Good Sleep Hygiene Begins with Healthy Sleep Habits and Your Evening Routine

Don’t we all want to fall asleep faster, improve the quality of our sleep, and wake feeling well rested? I know I do. It’s taken me 30+ years to master my evening routine and truly practice good sleep hygiene. I still have off days, but for the most part I’ve become a great sleeper. In this post we will talk about the healthy sleep habits and routines you will need to master to get your best sleep ever.

It’s time to throw out your old, bad sleeping habits and replace them with ones that will actually help you get a good night’s sleep. If you want to get better sleep, it’s time to make a few simple changes to your evening routine.

Are you getting enough sleep? The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults and young adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. If you’re not practicing good sleep hygiene then you may not be receiving enough sleep. Sleep deprivation affects your entire being.

yoga nidra produces delta waves

According to Camille Peri, sleep deprivation does the following:

  • Impairs judgment.
  • Negatively affects our moods and emotions.
  • Increases the risk of accidents.
  • Impairs cognitive ability (dumbs us down).
  • Decreases libido.
  • Increases incidence of depression (by five times that of the normal population).
  • Accelerates aging in the skin.
  • May cause weight gain and obesity (and makes losing weight more difficult).
  • Is linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and early mortality.
  • Increases the risk of death.

That’s more than enough reasons for me to make sure I get adequate rest and establish the best healthy sleep habits I can. I’m sure it’s enough for you too!

Here are eleven tips to uplevel your evening routine and finally develop good sleep hygiene.

 

1. ) Good sleep hygiene starts with an earlier, lighter dinner

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For me, eating an earlier, lighter dinner is my keystone habit for wellbeing. If I don’t eat an early, light dinner I struggle to fall asleep when I want to, I struggle to wake up when I want/need to and I feel sluggish the entire next day. For healthy digestion and sleep it’s important to eat dinner at least two-three hours before you want to go to sleep. In our house it means dinner is done by 7pm (most nights) and the kitchen is closed.

No snacking after dinner. If you must snack before bed, then make sure it’s healthy and nutritious. On nights when I’m feeling hunger pains before bed I fix up a cup of warm golden mylk. The warmth of the golden mylk is comforting and their are just enough calories in the coconut or nut mylk to stave off my hunger.

Another tip to making an earlier, lighter dinner work for you is to have a larger lunch with plenty of protein, vegetables and carbs. A larger, well-balanced lunch will keep you satisfied until dinner and you’ll be able to eat less at dinner.

 

2.) Get proper exercise

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Moving your body is huge. And knowing which type of exercise is best for your constitution, or dosha, is also huge. It’s imperative to get the right type of exercise for your dosha. Do you know what your dosha type is? Take this dosha test.

Kapha types, who tend towards excessive sleep, can exercise with a strong physical yoga practice like vinyasa yoga, or running, cycling, etc. Kapha types, should exercise first thing in the morning. Movement early in the day improves circulation and digestion, removes kapha sluggishness and improve mental clarity and focus.

Vata types, who tend to wake in the middle of the night, need gentle and grounding instead. Those who are more vata should try activities like walking, hiking, gentle cycling, yoga, or chi gong.

Pitta types, who tend to burn the midnight oil, should try activities like walking, hiking, light jogging, swimming, cycling or yoga in the morning or evening (when it is coolest).

 

3.) Incorporate stress management into your evening routine

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Stress management is easier said than done. Nearly all adults have experienced disrupted sleep due to stress related anxiety. Meditation, yoga, pranayama, exercise, and yoga nidra are all proven to be effective in reducing stress.

 

4.) Create a bedtime routine that focuses on healthy sleep habits

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What do you do before bed each night? Here is a chance to really create healthy sleep habits that will nurture and nourish you. Give yourself plenty of time to wind down. My husband, Steve, and I both tend to be workaholics. We have a strict no work after dinner policy because we know that once we get started it’s a slippery slope that leads to late night jam sessions and sleep deprivation.

After dinner, clean your kitchen, walk the dogs, bathe the children and then give yourself some time to rest and relax; curl up with a book and a cup of relaxing tea like chamomile, do a few restorative yoga poses, take a bath with jasmine and rose essential oils. According to Ayurveda, rose and jasmine are said to reduce stress, open the heart, and purify negative emotions.

In Ayurveda, the daily routine is called dinacharya. If you’re wondering how you can start your day better, check out this article on the Ayruvedic morning routine.

