True Nature Travels Blog


Playlist

 

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.

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The yoga chakras are the energy channels in the body through which the prana (our life force) flows. Although there are various different ones, there are 7 most commonly known. These are the root chakra, the sacral chakra, solar plexus, heart chakra, throat chakra, third eye and the crown chakra.  

When the yoga chakras are activated and in balance, the prana flows freely and the physical, mental and emotional bodies are in harmony. However, when one or more yoga chakras are out of balance, this can also create disharmony within. Asana practice is an effective way to create equilibrium between all parts of the self and live with clarity, purpose and be aligned with all parts of the self. This yoga sequence is one which can be practiced when feeling physically, mentally, emotionally and/or energetically out of balance. However it is also important to know that in order to maintain balanced, a consistent practice is beneficial and indicated. 

Balasana-Child’s pose

Yoga Chakras1

Start in Balasana, child’s pose. This is a reflective asana which takes our awareness inward. Take a few deep breaths here and notice how you are feeling. This would also be a good time to set your intention for your practice ahead, but also to go within and nurture yourself. As the root chakra governs stability and feeling safe in the world, balasana is a reminder to acknowledge all parts of the self and doing so with a loving intention, to know that the mat is your safe space. 

Adho Mukha svanasana – Downward facing dog 

Moving into downward facing dog which creates space in the body by lengthening the spine. It also strengthens the wrist and ankle joints and energizes the physical, mental and emotional body.  Through this asana we also become more grounded emotionally and physically. The hands are part of Anahata, the heart chakra and the feet are governed by Mooladhara, the root chakra. As this is considered an inversion, it also helps to energize the body and mind and connect with the higher chakras, particularly ajna (third eye chakra) and sahashrara (crown chakra). 

Kapotanasana – pigeon pose

Yoga Chakras2

This asana is a great hip opener therefore it activates and brings in balance Swadisthana, the sacral chakra. This is the energy channel for connecting with our sensuality, sexuality, pleasure and the feminine energy within. This chakra is also our centre of creativity. Swadisthana means sweetness and it can be translated as experiencing the sweetness of life. There are also different variations to explore such as mermaid and king pigeon (eka pada rajakapotanasana). This will open the heart space further, which also brings the energy of the prana through anahata. 

Navasana – Boat pose

The solar plexus chakra or Manipura is located just above the belly button and it is our energy center of inner power with the element of fire. Working on the stomach area brings the energy and prana movement through Manipura. If there is excess fire, the asana can be done in a gentle way, and if Manipura is under-active, navasana can be done in a more dynamic way by bending the knees,  straightening the legs, then repeating. 

Sirsasana – Headstand 

Yoga Chakras3

Considered the queen of all asanas, sirsasana activates Sahasrara, the crown chakra. This is the energy centre that connects us with the divine and is also known as the space for experiencing enlightenment. During sirsasana, we turn the whole-body upside down, which also disrupts the flow of the prana. When we are in a headstand, our eyes need to stay open, therefore seeing the world through a different perspective. It requires courage and an openness to create this energetic shift. Whilst upside down, we can lift the trunk, creating space through the body, whilst activating the lower chakras. To maintain balance, there is nothing else we can do but to simply surrender and focus on our breath. This asana brings a sense of humbleness which teaches us to let go of the ego and become one with all that is around. 

Svasana – corpse pose

End this sequence with a 10 minute savasana silent meditation. Lie down on your mat, relax your whole body and close your eyes. Bring your gaze to the space between your eyebrows, the third eye chakra or Ajna. This means infinite power and ajna is the eye of our soul. When this chakra is in balance and activated, we let go of illusions and connect with our inner wisdom, seeing the world exactly as it is and trusting our intuition.

 

About the Author

Miriam IndriesMiriam Indries is a published author, yoga and meditation teacher, passionate about holistic healing. She is also a qualified Ayurveda Practitioner and NLP coach. A keen traveller, wondering soul and student of life, Miriam is the creator of Self-Elevation.com, online platform empowering others to find their greatness.

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summer solstice

Summer is nearly upon us in the northern hemisphere. On June 21, 2019 the sun will travel on its longest path, providing the most daylight. The summer solstice is all about reflection and connecting to the natural world. By observing the sun, the body creates mindfulness to see the sun’s light within and help center the mind and body. It is a day to reflect on light and what it brings to our lives.

summer solstice

Warming Welcome

Sun Salutations, known in Sanskrit as Surya Namaskar (pronounced Sir-yah- Namah-skar) is a yoga sequence used to awaken the energy of the Inner Sun that can be dormant. These movements help increase blood circulation, create a flow of movement, strengthen your muscles, and leave your skin glowing. Relax your mind, warm your body and deepen your breath with these movements.

