe zone for you to experience growth, both spiritual and physical. For you to make the most of your workouts and your fitness in general, you can reinforce your training habits with other, supplementary behaviors like the ones listed here, and you’ll feel much more empowered in your new routine. No matter your physique or your goals, you’ll learn to love yourself every step of the way.
Get inspiration to declutter, detoxify, and make space for your intentions and dreams. Learn simple tips to declutter your house, declutter your mind and declutter your life! Learn how to detoxify your body with the cleansing power of green foods and join me in the kitchen with a workshop on mason jar magic. Finally, explore how to plant seeds of intention to revitalize the body, re-energize the mind, and re-invigorate our lives for our dreams to grow and blossom.
DECLUTTER • DETOFIFY • MAKE SPACE
The Spring Yoga Reset Retreat is all about shaking off the winter slumber so we can reset our physical body and re-energize our lives.
Friday April 2 – Rest and Restore
Opening Circle 4-6:00pm PST
Restorative Yoga Class
Saturday April 3 – Declutter and Detoxify
Morning Yoga Video
Spring Re-set Workshop 1-3:00pm PST
Sunday April 4 – Renew and Energize
Morning yoga video
Mason Jar Magic Kitchen Workshop
and Closing Circle 4:30-6:30pm PST
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.
“Farah is a rare combination of spirit, intelligence, wisdom, and grace.” – Lisa H., Hollyhock participant
“The Retreat totally exceeded my expectations. WOW!” – Hollyhock participant
“Farah is the most relatable, wise teacher, I have ever had the pleasure of sharing time with. What I learned has helped deepen the connection to my spirit.” – Corrinne M., Hollyhock participant
“Farah is an inspiring and gifted facilitator who demonstrated her insightfulness and groundedness and shared her inner joy with us.” – Hollyhock participant
“Thank you for such a meaningful and memorable Retreat. I am so grateful for your gifts of devotion, clarity, and discernment. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” – Debbie M., Sacred Passages, Bowen Island 2019
“Thank you for creating such a wonderful and loving environment for everyone.”– Andrea T., Sacred Passages, Bowen Island 2019
“Thank you for an amazing jumpstart for a more focussed practice.” – Andrea M., Sacred Passages, Bowen Island 2019
“Farah, thank you for the insight I’ve been needing on my journey to manifest a new identity, purpose, and career.” – Linelle Mogado, Sacred Passages, Bowen Island 2019
“The rivers are swollen with snowmelt, and the sap is starting to run in the trees. All the moisture that was bound by freezing temperatures is now moving to clear winter stagnation.”
Just as nature is starting to unfold from its slumber, our bodies start to crave a sense of lightning and clearing. As the river runs more deep and clear, the body starts to break down all of the stagnation which was created in winter, carving new pathways for vitality and a healthy abundant of Ojas. This is an important time to really learn from natures rhythms, study her evolution and spend more time outside basking in her greatness. Start to feed the digestive fires and encourage the body’s natural cleansing this time of the year with bitter, astringent, and pungent foods and adding in seasonal greens, bright berries, spicy soups (my favorite), fresh ginger, and fresh turmeric.
Everything takes time to grow, it takes patience, purification, and never-ending devotion with the deepest sense of compassion. The lessons that spring can bring are endless as we transition to seeing beauty and growth in every corner we see. Can we learn from our mother and be in cycle with her, so our bodies heal in the most potent way? Be gentle here and start to really stoke your
fire. Exercise daily, especially outdoors and feel yourself cleanse with the sweat. Massage the body with almond oil or grapeseed, rejuvenate the moisture that the skin craves and also dry brush the body weekly before bathing. Wake up with the sun and wind down with the moon, fill your days with life so you only eat when hungry. Most importantly, to stay balanced and supported through spring, drink tulsi, ginger, or the Spring Detox tea daily.
I’m going to share with you all the detox tea. To me, keeping myself hydrated and my digestive fires supported is what gets me out of this heavy energy that can linger from the winter. It’s time to shed and bloom, move past this slow, sticky, and even lethargic state and start to put all of my effort into my days. Planting seeds of intention so they grow with the nature around me. This tea will help with any feeling of sluggishness and really get your digestive system into gear. We are only as healthy mentally as our gut, right? So, for this season, stay light, warmed, and stay with what’s in season to eat. I hope you all enjoy this beautiful transition.