 

5.) Aim to be in bed between 9 and 10 pm

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According to Ayurveda, the time between 6am and 10am and 6pm and 10pm is dominated by kapha. Kapha is often described as dense, slow, and heavy. In the Ayurvedic practice they recommend that you’re in bed and asleep by 10pm, so you don’t get caught up in the second wind of pitta, which is associated with action and activity.

If you follow the healthy sleep habits of the Ayurvedic practices you want to rise by 6am each morning. At 6am, the energy of day is transitioning from the lightness of vata into the heavy, slow, dense energy of kapha. Have you ever noticed that if you stay in bed a little bit longer that you feel more tired and sluggish? This is why!

Remember. our bodies need 7-9 hours of sleep each night to function optimally. Early to bed, early to rise.

 

6.) Avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine before bed

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I think this should be a no-brainer, but none the less I will include it in my list of good sleep hygiene tips because sometimes we forget. I have a rule of no caffeine after 4pm. What do I do if I’m tired? Move my body. I get my blood flowing. I go on a walk, shake it out, have a mini dance party or practice a couple of inversions. Way better than caffeine… I promise.

As for nicotine, there are so many reasons not to smoke, dip, etc. Just don’t.

 

7.) Alcohol in moderation

healthy-sleep-habits-alcohol-in-moderation

Alcohol is a depressant and may help you fall asleep faster, but overall quality of sleep is sacrificed. Too much alcohol disrupts sleep and diminishes the quality of sleep as your body processes the alcohol. Your body wastes precious energy breaking down the alcohol instead of using it to restore the rest of your cells.

 

8.) Expose yourself to natural light (and darkness) everyday

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Exposure to natural light helps the brain and body stay on a healthy circadian rhythm. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the circadian system keeps us in sync with the 24-hour day. Our body’s internal clock sends signals to many different parts in the body, affecting things like digestion, the release of certain hormones, body temperature, and much more. Our circadian system also helps us adjust to jet lag and seasonal changes in daylight. It’s an adaptive system that allows us to be alert when we need to be alert and rest when we need to rest. Those with circadian rhythm disorders will need extra help creating new healthy sleep habits.

 

8.) Self massage

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Self massage, or abhyanga as it is called in Ayurveda, is the simple practice of massaging your body. A full body massage is typically done in the morning with warm sesame oil. In the evening, rubbing warm ghee into the temples and navel can help promote relaxation.

One of my favorite parts of my evening routine is to rub essential oil mixed into a carrier oil onto the soles of my feet. For a good night’s sleep I like to rub lavender, frankincense, cedarwood, vetiver, jasmine and/or rose essential oils onto the soles of my feet. The scents are grounding energetically and calming to the nervous system.

 

9.) Make your bedroom a sacred space

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One of the most important parts of good sleep hygiene is turning your bedroom into a sanctuary. Clear out the clutter, get rid of anything unnecessary, install soft lighting, and the best linens and mattress you can afford. Set some ground rules for the bedroom too: no screen time, no work talk, all kids/pets out of the room at a certain time.

 

10.) Good sleep hygiene includes eliminating screen time in the evening

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One of the most important healthy sleep habits is to remove electronic devices from the bedroom. The blue light from laptop, tv, and cell phone screens is no bueno for your health and your quality of sleep.

Associate neuroscientist at BWH’s Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Dr. Anne-Marie Chung states, “We know from previous work that light from screens in the evening alters sleepiness and alertness, and suppresses melatonin levels.” In Chung’s study they found, “iPad readers took longer to fall asleep, felt less sleepy at night and had shorter REM sleep compared to the book readers, researchers found. The iPad readers also secreted less melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep. They were also more tired than book readers the following day, even if both got a full eight hours of sleep.”

Even though I typically read paper books before bed I still struggle with this one. I use my phone as my alarm clock, which means I have to get on it to set my alarm, which usually turns into checking email or social media. I’m thinking I need to go old school and get an analog alarm clock! Do you struggle with this too?

 

11.) Keep a journal by your bed

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Journaling is a great way to wind down. Before bed, take a moment to jot down a few things you’re grateful for in your journal. Also, when an idea does strike you in the middle of the night, know that you can write it down in your journal and go back to sleep. Once your mind knows that the idea is safe and sound (and won’t be forgotten) you’ll hopefully be able to drift off to dreamland quickly.

