Balance, or what my yoga practice looks like these days

I would love to tell you that I wake up at 5 a.m. every day, feeling refreshed and wide awake, ready to hop on my mat and flow through a perfect practice. Go ahead, picture me in headstand, handstands, and various fancy arm balances. Some mornings, that’s precisely what I do. On other days, I choose to sleep.

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Beautiful Georgian Bay in Autumn

The Autumn season, though I love it, often leaves me tired, adding at least an extra hour to my sleep requirements. Tack onto that additional responsibilities at home and at work, and I often feel too fatigued by 9 p.m. to keep my eyes open for a chapter in the current book that I’m reading. In the mornings after less than 7 hours of sleep, I sometimes feel groggy when my alarm clock goes off and, realizing that there is no way I could possibly drag myself out of bed, I choose to sleep for an extra hour instead of using that time to work out. For me, sleep now takes priority over exercise. When I ignore my sleep needs and power through a workout, or anything else on my daily agenda, my immune system suffers. Such is the fate of the Vata dosha.

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Cosy local countryside views

Rest assured, I do make time for exercise, even if it’s 10 minutes of yoga or 20 minutes of yoga and pilates. Movement in the morning is what wakes me up, especially since I rarely drink coffee these days. Sometimes, if my schedule permits, I take a walk at lunchtime, which often gives me a boost for the afternoon at the office. And some nights, when I’m able to get to bed before 9 o’clock, I wake up at 5 o’clock the following morning, feeling ready for a vigorous cardio barre pilates and Vinyasa workout. Since routine keeps me in check, I do my best to be in bed before 9 p.m. in order to wake up refreshed at 5 a.m.

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This photo was taken two years ago by Mr. Wanderlust.

Each day is different, and I remind myself to make healthy choices as I go, focusing on infusing my day with the lessons of yoga, rather than leaving my practice on the mat. I practise Ujjayi breathing while seated at my desk. I remind myself to maintain good posture and stretch periodically while at my computer. I move as much as I can throughout the day, drink plenty of hot water and herbal tea, and enjoy healthy meals. This is my balance. I’m doing my best, and that’s enough. 

How do you maintain a healthy balance when life picks up its pace? Please leave a comment below to contribute to the conversation. Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend.

Moving from within

The practice of yoga can be considered intuitive in the sense that it reminds us to slow down and breathe. Yet, I know firsthand that it can sometimes be challenging, while moving through a flow in class, to not pay attention to the gorgeous person on the mat next to me, who exalts in deep backbends and effortlessly hops into a perfect handstand. That’s when matters become competitive, and competition is far from intuitive.

Today, my idea of what yoga is or what it ought to be is very different from the understanding of the person on the mat next to me. Some claim that Kundalini is the only way to go, that it helps them to tune into their higher selves, to develop better self-discipline. Others might like traditional Hatha yoga, holding each pose for eight full breaths, not rushing to move. Then there are the serious Ashtangis who love a sweaty challenge. Want to know a secret? I have been the Ashtangi wannabe, looking forward to the funky pretzel-like twists, binds, and deep backbends. Several years later, I was known to express the now embarrassing, stand-offish statement that the only real yoga is traditional Hatha yoga. Then, I changed my tune when I found a happy medium in Vinyasa Flow.

Today, I gravitate toward a natural movement-based practice, flowing in soft, seemingly effortless dance-like undulations from one pose to the next, with some pilates and barre exercises thrown into the mix. On other days, I unwind with Yin and restorative poses after a long walk. To me, that is the definition of intuitive movement. It’s about practising in a way that feels best to me. These days, my body whispers to me to move a bit slower, taking the time to enjoy each moment, to move beyond the pose and flow from within.

The same applies to eating, slowing down to ask myself what my body craves and what it needs here and now, using discernment to make appropriate choices. My compassion toward my own decisions allows me to greet others with compassion and acceptance of their journey.

Amid the pressure to look a certain way, to work out a certain way, to consume certain foods while abstaining from others, may we find the courage to make our own rules, to move the way we want to move, to make the decisions that are right for us, all the while paying close attention to the whisper-thin reminder to focus on what is here, now. 

Poetry to fuel life

Although I have been leading restorative yoga classes for the past several years, yesterday was my first candlelight restorative class at a relatively new and absolutely charming yoga studio off Main Street Markham. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to guide classes in this space.

