Three Surprise Benefits of a Yoga Retreat

This is it! After a year of planning, my upcoming Know Thyself: Odyssey to Delphi Yoga Retreat is finally here! 

Why are yoga retreats so popular?

Everyone attends for different reasons, but after hosting seven international yoga retreats in as many years, allow me to offer insight on three awesome and unexpected gains you'll receive:  

A New Kind of Freedom:

Aladdin was on to something when he scooped up the princess and whisked her away on that magic carpet!

The senses require fresh stimuli in order to produce new ideas, feelings, and solutions. Same input = same output.

The first image of the earth from space changed the world forever becasue it provided a bigger picture of humankind, possibility, potential, and awareness. (Google overview effect or earth rise for more on this.)

On a smaller scale, a yoga retreat can do this same thing.

I've yet to find a magic carpet and really, how many of us will ever make it to...

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Still hungry? Yoga, TCM, and the 5 Tastes

Food and nutrition is a spicy topic in wellness.

And it should be, right? Nourishing the body has many meanings and we can’t ignore that what we put into our mouths effects our energy level, weight, mood, sleep, digestion, and overall health.

We all have strong opinions about what to eat, how to eat, and when to eat.

An insight from yoga practice is the realization that we are energetic beings and that everything we do, from what we eat, to what we think, to how we move and behave, either nourishes this energy or depletes it. We glean a new understanding that "we are what we eat" and begin to subconsciously shift food and lifestyle decisions. 

TCM's 5 tastes can guide those choices. 

According to this ancient wisdom, incorporating all 5 tastes (which correspond with the 5 Elements) into a meal satiates the palette, regulates emotions, strengthens the internal organs, aids digestion, and improves immune function.

The 5 tastes are:...
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Balance Your Earth Element to Release Worry, Embrace Change, and Cultivate Intuition

Challenges.

Everyone faces them. Some are happily avoidable, others succeed in temping you to dive in head first, eager to greet them.

Any single challenge can be perceived either as an opportunity or an obstacle depending on your point of view. Which will you choose?  

As I introduced in last week’s blog, late summer ushers in the season associated with the Earth Element in Taoist practice and TCM, and this particular Element's attributes make right now prime time for a self-imposed challenge of opportunity.

  • Emotionally, the Earth Element manifests in anxious worry and resistance to change when out of balance.
  • In balance, it supports fosters trust, honesty, forethought through learned knowledge, stability, loyalty, comfort, and intuition.

Use a challenge to tap into these positive attributes and align your own energy with the seasonal flow.

Craving one last summer fling, like an end of season...

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Are You In Your Element? Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, Wood

Eastern Taoist Philosophy categorizes everything we are, everything we do, and the world around us, into one of the 5 Chinese Elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal or Water. 

(Why these are different from the Ayurvedic Elements is a topic for another time.)

Seasonally, we have just transitioned from the Fire Element of early summer, into the Earth Element of late summer.

  • In a life cycle, this Element corresponds to the ages of 33 to 58 years old.
  • Earth is a building element. It’s literally a time to get your hands dirty and create what you desire through steady, long-term focus. 
  • The Earth Element is the time to invest in your health, relationships, career, and finances. 
  • Characterized by weighty life decisions, entry into the Earth Element may be marked by marriage, divorce, breakups, promotions, starting a business, a physical move to a new place, sobriety, starting a family, going back to school/graduating, or purchasing...
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Yoga Off the Mat and Off on Vacation ☀️

Have you ever heard that you enjoy your vacation the most 3 days before you actually leave?

My mentor shared this idea with me recently, although I’m not sure where he heard it…

He explained that the joy of anticipation culminates three days before departure, and that the actual experience never lives up to the mind’s vision.

I argued that if this is true, then we all need to upgrade our vacay mojo!

However, this week I find myself exactly one month out before I leave for my 3 week Greek adventure and my excitement feels ready to bubble over the top!

(One of those weeks will be spent with those of you joining us on our epic Odyssey to Delphi Retreat Sept 1 - 8!)

I actually considered packing today. Packing, unpacking, and repacking thrills me for weeks in advance of a trip because it draws out the joy! So maybe there is a touch of truth in this 3 day anticipation culmination idea…!