 

12.) Alternate nostril breathing

Is one of my favorite breath work practices because of it’s calming effect. It gives the brain something to do and simultaneously balances the right and left hemispheres of the brain and calms the nervous system.

Alternate nostril breathing, or nadi shodhana, is practiced by bringing your right hand up in front of your face and taking your index finger and middle finger to your third eye, your thumb rests on your right nostril and your ring finger rests on your left nostril. To begin, block your right nostril gently and inhale to a four count through your left nostril; block your left nostril and exhale through your right nostril for a four count; keep your left nostril blocked and inhale through your right nostril for a four count; block your right nostril and exhale through your left nostril for a four count. Practice alternate nostril breathing for 5-10 minutes right before bed.

To simplify, one round equals:

  • Inhale left
  • Exhale right
  • Inhale right
  • Exhale left

 

13.) Create a bedtime yoga routine

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Create a bedtime yoga routine by linking together a series of gentle yoga poses. Restorative yoga and yin yoga are both great to practice before bed because the majority of the postures stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (your relaxation response). A few postures to try are child’s pose, seated forward fold, supine twist and reclined butterfly pose.

I hope you see that a few “simple” lifestyle changes to your evening routine can help improve your sleep hygiene, so you can get the rest you need. Start incorporating one or two of these healthy sleep habits and you’ll be well on your way to a better night’s sleep. Good sleep and nourishing meals are the key ingredients to our vitality and quality of life. What tips do you use to sleep better? Do you already have some of these sleep hygiene habits automated? Share what works for you in the comments below.

 

Time Management for Yoga Instructors

Hey yogis and yoginis,

I know this blog post is focusing on time management for yoga instructors, but these tips will be helpful for anyone who owns a small business, takes appointments, or runs a busy household.

I’m writing this post after going through a year long period of burnout, where I got less done than I should have/could have, mismanaged my time, wasn’t focused, and was struggling in my marriage and my business. I was ready to throw in the towel… and then I just kept sliding down that slippery slope. I needed an energetic shift and I needed it badly ASAP!

As I reflect back on 2017 I can’t help but think about this Paolo Coehlo quote, “Discipline and freedom are not mutually exclusive but mutually dependent because otherwise, you’d sink into chaos.” Chaos was my middle name.

I’ve finally made it out the other side! Hallelujah! I’ve been spending the past month reprioritizing, saying exactly what I need and taking charge of not only my time, but my own wellbeing. I’ve given myself more structure, which has allowed for more freedom.

Here are the time management techniques and apps that I’ve used to take control of my life and truly begin to thrive again.

time management for yoga instructors

 

Time Management for Yoga Instructors

1. Establish routines.

Your brain loves routines. Routines become habit. They become automated. Remember learning about samskaras? Not all samskaras are bad, in fact many are what keep us alive and healthy. Establish a morning wake-up routine and a routine for going to bed. Eventually we want all of these time management tips to be automated.

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2. Stack your classes or appointments.

We’ve all had those days when classes, appointments, and one-on-ones line up poorly and you feel like you can’t get anything done. There are a couple of techniques you can use here. The first technique, schedule your heavy teaching days Monday-Wednesday and leave Thursday and Friday for business tasks. The second technique, schedule your classes back-to-back each day. For example, teach Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9am to 1pm and leave 2pm to 5pm to tackle business tasks.

For me, I like to stack my classes in the afternoon/evening because I’m more creative and inspired in the morning. It’s a great time for me to blog and get stuff done! If you’re struggling to fit in your own yoga practice attend the class right after your class or use the empty studio to practice on your own. You’re already there and you’re already warmed up.

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3. Block your time.

This tip for time management adds on to tip number two. I advise you to login to Google Calendar and create a new calendar called “Ideal Schedule” and block out your time. Remember to establish routine, so try to keep the days similar… this will make life easier for you because you will know exactly what to expect. Once you know what your ideal schedule looks like begin shifting your classes and commitments, so they align with a schedule you love.

4. Prioritize your tasks.

If you’re a master of the “to-do” list like me, we’re going to switch it up. Yes, you can still have your beloved to-do list, but now it’s going to be prioritized. Number those babies. Prioritizing your tasks is one of the most important tips when it comes to time management for yoga instructors and pretty much any working professional. When you’re prioritizing tasks take into consideration deadlines, the time it’s going to take to complete the task, whether it’s necessary, and whether it makes you money. Also, ask yourself if the task can be automated (especially if it’s a repetitive task).

