What to Pack: 10 Suggestions for Yogic Travel

As you can probably already tell, I have done a lot of traveling this summer (and there’s more to come – it’s only July!). I am preparing to stay put for a whole year (something entirely new!) when I settle in Portland, OR to do AmeriCorps (though I might travel to LA to finish up my Laughing Lotus trainings…I can’t help myself!). Anyways,

In June, I traveled to:

Chicago

Rome

Florence

Venice

Nantucket

In July and August, I will go to:

Brunswick, Maine

Washington, D.C.

San Francisco

Portland, Oregon


Some of these trips (D.C., SF, and PDX) are what I am privileged to refer to as professional trips, or yogi travel – I am going to D.C. to chill with my WesBAM! co-founder and finally meet in person a writer and yoga teacher I have been following virtually for years. SF is for this Laughing Lotus teacher training I couldn’t be looking forward to more (!!!). And Portland, well, there’s are many a yoga reason why I chose that city in particular to live for a year (cue Portlandia theme song).

But I digress. This summer and throughout the past five years, to be honest, I have learned a lot about what it means to prepare for travel and to pack a bag with the specific purpose of having a calm, cool, collected and yogic travel experience.

via Lululemon.com

via Lululemon.com

1. BackpackI call this Lululemon backpack, which I’ve been using relentlessly for years my “stupid bag” because the labels on the interiors of the pockets actually assume that I am an idiot. There are labels and pockets for: my yoga mat, keys, wallet, passport, wet/dry clothes from hot yoga (literally; this part is mesh), pens, iPad, laptop, and three spaces in total so it’s like 3+ carriers in one. It’s a bag and a detailed packing list all in one!

via ThisNext.com

via ThisNext.com

2. SuitcaseThis carry-on Athleta colorful bag also has a yoga mat holder, extra pockets, and a toiletry case inside. It’s super cute and durable and perfect for packing all clothing in (all non-clothing items then go in the Lulu backpack).

via Switched.com

via Switched.com

3. iPhone w/ AppsMantraMinder, MindBody, Kindle for iPhone, Ashtanga Yoga Journal (a checklist for your daily practice), and Moon Free are all great apps to have on hand for serene traveling.

via KimberlyWilson.com

via KimberlyWilson.com

4. PodcastsNothing says torture like waiting on a huge line at customs, baggage claim, or security. Also, flight delays. It’s times like those, which require some kind of external mental stimulation. Podcasts can do the trick and my favorite are Tranquility du Jour podcasts. During them, Kimberly Wilson, yoga teacher and writer from D.C. who I’m workshopping with, interviews yoga teachers and yoga experts from around the world.

bitch_41_web1 url Bust

5. MagazinesThey’re what airports are famous for, but I prefer to buy mine ahead of time at Whole Foods because airports don’t tend to carry yoga magazines beside Yoga Journal. My favorites are BUST, Bitch, and Mantra Mag.

6. Yoga OutfitPack your favorite yoga outfit (the Sweaty Betty above is a brand from the UK that opened up a store in SoHo. Though the photos might not show it, I swear that their clothes are AMAZING for yoga ladies with hips and an ass; there, complete outfits are not at all hard to find!). One that you won’t mind wearing, getting dirty, and then wearing again (if you have sweat-absorbing items, pack those!).

7. Lightweight Yoga MatI could not recommend the Manduka EkoLite more; I’ve been using it for a daily practice for years now.

8. AccessoriesPack that headband, hair ties, Satya jewelery

image via notebookstories.com

9. JournalA necessity. My favorite are the regular-sized Moleskines with graph paper because they’re good for sketching on the go as well. Also, the best time to journal tends to be immediately after a yoga class when all those Shakti Second Chakra juices are already flowing.

10. Travel-Sized ToiletriesLike a journal, these are a necessity and include travel-sized versions of your fave hair products and deodorant. No further explanation needed.

Inspiration Refuel: Yoga + Writing w/ Kimberly Wilson

20140727-095221-35541473.jpgI am sure I could write an entire novel on my two and a half hours spent at Tranquil Space on Friday evening, at Kimberly Wilson’s Yoga + Writing Workshop. Actually I will use a lot of what I learned at that workshop to write a novel in November, but that’s perhaps besides the point for now.

What I will instead share as the headline of this blog post is one particular highlighted quote that Kimberly shared with us:

You are like a teacup; yours has to be full and overflowing to give to others.

Life, I am learning, is a constant give and receive. When I was in college, finding the balance between the two was like a beautiful dance – give inspiration in my yoga classes just 2-4 times a week and give knowledge through tutoring and teaching kids. Then, during the daytime, I was constantly receiving inspiration and knowledge through the luxury of time, lecture halls and resources college students are afforded…all at their fingertips! I particularly noticed (and realized this on Friday when Kimberly read the above quote) that my cup especially overflowed during my last semester when I had so much…time. Time is one or our most valuable, delicate and most-used resources. Right alongside water, we need it to both replenish and sustain us, regardless of what it is we want to practice or accomplish.

Anyways, my last semester afforded me a lot of this resource. I taught a lot and my classes were better than ever because I had time to nourish my own student (a necessity as a teacher). I swapped out academic courses for yoga teacher trainings as I partially enrolled in my university to just work in my thesis. The quality of my thesis surpassed what I thought was possible because I gave it room to breath…soft edges. I had PROJECTS, and projects in the midst of the “mundane” of everyday life require both giving and receiving and are above all nourishing to the soul.

