18 Tips to Freshen Up Your Yoga Practice

vinyasa-yoga-greece-retreat

What happens when you get bored with your yoga practice? I know that it happens to me. When I fall off the yoga wagon, especially as a yoga teacher, I begin to have feelings of guilt sneak in. Feelings of “I’m not good enough” or “How can I teach yoga if I’m not practicing?” So I want you to know that I’ve been there. I feel your frustration, your dismay, your guilt… I’m here to tell you to “let it go”. I’m not going to tell you to stop practicing, but I will encourage you to let your yoga practice take on a different form. Here are my tried and true tips for getting over your boredom and feeling good about your yoga practice again.

  1. Take class with a different teacher. I might get some flack here from other yoga instructors for saying this, but it’s okay to explore. It’s okay to skip your regular class and drop-in to another teacher’s class. Each teacher has their own style, their own way of cueing, and their own way of formatting their classes…. going to another teacher’s class gets you out of your rut and out of autopilot. You will likely experience different poses (woohoo!) and different benefits and alignment cues that you can bring back to your regular classes. And hell we all suffer from avidya (ignorance), which means that our own teacher can give us the same message every class and we may not be ready for it, so we don’t hear it… well you might be ready for it in another teacher’s class… or they may word it in a way that it is more relatable to you.
  2. Incorporate more pranayama, meditation and chanting. For most of us, myself included, we get stuck in asana land. I love asana land! It’s fun and pretty and challenging, but sometimes we forget about the other parts of yoga like pranayama, meditation, chanting. Learn some new pranayama (kapalabhati, brahmari, sitali, ratio breathing, etc.). Kick start your meditation practice. There are so many meditation resources out their now (including apps that make it ridiculously easy to practice). Or delve into the world of Bhakti and learn a new chant or two.
  3. Go on a retreat. Attending a yoga retreat (or teacher training) is a great way to get your asana in gear! It’s okay to spend a little extra money on YOU, on YOUR development, on YOUR growth. Don’t feel guilty about it. Go on a retreat with your favorite teacher OR one you’ve been following on social media OR be bold and courageous and book with someone you find online in a destination you’ve always wanted to check out (I would recommend doing some homework before you hand over your hard earned cash though).
  4. Try a new-to-you style of yoga. If you always practice Bikram, try vinyasa. If you always practice vinyasa, try yin. Maybe delve into the world of Ashtanga Yoga… why not? Be adventurous in your yoga practice.
  5. Change your environment. If you always practice in a yoga studio head on over to the local gym and try one of their classes. Or find an outdoor class at a local park or lodge. Seek out SUP yoga (yoga on stand up paddleboards)… you’ll get an awesome work out, be challenged in new ways and likely you’ll get wet… at least at your first class.
  6. Schedule up some yoga playtime. Connect with one of your yoga buddies and schedule some time to just play… maybe play with a little Acro yoga or partner poses or help each other work on those inversions and arm balances. Likely you’ll have fun in the process and make/keep a good friend too.
  7. Karma yoga. Okay it’s not asana, but it’s equally important. Find a volunteer gig at a local community center, teach a yoga class for underprivileged kids… even better get your yoga buddies together and do a little karma yoga as a group.
  8. Find another hobby. Eek! I know I said it, but it’s okay to branch out. I would recommend finding another active hobby like mountain biking or tennis… something that gets your body moving. Being active in other ways will make you appreciate your yoga practice that much more… especially when your muscles start to get tight and that range of motion you used to take for granted is gone.
  9. Read a yoga-ish book. I recommend How Yoga Works by Gesne Michael Roach and Christie McNally
  10. Take a trip. Allow yourself to be inspired by giant trees, mountains, lakes and even the hustle and bustle of a new city. Strike a pose and have fun with it. Put your feet in the dirt. Swim out to that tiny island in the lake. Enjoy the sun on your skin.
  11. Get a new mat or yoga leggings. I know, I know. Not very yogic of me, but whatever. Buy yourself something nice. Get a new Manduka mat in a fun color or get those wild and crazy patterned Liquido leggings you’ve been eye-ing forever. Give yourself a little extra incentive to get on your mat.
  12. Change your playlist. Okay this only applies if you practice at home, but music can have a huge impact on your practice and your mental state.
  13. Sign up for one of the online yoga class platforms. Create a home practice, try new teachers, practice when it works for you. Love it.
  14. Join a social media yoga challenge. A fun way to connect with other yogis, see new postures and new variations of familiar postures. Have fun with it.
  15. Focus on a specific body part or type of pose. Perhaps strengthening or lengthening the hamstrings. Focus on backbends or inversions. Perhaps focus on opening up your hips. You get the picture. Give yourself something to explore and also something to work toward.
  16. Schedule up a yoga and wine night with your friends. Why not? Yoga doesn’t have to be in the studio to be wonderful. Take turns teaching and follow it up with a glass or two of wine and some snacks.
  17. Practice shorter practices. Set a timer and allow yourself to be present on your mat for 5, 10, 20 minutes. Keep it simple so you don’t get discouraged.
  18. Go on a weekend yoga getaway. There are so many options these days. Go to a festival, conference, workshop or retreat in a different city or state. You’ll have the opportunity to get your practice back on track, explore a new place and make new yoga friends.