5. Batch tasks.

Every time you switch gears it takes 11-30 minutes to get back into the groove. It’s very important that you batch your tasks. You don’t need to create a new yoga playlist each week, instead take one day (one creative block) and create them all for the month. Your mind, your body, your energy all get in the zone and you’ll end up creating awesome playlists… instead of scrambling to create a new one each week. Don’t have time to create playlists? Borrow them. Get yourself a Spotify premium account and follow other teachers who have playlists you like.

Instead of coming up with your social media content daily, batch it. Spend one creativity block creating your posts for the next two weeks or month. Create docs with all of your hashtags, common quotes, links etc. and use them. Do all of your advertising prep at the same time. All your writing at the same time. All your emails at the same time.

Learning to batch my tasks was one of the most valuable time management tools I learned this year.

time management schedule breaks

6. Schedule breaks/buffers.

I love to over schedule myself… I don’t recommend it. So here is a chance for you to do as I say, not as I do. Okay, this is actually something I’m working hard on right now. Schedule breaks. Go walk your dog, do a couple of yoga poses, read a passage from an inspiring book. Yes, you do have time. I promise. Work less, to work smarter.

7. Schedule your practice/meditation/exercise.

You are an entrepreneur. And life as an entrepreneur gets crazy, and sometimes you end up going down a rabbit hole you don’t know how to get out of. Yoga, meditation, exercise…. that’s your ladder. Do it. Schedule it or it won’t happen. Some of your best inspiration will come while walking your dogs, resting in a yoga pose, or during that post workout glow. Hard truth: you cannot serve your community if you’re not taking care of yourself!

time management goal setting for yoga instructors

8. Set achievable, measurable goals and break them down into “bite size” pieces.

Gamify your progress. Use apps that track your goal progress. It might sound silly but when a little unicorn with some sparkles floats across your screen because you’ve achieved a task it’s awesome.

9. Say no to classes/events that actually cost your business.

Could your time be spent better working on something else? This is a hard lesson. When you’re first starting out and you don’t have much of a following say yes. Say yes to every opportunity to teach. Once you’re established, stop it. Seriously. You have an immense amount of value to share with the world. Before you commit to an event, get real and ask yourself if this engagement actually benefits you. And definitely don’t give up a day off if the class/event doesn’t meet your specific parameters. Your time is valuable, this is a lesson in healthy boundaries.

10. Class theme-ing and planning.

Okay yoga instructors, are you still planning individual classes with every pose memorized or noted? Can I ask you to stop doing this? You’re making teaching yoga harder than it needs to be. Don’t make life harder. Have your theme, have your peak pose(s), and have your playlist and show up and be present. What do your student’s need most?

I taught a class this morning focusing on lengthening the side body with some beautiful side body postures… all the students (except one) were knew to me because I was subbing. I did chat with most of the students before class to figure out what was going on in their body/life. A gal that has been doing a year of physical therapy for her lower back and hips was in class and she commented afterward about loving the class and being able to check off five of her daily physical therapy exercises. Lesson: it is more important to be knowledgable (always learning) and present than it is to plan a class from beginning to end.

11. Do not overload yourself with tasks and projects.

Have only 1-2 (no more than 3). I’m guilty of this. Likely, if you’re reading this you’re guilty too. I have so many dreams and plans, this is one of the hardest things for me as far as time management as a yoga instructor. I now limit myself to one or two big projects and one little project. What happens when we overload ourselves? We end up suffering. We feel like we’re not getting enough done. No matter how big or small your tasks are, break them down into small achievable to dos.

time management tip minimize distractions cell phone

12. Minimize distractions.

Create a sacred space for work to happen. No pets, no kids and no social media. If it’s possible for your schedule, get your most important work done when you’re distraction free. The kids are at school. The dogs have been walked and fed. And then turn off your social media notifications or use an app that limits your social media time. Skip the scrolling. Use social media for business and don’t get sucked into the endless stream of videos, “news”, and political posts. Not worth it… and really, do these posts add value to your life? Be honest.