As I prepared for yesterday’s class, designing the sequence, packing my essential oils, and creating a playlist, a wave of nervousness rose over me for a few brief moments. This isn’t something new. As an introvert, I often get slightly nervous when preparing to venture into new territory to meet a new group of people. I wonder about how I will be perceived. Will Xavier Rudd’s and Trevor Hall’s words resonate with them, or do they prefer music without lyrics? Do they like to move gently before settling into long-held supported poses?
I heard the whisper-thin nudge to breathe, to soften my shoulders, welcome in the new opportunity and avoid using the term ‘introvert’ as an excuse. I was reminded of a line from one of my favourite poems by Mary Oliver:
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Yoga is my passion and my dharma, and I want to share it with as many people as I possibly can. I acknowledge the experience of nervousness, then let it go, shifting my focus to continue walking my path with honesty.

I picked up my yoga mat bag, essentials oils, iPod, lips balm, and house keys, slipping them into the small pocket of the canvas bag. Having kissed Wanderlust Juniors goodbye, just before heading out the door, I slipped a folded sheet of paper into the pocket of my bag in order to share Mary Oliver’s words with the new yogis I was to meet. I read the poem to them during Savasana and finished the class to the sight of genuinely warm and grateful smiles.

The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
from New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA

Do you tend to feel nervous in new situations? Do you sometimes experience ‘stage fright,’ even though you may have previously spent many hours speaking before a crowd? What reminders do you use to bring yourself back to the present moment, to focus on serving your dharma, walking your path? Please leave a comment below to contribute to the discussion.

Walk like Audrey Hepburn

May 4th is on the other side of the weekend, plus a few days, and it marks the birthday of the late Audrey Hepburn. You might ask yourself, dear reader, whether I’m a crazed fan who remembers the birthdays not only of her family members and close friends but of her favourite actress. The answer is yes. Yes, I am. I also remember Mozart’s birthday and admire his music greatly, but that’s beside the point. This week’s post is a tribute to the legendary Audrey Hepburn, or AH. I sing Holly Golightly’s Moon River to Wanderlust Juniors while snuggling with them at bedtime. I sing Sabrina’s La Vie en Rose while washing the dishes. I have been known to walk into hair salons and ask the stylist to chop off all my hair, à la Princess Ann in Roman Holiday. I have read and reread all the biography books that have been published about AH. She is an inspiration to me not only in style but also the lifestyle she led.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about my transition from intensive HIIT workouts toward walking and dancing. These two forms of exercise have become my choices for exercise that does not feel like exercise. I recently started to let go of the more rigid and competitive forms of fitness that require me to work at high intensity for 20 minutes. In truth, no matter how little time I spend on bursts that bring my heart rate to 80-90%, I do not enjoy that time. Instead, I prefer to take a long walk – the longer, the better – in my neighbourhood, even if that means getting up even earlier than I used to. What all this has to do with AH is that she also was an early riser and, as her son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, writes in Audrey Hepburn: An Elegant Spirit, AH enjoyed long walks with her dogs. Instead of dogs, I have a cat, who happily stays at home to nap or watch the world from a cozy spot on her windowsill, but I, too, enjoy long walks.

And so, after feeding Tigger, and following my daily yoga practice, I slip on my comfortable running walking shoes and head out for a 5 km walk, greeting the sunrise, allowing the bright golden rays to bathe my face as, at once, the cool morning breeze gently brushes my face. I watch as the world around me starts to wake up, listen to the serenade of the birds, observe people as they settle into their cars in the driveway, preparing to drive to work. Sometimes, I wear earphones to listen to my favourite music and focus on the melody, the lyrics. At other times, I allow stories to weave their way through my imagination as I let go of my practice of mindfulness, giving myself permission to play. I feel the solid ground as I firmly set down one foot in front of the other. I move, I breathe, I feel. Cold, rainy days beckon me inside to dance in the warmth of my home, but I mostly crave movement outdoors. And that is why I walk. I am not a runner; my knees don’t allow me to enjoy the activity. Walking provides me with the fresh air and movement for which I thirst. Earlier this week, I was away on a business trip during which I saw the world out of the tiny airplane window, then was surrounded for two days by the walls of the airport, the hotel room, and the office building, without an opportunity to step outside. It’s good to be back home with my family, and I’m also grateful for the opportunity to return to my daily walks. Walking is my hobby. Walking is my calming cardio. Walking makes me a happier, grounded, lighter woman, mother, and partner. I suspect AH would have said the same.