 

You don’t need to be perfect. You don’t need to practice 5 times a week. It’s okay to be inspired by other things. Your practice will always be with you. Know that your practice doesn’t need to look like everyone else’s practice. Remember it is YOUR PRACTICE. It is yours and yours alone AND it is a practice. Don’t beat up on yourself. Dig deep find that inner fire. It’s there. We will see you on your mat when you’re ready.

Yogis do you have any other tips or tricks you use when you get bored with your yoga practice? I’d love to hear them.

 

Love and Light,

Autumn

Autumn Adams
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Autumn Adams

Owner, Founder, & Retreat Leader at Ambuja Yoga
Autumn founded Ambuja Yoga in 2014 to share her love of adventure, yoga, and travel with her fellow yogis. Ambuja Yoga has morphed into more than she could have ever dreamed and she is thrilled to have a "job" she loves. She is forever grateful for the opportunity to facilitate personal growth and self love through yoga while taking yogis to off-the-beaten-path destinations worldwide. Follow Autumn on Instagram @autumnadamsyoga.
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DIY Yoga Mat Cleaner

Hey yogis,

Kiss that skunky gym mat goodbye! Toss this nice smelling DIY yoga mat cleaner into your gym bag or yoga bag and you’ll never have to smell a stinky yoga mat again… unless it’s REALLY bad. A clean mat will not only last longer, but it will also keep you from getting sick or getting a fungal, bacterial or viral skin infection. I like the DIY version because I can play with the scents and have one for my morning practice and one for my evening practice… think citrus (energizing) vs. lavender (calming). Creating your own yoga mat cleaner from natural ingredients makes it that much easier to maintain a sattvic (pure) lifestyle, beginning to incorporate the principles of sattva into our daily routines (diet, behavior, products we use).

Here is my DIY yoga mat cleaner recipe. Happy cleaning!

body-spray-mat-spray

Ingredients for DIY yoga mat cleaner:

  • Spray bottle
  • Tea tree essential oil
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Witch Hazel or distilled white vinegar
  • Water

Instructions for DIY yoga mat cleaner:

  1. This recipe will be in proportions, since your spray bottle will likely be a different size than the ones that I use.
  2. Fill your spray bottle about 3/4 way with water. Remaining 1/4 with witch hazel or distilled white vinegar.
  3. Add 15 or so drops of tea tree essential oil and 10 or so of your second oil. Feel free to adjust the amounts and remember a little goes along way, so if you’re working with a smaller spray bottle start with fewer drops.
  4. Seal it, shake it up, and toss it in your mat bag with an old wash cloth and you’re good to go.