 

sun salutations

 

“Awareness is like the sun. When it shine’s on things, they are transformed.” -Nhat Hanh

Awaken your inner fire

Let go of what no longer serves you and create space for what’s yet to come. Try and do at least one or two rounds of the Sun Salutation. Even if you don’t feel that you have the time, you’ll feel the warmth! As we perform these yoga Sun Salutations to celebrate the sun, we can be mindful of our inner connection with the universe. It is a powerful time to celebrate the light within ourselves and the light we can bring to others.

Wishing you an abundance of light this Summer Solstice!

summer solstice

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Battling Stress with Yoga

There is such a thing as being physically healthy while also being extremely stressed. However, this is a precarious balance that can’t be maintained for long, simply because stress inevitably affects physical health. The American Psychological Association provides an overview of how much stress, particularly chronic stress, can actually introduce prolonged changes to your physiology. In short, if your mission is to achieve holistic health, you can’t do it without an effective way to battle stress, which is where yoga enters the picture.

But before anything else, it’s important to understand that the source of your stress is unimportant in this equation. An article published on Lottoland lists the most common causes of stress as the following: money, job, the economy, family, relationships, family health, and personal health. Simply put, nearly every aspect of our lives can cause significant stress. They also mention how the most common reported signs or symptoms of stress include irritability, insomnia, fatigue, and a general lack of motivation. It’s clear that stress can be a killer, and that it can come from anywhere. But how can yoga fight it better than any other stress-beating exercise?

Battling Stress with Yoga

The answer to this lies in understanding another important fact: yoga is a mind-body practice. While it’s more popularly known today as a way to shed excess pounds – thanks to modern yoga studios – yoga actually originated as a way of bringing harmony between the mind and the body. Journalist Ramya Achanta wrote a feature on StyleCraze “a deeply spiritual practice that is part philosophy, religion, science, and exercise.” The word yoga itself actually comes from the Sanskrit word “Yuj,” which essentially translates as “to unite.” We’re not saying that you need to achieve spiritual balance in order to battle stress – although it will certainly help. But even without delving into the deepest traditions of the ancient practice, consistently practicing the rudimentary principles and poses of yoga can serve as protection against the main causes of stress in your life.

After finishing several classes and ensuring that you’re properly attaining and maintaining the poses, you will be competent enough to practice it on your own. Ideally you’ll need a large mirror in order to correct your poses on the spot, but if you hone your muscle memory enough through consistent practice, you can do yoga anywhere, whether you’re at home, on vacation, traveling for business, beside a stream in the forest, on a mountain summit, or even in the break room at work. And it’s not just yogis and fitness enthusiasts who can attest to yoga’s stress-beating properties. Psychology Today reveals how yoga is widely accepted by the medical community as a powerful way of handling life’s daily stressors.

Battling Stress with Yoga

 

To find out which type of yoga can help you beat stress, check out our own recommendations here at True Nature Travels. You should also find the nearest yoga studios in your neighborhood to see which ones offer free or discounted classes for beginners. Technically speaking, every type of yoga can be used to manage stress – it’s up to you to find which ones you prefer so you can practice regularly. The more consistently you practice, the better chances you have against major stress.

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new year

As the New Year approaches, we may find ourselves writing out or thinking about our New Year’s resolutions, intentions, or goals for 2019. With this sometimes comes the feeling of failure as we reflect on our lofty 2018 resolutions and how, perhaps, we did not achieve them. I offer this yoga practice as a way to release the emotions that may come with meditating on our intentions for 2019. I chose a hip opener sequence for the New Year as hips are very interesting in that they store many emotions from fear to sadness to anxiety. One explanation for this is the positions we retreat to for safety when we respond to fear or sadness. A common response is protecting ourselves by pulling our knees to our chest or through fetal position. As we move through the following hip opener sequence I encourage you to take deep breaths and be aware that you may start feeling emotional as your hips begin to release.