Let’s get growing
Spring Detox Tea
2 cups filtered water
1-2 inches of fresh gingerroot
1-2 anise stars (depending on your liking to licorice)
1 tsp cinnamon powder
Start by putting the crushed or not crushed spices (except cinnamon) in a small saucepan, medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes to dry roast. Then add the water and cinnamon and bring to boil. Simmer 10-20 mins. Strain and enjoy! This season is a time to cut back on the sweets. If you absolutely need something in the tea, put 1-2 tsp of honey.
About the Author
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: https://primal-harmony.com/
I love the greys, browns, and earth tones of November. The cool, crisp air and subdued colours communicate a quietude that I deeply relish. For yogis in the Northern hemisphere, the coming of winter solstice can be accompanied by a depressive impulse that our culture encourages us to placate with sugary treats, binging, retail therapy, and other distractions that draw our senses outward.
This inward impulse is part of the natural rhythm of our bodies and our circadian rhythm adjusting to the external change in Nature.
In the winter, trees shed their leaves and much of nature goes into a dormant stage of rest, conservation and preservation. Just as Nature hibernates, so too must we listen and honour the inward impulse by lessening our commitments, reducing external stimuli and tending to our inner realms.
The inward impulse is extremely conducive to meditation and meditative activities like knitting, beadwork, drawing, reflection and journalling, contemplation and creative endeavors. Honouring this impulse can result in fruitful and satisfying outcomes rather than the cultural imperatives to shop, feast, and socialize which often leaves us feeling drained, empty, and depressed.
The darkness and quiet of winter Solstice makes it an ideal to retreat and go inwards; to preserve our vital life force for growth and transformation in the inner realms of the psyche.
Winter retreats offer an opportunity to unplug from the stressors of modern, urban life, immerse into wisdom teachings, and devote ourselves to practices that revitalize our essential life fore.
Retreats create space to hibernate from our worldy and digital engagements to re-assess, re-prioritize, and re-direct our energies so that when the time comes to engage with the world, we are ready, renewed, and clear in our direction and path forward.
Below are some suggestions for aligning ourselves with the external rhythms of Nature.
Lessen external commitments over the holidays to create space for rest, contemplation, and creative projects.
Minimize, reduce, or eliminate for a few days social media and news to cleanse the mind of external thoughts and worries.
Harness the inward impulse. Commit to inner practices or creative projects that harness the inward impulse in productive and skillful ways.
Nourish yourself. Rest, sleep, and eat well.
Join me for two winter Retreats. Honor your inward impulse and celebrate the beauty and quietude of the season.
BIJA: Planting Seeds for the New Year Dec. 27 to Jan. 1 2021 This online Retreat is offered on a by-donation basis!
Everything we do, say, and think makes a deep impression in our consciousness. Commit to practices that keep you anchored and balanced and plant positive intentions and develop positive habits to take you in the New Year.
Daily yoga, optional workshops, recipes to try out, and a self-care package mailed to you in the new year.
Self-care is critical to optimal health and well-being, and it’s one of the lessons that many of us have learned from the coronavirus pandemic. But how is self-care defined, and what distinguishes self-care from self-indulgence? This question has been on my mind for months.
For many people, self-care evokes images of a relaxing spa, a luxurious vacation, or being in a beautiful retreat setting. For me, though, self-care is a disciplined, daily practice that keeps me anchored, grounded, and connected to my heart. On the other hand, self-indulgence is an expression of privilege and can reinforce egoism, vanity, and gluttony.
My Personal Self-Care Routine
Almost every day, I wake up before sunrise to do some asanas, meditate, and reflect on my day before I eat, shower, and turn on my computer. Some days my practice feels mundane; other days, it is profound and blissful. Most days, it is simply an act of coming home to myself and to the present realities of my life.
This relationship between self-care and self-indulgence is so akin to my relationship with chocolate. I LOVE chocolate—dark chocolate of all varieties: dark chocolate and ginger, dark chocolate and orange, dark chocolate with figs. I don’t think I have ever met dark chocolate I didn’t like.
Dark chocolate is a sweet indulgence that gives me a momentary buzz of pleasure and sensuality. However, if I indulge in it too much, I notice sugar cravings and the beginnings of an insatiable appetite for sugary foods that inevitably leads me down the path toward consuming unhealthy carbs and bread, which make me feel lethargic, foggy, and hungry. However, in the right amount, a chocolate indulgence can add a sweet pleasure.