Why tea tree essential oil? Tea tree oil (melaleuca) is an intense anti-fungal and antimicrobial.

Why lavender essential oil? Lavender is a natural antiseptic and antimicrobial. Lavender is also calming and great for those with sensitive skin.

Don’t like lavender? Try lemongrass, clove bud, eucalyptus, lemon, myrhh, geranium, peppermint/spearmint or patchouli.

If you’d rather just buy a yoga mat cleaner here are a couple natural ones that I recommend:

Nama-Sudz Organic Mat Spray

Manduka Mat Wash

Autumn Adams
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Autumn Adams

Owner, Founder, & Retreat Leader at Ambuja Yoga
Autumn founded Ambuja Yoga in 2014 to share her love of adventure, yoga, and travel with her fellow yogis. Ambuja Yoga has morphed into more than she could have ever dreamed and she is thrilled to have a "job" she loves. She is forever grateful for the opportunity to facilitate personal growth and self love through yoga while taking yogis to off-the-beaten-path destinations worldwide. Follow Autumn on Instagram @autumnadamsyoga.
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Quick Tips for Stress Reduction

yoga-meditation-retreat

Stress is so pervasive in today’s world. Just about every person I meet is struggling with stress and stress management. We have so many demands placed on us daily and in our strive for perfection, for climbing to the top we forget to slow down, to get off of our computers and take time for relaxation. Sometimes as a yoga instructor I feel like I’m expected to be perfect, to have my shit together, when really there are some days where I am literally just hanging on by a thread…. just like everyone else. Sometimes I forget to practice what I preach, so maybe that’s why I am writing this blog post. To remind myself that reducing stress can be utterly simple… it’s just a matter of using the tools we’ve been given.

The physiological signs of stress are the same for everyone: increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, and constricts peripheral blood vessels. How it outwardly manifests varies from person to person. Some react to stressful situations with an overexcited stress response characterized by being quick to become fired up or by being quick to express agitation or anger. Others may react with an under-excited stress response characterized by depression or by shutting down in stressful situations. Your “typical” stress response will determine what kind of activities you need to truly reduce stress. Those with overexcited stress responses will need activities that are quieter, while those with under-active stress responses will need more stimulating exercises.

Maintained high levels of stress are associated with all sorts of health problems including, but not limited to: obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and asthma. High levels of stress may also lead to adrenal fatigue, accelerated aging and premature death. If stress management isn’t part of your daily routine now may be the time to start.

The following is a short list of activities for stress management.

  1. Focus on your breath. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath. Become aware of the quality of your breath and the texture of your breath. Begin to lengthen your breath. Inhale for a count of 4 or 5 and exhale for a count of 4 or 5 and allow the breath to deepen without strain. If you find it hard to focus on your breath place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Witness the breath for 3-5 minutes. Notice how you feel afterward.
  2. Move your body. Go for a walk. Practice a few yoga postures (1/2 sun salutations or more) in which you can connect breath with movement.
  3. Get some fresh air. Eat your lunch outside. Leave your phone in the office. Take a walk around the block. Go for a hike/bike ride before or after work.
  4. De-clutter your workspace. Having a clean workspace means you aren’t wasting time shifting things around on your desk. It also means that those pesky tasks that are piling up won’t be staring you in the face.
  5. On the same note. Get organized… perhaps even hire someone to help you become organized. Time management is a huge part of stress management. You’ll be able to spend more time doing the important tasks and less time doing the menial tasks.
  6. Reach out to a calm friend that is also a good listener and enjoy a little face time…. real face time, not the cell phone version.
  7. Make time for meditation. Any type of meditation. There are plenty of apps that you can use if you’d like a guided meditation. Some option are listed here in my meditation blog post. You don’t need to meditate for 20 minutes or an hour. Start with 5 minutes and work from there. Taking just a few minutes a day for quiet meditation is proven to work wonders.
  8. Yoga nidra is another technique that can be used for stress management. There are many recorded classes on YouTube of varying quality and length, I have a downloadable yoga nidra on offer for those that subscribe to my newsletter. You may also find that some of the local yoga studios and wellness centers offer live guided yoga nidras.
  9. Massage. The power of touch is phenomenal. Whether you visit a professional for a massage or give yourself a 5 minute massage you will feel much more relaxed afterward.
  10. Drop into a yoga class. A good class will include plenty of movement, breath work, meditation and also time for rest.