Let’s begin

We’ll begin in Downward Dog, walking out the feet, switching the weight and perhaps leaning into one hip and then the other. After five deep breaths move through a Vinyasa. As we meet back inyoga-new-year-1
Downward Dog, we’ll lift our right leg to the sky circling it Clockwise for two breaths and then Counter Clockwise for two more breaths. Repeat with your left leg as we start to warm up our hips. As we meet back in Downward Dog, we’ll lift our right leg and bring it through to the front of our mat for Warrior II. Your right foot is turned out so your toes are pointing to the front of the mat, while your left foot is slightly pivoted inwards. Your arms are strong and stretching in both directions as your hips stay in one line and you breathe into the expansiveness. After five breaths here cartwheel your hands to frame your right leg and slowly bring your right foot back to meet your left in plank. On your next exhale move back to Downward Dog and lift your left leg, bringing it forward to Warrior II.

After five breaths

Pivot your left leg forward so both feet are parallel in a wide-legged stance. Clasp your hands behind your back and hinge forward into a wide-legged forward bend. You can remain still here or move back and forth bending each leg, whatever you need to continue to feel the hips open. On your fifth breath slowly rise and take a breath while standing as you turn your feet our slowly. We’ll move into Malasana or Garland Pose, squatting and keeping the heels on the ground as your palms touch in prayer and your elbows press slightly against your inner knees encouraging them to open. Stay here for five breaths and then we’ll meet back in Downward Dog. Walk out your feet once again.

On your next inhale

Raise your right leg and bring it forward for Pigeon Pose. The right knee is forward on the floor with the shin diagonal while the left leg is straight behind, rolling inward. A block under your right hip bone could help facilitate keeping your hips square. Slowly then bend forward, extending your arms while breathing and trying to relax into this intense stretch. Stay here breathing deeply for two minutes. When you are ready, slowly rise up and move to Downward Dog. You may lift your right leg, drawing circles and then feel the difference as you take a breath in Downward Dog. Lift your left leg and bring it forward to Pigeon, noticing that this hip could be different than the previous and making the correct modifications with a block to keep the hips square.

Maintain-Gratitude-holidaysWe’ll end this hip opener sequence laying on your back in Supta Baddha Konasana, Press the soles of your feet together, bend your knees and draw them towards your pelvis as your knees drop open. Relax here, and take deep breaths as you meditate on how you feel after this yoga practice.

This year I encourage you to create New Year’s resolutions that are attainable. For example, instead of practicing yoga every day, practice once a week. Or maybe you can’t make it to a class so you practice this sequence at home or in the park when you have the time. Or perhaps you allocate one week in the year to dive into a magical yoga retreat. However it may look into your life, I hope you enjoy this hip opener sequence as a small way to begin starting fresh this New Year. May we all have a happy and healthy 2019!

 

 

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As we enter into Spring, we hear the birds singing more vibrantly, we see the trees blooming, and the Earth becoming more colorful again. Perhaps you are also experiencing this feeling of waking up and connecting back to the Earth as Winter has left and the Earth seems to become more alive. The beautiful cycle. Earth Day is fast approaching us, a day when we are reminded to give thanks to the Earth by supporting environmental protection. The yoga sequence I offer below is intended to ground you and connect you to the Earth. I encourage you to find a quiet space outside before beginning.

Standing in Mountain pose, hands to heart’s center, feeling your feet on the Earth. Begin by moving your toes, feeling all aspects of the Earth, the cycles of energy. Start feeling that energy radiate up through your feet, throughout your body, your palms, your third eye. Breathe deeply.

Continue breathing, focusing in on all the energy you feel throughout your body. Now hear the sounds around you, the birds, the wind. And feel the air touching your skin. Perhaps it’s cold and crisp, perhaps it’s warm and sunny. Breathe deeply.

Inhaling, lift your arms to the sky, looking up at your hands. With your hands clasped together above your head, slowly side bend to the left. Instead of crunching the left side of your body, feel like you are moving up and over the full moon, keeping both the left and right side body long. Breathe deeply here. Slowly return back and repeat by bending over to the right side.

Breathe, and on your on time, bring your hands back to heart’s center. On your next inhale, raise your arms up to the sky and clasp your hands together. Slowly bend back allowing your throat to open and your upper back to slowly arc up and over. Feel your chest open and allow the flowing energy of the Earth and the sky to seep into your heart. On your own time slowly return to mountain pose.