Here are my favorite ways to stay connected...

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Dreams and Dragons: How to Slay the Impossible and Set Your Dreams Free

I had the joy of seeing “The Greatest Showman” Hugh Jackman (also the one and only Wolverine, if that’s more your style!) in his one man show in Philadelphia.

Apart from being totally amazing and entertaining, he shared something profound that I can’t stop thinking about.

He said “every dream has a dragon.”

His dream was to come to Hollywood and be in a movie musical. His dragon was the fact that he was a small boy, half a world away, in a small Australian town…how was he ever going to get to LA and be in showbusiness?

He captured the whole audience with this truth because everyone can relate to this.

Even a smaller scale goal, idea, or desire has a dragon standing guard, making it feel impossible.

Luckily, as I remind my students all the time, impossible things happen in yoga everyday and we can learn from this!

If we let the dragons scare us off, we’d never even get started.   

Here is how to slay the beast:...

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The (Downward) Dog Days of Summer: Home Yoga Sequence

As the summer heat descends and travel season heats up, you may find yourself a little uncomfortable or agitated from being out of your routine.

I thrive on routine yet I love to travel and be new places. Routine helps me feel safe and soothes my anxiety while travel wakes up my creativity and reignites my ability to find adventure in all things - even the familiar when I am back home again. 

Being away from my beloved studio practice does take it toll, physically and emotionally. Luckily, I've been able to team up with First for Women Magazine to offer a series of postures to keep any unwanted summer heat at bay, whether it manifests in the form of stress, stiff, tight muscles from long rides, or anxiety. (And to my diverse readership, this sequences is appropriate for all genders, not only women)

I've listed the sequence in photos below.
Click the link to get the step by instructions directly from the article.

10 Toning Yoga Poses to Help You...

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Mid-Year Reset: Revisit Your Word For The Year.

July 4th fireworks are over and so is the first half of the year.

Do you remember your outlook from January? Did you have a vision for how you hoped the year would unfold?

I’m not big on “resolutions” for the new year, but I do enjoy a “word” for the year. I choose a word that encompasses a feeling I want the year to embody as a whole or a direction I want to move toward. 

A word, instead of a resolution, allows more wiggle room for manifestation.

A clear goal with precise action steps is great, but sometimes tunnel vision of specifics blinds out additional opportunities that can yield the same (or better) results by a different course.

In Sun Tzu’s classic text, The Art of War, he teaches that only a foolish general goes into battle without a plan, but a general who sticks to the plan while in battle is equally foolish.

In a similar sense, I’ve learned that goals and methods are continually in flux and often resources appear...

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The Real Purpose of Letting Go: Reflection and How to

Letting go is a much harder lesson to embrace than holding on.

As a yoga teacher, I see this almost daily, expressed physically in class when the student on the mat is eager and willing to do “more” to deepen the postures: stretch further, kick harder, engage muscles with the dedication of an olympic champion.

But when the pose requires letting go and doing less instead of more, resistance sets in and sometimes even confusion, a lack of understanding for how to do less.

“Doing” embodies a more tangible thought process and effort.

“Letting go,” on the other hand, feels like doing “nothing” and is counter-intuitive. I see students (and myself) experience this as labored breathing, physical pain, and ultimately in reaching and maintaining a plateau in improvement both on and off the mat.

The real purpose of letting go is to allow faster movement toward a goal without outdated mindsets inhibiting the transformation.

Embrace...

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Summertime Self-Discovery: How to

Did you feel it? That shift in energy that came in with the Solstice last week?

It happens every year: Summer bursts in and the power of the season is either harnessed or wasted...

What are your favorite summer activities? I bet you already begin to harness Summer's innate energy. 

Summer's Fire Element makes this the season of the tongue! Talking, connecting, being together in community are all signs of living in harmony with the seasonal energy. 

Here's a quick recap of the three key empowerments Summer brings according to time-tested Taoist wisdom: 
  • Physically: Summer Season marks high tide for the large muscles, and the cardiovascular system, specifically energizing the heart and blood circulation and supercharging the flow of your life-force energy (prana or qi). 

This means you feel more awake, alive, and ready for action, and in command of your physical form.

  • Emotionally: Summer is season of the heart's joy, love, and...
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