Hi booboos! This year is off to a lovely start. I enjoyed a warm and sunny new year celebration in Florida last weekend and this coming week I’ll drive to the arctic temps of Pennsylvania. The good news? I’ll be practicing and teaching yoga in Shamokin. Come hang with me!
It’s been nearly a month and a half since the first Whole & Happy Retreat in Chanthaburi, Thailand and yet my mind wanders back to that magical time almost every single day. I wanted to share a few film images and a general feel for the beautiful retreat week I spent at FaaSai Resort and Spa.
The Whole & Happy Retreat is the perfect laid back mix of travel, adventure, yoga and self exploration. Each day the retreat group met for yoga and meditation and each day a new technique, style, or focus was presented to us to play around with. As if the yoga and meditation wasn’t enough, the Whole & Happy Retreat involved so much more. We rode our bikes up steep hills, plunged into the Thai gulf waters, drank beer at sunset and toured the farm where our organic meals originated all the while still having ample time to laze about by the pool, sip papaya smoothies and trade book recommendations while devouring our current reads.
The Whole & Happy Retreat seemed to rest in this perfect cosmos of flowed planning instead of precise scheduling. Each night there would be a new agenda and theme on the message board and every morning our group would work our way happily through the day. From farm tours to beachside bike rides, we would move through the hours crossing joyous adventures off our list and yet somehow barely checking the clock, instead checking in with each other and our energy levels.
As an experienced yoga practitioner, I was delighted at the variety of classes presented and how approachable and attainable the instructors made the content for the beginners in the group and yet I never once felt bored or that the classes were predictable. Beyond the yoga and meditation, it’s such a treat to enjoy new experiences with complete strangers, it’s almost like being transported back to the first day of school on the playground. You feel shy at first until a few minutes later you realize you’re having an insane amount of fun and you look around to realize the people you once thought were strangers are now your favorite playmates.
The Whole and Happy Retreat felt like an adult summer camp aimed at elevating the travel experience while incorporating yoga and introspection. As a seasoned traveler, I cannot recommend this experience enough to individuals who are a bit apprehensive about a trip abroad or solo travelers who would find comfort among company. It’s also the perfect break for someone looking to get away in order to recharge and reinvigorate themselves for a happier reintegration back into normal life.
Come read books, sip smoothies poolside, bike through fishing villages, make new Thai friends and gaze up at the stars with me. I’ll be joining the Whole & Happy crew at the next retreat in Chanthaburi, Thailand from March 17-23 and I hope you’ll come. I’d love to flow with you! From now until January 15th, book with a friend and receive $50 off of the retreat cost for a total of $550 for seven days of retreat at Faasai Eco Resort and Spa. If you need help finding a flight (they’re less than $600RT from NYC right now) or help creating a budget, I would love to help, just reach out in the comments.
“The main problem with this great obsession for saving time is very simple: you can’t save time. You can only spend it. But you can spend it wisely or foolishly.”
Hi, friends! A couple weeks ago, I took a quick trip to Philadelphia to help my childhood friend move into her first home. As I’m waiting at the airport, I thought of another amazing friend and sent him a quick text, ‘Hey, pick me up on your motorcycle!’ I totally expected the text to be the start of another conversation instead of actually accepting the invitation. A few hours later, I’m waiting at the PHL terminal and a shiny blue motorcycle pulls up. I’m handed a helmet, I swing my leg over the seat and we’re off, speeding down I-95 towards the city of Brotherly Love.
After an iced chai and a funny catch-up chat, we headed to his house in my old neighborhood, Fishtown. I sat down and looked over his prints from a recent trip to the UAE, Oman and Turkey. While I could have looked at them for hours, the photo editor in me flipped through them insanely fast only allowing a fraction of the photos to leave an imprint in my mind. I can still imagine them today. I’m excited to see how he uses my favorites, but also the images that I may have passed by too quickly. Photos are magical in that the way in which you use them can completely alter the image and message. Saleem has an uncanny ability to work with his photographs in this manner.
While I was shuffling through the images, I kept thinking of my childhood friend, Steph, the one I was supposed to be helping move in. I was torn in opposite directions, stay and hang out with Saleem who so kindly picked me up from the airport or rush off to Steph’s since she was expecting me. I hated the creeping feeling of guilt so after a quick pitbull play session and a few minutes of chill time in the backyard I said my goodbyes to Saleem.