Where is your favourite place to walk? Please feel free to leave a comment below. Do you know someone who might enjoy this blog? Please feel free to share it with a friend.

How Ayurveda is helping me change my approach to exercise

Several years ago, I followed the thought process that if the number on the scale rose slightly following the holidays and a few big dinners with friends and family, I would need to amp up my cardio routine, to work harder to burn the extra calories. Of course, yoga was very high on my list of priorities, but only if the routine was a challenging power sequence with hundreds of Chaturanga Dandasana variations. If I missed a day of exercise, the sense of guilt would permeate the entire day. Scrolling along my Facebook newsfeed and seeing the progress my friends were making with their runs or cross-fit training sessions would remind me to push myself harder to keep up with them.

Slowly and organically, as I continue to study and explore Ayurveda in relation to my lifestyle, my attitude toward exercise also continues to evolve. Today, I approach every form of exercise with the same frame of mind with which I arrive on my mat for a formal asana practice. I no longer judge my progress based on that of my peers. Instead of counting calories and allowing the number on the scale – in fact, I no longer use a scale – to dictate my daily workout, I crave mindful movement. Chaturanga variations are no longer high on my radar, though I do enjoy them once a week. I still love the occasional powerful core workout and arm balances because they leave me feeling strong and connected to my core power. Yet, stillness helps to create the right balance. I alternate dance with 20-minute HIIT workouts thrice a week – the jumping variations are fabulous for awakening the lymphatic system – but those are always followed by a grounding and cooling yoga sequence.

These days, before starting to move in the morning, I ask myself how I want to feel, and what my schedule looks like for the day ahead. Due to the fact that on weekdays, I spend eight to ten hours at the computer, I do choose a stronger heating but grounding practice. On weekends, when I go hiking, I choose a slower practice. In general, I gravitate toward slow-flowing Vinyasa, combined with Yin and Restorative yoga. It’s a question of the energy we need to balance at any given moment. Ayurveda teaches us that when we feel lethargic and heavy (Kapha imbalance), we need movement to stoke the fire element to help us wake up; when we feel irritable (Pitta imbalance), we should seek a cooling and grounding routine; when we feel anxious or scattered, a slow, warming, and grounding practice is the answer. The weather plays a big role in the Ayurvedic lifestyle. On cold, windy days (Vata weather), we are called to focus on grounding and staying warm. On hot, humid summer days (Pitta weather), a gentle, cooling practice early in the morning or in the evening is the ‘go to’ exercise. During my moon cycle, Yin or Restorative yoga, combined with a walk at a comfortable pace, allow me to remain grounded while pacifying the fire element. I start each daily practice with a few rounds of pranayama and a short meditation, and end with a longer seated meditation. The meditation component reminds me to clear and reset my focus each time, and also helps to set the tone for the day ahead.

No doubt, my approach to movement and my yoga practice will continue to evolve. My goal is no longer to burn calories, but to stay healthy and vibrant, physically, mentally and emotionally. My priority is not to exceed the standard set yesterday but to move in a way that allows me to feel grounded, light, open, and centred. I am following the intuitive cues of my body and my mind, adopting a softer, more feminine approach to exercise.

Balance

I’m curious to know whether you also have observed shifting patterns within your yoga practice or workout routine in the recent years or months. Perhaps your body craves a different type of movement and you have been exploring new avenues. Please leave a comment below, and feel free to share this blog with a friend.

Knitting presence

On Sunday afternoon, as we enjoyed an hour of quiet time, Mr. Wanderlust and Wanderlust Juniors built Lego creations while I retreated to a different room to knit and listen to a podcast. As I listened to Michael Stone speak about the habit of multitasking and its negative effects, I laughed at the irony of the situation. There I sat, listening for entertainment, however educational, while knitting. I was in the midst of creating something while listening to a dharma talk about the importance of giving ourselves space to sit and do nothing.