Now, that I am out of college and working as both a summer school/camp teacher and yoga instructor, this balance has been thrown off course. But the best part of finding balance over and over again – and the worst part about being out of balance in the first place – is that it blindsides us, takes us by surprise. It is just as hard to tell when we are out of balance as it is when we find it again. But yesterday, as I sat first at a mind-blowingly amazing professional development lecture on accelerating programs for youth, and then more so later as I sat on the floor of the “lab” at Tranquil Space, a place I have only read about for three years, I felt like I was receiving for the first time all week (a week of giving and teaching that left me feeling a bit depleted).

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As I sat on the meditation cushion, my Tranquility du Jour daybook, journal, idea book and with Kimberly’s workshop worksheet out in front of me, I felt piercingly present. When I am inspired, you see, I am catapulted into the present mOMent. It was a glimpse into understanding Kimberly’s whole way of life, as summarized by the quote she read.

How does she have the time?? I often wonder when reading her blog and the Week in Review posts. But through meeting her in person, I understood; she has time to give (and give so wholeheartedly and such a prepared, professional and darling way) because she takes time for herself. She talked of books she read and retreats she recently went on…and only then did she talk of the books she wrote and retreats she is about to lead. It goes along with another gem she shared with us – if you want to write you have to read.

If you want to teach, you have to be taught. If you want to inspire others, you have to be inspired.

And so the dance continues.

Namaste,
Shira

Confessional

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photo by rosy

me under a structural “confessional” the architecture class at my school built w/ a friend who swears that i was confessing to that romper being my most prized possession…

I have a confession: when I was younger (and I am only 22 so I am one of the lucky ones), I dealt with my stress in unhealthy ways (if you would like more details as to what that means as well as some other solutions I have found on the way, please feel free to message me privately). So, for me, a large part of growing up on OM has been the seeking and practicing of HEALTHY ways to deal with stress. This pursuit of health in the midst of a bustling, busy, abundant and REAL life is not always easy. I am forced to confront my dear enemy indecision on the daily to determine what exactly is self-love in any given circumstance. And let me tell you: not only is there no one right answer, but the same situation might call for a different answer depending on what the day has in store for us. It is all very confusing, no?

Well, I would now like to make you even more confused, though perhaps more hopeful too, more rejuvenated, more committed to health for the masses and not just people who work full time in this fairyland (cooky theme park) of an industry.

I present to you…

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photo by renee g

  • practice yoga
  • go for a run
  • go on a bike ride
  • call up a friend who only talks about “frivolous” things
  • call up a friend who has no idea what made you stressed in the first place
  • have sex
  • give yourself some love if ya know what i mean
  • make out with someone
  • go out dancing
  • dance naked in your room with the headphones blasting Spice Girls into your ears (your own personal silent rave)
  • teach someone something new and that they want to learn
  • call someone and ask them how you’re doing
  • abstain from talking about yourself
  • or, vent to someone who doesn’t mind hearing it
  • get some froyo with a friend
  • go to the movies
  • read a novel
  • write in your journal
  • scream into a pillow
  • cry
  • re-watch the notebook
  • find something that makes you laugh uncontrollably. And laugh uncontrollably.
  • go to happy hour someplace new with good friends
  • catch up with an old friend
  • meditate
  • BREATHE
  • write a gratitude list
  • do some twists
  • plan a trip (plan to escape the stress, but you have to go through it first)
  • write poetry
  • make lists
  • make a “not to do” list
  • drink extra water
  • make a cup of bengal spice tea
  • listen to a podcast
  • sing in the shower
  • chant/repeat a mantra
  • start your day over

This list is by no means exhaustive so…What do you have to add? Answer in comments!

On Shakti

I don’t remember much from high school science, but I do remember this one concept from 11th grade physics and being utterly entranced by it: the concept of kinetic and potential energy.

Six years later, I am on the R train heading to work. It is 8:27am and I am reading Be Love Now by Ram Dass. Ram Dass writes of Tantra and Shakti. He refers to this powerful force as “the intersection of physical and spiritual energy” (Ram Dass, 97). He called it “food for enlightenment,” as every experience contains material and spiritual components that bring us closer to our most purposeful selves. I am beginning to see Shakti and Potential Energy as one in the same. When I start the day off at 6:45am and roll out my mat to work on my variations of the Ashtanga Primary Series, I cultivate Shakti for the rest of my day, for teaching a bunch of 8th and 9th graders, for interacting with others, and for showing up with the maximum amount of Potential Energy to transform potential into a present reality.

So now I ask you: How are you cultivating your Potential Energy, your Shakti, today?

Happy Monday!

Xo, Shira

Give Every Day a Soundtrack: 5 Simple Steps

Pretend your life is a movie. (Stay with me here.) Everything, from what you wear in the morning to the restaurants you choose for dinner with friends, is chosen with intention, precision, and integrity. Now, close your eyes, open your ears, and imagine what music plays in the background for each part of your day to reflect the multiple intentions each day possesses. Done with that silent meditation? Good! Now, open up Spotify, iTunes or whatever playlist-making software you like and let’s get to business!

1. Look at the day ahead. What do you have going on? What is the “theme” of your day? Romance? Love songs. Lots of work? “Hard Day’s Night” and “Long Day” are good ones to choose from.

2. Think of the mood (in Sanskrit, this is called the bhava) you want to cultivate. Happiness? Mellow? Calm? Energized? Productive? Choose music with beats and tempos that match those moods best.

3. Who is in your day? Family? Friends? Lovers? What songs remind you of them?

4. Sequence the toons based on times of day: slower as you wake up, faster as you prepare for the day, even faster as you power through that mid-afternoon slump, and mellow before bed. But you know where your energy lies at different parts of the day best…so follow that!

5. If you’re feeling super savvy, create the playlist on Spotify and power up/pranify (energize) your practice with it for the rest of the day.