13. Schedule “email time” and don’t respond to emails outside this time.

I have been a chronic inbox checker. Out of class… check email. Bored… check email. Waiting in line… check email. Stopped at a red light… check email. Limiting my ability to check email has saved my sanity and honestly I feel so much happier not doing it ALL DAY LONG. And while you’re responding to emails, delete all the garbage… or even better: UNSUBSCRIBE.

organize your workspace

14. Declutter & get organized.

Clutter = time wasted looking for things. I quarterly purge things. I love getting rid of things. Over many months spent traveling abroad I’ve learned to decipher what I need from what I don’t need. Clean out your closet and dresser. Donate what can be donated and toss out the rest. Do you need thirty pairs of underwear? Probably not. Do you need thirty pairs of yoga pants? Even if you’re teaching 15+ classes a week the answer is no.

Organize your computer files, your bookmarks, your playlists, your bookshelves, your closet. Clear your work space. Put seasonal items in storage. Unsubscribe from newsletters you’re not currently reading. If you don’t read it when it shows up in your inbox, chances are you will never read it.

15. Delegate. 

The tasks that take you A LOT of time to finish, should be delegated to someone else. Hire a cleaner for your house. Ask your partner to take over dinner “x” numbers of nights a week. Use a grocery delivery service or similar. Have pet food delivered to your house. Hire a virtual assistant to help with social media, blogging, etc.

time management tip plan ahead

16. Plan ahead.

If you’re working on big projects and you know you have big deadlines or events coming up, plan for it. Start working on them early. Delegate tasks when it’s near. Ask for help.

17. Find out where you’re wasting time.

Rewriting the same emails? Creating playlists? I’ve known for years that I’ve needed to write standard form emails that address common concerns from students and clients and for the longest time I didn’t realize exactly how much time I was wasting writing these emails individually. No more. Repetitive tasks are being automated, so I have more time to spend with my family and friends. If you’re not sure where you’re wasting time, use a time tracking app. You will quickly find out what’s wasting your time, whether it’s social media, distractions, responding to emails throughout the day, etc.

18. Don’t get hung up on unimportant details.

If it’s not important, don’t waste your time and energy on it. Not every task/detail is important. Work on figuring our what is most important to your success and focus your time and energy on that.

19. Form new habits.

Yes, this means change. Change is tough for many of us. Change pushes us out of the comfort of our usual day to day routines. Now is the time to develop new time management habits that serve your wellbeing. Set healthy boundaries. Rework your schedule (that might mean giving up a class or two). Wake up on the first alarm. Get your exercise or yoga in before your first work commitment. Drink 8 oz. of warm water in the morning. Get rid of old habits + automate new habits = success.

20. Automate.

I’ve mentioned automation a few times. It is so important to automate repetitive tasks and streamline your work flow. This is a HUGE time saver!

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21. Schedule exercise.

Yes, exercise has already been included. Do it. No excuses. Schedule it. Make it happen.

22. Eat simple, healthy meals with minimal prep time.

Plan your meals. If you know you have to teach late, plan an easy meal. Don’t tempt yourself to eat junk food. Feed yourself nourishing meals with simple ingredients. I love to cook, so at least once or twice a week I try out a new, elaborate recipe for dinner. It’s fun for me and not a chore because 1) I love it and 2) all the other meals I’ve prepared have been easy.

Also, this is an opportunity to remind you to use convenience services. Fred Meyers/Krogers has a program called clicklist and they only charge $5 to do your grocery shopping for you. You choose the time to pick it up and voila! It’s ready for you at that time. Numerous cities have organic veggie delivery. Blue Apron might be another easy option for you.

23. Commit to your tasks.

Don’t dilly dally. Commit. Get it done. Ask for help when you need it.

24. Use the tools available to you.

There are so many tools that can help with project management and time management as a yoga instructor. Many of these tools I didn’t even know existed until I started speaking with professionals in other industries. Why we don’t learn these skills in YTT is beyond me.

  1. Project Management: Asana
  2. Calendar: Google Calendar
  3. Automated social media posts: Hootsuite, MeetEdgar, or Buffer.
  4. Email: Mailchimp
  5. Time tracking: Focus Booster and RescueTime
  6. Goals: TimePlanner, Coach.me, Goals On Track & Google Goals
  7. Playlists: Spotify
  8. Email Templates: Google Doc (just copy and paste into your emails
  9. Your cellphone: Turn off notifications for social media apps
  10. Notes and To-Do Lists: Google Keep

Pick a handful of these techniques and tips to master now and as you get more confident in your time management as a yoga instructor add a few new techniques. Eventually, they will become automated and you won’t even have to think about it anymore. Life will be more streamlined, which means more time for the important things that bring you joy.

