Likely, you've spent months planning your upcoming Summer vacation. Travel arrangements are set. The PTO request has been submitted. You've may have even upped your workout regime, watched your calories and bought a new sundress (or two). All that's left is hopping on the airplane.
Hold it right there. Did you pack your workout gear? I hope so! Vacation is a time to recharge, relax and refocus. Make exercise a part of your ultimate relaxation retreat - no time limits, treadmills or shared locker rooms necessary.
Here are three simple ways to make sure exercise is part of your next vacation.
1. Check out local parks. Be it a mountain, city or beach view, chances are your hotel is minutes away from something pretty spectacular that is best enjoyed on foot. Need some inspiration? Visit the National Park registry or National Registry of Historic Places.
2. Do Yoga. If you have room to roll out a mat, you have enough space for yoga. You can even swap the mat for sand or soft grass. The beauty of this ancient mind-body art is that you can do it anywhere! Plus, the restorative properties of yoga will fit right in with your goal of unwinding/detaching from the daily grind. (Hint: see my go-to sequence below.)
3. Bond with your #travelbuddy. Walk & talk, hike, bike or swim with your travel companions. Find a way to connect outside of food & drink. Laughter and plenty of photo opportunities are guaranteed. Cheese it up with a unique #hashtag for your trip.
BONUS: My Travel Yoga Sequence (45-50min)
Remember to completely postures evenly for both sides of your body.
Complete 5-10 Sun Salutes, followed by a 1-minute hold in each of the following postures
Kneeling Crescent (I like a backbend variation in this posture), Warrior I, II & III, Extended Side Angle, Triangle, Revolved Triangle, Reverse Warrior, Plank, Lizard, Malasana, Crow, Bridge, Wheel, Seated Forward Fold, Reclined Bound Angle, Happy Baby, Shoulder Stand, Plow, Supine Twist. Finish with a 5-minute seated meditation and 5-minute Savasana.
At times I indulge my interest finding common ground between yoga's Eastern intuition with Western science. Even so, I'm aware that this sort of evaluation is more like interpreting poetry in a classroom. A textbook may speak to a poem's structure, syntax and symbolism. But, no analysis can accurately measure the heart of the writer. Still, a basic understanding of poetry offers a jumping off point for all the rest.
When I guide an asana practice (physical yoga practice), I appreciate a pragmatic understanding of anatomical and physiological benefits. Equipped with the knowledge of what a body should do and how asana can affect a body, I can structure a healthy practice for my students. A consistent and comprehensive asana practice offers increased muscle strength, stamina and flexibility; these benefits often are what brings students to their mat for the very first time. (This Huffington Post article gives a great summary of yoga's immediate benefits.)
Once the initial benefits have time to soak in, asana practices train more subtle aspects of our body-mind connection - most notably through our respiratory and nervous systems. Controlled breath helps our body regulate the natural stress-response. Stress triggers our "fight or flight" defense response - the sympathetic nervous system at work. You are probably familiar with the pulse of activity in your body when encounter scary situation, or when you try a new inversion for the first time. It is normal to get a rush or feel afraid and we need these natural responses to keep out of harms' way. Because balance is the body's preferred state, our fight-or-flight mechanism has a partner. The parasympathetic nervous system controls our body's return to homeostasis after a stressful event. This system brings our body back into balance. It helps us lower our guard and find calm. In this calm we can explore nuance and interconnectedness - the things that take asana beyond a physical practice.
In today's stressful world, there is plenty of stimulus to trigger our defensive instincts and very little opportunity to calm down. Asana practice, seeped in breath and control, can offer the training needed to find and stay calm. This sense of calm is what keeps me coming back to my mat every day. With dedicated practice I find it easier to find calm and balance off the mat during the more important practice of life. When I am calm I make more compassionate choices. When I am calm, I am able to think clearly about what I want and need in life. When I am calm, my body feels healthy. I want all my students to feel the same.
Sweet places my writing has been featured ...
Bend Into Shape
For people who love dogs, yoga, good food and/or great parties ... that covers everyone right?