Resources:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/stress-management-approaches-for-preventing-and-reducing-stress

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/basics/stress-basics/hlv-20049495

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-management.htm

37 Stress Management Tips from the Experts

Autumn Adams
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Autumn Adams

Owner, Founder, & Retreat Leader at Ambuja Yoga
Autumn founded Ambuja Yoga in 2014 to share her love of adventure, yoga, and travel with her fellow yogis. Ambuja Yoga has morphed into more than she could have ever dreamed and she is thrilled to have a "job" she loves. She is forever grateful for the opportunity to facilitate personal growth and self love through yoga while taking yogis to off-the-beaten-path destinations worldwide. Follow Autumn on Instagram @autumnadamsyoga.
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Top 5 Restaurants in Ubud

Ubud has the best vegetarian, vegan, raw food I’ve ever come across and they’re all so convenient. I’ve been blessed with multiple opportunities to spend time in Ubud, in fact I will be there this fall leading a yoga retreat in the mountains of central Bali. For those of you that know me well, you know that I am a flexitarian, as in I eat mostly vegetarian, but occasionally splurge for some protein. This is how my body seems to work and feel its best. It is incredibly easy to eat healthy, balanced meals at the many Ubud restaurants catering to yogis and other health conscious travelers.

Ubud Restaurants for Foodies and Health Conscious Travelers

Clear Cafe

There are hundred of restaurants in Ubud… quality Ubud restaurants are almost a dime a dozen, but one of my favorite places to hang out and have a cool drink and a snack is Clear Cafe. The view is incredible, the atmosphere is just right, and the food is delicious. Yes, it is slightly out of town, but only a few minutes by scooter/ojek. The Green Hornet Cooler.. is just that cooling. I couldn’t drink one every day (well I could, but I shouldn’t) this smoothie of sorts is packed with cacao, mint, coconut, cashew mylk and spirulina…woohoo. Their Suki Sushi, raw pizzas, and bamboo rolls are all divine too. Check out their menu.

Jalan Campuhan, Ubud, Kec. Gianyar, Bali
8 a.m.-11 p.m.

Dayu’s Warung

dayus-warung-ubud

Photo from Tripadvisor user Margot H.

Last Autumn when we spent 6 weeks in Bali I may have eaten raw vegan pie every single day…. okay not every day, but definitely more days than not and this little restaurant is why. Not only are their pies out of this world, but their staff is so sweet. Service can be a bit slow at times, but it’s always with a smile and it’s always worth the wait. They’re traditional dishes are great too. I loved their gado-gado, vegetarian mango tempeh curry, vegetarian mie goreng and their nasi campur.

Jalan Sugriwa #28x, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali
8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Ibu Rai’s Bar & Restaurant


best-restaurant-in-ubud

This place is so AMAZING!!! Ibu Rai is one of the most splurge worthy Ubud restaurants. The food is considered pricey by Bali standards, but it is worth every single rupiah (and honestly it’s still half the price of a meal at home). I haven’t had a single bad dish here. The seafood is fantastic, the duck is fantastic, their desserts are spot on. I also appreciate that they have delicious non-alcoholic drinks available that are fancy and fun without a ton of sugar.