Anything I missed? Comment below with your favorite time management apps and tips.

Love and Light,

Autumn

The Truth About Yoga Retreats

Discover the Truth About Yoga Retreatsluxury-yoga-retreat-in-france

 

Discover the truth about attending a yoga retreat as we put these common yoga retreat myths to rest. There seems to be a lot of myth about attending yoga retreats and a lot of fuss in the yoga community about being a perfect yogi with the perfect body and the green juices, the incredible Instagram account and the fancy leggings, but yoga retreats are for real people like you and me with all of our lovely imperfections and uniqueness. So lets be real for a sec and get to the bottom of these myths that keep us stuck in a mindset of fear and uncertainty.

Myth 1: You have to be a rockstar yogi to attend a yoga retreat.

Nope. Absolutely not. You don’t have to be a rockstar headstanding yogi to attend a yoga retreat or know the difference between your warrior poses. You don’t need to know Sanskrit or have your own yoga mat. The only thing you need to attend a yoga retreat is a sincere desire to learn, expand, and improve your wellbeing. That’s it! And honestly you’ll be just fine if you’re not there yet and would like to attend a yoga retreat to go on a fancy vacation or support a friend or partner.

Myth 2: I have to be a vegetarian/vegan/(insert special diet here) to fit in on a retreat.

You don’t have to be a vegetarian or vegan to attend a yoga retreat. From my experience most people that attend yoga retreats are not vegetarian. Many retreats will offer a protein option in addition to the regular (typically vegetarian) menu during a couple of the evening meals or sometimes eggs with breakfast. Not sure if you can survive a week on mostly veggies, fruits and grains? You can! Retreat centers have their menus dialed in. You’ll be surprised by the variety and deliciousness of the food offered… from raw lasagna to homemade rustic breads with marmalade, creative farm fresh salads and soups, to local delicacies like seafood stew, stuffed eggplant or that famous french cheese.

People who do have special diet restrictions are typically easily accommodated on yoga retreats as long as the retreat leader knows in advance and is able to give the retreat center notice. So don’t worry about what you’ll eat… it will be nourishing and divine. I always joke that I may be the only person that can attend/teach a yoga retreat and gain weight. The food is that good!

Myth 3: You can’t attend a retreat solo.

Say what?!?! Lady (or dude) you can attend a retreat solo. In fact, I recommend it. You will be embraced by a group of likeminded people and will form amazing friendships with people from all over the world. You may just find a lifelong retreat partner that you meet up with once or twice a year and attend yoga retreats together… I’ve seen it happen in real life! You will share stories. You will laugh until your tummy and cheeks hurt and you have happy tears pouring down your face. So attend that retreat solo. Invest in you… and if a friend does want to join in on the fun AWESOME. You’ll have an old friend to share the experience with.

Want a roommate? Talk to the retreat leader. The best retreat leaders will do there best to help you find a roomie.

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Fish pose with a smile at our Luxury Yoga Retreat in France.

Myth 4: Don’t go on a yoga retreat unless you know the yoga instructor.

Well, lets go ahead and say goodbye to this idea. There are so many phenomenal yoga instructors out there and you can’t possibly know them all. With the invention of the internet and cell phones it’s completely possible to connect with an instructor before attending a yoga retreat. Check out their social media accounts… Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest etc. and see if their message vibes with you. Get them on the phone, exchange emails or better yet Skype or FaceTime them. Instructors that are invested in their students will happily chat with you about yoga, philosophy, retreats, food, life, etc. Retreat leaders are there to support you along the way.

sunbathing-yoga-retreat-greece

New friends all brought together by a connection with one instructor.

Myth 5: The cost of attending isn’t worth it. I can practice with my favorite teacher at home.

yoga-retreat-mythsWhether you need to rest your weary body, find your inner power, discover self love… retreats have a way of bringing about awesome transformation and healing. You’ll get out of a yoga retreat exactly what you put into it.

You say, “but I can practice with them at home”. Yes, you can and you should. On retreat your yoga instructor has the leisure of time… longer classes (and seeing you everyday day) means they can weave in more philosophy, anatomy, and stories about growth, perseverance, love, etc. They can share workshops and knowledge that they just can’t squeeze into a regular group class. Your teacher might have a few extra tricks up their sleeve that they only pull out at yoga retreats, think dharma codes, breathwork, reiki, and shamanic journeys.