Self-indulgent experiences like facials, spa treatments, or luxurious holidays can be a step toward creating a self-care routine. But if there is no continuity in the form of a self-care home practice, the experience wears out, and we find ourselves hungry for nourishment.
One December, many years ago, my husband and I decided to attend a 10-day silent meditation retreat. I had no experience with meditation or doing a retreat, and I had no idea what to expect. The retreat involved eight hours of sitting meditation punctuated with silent walking, dharma talks, and mealtimes. The retreat was excruciatingly painful both physically and mentally, and yet profoundly insightful. Never before had I come face-to-face with my own thoughts. With nothing to do but meditate, I experienced the restlessness of my monkey mind, and I practiced a method to feel anchored in stability, focus, and present moment awareness. I experienced incredible lucidity, had profound insights about my life and noticed an increased vividness in sight, sound, and taste.
I came home excited about practicing this meditation technique, but after a few weeks, the habit of getting up early and meditating was no longer sustainable. Seeking more of what I experienced, I became a self-improvement junkie, going to workshops, seminars, and retreats hoping to re-establish a meditation practice and to experience the insights I had on my first meditation retreat. I would come home excited to practice meditation again and feel inspired by what I had learned. But inevitably, after a few weeks, my meditation practice would lose steam, and I would find myself disappointed and looking for the next course.
This pattern continued for many years until I met my Guru, Sri Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda. I received from him both inspiration and guidance in establishing a home practice or sadhana. Sadhana is the Sanskrit word for daily spiritual practice. Establishing a daily home practice has given me so much over the years. It is a daily anchor for me to nourish my body with movement. It is a moment for me to cleanse my mind and choose kind, loving, peaceful, and harmonious thoughts. And my daily practice allows me to connect with my heart and the deepest part of my being.
Practicing Self-Care Throughout The Day
In addition to a morning practice that nourishes me on all levels, I try to cultivate space in my day to rest, breathe, and reflect—whether that’s a guided yoga nidra or writing in my gratitude journal. I cook and eat nourishing meals to provide my body with the right kind of fuel. I choose my words carefully and mindfully, whether in emails or in speaking, so that my words and language do not create harm and division and instead contribute to harmony and peace.
While I appreciate spa dates, aesthetic treatments like facials, and getting my hair done, self-care is not as simple as getting a massage or facial, not to mention the economic privilege embedded in spa holidays, beauty treatments, and getting your hair and nails done weekly. On the contrary: true self-care requires discipline and commitment and is rooted in the foundation of self-esteem.
Self-Connected To The Whole
Self-care is an expression of self-esteem: valuing our body, our mind, our time, and our energy while committing to practices and habits that nourish us. Movement practices (yoga, Qi Gong, Tai chi, exercise), breathing practices, and meditation practices all restore our physical, emotional, energetic, and spiritual resources. Inherent to these practices is an understanding that the self is connected to the whole. To bring ourselves into balance and harmony is a blessing not only for ourselves but to all those around us.
In some Eastern spiritual lineages, this is expressed in the dedication that follows a practice—a dedication that the fruits of our practice radiate outward and benefit all beings in all realms. Lokah samastha sukhino bhavantu. May all beings, in all realms, experience happiness. This is the mantra I repeat at the end of my practice.
If you are overworked, exhausted, and always giving to others, a spa date can offer time to oneself. Undoubtedly, this is a rare and precious gift. The real gift is not the service but rather the time, space, and reversal of roles.
If you are overworked, exhausted, and always giving to others, a spa date can offer time to oneself.
If you are used to being the giver, it can be incredibly healing to be on the receiving end, whether it is receiving a massage, a nourishing meal, or simply receiving someone’s full attention and presence. For people who work in a service-oriented profession, receiving is a crucial part of staying balanced. In fact, receiving and giving are both expressions of the natural flow of life energy. For most women who are habituated and conditioned to give, receiving nourishment from another can be a gift unlike any other.
Massage and other types of bodywork can also be an important addition to a committed home practice. There is no substitute for the healing power of touch and the feeling of an experienced practitioner who can untie the knots in our muscles and fascia, help us recover from injuries, and remind the body of what health feels like.
In contrast, self-indulgent activities offer a temporary pleasure that is limited to ourselves. A luxurious holiday is great but may benefit just us, whereas a meditation practice that grounds us in calmness benefits us, our partners, our children, our family, and our community.
