Living The Tao of Pooh

“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.”

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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 an actual accepted 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.

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Yoga Teacher Training Packing List

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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.

Yoga Teacher Training / Retreat Packing List:

  • Yoga mat
  • Drink bottle
  • Hand towel
  • Full sized towel / yoga towel if you use one
  • Light blanket or sarong (this is really more of a travel in general must, but it’s very useful if your retreat is going to incorporate Yoga nidra or if you get cold during savasana.)
  • A few yoga outfits – whatever that means to you.
  • Slip on shoes – flip flops or something similar since you’ll be slipping in and out of your shoes each time you enter the studio.
  • A notebook and pen
  • 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.
  • A snack to quell hunger at inconvenient times. I usually take raw pine nuts, almonds or walnuts or a box of these fig bars.

Things To Leave At Home:

  • Expectations
  • Extra Work (including your blog, sorry!)
  • Social Media & Your Love of Wifi

That rounds out the essentials. Here’s the complete Yoga Teacher Training Packing List that I used specifically for the Rishikul Yogshala 200hr YTT in Pokhara, Nepal.

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If you are contemplating a yoga teacher training, I highly recommend Rishikul Yogshala.

*This post contains affiliate links, but don’t worry, I only link to products I currently use and love.
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5 ways to go the f to sleep

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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.
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Welcome February

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.

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Easing Into Yoga : A Relaxing Morning Stretch Series

Want more yoga and exercise? Become a woods warrior, try this lower body workout, then end the day with bedtime stretches that relieve lower back pain. Check out my 200hour yoga teacher training experience and read about the school I attended here.

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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.

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Two Bits

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 :

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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 :

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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!

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Rishikul Yogshala Yoga Teacher Training Schedule

Take a look inside Rishikul Yogshala’s 200 hour yoga teacher training in Pokhara, Nepal.liveseasoned_fall_nepal yoga teacher training7

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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.

  • 5-5:30AM Morning Tea
  • 5:30-7 Hatha Yoga
  • 7-7:15 Tea Break
  • 7:15-8:15 Pranayama aka breath work
  • 8:15-9 Yoga Nidra
  • 9-10:30 Breakfast
  • 10:30-11:45 Yoga Philosophy
  • 11:45-noon Tea Break
  • noon-1PM Mantra Yoga aka chanting sanskrit
  • 1:15-3 Lunch & Rest aka Lunch and shopping at my new favorite store
  • 3-4 Yoga Anatomy
  • 4-6 Ashtanga Yoga
  • 6:15-7:15 Meditation – Today the theme was self love. It was so amazing.
  • 7:30-8:30 Dinner

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!

 

 

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Bedtime Stretches To Relieve Lower Back Pain

Want more yoga and exercise? Become a woods warrior, try this lower body workout, then end the day with bedtime stretches that relieve lower back pain. Check out my 200hour yoga teacher training experience and read about the school I attended here.

liveseasoned_sp15_BedtimeBackYoga-19 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!

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How To: Save for Travel

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Hey travel bugs!  I’m extremely amped to write this post full of tips about saving money for travel because I’m in the midst of a big savings year right meow!  I have a huge trip planned for the end of 2015 and if I want to make it a reality I need to keep it at the forefront of my consciousness.  For me, a big part of successful savings starts with being mindful of it.  If I’m always thinking about the trip and being frugal, I’m much more likely to skip the little extras: the cup of coffee, the random tank top, the $4 bar of delicious dark chocolate, you get the picture.  This post applies to any big ticket item you want to save for not just a trip.  Maybe you want to splurge and get a fancy new DSLR (and by you I mean me), or pay off a huge chunk of student loans, or put aside money for your snazzy wedding, whatever you’re planning, you can save for it and these tips can help you!

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Step One: Estimate Your Travel Costs

First things first.  How much do you actually need to save? I get questions like this all the time: ‘how much should I save for a cross country road trip’ or ‘how much do you think I need for two weeks in Brazil’ and at first these questions seem unanswerable, but in truth, they’re pretty easy requests and they can be worked out with a pen, paper and a tiny bit of research. The short of it: what I need for a cross country road trip is probably not what you need for a cross country road trip. Why? Because we all have different lifestyles and ways of traveling.  That’s why it’s important for YOU to estimate your own travel costs and don’t worry, it’s not as intimidating as it sounds.

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SUP – Stand Up Paddle-boarding

Have you tried stand up paddle-boarding (SUP) or know anyone who owns a board?  I’ve noticed more and more stand up paddleboards popping up in magazines over the past few years, usually mentioned by a fit celebrity or cited as a workout.  I had no idea there was a magazine specifically dedicated to SUP and it wasn’t until last year that I saw one with my own two eyes.  I was eating dinner at a restaurant in Seattle and out on the calm water a couple was watching the sunset from their SUP.  I was so envious!  If you’ve ever watched the sunset over the water you know what an amazing view it is, now imagine being on the water while it’s setting. Breathtaking.  Apparently I’m not the only newbie to SUP.  According to the 2013 Outdoor Participation Report, “Stand up paddling had the highest number of new participants in the past year. More than half of stand up paddling participants tried the sport for the first time in 2012.”