Many knitters enjoy clicking their needles while watching a TV show or listening to a podcast. In fact, many even bring their knitting to the movie theatre, family dinners, and other social events. It has been said, half-jokingly, that knitters can’t stand to have their hands empty. I can attest to that. Once upon a time, I was the knitter whose fingers probably used to move in her sleep as she dreamed of knitting a sweater. I was in undergrad at the time and when I would visit my parents and my sister on weekends, my sister would get upset about watching me sit on the living room couch with my knitting. She said that although I could easily carry a conversation without looking at my yarn and needles, she felt as though I wasn’t fully present. I now understand how different a non-knitter’s perception could be from that of the seasoned multitasking crafter. In truth, we cannot be truly present while we multitask.

It can seem natural for us to listen to music while preparing dinner, or listen to a podcast while cleaning our homes.

What happens if we turn off the noise? Will the sound of our thoughts become amplified? What narrative will we start to hear? Can we learn to be comfortable with that narrative, to acknowledge it without attempting to silence it?

Can we, instead, turn up the soft sound of our breath at the back of the throat? Can we enjoy the feel of the rubber gloves on the skin of our hands as we wash the bathroom sink?

Can we fully experience the scent of the baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils that we use to clean the sink?

Can we stand at a bus stop without mindlessly glancing at our phones every two minutes, if only to check the time or, perhaps, to avoid the gaze of the people who surround us?

For the past few months, it has been my practice to spend one day per week without screen technology, never glancing at my laptop or phone, and sometimes without listening to music (TV never enters into the equation because I only watch an hour of TV per week, if at all). In addition, I refrain from approaching my laptop or phone after the end of my workday. I feel guided to deepen my practice. This spring, I choose to mindfully focus on one activity at a time instead of pairing it with technology and the possibilities with which it presents us. I am also making the choice to not share my experiences as frequently, however exciting they might be. I choose to keep certain stories and photos to myself and my family, instead of sharing them on Instagram. Maybe, I will tell a friend about my fun experience sometime later, when I speak with her on the phone or in person over a cup of tea.

Discernment frequently shows us in my life in the form of yoga, asking me to choose between a strong Vinyasa and a quiet Yin or Restorative practice. I can apply similar discernment to knitting and technology, choosing whether to listen to music or a podcast while I work on a garment, or to set aside time to knit without any background noise as an entertaining distraction.

Some say that ‘knitting is the new yoga.’ Both yoga and knitting are opportunities that show up in my life as reminders to practise awareness. May we give ourselves permission to enjoy the pleasures of living with presence.

Does this story resonate with you? Please leave a comment below. Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend.

Feeling yoga

Sometime last year, a friend shared a meme on Facebook, depicting two images. The caption under the first image, of a perfectly polished young woman outfitted in sleek form-fitting fitness clothing, barely breaking a sweat, read, “What I think I look like when I run.” The caption under the second image, of an excited pug, reads, “What I actually look like when I run.” Have you seen that meme? In this instance, I believe the friend who shared the image meant to do so in mock self-deprecation. I wondered whether the number of ‘likes’ under the meme came from others who have ever gone for a jog, feeling pretty darn good until, when passing by a store window display, they inadvertently noticed their reflection in the dirty glass, opening a door to self-criticism.

There have been times when I was inspired by Instagram photos of perfect bikini-clad goddesses on a tropical beach, pressing up into a handstand. I asked Mr. Wanderlust to snap a few photos of me in different impressive inversions. I may not have been on a beach in a bikini, but I was in our backyard, wearing skinny jeans and a cute top. Oh, and there was a time when, for one picture, I inadvertently tweaked my knee while trying to push myself into Parsva Bhuja Dandasana (grasshopper pose), an arm balance that required deep external hip rotation. My hips were not open enough for the pose at the time, and I compensated by using my right hand to place my left foot atop my left upper arm. Thankfully, that injury didn’t take longer than a few weeks to heal.

Throughout that time, as I continued to practise, I started to pay closer attention to the types of practice I truly enjoyed. Instead of asking Mr. Wanderlust to take photographs of me that would allow me to check my form and correct the asana, I became more interested in how the poses and flows feel in my body. Gradually, I started to learn to let go of trying to achieve perfection and started to lean into my intuition. I do not have endless hours in my day to practise on my mat with the goal of achieving perfection, but I do have one hour to dedicate to moving in a way that feels right to me at that time. As I became more comfortable with the notion that different people are proportioned differently, I started to appreciate the differences in the clients whom I lead at the studio, as well as in myself. I no longer become upset with my hips, which are frequently out of alignment, having never healed properly following the birth of the youngest Wanderlust Junior. When Pigeon pose sometimes feels uncomfortable on the right side, I back away, breathe, and patiently meet the challenge wherever it happens to greet me today. Patience toward myself reminds me to be patient with my family when, throughout the day, something (or many things) will inevitably not go the way in which I plan.