Internal Vs. External
Health has both internal and external components. Attending to the internal is such an important part of self-care. This is another difference between what distinguishes self-care from self-indulgence.
Self-care practices are generally internally-oriented. Pratyahar, the drawing of the sense organs inward, is an essential limb of yoga and is the difference between exercise and asana.
Asana involves an internal component wherein our awareness is directed inward and not exclusively outward. Self-indulgent activities are, in general, exclusively outward and can be appearance-oriented. Grooming and tending to our appearance is important, but it is not the same as awareness, consciousness, and mindfulness, all of which include internalization of our life-energy. Having our nails done and getting a great haircut may contribute to feeling beautiful, but it is no substitute for genuine self-esteem, which comes from within. Valuing our qualities, our beauty, skills, and assets creates a radiance that can’t be captured in a face full of makeup.
Valuing our qualities, our beauty, skills, and assets creates a radiance that can’t be captured in a face full of makeup.
While advertising likes to convince us otherwise, beauty products are just products. Beauty does not come from a bottle of foundation; it comes from an inner glow and radiance. Often this radiance is the result of years of inner work and transformation. This is the third difference between self-care and self-indulgence. Self-care practices are ultimately about transformation.
Pleasure Vs. Transformation
Self-care practices like yoga, meditation, and conscious breathing promise transformation. I can attest to this truth. Yoga has given me physical health and has transformed me from the inside out. This transformation is the marvel and miracle of spiritual practice that opens us up to a greater potential inside that is beyond what we’ve been taught to believe about ourselves.
As we shed the layers of our past and subconscious beliefs that we have inherited, we are able to live with intention, clarity, and purpose. When our actions are rooted in ethics and integrity, we are able to transform everyday experiences into opportunities for personal and spiritual growth. This takes dedication and consistent effort. Transformation rarely comes without discomfort.
In contrast, self-indulgent activities are pleasurable. And, when the pleasure ends, we are exactly where we started. Self-care practices take us on an inner journey that challenges, changes, and transforms who we are from the inside out.
Finally, self-care taps into our inner resources: our ability to regulate our emotions, shift brain states, and move our prana from our heads to our hearts. Deep breathing triggers the relaxation response and can help shift us from a gamma brain state into an alpha or deep relaxation brain state. The ability to shift our brain waves into a slower rhythm can help us access our intuition, wisdom, and creativity.
Self-indulgent activities may help us feel relaxed, but they do not provide the tools to access relaxation on our own. Yoga conditions the body physically, mentally, and emotionally, impacting not only the muscles, joints, and tissues but also the nervous system, glands, and brain. The keys to cultivating different states of consciousness like deep relaxation, unconditional love, and healing at the subconscious level are all part of self-care practices like yoga and meditation.
Here are a few of the self-care practices that I use regularly to help me tap into my inner resources and cultivate a sense of inner calm and peace:
Self-Care Morning Practice
Before you begin your day, make a nourishing drink, sit down, and take time to pause and reflect.
Instructions: Ask the question, what can I do today to nourish me physically, emotionally, energetically, and spiritually? Choose one thing from your answer and commit to scheduling it into your day.
Ask: what can I do today to nourish me physically, emotionally, energetically, and spiritually? / Photo by Thom Holmes
Self-Care Mid-Day Check-In
In the middle of your day, take a 10-minute time-out to pause and be still. In the summertime, I like to sit outside, feel the warm sunshine on my skin, and let my mind wander while I stay attentive to my breath. When the weather is cold, I make a cup of tea and sit on my living room couch, and gaze out the window.
Instructions: Find a comfortable place to sit. Notice your sitz bones and feel yourself settling into your body. Feel rooted and connected to the Earth beneath you. Feel your core and the stability of your pelvis and spine. Notice the inhale and exhale of your breath and the movement of breath in the abdomen. Relax your back muscles and feel a sense of lifting through the spine. Soften the muscles in your face. Settle into your heart and be attentive to whatever arises. Let your breath anchor you in the present moment. Be attentive to where your mind wanders and what you feel emotionally and energetically.
Self-Care Nightly Practice
Many years ago, I learned a practice to help unwind at the end of the day, to integrate and process all the experiences of my day, and to prepare for sleep.