Namaste. Ready for your yoga retreat? Freaking out because you’re so excited and don’t know what to pack? Sweet. I gotcha covered. You basically need nothing except a great attitude, but I’ll round out the list with a few other essentials.
Ever since posting about my experience at Rishikul Yogshala’s 200hr Yoga Teacher Training in Nepal, I received emails from prospective students asking, ‘WTF do I pack?!’ and the answer is so simple. You don’t need much. Imagine what you take to a yoga studio each time you go to practice. Imagine all the things you leave at home. Now pack accordingly.
A light read or an ipod with some calming tunes. Sometimes you’ll need to fall asleep (teacher training starts early!), but you’ll still feel energized from all the asana so bring a tool that drifts you off to dreamland.
Does sleep elude you? I’ve been there. Most times it’s due to stress or other irregular factors, but sometimes I just can’t fall the f*ck to sleep even if it’s imperative. First things first, put your damn phone down, unless you’re trying to sleep right now.. in that case, read on:
Read a book – reading is my first snooze move. Pick a book that you’d like to read, but is either a little bit beyond comprehension or slow moving. Whatever you do, don’t grab a nail-biter because then you’ll definitely be up all night. I usually pick up something by one of my heros, John Muir, when I want to induce drowsiness. His writings are basically a peek into his diary, interesting, but at times long winded and wordy. No offense Mr. Muir!
Write in a journal – if you’re not a big reader, try writing before bed. If I go this route, I usually jot down a quick recap of my day, while also mentioning what I plan to do the next day. Writing in a journal is an easy way to do a brain dump of sorts. Flush out anything you’ve been needing to say or express and leave it in your journal instead of your mind while you get ready for bed.
Breathing meditation – pranayama (sanskrit word for breathing) is an amazing tool for relaxation. Even if you’ve never tried pranayama before, you’re capable, it’s simply being mindful of the breath. Lay on your back with one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach. Take a deep belly breath in while you count to four, hold for two seconds then exhale long and slow for four seconds. Repeat this breath cycle without letting your mind wander, continuously focusing and counting your breath until you feel relaxed and ready to slip into a slumber.
Yoga nidra – yogis everywhere are probably rolling their eyes since yoga nidra is waking sleep and therefore one isn’t necessarily meant to snooze midway through, but I have to admit that I fall asleep nearly every single time. It’s actually a problem, but at least I’ve discovered a great way to drift off to dreamland. There are actually a few yoga nidra recordings meant to put you to sleep and here’s one that’s particularly good. Everyone is different though, so seek out recordings that speak to you and make you feel relaxed. Remember, you don’t need recordings specifically geared towards sleep since all nidras are calming and will likely put you into some type of trance state.
Conduct a full body scan – this is my favorite way to encourage sleep and something that I use quite frequently. Start by shaking out your limbs and settling down onto your mattress. Get comfortable. Mentally tell yourself to relax each body part, starting with a segment of the body and disecting it into smaller parts from there. It should sound something like this, “relax your right foot, relax your big toe, relax your second toe, relax your third toe, relax your fourth toe, relax your baby toe. Now relax the top of your foot. Relax the bottom of your foot. Relax the ball of your foot, the arch and the heel of your foot. Now relax your ankle, etc…” I recommend breaking down each body part as much as possible, but you can focus on larger part groups (ie the right leg instead of the right shin, calf, knee, back of the knee, etc) if sleep is less elusive for you.
That’s how it’s done folks! Fall asleep faster with these five natural nap inducers.
*Photo of a famous Sarah Schu power nap in a ridiculously dirty Malaysian guesthouse captured by Saleem Ahmed.
On the first Wednesday of each month we like to pause and take a look at what’s going on in the world around us. We’ll highlight some nature and environmental news, give you a bit of inspiration, and ask you to partake in a monthly sustainability initiative with us.
With all of the snow that’s falling, there’s no doubt that we’re definitely deep in the middle winter, yet the slowly growing days are making it all bearable. Did you join us during January in trying to reduce your salt/chemical use when clearing the snow? Katie spent a boat-load of time shoveling her Colorado driveway. All of that exercise was fueled by her afternoon milkshake habit!