I continue to step on my mat (on most days) because my practice makes me feel alive, vibrant, and grounded. It allows me to reconnect to my feminine source by reminding me to acquiesce, to accept, to melt, then marry it with the masculine source by reminding myself to remain disciplined. My yoga practice is honest, and sometimes it does feel perfect. My practice feels perfect on the days when I meet the challenges that arise from within, reminding me that they continue to lurk beneath the surface, and asking me to choose.

I choose to feel, instead of thinking about how the pose should look.

I choose to breathe when I sometimes want to give up.

I choose to melt into all my emotions.

I choose to forgive myself for my past.

I choose to accept myself as I am today.

My yoga practice makes me feel healthy, powerful, and yes, beautiful, even with sweat glistening above my upper lip. I don’t care how I think I look when I practise; I care about how my practice makes me feel.

What is your choice? Why do you practise? Please leave a comment below, and feel free to share this blog with a friend.

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When the mood strikes, sometimes I do pose for yoga photos on the beach.

YES days

“Mommy, tomorrow has to be a YES day, when you are supposed to say ‘Yes’ to everything we want to do.” The sparkle in the eyes of the eldest Wanderlust Junior was undeniable. We were sitting at the kitchen table on Valentine’s Day, having finished eating dinner, when he made the announcement.

What Wanderlust Juniors did not know was that about two years ago, I made a promise to myself to say ‘Yes’ to them more frequently, to greet them with Presence and direct my attention fully toward them. I have been doing this with ease some days, and other days are decidedly not YES days, particularly when my energy is low and I don’t feel well, or when I get caught up in the motions of the ‘to do’ lists and the surface tasks that take my attention farther away from where it’s needed most.

YES days do not only apply to parents and children. I would venture as far as to say that YES days are a necessity for everyone. I take a rest day once per week, a day without technology, when I dedicate my attention fully to myself and my loved ones. Those rest days are also my YES days, and this routine has shown me that I crave those days more and more. I carry the peace and lightheartedness of those days with me into the remainder of the week. When the pace becomes busy, in the background, I can continue to reconnect to my intention. I remember that, at the core, what matters is saying saying ‘Yes’ to more:

Fun

Kisses

Cuddles

Lazy moments

Quiet moments

Smiles

Silliness

Playing

Yoga

Our favourite food

Cat naps on the couch by the fireplace

Long walks in nature

Forgiveness

Turning the other cheek

Time spent alone

Time spent with loved ones

Tea and coffee

Ignoring the phone

Promises that we intend to keep

Belly laughs

Heart-to-heart conversations

Honesty

Vulnerability

Owning our story

Letting it go

Doing things at this very moment

Deciding that certain tasks can wait until later

Listening to our intuition

Accepting ourselves

Loving our dearest people as they are today

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Saying ‘Yes’ to more yoga, especially on days when all we think we want to do is veg on the couch. The couch can always wait, but movement and intentional stillness are at the top of the list.

To what are you saying ‘Yes’ today? Please leave a comment below.

Honest Yoga

For many years, my main goal in yoga was to achieve perfection in postures. I yearned to try harder, to push myself further, to look magazine-perfect in Urdhva Dhanurasana. These days, each time I step on the mat, I strive for an honest practice that illuminates for me what should be my area of focus. This approach keeps me curious. On most days, I start with dance or Pilates, then venture into a flowing Vinyasa practice. This practice can feel at once familiar and new. Some mornings, I work on back bends, gradually opening my heart as I move toward a deeper variation of each pose, feeling more awake, alive, exhilarated as I broaden through my clavicles and lift through the scapulae. On other mornings, particularly when I’m low on energy and need to wake up gently, slowly, a lingering flow in Cat/Cow helps me to loosen up before melting into long-held Yin postures.