Instructions: As you lie down, notice your breath. Allow your breathing to slow down so that you feel relaxed. Count 10 slow breaths, allowing for a pause between each breath. Once you feel relaxed and at ease, recall to your mind the last activity of your day and work through your day backwards until you reach the moment of waking up. Notice the feelings and thoughts that arise. Keep coming back to the thread of working backwards through your day until the moment of waking up in the morning.
These practices can help you establish a self-care routine that feeds you on all levels. The key is to do them regularly!
While I love to book spa dates with my girlfriend and indulge in luxurious meals, self-care rituals, and practices like yoga and meditation nourish me in ways that chocolate and facials can’t. Eating chocolate gives me a fleeting moment of pleasure, while eating a nourishing, wholesome meal provides me with fuel throughout my day.
A daily consistent practice is like a nourishing meal. My practice nourishes me on all levels and provides me with a stable, consistent source of energy. Each day that I choose it, it nourishes me. It reminds me of the words of Yogi Babi Hari Dass, “If you work on yoga, your yoga will work on you.”
Farah Nazarali is a yoga-junkie. She has deep love and passion for all things yoga- asana, mantra, kirtan, nidra, satsang, and the Sutras. When she’s not on the mat, she’s creating videos, producing podcasts, or conducting karmic experiments using the currency of love. She lives with one foot firmly in the digital realm and the other foot rooted in Nature, natural rhythms, and the unlimited potential within the human heart.
As the trees around us start to shed, and things become barer, it is natural for us to fall into the same pattern. Fall is the season to shed the parts of ourselves that no longer serve us and use the space
that is created to build something new. This can leave us feeling a little exposed and raw as we strip down to a quieter essence of being and savor the moments of connection and simplicity. In Ayurveda, the science of life, it guides us to live our lives in the same rhythm as nature does since we are a reflection of nature and the universe. We are moved by the energies around us and with that comes finding balance through food and lifestyle.
Some ways to feel more balanced in the fall is by filling the house with what nature gives us, the colors, the plants, the smells. Slowing down and filling that extra time we now have with grounding techniques such as self-love practices, yoga, and meditation, Lastly, eating what food is naturally given to us at this time, filling our bodies with pure nourishment. These are simple and beautiful ways that can help us not only feel nourished but find a guilt free time to enjoying the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, and not feel overwhelmed by interactions with friends and family. The more we take time to honor the natural rhythm inside of us, the more we feel a sense of ease and with that, we let the body relax, the mind relax, and limit stress in our lives. How amazing does that sound? Feeling balanced, not stressed, and fully enjoying Thanksgiving and all that it brings?
I remember as a little girl living in Ohio, my mother would take us to the apple fields to go and pick all the apples we could fit into our little baskets. The joy I got from this was something I will live with forever. The abundance of apples during this time would give us the inspiration to do many things with them in the kitchen, one being Apple cobblers. It would fill the house with a smell that could make anyone melt. It was the perfect dish to support nature and gather smiling people for. After eating a meal of such abundance like thanksgiving, a nice simple, light, and nourishing dessert is something that can really help with digestion and energy. Making us feel revived instead of depleted. This apple crisp will leave the house smelling divine and will leave everyone in a state of joy and harmony. It’s spiced with warming spices that will keep you cozy, it’s gluten free, vegan, light in sugar, it’ll keep that “guilt free” mentality low, and will give thanks to nature and all that it truly supplies. We become so connected with everything and swim with the flow of life instead of upstream.
Thanksgiving is the time to share, to gather, and to give, so enjoy this time of the year and share the gift of longevity, overall health and of course some deliciousness. Also, if you get the chance and live near a place to pick your own apples or support a local farmer, it makes the food even more rewarding and will certainly make someone’s day brighter. I hope you have a safe and joyful holiday.
Most of love,
4 medium sized organic apples chopped
juice of one lemon
1 tbl cinnamon
½ inch fresh grated ginger
2 tsp fresh cardamom
½ tsp salt
2 tbl raisins
2 tbl cranberries dried
4 Tbl coconut oil melted
3 tbl maple syrup
2/4 cup almond meal
¾ cup gf oats
In a large mixing bowl mix the chopped apples, lemon, spices, and dried fruits then set aside.
Mix the coconut oil, flours, and syrup in a separate bowl and set aside.
Toss the apple mixture into a glass round pie dish, spread out and then evenly distribute the topping.
Pat down gently and if desired drizzle a little more maple on top.
Bake with foil on top for about 4 minutes then remove the foil and bake uncovered for 10-13 more minutes.