Yes, it’s true yoga retreats cost money, sometimes a lot of money. Instructors leading retreats have done hundreds of ours of prep and self study along with thousands of hours of teaching and learning so they can create an incredible experience for YOU. They are experts in their field and they put a LOT of thought into the nuances of a yoga retreat, the location, the classes, etc.

If you’re struggling to find the financial means or are hesitating about attending a retreat talk to the retreat leader. They will be able to answer your questions and occasionally there are scholarships or work-trade options available.

Wheel pose with a little assist.

Myth 6: There is a lot of yoga during yoga retreats.

Well, this is true. There is a ton of yoga during yoga retreats. Your yoga classes will also likely include more meditation, pranayama, and/or anatomy than they do at home. The classes are usually geared toward a certain theme, idea, or concept that is revisited throughout the week.

Here’s a little insider’s secret: you don’t have to do all of the yoga. If you’re tired sleep in. If you need an evening/afternoon alone to watch the sunset and enjoy a glass of wine DO IT. We understand that this is your vacation and want you to find your perfect balance of doing and being.

vinyasa-restorative-yoga-retreat

That yoga isn’t always intense. There is plenty of time to rest and restore with restorative yoga, yoga nidra and breathwork.

So relax, unwind, let go of the masks, the pretenses and preconceived ideas about attending yoga retreats and enjoy your week away from the hustle and bustle of daily life while focusing on you. You’re worth it!

Healing Calendula Balm for Face and Body

Homemade calendula salve

In 2015 I started experiencing perioral dermatitis and this calendula balm saved me. I would break out in this horrible inflamed rash around my mouth, my nose and even around my eyes. I was embarrassed to teach class or go out in public.

The doctors don’t really know what causes perioral dermatitis, but they do know that steroid creams make it worse. I fortunately was warned about using steroid creams, so I never went that route. Instead, I went the holistic route. I changed my diet (goodbye sugar), changed my toothpaste (goodbye flouride, carageenan & SLS), and I changed my skincare routine (goodbye makeup). I said goodbye to a lot during this period. The biggest game changers for me were getting rid of carageenan (it’s in everything… even that “healthy” coconut milk) and using calendula balm on my face.

I originally used Weleda’s Calendula Baby Face Cream, but it was a little too greasy for my skin. Last year I had the opportunity to host a yoga retreat at Itha108 in Greece and the owner made this lovely face balm as a gift for us to take home with us. I now prefer this natural version over Weleda.

This healing Calendula balm blends all the wonderful properties of coconut oil, jojoba (or olive or grapeseed oil), calendula (marigold flowers), beeswax, and lavender essential oil. You’ll want to use the best ingredients that you can afford. Coconut oil has antimicrobial properties, calendula is an anti-inflammatory and beeswax soothes while it helps hold moisture in the skin.

Calendula Oil 

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a clean mason jar with a proper sealing lid combine your calendula flowers with the oil to be infused. Make sure that the oil completely covers the flowers.
  2. Seal up your jar and place it in a cabinet. Allow the flowers to “steep” in the oil for about 2 months.
  3. After two months strain the flowers from the oil and discard the flowers.
  4. Store your calendula oil in the fridge until ready to use.

Calendula Balm 

Ingredients

homemade calendula balm

  • 2 Tablespoons Calendula Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons beeswax
  • 5-10 drops lavender essential oil (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a double boiler melt beeswax and coconut oil. Simmer until beeswax has completely melted. This can also be achieved by microwaving the two together.
  2. Once the coconut oil and beeswax are melted quickly add in the calendula oil and stir.
  3. Add the lavender essential oil last. Stir again.
  4. Pour your calendula balm into small clean jars and allow to solidify.

I usually store one or two jars in the fridge and keep one out in the bathroom.You can use this balm daily or as spot treatment. I’ve used it after too much fun in the sun, on bug bites, and cracked skin. One ounce lasts me a couple of months. These are great for traveling or for gifts.

How to Prepare for a Yoga Retreat

A common question from retreat attendees is “how do I prepare for a yoga retreat?” For most of us, we don’t practice yoga 2+ hours each day, let alone 5, 6, or 7 days in a row so I think there is a bit of fear and apprehension that comes into play during the lead up to a yoga retreat. Don’t sweat it. You’ll be fine whether you practice once a week or everyday…. an experienced yogi or a newbie. The following are my tips for how to prepare for a yoga retreat, whether it’s your first retreat or your hundredth!

