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The beauty of yoga is that it requires no equipment. A mat, yoga clothes, and props are only necessary when you're doing yoga on a hard floor - like in a studio. In reality, you can do yoga anywhere, at any time. On a hike. Before a bike ride. Morning stretches in bed. No matter how you practice, lack of equipment should never be the inhibitor.
Yoga is often thought of as an in-studio, mat-out class. But, that's not the true definition of yoga. Yoga is about reconnecting and driving breath through the present. This you can practice at any time and with anyone. To me, there's no better way to practice than on vacation.
Redefining Our Definition of Yoga
Breathing drives yoga. While many think yoga is twisting into confusing poses, it's true focus actually lies on breath control. We learn through the poses how to breathe in times of tension. This is why you may hold poses in class for extended periods of time. Even the simplest of poses, like mountain or child's pose, can feel completely different if you're holding them for a few minutes. Being able to breath through it all is the key lesson we can take out of a yoga class. And this, we can take anywhere.
Bringing Yoga Out of the Classroom
Yoga does not require going to class once a week. This is great if you are looking for the physical benefits - strengthening muscles, stretching, getting a low-impact workout. But, for most yogis, the reality of yoga comes when you cannot differentiate the yoga you practice on the mat with the yoga you bring into every day life.
When this essence of yoga starts to resonate with you, it becomes a tool for daily life. Yoga transforms from a class on a mat to a lifestyle. We learn to live with purpose and recognize what's in front of us.
The best way to get connected to the present is to focus on breathing. This is why you may have been told to 'take a breather' to relax. Breathing brings you back to the present. It helps you focus on the task at hand. Sometimes, our lifestyles can become overwhelming; juggling family, work, and friends. We feel as if we've lost control and are simply going through the motions. Taking a breath, or a pause from your daily routine, is healthy for both your mental and physical wellbeing.
Taking a Breath from Everyday Life
In the U.S, over 40 percent of American's don't use their vacation days, and only 25 percent use all of their vacation time. Taking a vacation does not mean you have to catch a flight out of the country, driving all day, or spend an abhorrent amount of money. For me, a driving north to Door County is just the vacation I need to take a breath and reconnect with myself.
Vacations are like breaths, a pause from the usual, something refreshing, and vital for our wellbeing. A weekend in Door County can be just long enough to bring upon this renewal. In our stressed-out, vacation-lacking society, scheduling easier, relaxing vacations can be the breather that we need.
Yoga As Part of Your Self
Learning how to bring yoga into the things you already do during the day is the most effective way to bring the sense of presence to your self. Mindfulness is about being aware of your actions and surroundings, and enjoying what's happening. There's no better way to practice mindfulness than on vacation with family and friends, situations where you want to enjoy the time spent with others and the activities you're doing. I've talked about ingraining yoga into mini-sessions during your day before, this is another way to incorporate yoga effortlessly into your trip to Door County.
Mindfulness in Nature
Rain or shine, it's easy to be attracted to spending time outdoors in Door County. Numerous state parks, beautiful country roads, lake and bayside waterscapes, and lush views each season - it takes one peek out the window or step out the door to be able to realize the beauty of the landscape making up the peninsula. This makes it a perfect place to stretch out in a few yoga poses. Feel the grounding of trees, the movement of waves, the connectedness of grains of sand on the beach. When you find inspiration, strike a pose. Let yourself connect inward, feeling your breath. Walk with purpose through the woods or along the lakeside. Feel the Earth with each step. Incorporate all your senses.
Connecting to nature in this regard is becoming recognized as a legitimate form of therapy. Woods, or nature, therapy is recommended to people who become overwhelmed with work and commitments. It may sound obvious, but few of us give ourselves permission to enjoy nature. To spend long periods of time outside playing. It’s natural for kids, but as adults we lose sight of the playfulness we could use to keep us more calm and connected.
So, stand on those tree stumps, hop over roots in the trail, feel the bark on the tree, smell the freshly bloomed blossoms. Interact with the world around you and use your body and senses to experience it in full.
Yoga for the Rest of Us
Pulling the lessons out of yoga classes and ingraining them into your everyday life is the most rewarding yoga practice. Taking time away on vacation in Door County is an excellent way to try bringing presence into your life. What better place to practice than when you're surrounded by inspiring nature and people you care about.
Take a breath, come to the present, and fully enjoy your time in Door County.
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