This month we’re excited to share our new challenge as well as a bit of inspiration and some stories that caught our eye in the news.
If you’re reading this at posting time, good morning! Start your day off right with a relaxing series of stretches that are perfect for the morning time. This routine starts in child’s pose, moves to all fours then up into downward facing dog, but don’t stress, you’ll be back down on the mat in no time. Start each day by adding length to your spine, stretching out those hips and quads, and opening your chest and shoulders, you’ll be happy you did and it will take less than fifteen minutes. This whole routine is meant to be a casual flow so once you’re familiar with the poses, move in and out of positions with fluidity.
Each Friday we share some tidbits from our week. We want to break down these internet barriers and invite you into our lives and we’re hoping you’ll do the same. You are welcome to share a bit of your week or day in the comments, or if they’re better represented by a photo, tag us on instagram @liveseasoned
Katie here :
I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve checkin in on a Friday (thanks for keeping this ship afloat, Sarah!). This is our second full week at home and it felt so nice. We’ve found our rhythm with plenty of park visits, friend time, and family time (popsicle time!). I feel so lucky that I made it to two yoga classes this week! And when everyone is tucked in and the house is quiet, my thoughts turn to all of the great things that I’m hoping to do this fall, which includes planning Christmas gifts! Did I speak too soon? Don’t worry, I haven’t done anything other than think.
Sarah here :
Last week, I gave you a peek into my days at the 200 hour yoga teacher training in Pokhara, Nepal. I’ve just completed day ten and holy heck am I exhausted! I actually skipped yoga philosophy and yoga nidra today (my first time playing hooky!) so that I could take a much needed four-hour nap. I woke up feeling refreshed and excited about the rest of the day so let’s hope that little bit of energy carries me through the rest of the week. Tonight I’m trying to be in bed by 9pm instead of my usually 11pm. Besides lack of sleep, everything else is going well. I’m a bit better at chanting sanskrit mantras and holding handstands (against the wall) than I was last week. The daily meditation practices keep getting better and better and I can’t wait until I have some time back in the states to share in detail all of the beautiful things we’ve been working on here.
I also met some really great girls that I’ll be hiking the Annapurna Circuit with once our teacher training wraps up in October. I can’t wait to hike around majestic peaks with my giggling yoga ladies. I have a feeling this winter back in the U.S. will feel a little dull after all these adventures are over. What do you have planned for the weekend? Some hiking or cooking, or flying somewhere? Remember that it’s Clean Up The World Weekend!
Take a look inside Rishikul Yogshala’s 200 hour yoga teacher training in Pokhara, Nepal.
Sarah here :
Today marks my fourth full day of yoga teacher training in Pokhara, Nepal. Only one more day and then I have a whole half day to myself on Sunday! Because we’re squeezing a 200 hour training into 28 days, the schedule is absolutely packed. I thought it would be fun to share it here to give you an idea of what I’ve been up to the past week.
6:15-7:15 Meditation – Today the theme was self love. It was so amazing.
So that’s that. Lots of learning, practicing and tea all day long. Each teacher is inspiring and full of knowledge. I feel extremely lucky to be here and that feeling carries me through the long days. If you’re wondering how we fill three and a half hours of asana practice, just imagine holding each pose for an excruciating amount of time and then repeating that four or five times. As much as I hate holding wheel for ten breaths, it’s kind of nice to go into each pose slowly with so much detailed instruction. Today we worked on handstands and arm balances in the morning and in the afternoon so. many. down. dogs.
I’m pretty sore, but as of today, I can honestly say I’m having the best time of my life. The days are long, but they’re powerful and magical and I cannot say enough wonderful things about my teachers. Each and every session I am reminded why I chose to train in the east with Indian teachers, my new yoga family. I can’t wait to share more about this trip, if you have any questions, just ask!
Ohhhh lower back pain and pressure. How many times have I groaned, moaned and cursed at you? In fact, here I sit, back throbbing and hips aching, worrying about my future. I have to admit, I don’t stretch or do yoga each day like I should and it’s evident in the way I feel when I lay down at night. While these eight bedtime stretches are not a cure for lower back pain they help sooo much! Instant relief. My tightly, tangled ball of rubberbandy back muscles relax into alignment and allow some comfort before bed. If you’re in the same back pressure out your ass predicament, go stretch out!