*note that if you want to have a cobbler style, double the topping so it can spread over the entire pie
in a more thick style
About the Author
Chelsea Shapouri is a Lifestyle Consultant for woman 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: https://primal-harmony.com/
Sleep is still a little bit of a mystery to us all. We’re millions of years into human history and we still haven’t really figured out why sleep is something that humans have to do on such a regular basis to survive.
I mean we do know what the benefits of it are and the positive effect that it has on our body, but it’s unclear why humans, and all animals really because the entire animal kingdom is in the same boat, can’t be awake for more than like 12 hours at a time.
If you think about it, our bodies are extremely inefficient. Each of us will spend roughly a third of our lives asleep. Isn’t that insane? An entire third of your life. We’re only here for about 80 years, 90 if we’re lucky, and we’re going to spend a third of that asleep?
It’s pretty bizarre. I mean sleep is great and everything, but that’s only because we get tired so easily. We like actually doing stuff and in reality sleep just gets in the way. Consider how much more time you could spend with your family, exercise, read or be creative if you were always awake.
Because if we didn’t need it we wouldn’t have the desire to do it so you’d never be tired. But look, I’m ranting a bit here. It seems pointless but we have to do it. Those who get less sleep are worse off for it.
While it does depend on your age, most adults need to sleep for eight hours every night. Anything less than that and you will likely feel some effect, even if it’s mild. Everyone should make a point of tracking their own sleeping pattern so they can see this in action.
Feeling fatigued and lacking in energy is one thing, and you’ll probably feel that if you’re on a few hours of a deficit, but consistently bad sleep can lead to much more serious issues. Let’s take a look at some of the larger benefits of good sleep:
1. It Lowers Your Risk of Heart Disease
Heart disease affects millions of people every single year and it can be brought on by a number of different things. Your diet, weight and lifestyle are all factors that can result in heart disease in the future.
But one of the leading causes is hypertension, otherwise known as high blood pressure. This refers to the force at which your blood is pushing against the inner walls of your arteries on a long-term basis.
You may have heard people say that when you’re stressed or putting your body under strain that your ‘blood is pumping,’ which is an accurate way to describe it and it’s what leads to high blood pressure.
The worst thing about this is that people with high blood pressure will often not have any symptoms so it’s important to keep an eye on things like your sleeping pattern and your diet even if you’re not feeling bad.
2. It Enhances Productivity
This one shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. It’s no secret that when you’re sleep deprived your brain doesn’t work quite as well as it normally does. Your focus, your memory, your capacity to avoid distractions, these all suffer.
A study was conducted on a group of medical students, perhaps some of the most sleep-deprived people in the world, and it was determined that those on an extended work week made almost 40% more medical errors.
Potentially disastrous when it happens to doctors, but really no matter what your job is, or even what your hobbies are, you want to be able to perform to the best of your ability so that you can get the best results.
Some people have the philosophy that they should sleep less so that you can have more time to work on the things you’re passionate about, but if you can’t progress with your passions or enjoy them to their fullest extent, is it worth it?
Getting more sleep can help you optimize the time you do have to work on your passions because your cognition and focus will be completely uninhibited.
White blood cells, antibodies, the lymphatic system, each of these serve a different function in keeping disease and infection away and how effective they are is determined by how you live your life. Exercise helps, certain foods help, and sleep most definitely helps.
What it really comes down to is that while you’re asleep, everything gets the opportunity to rest and otherwise it will be overworked. The same applies to each individual component of your immune system. So being sleep deprived will stifle their effectiveness.
4. It Keeps Your Mental Health in Check
People with sleeping disorders generally have a much higher chance of suffering from various mental health issues. Insomnia, sleep apnea and persistent night terrors are commonly linked to depression.
Of course not everyone who is sleep deprived is so because of a disorder, but the logic is that the consequences of bad sleep will take their toll on how you feel mentally. You won’t be able to focus on anything, and you won’t be able to stay active.
These are two things which are essential for good mental health and they’re basically impossible if you’re sleep-deprived.
For one thing, you will lack energy and as such you will lack motivation to exercise. But as well as that, you will find yourself eating more in order to give yourself the energy that you’re not getting by giving your body time to rest.
So to sum up, I can’t offer you any insight into the true purpose of sleep because we just don’t know what it is. But what we do know is that if you don’t sleep enough, your mind and body will suffer for it. So give yourself eight hours a night as often as you can.
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