Jalan Monkey Forest No. 72, Ubud, Kec. Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
8 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Kafe and Garden Kafe at the Yoga Barn

These restaurants are owned by the same family and have very similar menus. I recommend their raw vegan lasagna… it’s heavenly and comforting just like lasagna should be. I ate at Garden Kafe a lot during my teacher training at the Yoga Barn. I particularly loved their Living Granola with a banana on the side for breakfast. Their egg dishes were pretty good and same with their macro bowl. Lunch was usually lasagna, raw sushi, raw pizza, or one of their raw pasta dishes topped off with some type of sweet treat and jamu for the road. At Kafe I enjoyed Meg’s Bowl, the vegetarian lumpia and their carrot ginger soup.

Garden Kafe: at the Yoga Barn (Jln Hanoman/Pengoseken and Jln Tebesaya), Ubud; 7:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. 
Kafe: Jalan Hanoman No. 44B, Padangtegal, Ubud; 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Bali Buda Cafe

Bali Buda is right across the street from Radiantly Alive Yoga Studio. When I was practicing at Radiantly Alive I was so happy to have Bali Buda right across the street. A fresh juice and their raw vegan food platter was my go-to post yoga fuel. Prices here might be a little higher than Kafe and Garden Cafe. They have an extensive, thoughtfully planned menu full of super tasty goodies.

Jalan Jembawan No. 1, Ubud
6 a.m. – 10 p.m.

What are your favorite Ubud restaurants? I’d love to hear about them, since I will be back in Ubud Sept. -Nov. 2016.

vegetarian-raw-restaurant-ubud

Each day clear cafe’s staff puts a sweet sentiment made of fresh flowers on the steps leading into the restaurant. I would go for this alone.

 

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Autumn Adams

Owner, Founder, & Retreat Leader at Ambuja Yoga
Autumn founded Ambuja Yoga in 2014 to share her love of adventure, yoga, and travel with her fellow yogis. Ambuja Yoga has morphed into more than she could have ever dreamed and she is thrilled to have a "job" she loves. She is forever grateful for the opportunity to facilitate personal growth and self love through yoga while taking yogis to off-the-beaten-path destinations worldwide. Follow Autumn on Instagram @autumnadamsyoga.
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Airports With Yoga Rooms: Air Travel Doesn’t Have To Be Terrible

Unfortunately, for most of us, to get to awesome destinations whether it’s for work, play or a yoga retreat it involves us getting in a plane, navigating airport terminals, losing sleep, watching our legs swell to out of this world proportions, but it doesn’t all have to be terrible. Pack your travel mat (or borrow one- just wipe it down first) and get your asana on at one of these on point yoga rooms.

Yoga rooms at domestic and international airport yoga rooms are popping up all over the place. The first airport yoga room sprouted up at SFO in 2012. It’s not just large international airports that have added airport yoga rooms, some of the smaller airports like Burlington Vermont have hopped on this trend too… and I love it. Check out this list of airports that totally understand our love of yoga.

Domestic and International Airport Yoga Rooms

Burlington, Vermont Yoga Room 

Yoga room at Burlington Airport

Photo Credit: btv.aero/

The airport in Burlington, Vermont is my favorite. It’s peaceful and serene and it also feels like a yoga studio. Evolution Physical Therapy and Yoga, a local yoga studio, had there hand in the planning and design of the space and it’s lovely. The space includes mats and meditation cushions. If you work up a sweat there is a shower in the family restroom across the way. Woohoo. You get to practice and freshen up in the same place… granted you’re probably not going to be having a layover in Burlington, but you never know. Second floor; hours: 4 a.m.-10 p.m.

Chicago O’Hare International Airport Yoga Room

Yoga airports

Top: Chicago O’Hare (Photo: FlyChicago.com)
Bottom: Chicago Midway (Photo: Chicago Dep’t of Aviation)

Chicago O’Hare is a popular layover stop and we are so thankful it has a beautiful yoga room with bamboo floors, a mirror (for you alignment junkies), soft lighting and music. You’ll find a handful of mats available, earth toned walls, natural diffuse lighting and a video monitor playing a yoga practice. Just outside of the room there is also a screen with departure and arrival info… no need to stress unless you’ve fallen asleep in savasana. Mezzanine Level of Terminal 3 near the Urban Garden; hours 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.

