inspirational

Using Yoga and Meditation to Cope with Addiction

Addiction is a brain disease, but the repercussions of addiction affect much more than just the brain. Biologically it affects your brain, it affects your body physically, and it affects your soul emotionally. For those who are recovering from addiction and working to remain sober, it’s important to be hyper-aware of your body and mind in order to get healthy. Overcoming substance abuse is a marathon, not a sprint, and requires constant inventory of emotions, feelings, and your body. Utilizing yoga and meditation can be a great tool in this endeavor since these activities also affect the mind, body, and soul and keep a full body and mind inventory in the process.  

For the Mind

Ultimately, addiction starts in the mind. There are many factors that come into play when dealing with addiction such as environment, biology, and brain development. A person’s environment and social surroundings has a lot to do with the beginning of substance abuse. Living in a home with substance abuse or in an area where substance abuse is common increases the chances of addictive behaviors. Some addicts are also predisposed to addiction due to having a history of addiction in their family or if they were young when they began using. Not only does substance abuse become a natural behavior if they start using early, but since the brain isn’t quite developed yet, the chemical compounds of the drugs being used and their role in the brain alter its development.

Yoga increases both serotonin and dopamine, which is also what happens while using drugs. They affect the reward centers and mood, which is why using substances make you feel good and are difficult to quit using. When dealing with addiction recovery, yoga can be used in place of this craving. Once the brain connects serotonin and dopamine release with yoga instead of drug use, it’ll really help the brain to recover more effectively.

Using Yoga and Meditation to Cope with Addiction - Yoga Travel Tree
Using Yoga and Meditation to Cope with Addiction - Yoga Travel Tree

For the Body

Addiction is also a very physical disease and it can have a negative effect on almost every system in the body. Addiction can have an effect on body weight, muscle mass, strength, and stamina. Tooth loss, gum disease, lung disease, heart disease, liver damage, kidney damage, stroke, convulsions, and infection are all physical risks that can stem from substance abuse.

In recovery, it’s important to focus on both physical and mental health. Yoga might not be able to help many of the more serious ailments caused by addiction, but it can help with overall health and wellness. In terms of obtaining a healthy body weight, regaining muscle mass, and increasing strength, and stamina, yoga improves these aspects of health that may have been negatively affected by substance use.

Whereas a more intense cardio or strength workout might be more difficult for those recovering from addiction, yoga is a great low impact exercise that focuses on strengthening the body as well as the mind. You’ll build muscle mass and flexibility while increasing heart rate and lung capacity. The physical damage done by substance abuse may not be able to be repaired, but focusing on relaxing and adaptable exercise like yoga can help to work towards a healthier lifestyle that doesn’t involve substance abuse at all.

For the Soul

Addiction affects the soul. There are many aspects to addiction that involve emotions and self-worth that are incredibly difficult to heal from. Not only is the brain recovering from addiction, but so is the body, and the soul. The brain recovers biologically and learns to rewire its communication and reward centers. The body recovers by detoxing and flushing out toxins and rebuilding physical health. The soul recovers by being held accountable for actions, asking for forgiveness, and forgiving yourself.

Many things happen in the brain when recovering from addiction, and some of the things that can be the most difficult to recover from are the shameful aspects of addiction. Recovering addicts tend to suffer from anxiety and depression stemming from guilt associated with using. Coping skills are extremely important to obtain in addiction recovery and yoga and meditation can be a vital aspect to this part of recovery.

Yoga offers so much more than just the physical perks of exercise. Unlike many workouts, it offers a mental piece of mind as well. Meditation can be a major aspect to yoga and many classes focus on clearing the mind and focusing on positivity. Those practicing yoga will focus on understanding the things their body can do and watch the progress being made, which can be incredibly empowering to those battling addiction. Seeing positive change that you’ve created is really rewarding for those working hard to change the mistakes they may have made while using or questioned their ability to stay clean.

Yoga is an exercise for both the body and the mind which are two things that are in a sensitive state during recovery for many addicts. Yoga and meditation keeps you healthy while focusing on living a healthy and positive life. While maintaining sobriety, it’s essential to focus on these positive aspects of recovery that may help the negative side of recovery. Utilizing yoga as a coping mechanism during this time will offer another tool towards recovery for the mind, the body, and the soul.

Author Bio
Author Bio

Author bio: Chelsy Ranard is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree in 2012 from the University of Montana. She enjoys yoga, talk radio, and cold coffee. Follow her on Twitter!