1. Prepare for a yoga retreat by keeping your yoga practice up.

Make sure to keep your practice up and add a class or two if you have time. But most importantly keep your yoga practice balanced. If you always practice vinyasa add a yin or restorative class or vice versa. Your body will thank you when it feels strong, open, vibrant, and relaxed on retreat.

Two weeks before your retreat is not the time to start practicing headstands/handstands/advanced postures if you’ve never done them before. Trust me you don’t want to injure yourself right before your retreat. Just wait. If those postures are on the agenda at your yoga retreat you will have plenty of time to explore them in a mindful manner.

yoga surf retreat nicaragua

Warrior 3

2. Trust the process and your teacher.

Booking a yoga retreat is a pretty courageous act, especially if it’s your first retreat or with a yoga teacher you don’t practice with regularly. Assuming you’ve done a bit of research to get to know the teacher a bit better, have chatted with them on the phone or via email and connected on social media it’s time to relax. An experienced retreat leader will make sure you receive all of the necessary information before you need it.  Let go of the need to micromanage your life for just this little bit… you’re going on retreat aren’t you? Let your retreat leader guide you on your journey.

3. Be willing to put in 110%.

I’m not just talking physically here. Be willing to open up, to let go of old habits and preconceived self-limiting beliefs, to let down your walls and to connect with others. You already have a lot in common with the other people on the retreat, so be yourself and enjoy new friendships.

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Yoga babes.

4. You don’t need 20 pairs of yoga pants, your hair dryer or your makeup.

I’m completely guilty of overpacking yoga leggings and I’ve seen it many times from my students too. You don’t need as much as you think. Likely, you will end up wearing the same couple of outfits over and over simply because it’s easy. And there is no need to primp during a yoga retreat. We will happily accept you as you are. Sweaty, crazy haired, and glowing.

5. Prepare fora yoga retreat by ask yourself “What is my intention?”

Get clear about your intention or sankalpa for the retreat. What are your goals? Why are you attending a yoga retreat in the first place? Is it to deepen your yoga practice? To learn meditation? To relax and rejuvenate? To connect with yourself? To heal emotionally, physically, spiritually? Whatever your intention don’t be afraid to honor that. Sometimes honoring your sankalpa means skipping a yoga practice to sleep in or journal or walk the beach. Sometimes it means being bold and letting down all the barriers you’ve built up. Sometimes it means trying something completely new.

6. Eat mindfully, so you don’t “shock” your system.

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Healthy eats! Raw vegan wraps. Yum!

Most yoga retreats have amazing, healthy meals with minimal processed food, meat, alcohol and caffeine. You can prepare for a yoga retreat by beginning to cut processed food and toxins out of your diet a week or two before the retreat. Ease your way into a new healthy radiant you.

7. Practice on your travel mat beforehand.

If you’re bringing a travel mat, or even a new mat, make sure to practice on it beforehand. A slick mat, or one that stretches in downward facing dog is annoying at best. Test it out beforehand and if it doesn’t work out pack your old standby. A “crappy” mat can make for a frustrating yoga retreat. You don’t want something as simple as a yoga mat to detract from your experience.

8. Learn about your destination.

Where are you going? What is that part of the world known for? Do you have time for extra excursions? Prepare for a yoga retreat by doing a little research beforehand. It will get you pumped up about where you’re going and it might even get your friends excited enough to tag along. Sweet!

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9. Set aside all expectations.

Manage your expectations. As you prepare for a yoga retreat make sure to ask your retreat leader questions about things you want clarity about…. transportation, food, excursions. Get the answers you need and want… and then let it go. The nature of retreats, especially international retreats, is that sometimes things need to change to bring the best experience to the students. Maybe the teacher has had to rearrange excursions due to whether or even swap them out completely… maybe instead of going on that jungle hike you’ll get a lovely massage instead. Don’t worry about it. The instructor wants you to love the experience as much as you want to love the experience, so roll with the punches, go with the flow, ride the wave. It will be amazing.

“To explore what it would mean to live fully, sensually alive and passionately on purpose, I have to drop my preconceived ideas of who and what I am.”

Dawna Markova

Happy Retreat Prep Yogis!!!

Love and Light,

Autumn