 

Chicago Midway Yoga Room

Chicago Midway also has a yoga room. The Midway room has similar tones, soft music, asana practices on a screen, and a wall of mirrors. There are also plenty of yoga mats, space to store your belongings and a bench to sit on if you’d like a seated meditation. Floors are made out of bamboo just like the Chicago O’Hare Yoga Room. Throw down a yoga mat, stretch it out or put in your headphones and enjoy a meditation or yoga nidra recording. Concourse C; hours 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.

San Francisco International Airport Yoga Room

sfo yoga room

Photo: Flysfo.com

San Francisco is the leader of the pack and was the first airport to build a yoga room… now they have not one, but two rooms dedicated to yoga. The SFO airport yoga rooms are open 24 hours a day, which is wonderful if you have one of those weird overnight layovers. Drop-in, do a few sun salutations, a couple of back, hip and shoulder stretches, then throw your legs up the wall. Before you know it you’ll be about to board your plane. Terminal 2 near boarding area D and Terminal 3 near gate 69; hours: 24 hours

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport

Dallas Fort-Worth has almost completely taken the plunge into yoga land, but not quite. They more-or-less have areas set up with mats available with semi privacy. What could be better: mat cleaner, dimmer lights, and privacy. Still it’s better than nothing. Between terminal B and D; hours: 24 hours.

Sioux Falls Airport Yoga Room

sioux falls airport yoga

Photo: CPMFitness

Sioux Falls, a surprising addition to the airport yoga scene is trying out the trend. They have sectioned off an area near the business center for yoga with a decent amount of privacy. They also provide mats and a poster with posture suggestions. I hope this one sticks around. Near the business terminal; 24 hours.

Helsinki International Airport Yoga

Helsinki International Airport has experimented with yoga classes in their Kainuu multi-use lounge. I’m not sure if they plan on doing a permanent yoga space or not. I wish they would. I would LOVE to go to a yoga class instead of wandering the terminals on a layover. I love the idea, so hopefully they keep it. I’ve heard that mats are available in the Kainuu lounge, but don’t take my word for it.

London Gatwick International Airport Yoga Room

yoga-room-london-gatwick

Photo: Gatwick Airport

London Gatwick has joined the trend now too. Open yoga practice space with mats and a 20 minute class playing on loop with Instagram sensation Shona Vertue. Move your body, reduce stress, reduce swelling, improve circulation with a few minutes of asana in this light filled space. Southern terminal; hours: unknown.

Frankfurt International Airport Yoga Rooms

During Frankfurt International Airports big renovation they added two yoga rooms! This summer (2016) they are even offering classes taught by local instructors from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on certain days. Another airport that totally gets it! Way to go Frankfurt! Terminal 1 near gates C14 and C16 and Terminal 2 near gates D1 to D4; hours: 24 hours.

Hong Kong and London Heathrow

Hong Kong and London Heathrow also have airport yoga rooms… the catch? You must pay for them. The yoga rooms at these two airports are controlled by Skyteam. And I have never paid for access to the Skyteam Lounge, so I can’t tell you much about them other than that they do exist.

Did I miss any airports? Let me know. I’d love to see this list continue to grow.

Safe travels yogis!

Love and Light,

Autumn

Autumn Adams
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Autumn Adams

Owner, Founder, & Retreat Leader at Ambuja Yoga
Autumn founded Ambuja Yoga in 2014 to share her love of adventure, yoga, and travel with her fellow yogis. Ambuja Yoga has morphed into more than she could have ever dreamed and she is thrilled to have a "job" she loves. She is forever grateful for the opportunity to facilitate personal growth and self love through yoga while taking yogis to off-the-beaten-path destinations worldwide. Follow Autumn on Instagram @autumnadamsyoga.
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