On your next inhale, raise your arms to sky and then move through one sun salutation on your own breath. As you arrive in Downward Dog, feel your palms and feet simultaneously supported by the Earth’s surface. The Earth supports us every day in more ways than we are constantly aware. The Earth supplies us with water, nourishing fruits and vegetables, physical support, wood for our homes, emotional support through nature, the list goes on and on. As you pedal out your feet in this Downward Dog, I encourage you to think about all the ways in which Mother Earth served you today.

Slowly lift your right leg in three-legged dog, and bring it through to Warrior II. Feel the energy in your grounded feet, and allow that energy to escape back out through your finger tips. While you feel the power and strength you have in Warrior II, focus in on how you can restore what you allow Mother Earth to provide you with each day. Windmill your hands back down to the Earth, and take a some breaths in downward dog.

Repeat with your left leg, raising your left leg in downward dog and bringing it through to Warrior II. Focusing now on how you can think about Earth Day each and every day. The energy extending from your fingertips is the small things you do each day to thank Mother Earth for what she does for you. Perhaps it is eliminating plastic, perhaps conserving water, driving less, eating a more plant-based diet, recycling and composting. The possibilities are endless in how we can continuously care for the Earth.

Windmill your hands back down to the Earth and step your left leg back to Downward Dog. When you are ready, slowly walk your feet to your hands and roll up, bringing your hand’s to heart’s center. As your palms press against each other, breathe and focus in on how your body and mind feel after spending this time in nature, moving your body and sharing gratitude for Mother Earth. Focus in on an intention for how every day can be Earth Day. Namaste.

 

About the Author

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

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Fall brings beautiful colors, crisp air, and inspiring energies. During this season, we may become more aware of our surroundings, more aware of how alive Mother Earth is, and more aware of what we may take for granted each and every day. Celebrate autumn by following this Sun Salutation of Gratitude and tune into awareness. From this awareness, we can cultivate a sense of gratitude.

Sun Salutation of Gratitude

sun salutation

We’ll begin in mountain pose, hands to prayer tuning into the energies around and within us.

From Mountain Pose, we take a breath in, lift our arms overhead to the sky, palms open, gathering gratitude and bringing it back to heart center. We inhale and raise our arms to the sky again. As we exhale, we swan dive, bowing to the earth, giving respect and gratitude for all she gives us. We breathe into standing forward fold, feet

As we exhale, we swan dive, bowing to the earth, giving respect and gratitude for all she gives us. We breathe into standing forward fold, feet hip-width apart, knees bent as needed. The crown of the head faces the floor and we relax our neck, visualizing the tranquil leaves blowing in the wind.Inhale into

Inhale into half-way lift, bending the knees to straighten the spine, shoulders away from your ears making space to encourage gratitude to seep in. On the next exhale, we step back into high plank, shoulders over the wrists moving back and away from the ears, lower abdomen in and up while pressing your heels back. In plank, we tune into our strength and resilience, and our ability to repair the environment a little every day through our choices and actions.

On your next exhale, moving through Chattaranga or dropping your knees to the floor, focus on hugging the elbows in at your side. Inhale into Cobra or Upward Facing Dog, focusing your eyes on a new detail in your current environment.

As your shoulder blades or wings move towards your spine, we begin thinking about all the birds that migrate throughout the world. We give gratitude for when we are able to witness one of these beautiful creatures in different regions of our Earth.

We exhale back into downward facing dog pressing our hands and heels into the Earth, focusing on creating space between our ears and shoulders and lengthening our spine.

We are grounded, we are resilient, we are full of wisdom and creativity to act how we want to move through this world. May

May the space we create through our lengthened spine in this physical practice of yoga symbolize the space we create for gratitude and for experiences to learn and grow. We walk our feet to our hands, hanging in forward-fold, envisioning all the space we are creating. Perhaps this space allows for the gratitude we bring in through travel, through experiencing other cultures, other ecosystems, and environments, other possible ways of life.sun salutations

We slowly rise up raising our arms once again up to the sky, this time sensing how the energy we’re gathering may have changed through our practice. As we bring our hands to heart center, we breathe, tuning into our energy and radiating our inner light out to all other beings.

As you watch the falling leaves, hear the changing sounds of wildlife, and feel the crisp air and shorter days, I encourage you to focus on appreciating the beauty and details of the diverse ecosystems you routinely pass by.

Sometimes travel can help us expand our horizons and experience gratitude from a different angle. And travel incorporating yoga and service… that practice opens up spaces within our emotional and physical body we did not even realize we could access. May you shine your light out to all beings.

Namaste.

We would love for you to join us on one of our many retreats. Please see our calendar here.