yoga travel mats...yoga practice away from home...meditation...cooling breath...gratitude...
HOLIDAYS - time to try something new!
Whether it's visiting somewhere new, staying in a different place, trying new foods, reading a new book, attempting to speak a foreign language - summer is a great time to try something new, approaching it all with true yogi spirit - with an open mind and open heart!
YOGA TRAVEL MATS AND TOWELS
If, however, you do want to keep up your own physical yoga practice whilst away there are lots of fantastic travel yoga mats now available to take with you (not that you need a bespoke mat). These are super thin and ultra light, foldable as well as rollable, so you can easily pack it in a suitcase. Take a look here https://www.yogamatters.com/mats-bags/yoga-mats/travel-yoga-mats.
If you have never done yoga before and your holiday hotel offers yoga, then it's the perfect opportunity to try something new and give it a go. Or you might be tempted to get up early one morning and wander down to the beach (or simply get outside in nature, wherever you are) and find a quiet spot to either do some yoga on your own - or maybe just have a good old stretch - or simply sit and grab yourself some quiet time before the day gets busy.
If you are a passenger on a long journey or maybe you are sitting by the pool or on the beach, then you have an ideal opportunity to give meditation a go. There is nothing complicated or mystical about meditation - it is the practice of sitting in stillness and having something to focus on, so every time your mind wanders away (and it will do!) then you have something to bring your attention back to. That focal point could simply be your breath - follow your breath in and follow your breath out. Or you might like to meditate with a mantra, a favourite of mine is So Hum - silently repeat those words to yourself, SO on the inhalation and HUM on the exhalation. I am going to write more about meditation in another blog so watch this space!
COOLING BREATH (SHEETALI) - for when the temperate gets hot, hot, hot!
We use the breath in many different ways in yoga and some breathing practices (pranayama) are energising and others are calming. There is one practice which is both calming and cooling and it can be a great tool in hot weather. To do it, curl the sides of your tongue up (don't worry if you can't do this, I explain an alternative method below), with the end of your tongue sticking out of your mouth - inhale air slowly through your mouth, as though you were sucking up air through a straw (the straw being your curled tongue), close your mouth, put the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth, hold your breath for a moment or two and then exhale slowly out through your nose. Repeat. The second method (for those of us who can't curl the sides of our tongues - me included - it's genetic apparently!) - is to hold your teeth lightly together, separate your lips exposing your teeth and breathe in slowly and deeply through your teeth, close your mouth, hold your breath for a moment or two and then exhale slowly out through your nose. Repeat. This second technique is called the Hissing Breath (Sheetkari). Both methods have a wonderful cooling effect on the body and calming effect on the mind.
GRATITUDE MAKES US HAPPIER
It has been proven that showing gratitude can boost our happiness and keeping a gratitude journal is a great way (and discipline) of appreciating the good in our lives. While on holiday, you have the time to begin a new habit so why not give this one a go? At the end of your day, note down a few things that you are grateful for from your day. Adding a little detail, or how and why it made you feel a certain way, can be a good idea too. Much is documented about keeping a Gratitude Journal and the myriad of benefits of doing so, so do look it up if you're interested.
That, together, with being mindful and aware moment to moment really does encourage us to look around right here, right now and see the good in what we already have.
And that's it! Have a fun and safe holiday - whether you are going away or staying at home - and enjoy your yoga, whatever form it takes! Thank you for reading.