Even though I had a lot of interest in SUP, I didn’t get the chance to try it for myself until this past weekend.  My local outdoors store, Townsend Bertram & CO, hosted an event along with BIC (yep, the same people that run the pen game have a big hand in water board sporting equipment) to introduce SUP to those of us who have never tried it.  There’s a large number of lakes and rivers in NC, not to mention the Outer Banks area, so what better place to entice people to get into SUP? At least that’s what I thought when I signed up for the free event.

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K and I headed to the lake on full hoagie-bellies (that’s sub-bellies to you [katie here: haha, Calder and I argue about this all of the time, thanks for the data!])  excited to try something new.  Once we checked-in we were assigned a number.  The friendly folks at Townsend Bertram & CO would periodically call out numbers, which was the cue to step on down to the waterside.  First the paddle was adjusted for height.  You raise your arm straight up into the air, but let your wrist hang limp.  The top of the paddle handle should just touch your palm.  Then the instructors picked a board depending on our height, weight and intended use.  There are different boards for racing, yoga, surfing and just plain paddling around.  K and I both tried standard boards the first time out.  He was on a 10’6” while I was on a 10’4”.  I wasn’t that nervous about the whole thing, but I think K thought it was going to be harder than it was.  I only saw one person out of 70 fall the entire day!  You simply wade out into the water, hoist yourself onto the board and then kneel in the center of it.  After you feel comfortable kneeling and paddling you can stand up and off you go.  K liked it so much that he went out a second time on a slim racing board.

Before I tried SUP I was excited about the idea, but thought it was a bit redundant since I already owned a kayak. Once I was on the board, I fell in love! It’s much different from kayaking and maybe it seems selfish, but I want one of these too.  Unlike kayaking, you’re much higher than the surface of the water so you’re able to see farther.  As a photographer, I really like that about SUP. I also like that you can easily see where you’re going.  Instead of just paddling blindly through the water, the more detailed view allows you to anticipate different currents, depths and passages.  I also love that SUP works your core and more of your upper body than the kayak.  I tire very easily in my kayak because I have a relatively weak chest and shoulders, but my core is solid, which made SUP less challenging and more enjoyable for me.  You can also hop off your SUP when waters get rough and choppy as opposed to flipping over in a kayak, which scares a lot of folks.

I love that SUP doubles as a surfboard and for that matter triples as a floating yoga mat!  You know the Seasoned sisters love yoga and if you don’t, we tried to tell you here and here.  At the event on Sunday I also ran into Allison from LYFSUP. In short, LYFSUP is dedicated to building the SUP community around Jordan Lake and in Chapel Hill, NC and beyond, and they are dedicated to protecting water & natural resources, donating a percentage of their profits to the cause.  Allison has an impressive background in surfing and SUP so it’s no wonder she’s committed to bringing it to the area.  LYFSUP offers  SUP yoga classes, which is what I had the chance to see on Sunday at the lake.  Allison and her stepdaughter Haley went out on the water and demonstrated a mini yoga flow for me!  It looked so relaxing and at the same time more challenging and complex than yoga on solid ground.  After watching the ladies practice side plank, chair, down dog and sun salutations out on the lake, I started calculating a budget to see how quickly I could buy a board!  My family has a home in Virginia, just a few yards from the water, so I could already envision switching my daily yoga practice to SUP yoga.  Imagine how tranquil and relaxing it must be to practice while gently floating along *sigh*.  In the meantime I’ll take a couple of Allison’s SUP yoga classes and hopefully by next year a board will be mine.

I do think the boards are a little bit pricey, but that may be because I’m used to buying boats and equipment with more to it.  Since SUP is a newer concept to me, I think I’m having a hard time justifying such an expensive purchase on just a board (even though I know it’s so much more than that!).  Like I said, it really is a SUP, surf board and yoga mat all in one.  The boards I used on Sunday were top-of-the-line, but I did find some for as low as $600 and even $400, but I can’t attest to the quality.  The ones I saw Allison of LYFSUP using were even more impressive and perfect for practicing yoga so I’m excited to get the opportunity to try one out for myself during her class (the board and anchor rental is only $5 extra).  After perusing the internet and seeing so.many.options. I think it would be a good idea to rent several different kinds and really get a feel for the type of board that’s right for you.  In my family, we often split recreational purchases like this, making it extra important to research the boards to find one board that can fit everyone in the family.

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If you are new to SUP like myself, you should do a quick google search and see if any sporting good stores, outlets or parks in your area rent out boards.  I was surprised to find out that there are several rental venues in my area and near the Outer Banks too.  It’s a great way to explore, and who doesn’t love a new adventure?

I feel like I’ve become mildly obsessed with SUP in a matter of a few days.  I promise this post isn’t sponsored by anyone (although I wish it was, helllllo free SUP).  I tend to bounce around from one expensive hobby (backpacking to rock climbing and always photography) to the next so I’m really trying to reign myself in on this one.  I can already see myself buying a board during end-of-the-summer clearance sales.  So be it.  All the better to photograph the sunset with, am I right? [katie again : you have me convinced!]

If any of you are in my area, Chapel Hill, NC, let’s take a SUP yoga class together!  I’m doing it either way so why not join me?  Back to daydreaming about SUP in tropical locations for me…

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