Yoga for Every Body: Inspiring Yogis Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Maintaining positive body image in a sea of slim women can be a astronomically difficult task. Not all “clubs” and “cliques” are as accepting as others. However I have found growing support, acceptance, and inspiration in the yoga community regarding more bodascious girls participating. I first became interested in yoga and Pilates after my first daughter was born. I wanted to tone my midsection and lose weight and so I joined a local gym. While I was one of the larger women in the class I never felt out of place or “less than” anyone else. In yoga, I have found that many serious practitioners are more impressed by what you can physically do and what personality changes you accomplish than your general physical appearance. When I first joined my first yoga class I definitely looked different than many of the other bodies in the group. There were also people who were thinner, but far less flexible than I. This gave me the courage and strength to keep working on improving myself – regardless of my size and fitness level.

As I matured in my practice I found many other inspirational women on my journey. Women like Jessamyn Stanley, practicing and teaching yoga in South Carolina, around the US, and even internationally. Not only is she not afraid to do yoga, she accomplishes some of the more difficult poses with a bit of “junk in the trunk”. It’s even more impressive to me, as a big girl, to know that she is contorting herself into positions that few beginners can even dream of mastering –all while getting suffocated by her boobs in the process – just like the rest of us – and she doesn’t let that hold her back, or become an excuse to quit.

Anna Guest-Jelley of curvy yoga in Nashville, Tennessee is another inspiring example. She’s a woman who offers the kinds of classes and trainings that many of us normal-sized people crave, but are still learning how to seek out. We usually end up creating new niches and making our own spaces – which is what Anna is doing with her teacher trainings for Curvy Yoga. Yoga should be accessible to all physical and mental abilities – not just the most agile and fit amongst us. It’s humbling and inspiring to have role models speaking out for our right and responsibility to follow our heart and engage in our passions – regardless of what others may think of us. Inspirational role models also help break down stereotypes and show us that whatever perceptions we hold of what our bodies can do is often the result of our own self-limiting beliefs.

Role models like Anna and Jessamyn are narrowing the gap between what classes should look like, and how they actually are – aiming to make more of us feel comfortable to go out and practice in public and learning to love our bodies for what they can do in the process. Whether we’re wearing a baggy t-shirt and sweatpants, or a tight tops and workout leggings, these women give us confidence to just be ourselves, and work on being the best version of ourselves we can be each and every day.

 

Image Via: Yelp Inc.

How Spending Time with Nature Can Boost Your Awareness

  Sometimes answers we are looking for are right in front of us, but in a busy daily life, absorbed in routines and habits; it is easy to become blind.

When is the last time you have really listened to yourself?

When was the last time you allowed yourself to do nothing but observe?

To cultivate a deep awareness of your surroundings?

To surrender yourself to the present moment?

 

If you now tell yourself that you do not have time to sit still and cultivate awareness, you are among those who need to do so the most!

Taking time to meditate, will give you that time.

A useful meditation exercise is to find a quiet place in nature.

 

Look around you.

What do you see?

What are you drawn to?

When you have found that thing that attracts you, ask it, “What is your secret?”

Then listen with your heart.

What are the sounds, what are the shapes, what are the feelings that reach you?

Observing nature can grant you more than just a pretty view for the eye. Nature is full of wisdom.

 

Take for example the ocean.

Let’s ask the sea together, “Dear ocean what is your secret?”

The answer of the ocean:

“I have so much to give from. There is enough of me to be of service to all: plants, animals, and human beings. I invite everybody in, and surround them with my presence. I am a source of life, a source of food, a source of joy. I cool you down when you are warm, I let you ride me, and I let you explore my endlessness. You can float on top of me and use me for transportation, or you can dive into me and feel me more closely. You can stare at me as long as you like. I share my beauty with you, and keep nothing for myself.

I am the glue that holds the world together. I touch all continents, and without judgement, I offer everybody what I have to give. I reach up and fade into the infinity of the sky.

My waves will sing you a lullaby to keep you calm, but sometimes they play heavy metal. Opposites must be balanced.

Though I can be caring, and carry you far, I forge respect.

I show my essence in various disguises. I take on many forms. I can be still as a mirror. I can be powerful. My strong waves can carve out the sand of beaches with my force. I can turn into playful rings. I can sway softly, or wave brutally. I can even go through the body of a whale, be blown into the sky with force, fall back home and return to the shape I had. I can be dark, blue, turquoise, green, brown, white, and red. Sometimes I mirror the colors that surround me. Sometimes I put on my silver dress and dance in the moonlight. