originally appeared on Chopra.com
You know those days when everything feels difficult. Days when your sluggishness can’t be remedied with yerba matè, when the ad for baby diapers makes you well up, when the thought of checking off even the tiniest item on your miles-long to-do list makes your skin crawl and your head ache and your brow furrow … you get the idea. You’re overwhelmed. Burnt out. OVER IT.
Whether it’s spring fever, a case of the Mondays, a seasonal fog, a life shift, or intense grief, feeling overwhelmed is exhausting. Energetically you may be experiencing an excess of kapha energy. That increased apana vayu, or downward force, can manifest as lethargy, apathy, and disinterest in regular tasks. The couch becomes your best friend.
On the other hand, perhaps you are more of a jump-into-action kind of person. You may feel overwhelmed by anxiety, a racing heart, or as though you can’t catch your breath. This could indicate an excess of fire energy, or pitta, coursing through you.
Or is it that you’re increasingly forgetting what you were just doing? You’re usually on top of things but lately you’ve been scatter-brained, running late, and sipping shallow, short breaths. All those balls in the air, not being juggled well, all destined to fall/drop/hit you right on the head may indicate an excess of vata, or wind, energy.
Either way, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, moving toward balance and a recalibration of your Prana, or life-force energy, is key. Next time your life feels unmanageable, try this sequence to move back into balance emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Sit ComfortablyOften simply taking a break can calm the nervous system and do the trick.
originally posted on The Outside Way
Isn’t it the best when you get to do fun things with your best friend? Your dog thinks so too! One of my all time favorite pastimes is hiking with my dog. We try to get outside for a long nature walk once a week. She pulls me up the hills. I let her sniff the bushes. She helps me feel safe. She gets to billy-goat around on the rocks. When she stops for water, I’m reminded to stop to hydrate and check out the scenery too. When she starts to slow, I boost her with encouraging words (of course she understands me!). When I start to slow, she affirms me with a wayward glance back and a quick lick on the leg. We both end up at the top, panting with foolish grins, and relish in the accomplishment.
Spending quality time doing an endorphin producing activity helps create strong, lasting bonds between you and those you love, two legged or four. Be sure to check trail regulations before you go to make sure dogs are allowed. Also, check the weather (too hot is very dangerous for dogs!) and give your dog a bath soon after you get home (that poison oak they rubbed up against? you don’t want it on yourself!)
Before you head out, make sure you bring the following:
originally posted on everything i did
Dear gardener sir,
The sound of your leaf-blower makes me cringe. I feel the snarl on my lip and I shudder with annoyance. My skin feels like it’s crawling. It’s Tuesday. In the middle of the day. I just want some peace. I came home to breathe. I’m grateful to be home for a much-needed break to pet my dog, recharge with some nourishing food, catch some midday sun-rays, and sit in silence. And now the über-fart-like machine sound of your leaf-blower is the bane of my existence.
My mind immediately clouds, my heart races, my dog barks, and my body goes into frustration overdrive. And there’s no one to blame but you. You! You who wields the blasted machine. This machine whose existence I cannot (for the life of me!) find justification for: what’s wrong with leaves anyway? when did sweeping go out of style? why waste gasoline to power that thing? are YOU hearing this?
Then I stop. I take a breath. And another.
Of course you’re hearing this. You’re probably wearing earplugs to drown out the hideous sound you hear in five or ten gardens a day. (It’ll be over for me in twenty minutes) You probably hate to be a bother to the lucky lass who gets to come home for lunch and take a break in her yard. (Did you even get a break today?) You probably (definitely) have other interests, and hobbies, and yearnings other than polluting my yard/air/day/life by doing your job that you’re almost certainly not paid enough to do.
Fine, to you I surrender. Blow the darn leaves. I rescind my negative thoughts. I replace my snarl with a smile. I swap it all for compassion. All of it. And may you be happy. May you be healthy. May you feel safe. May you feel free. May you live with ease.
Yours sincerely in the practice of loving-kindness, Lena
(originally posted on everything i did)
I love being by myself. I mean, I do truly love hanging out with friends, but I treasure my alone time to think and reset. I’ve traversed the states by myself, solo hiked through Southern California deserts, and as I’ve gotten older (and braver!) I’ve broadened my on-my-own adventures across the sea.
As I reflect on the past few days I recently spent in a Costa Rican beach town, here are my tried and true travel tips for the solo traveler. Happy travels!
Dream up an adventure. Make a plan. Pack your bags. Go. Toss the plan. There are some definite perks to being on your own and you won’t have to check to see if anyone else is interested before stopping in at that silly roadside shop. Or stopping to pee. Again. Traipsing the globe (or your own state or your own town) is a wonderful way to get to know yourself, practice trusting your intuition, and see what the world’s all about.
Go on the exciting once-in-a-lifetime-excursion. Sit with a new friend at mealtime. Taste the local faire. Trust others. Saying “yes!” or “sure, I’ll give that a try” while you’re away opens up the doors for possibility, understanding, discovery, intrigue, inspiration, and something/someone/everything you’ve never even heard/dreamt/thought of.
On second thought, don’t eat those fried-in-who-knows-what-and-why-does-it-have-seven-legs delicacies. And don’t take that shot of tequila just because the smooth talking fellow-traveler bought it for you. And don’t go to that too-advanced yoga class just because it’s on the beach at sunset and the hottie from breakfast invited you. Set some boundaries. Find your limits. Trust yourself.
Whether you’re feeling the lag of the jet or just think those hammocks look inviting, give yourself permission to stop, drop, and do nothing. Release that FOMO (fear of missing out) attitude and just BE. Allow the expectations of your daily life drip off your shoulders.
After you’re done doing nothing, get up and get going for at least part of your day. See the sights. Walk in wonder. Experience the world. This is what you came for.
create a little routine
Before you take off, take a few moments to set some intentions for your trip. Why are you going? What’s the purpose for the getaway? As always, it’s a good idea to set intentions based on how you’d like to feel, rather than on what you hope to achieve (this is where intentions and goals differ). Do you hope to feel adventurous? Relaxed? Inspired? These driving desires will help you choose activities that will incite these feelings. They can also help you create a little routine for your time away, which can be especially helpful if you’re in a new place with different customs and flavors and smells. For me, this looks like journaling in the morning, yoga each day, walks in nature, down time for reading, and seeking out nourishing food.
remember why you're there
Set some intentions for your return. If there are some specific reasons you set out on your own, how do you want things to change when you go back to where you began? But don’t think too hard! Let “being away” work its magic.
bring a good book
An actual book. I mean, this is just good advice for life. Airport. Airplane. In line at the ATM. On the train. A book is always there for you. And it’s tradable with other travelers!
call your mom
Or dad. Or trusted friend. Let someone know you’re okay. Whether you’re running away or just getting away, there is surely someone wondering if you made it safely and if you’re feeling free and happy. This is also a decades old fix for when you’re feeling a bit too alone or a tad out of place.
I'm excited to get back to my writing roots and contribute monthly+ to the following websites! Check them out and please enjoy my contributing articles on yoga, hiking, outdoor adventure, and personal growth.
The Outside Way: The Outside Way strives to lead by example and is committed to creating good vibes, strengthening community and cultivating sustainability. The Outside Way was developed in 2013 with a vision to inspire others. To do this we publish photo stories, promote healthy living, go on adventures and do our part to give back to the world. We live full time on the road which provides The Outside Way access to some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes and sceneries. During our travels we develop strong relationships with like minded artists, nomads, conservationists and yogis through collaborative projects, workshops/retreats and storytelling.
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Stepping on my mat is coming home. And as we grow up, the idea and definition of “home” becomes amorphous. It doesn’t have clean edges anymore. Maybe it never did. Is it in San Diego, where I’ve lived for the past decade? Is it where I go for the holidays? Is it wherever my mom is? Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore. Life gets topsy turvy sometimes and anxiety :: worry :: doubt :: fear :: loneliness often become my regular, unwanted companions. Sigh. But when I practice yoga asana I feel “home” wherever I may be: an airport waiting area, a beach somewhere, the yoga studio down the street. Lately I’ve been intentionally cultivating that home feeling within myself as I move through the world; making it a goal to find that feeling of wholeness :: safety :: okay-ness. And each time I get on my mat, I remember: Oh, right, this is what it feels like to be grounded :: to have my feet on the earth :: to be supported :: to take risks and fall :: to try again :: to get back up :: to breath deeply :: to take flight :: to exhibit courage :: to have my own back :: to challenge myself :: to be enough as I am today :: to rest.
Here’s what I’ve found helps me most:
* Start with sun salutations. The moving, repetitive flow of the sun salutations is a mindless meditation that gets me out of my head, into my body, and connected with my breath.
* Move with breath: As I take deeper breaths my body relaxes, my thoughts quiet, and I find myself more connected with what’s actually happening in the present moment.
* Practice outside: When I get on my mat (or on the grass :: sand :: dirt) out in nature I breathe in fresh air and remember that I’m part of this universe :: earth :: world :: community. (Try it. It’s magical. And maybe you’ll inspire someone else to take a breath :: slow down :: and remember their own wholeness.)
*Set an intention: Sometimes I dedicate each sun salute to a friend or choose an affirming word for each breath. It helps me feel purposeful :: connected :: home.
Enjoy your time on your mat!
Originally posted on pyo.yoga for Pilgrimage of the Heart