Some days, I fall out of inversions. I’m reminded, then, to sit in meditation for a while longer, allowing myself to feel supported by the earth while remaining present with what is before me, with the images and stories that my mind presents on the big screen of its unhinged forefront. I observe with curiosity, allowing it all to appear and then dissolve as I descend deeper, unfolding layer by layer. On other days, the path through the layers curves sharply, causing me to careen back to the starting point. The choice is always available, and neither option is advantageous nor unattractive. It’s simply there. Will my will power and curiosity win over, or will I take the simple route by letting go of effort? If I should choose the latter, will old samskaras of guilt haunt me throughout the day, reminding me that I should have tried harder? Will I succeed in silencing them?

Today, my hips thank me for a luxurious Yin session and sleeping swan pose practiced with full acquiescence, with permission to luxuriate, to let go of control, to feel pleasure and pain melt away into nothing until my body becomes a heavy vessel for my breath. Whatever the day might bring, I will show up on my mat with the same honest sense of curiosity, ready to move, ready to pause, balancing effort with softness, setting the tone for whatever the day might bring. Staying true to this commitment is easy when honesty feels safe.

What is your interpretation of an honest yoga practice? Please leave a comment below. 

Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend!

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Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Routine While on Vacation

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Several days ago, my family and I recently returned from a beautiful beach holiday on the shores of one of our favourite lakes. We spent a fun week building sand castles, SUPing, enjoying sunset walks and an exciting day trip that included a cruise on a glass-bottom boat to see shipwrecks. When away from home, our habits tend to change somewhat, as can be expected.

Did I drink beer several times throughout the week? Did I enjoy many s’mores by the bonfire and just as many servings of ice cream / gelato? You bet I did. And I savoured every moment. Not for a minute did I reprimand myself for letting down my guard. It was a choice I made mindfully, allowing myself to soften into the experience while trusting my intuition and maintaining a lifestyle of wellness.

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Here is how I navigated three of my regular healthy habits while on vacation:

Eating

My nutrition habits are relatively healthy, keeping to the typical 80/20 rule and enjoying dessert from time to time while making mindful choices about the nutrients that fuel my body. While on vacation, I continued to eat healthy foods but we did eat out in restaurants several times throughout the week. We balanced this out by visiting the local grocery store and farmers’ market and stocking up on fresh produce. August is a time of gorgeous fresh, local fruit and vegetables, which were in abundance everywhere we went. We packed those as snacks for ourselves to take to the beach and enjoyed salads for dinner.

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Sleeping

At home, I typically am in bed by 10 p.m. and wake up at 5 a.m. to work out and practise yoga. While away, we naturally put the kids to bed later, after enjoying the sunset on the beach or sitting by the fire. The parents’ natural bedtime was closer to midnight and we all woke up quietly, slowly at around 9 a.m., feeling refreshed and recharged.

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Exercise

When I sleep in, which doesn’t happen often, and wake up at the same time as my children, I tend to write off my workouts and yoga practice for the day. However, while away, I simply shifted my physical exercise to the siesta hour in the afternoon. An hour or two after lunch, the children would spend some time watching a favourite DVD while Pawel read a book, and I would head out into the backyard of our rental cottage to roll out my mat. Working out outside encouraged me to be resourceful, using whatever I had close by as props. The owners of the cottage left two skipping ropes for the children guests. However, I was the one who ended up putting the skipping ropes to good use for cardio. I utilized the wooden benches on the patio for tricep dips and the wooden stairs for lunges. Typically, my morning workout and yoga practice last approximately an hour. My siesta-time workouts on the grass were about 30 minutes in length. I didn’t try to time myself. I naturally moved in a way that felt good. Some days were slower, softer, and others left me sweaty, happily walking into the shower after a morning at the beach and an afternoon on my yoga mat. I also did a lot of running on the beach with the boys, walked everywhere, and SUPd.

It feels liberating to let go of a rigid schedule and preconceived notions about routine, giving ourselves permission to live in flux, allowing ourselves to put life on hold for a while but still maintain a healthy lifestyle. In fact, when I feel relaxed, with no major responsibilities that I normally have at home and at work, I find that I naturally feel better and healthier, which leads me to make healthy choices. The key is to carry the calm mental and emotional state with us back into our regular post-vacation routine.

What healthy habits do you uphold while on vacation? Please share your tips in the comments below. You can also connect with us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter for additional pictures of our holiday.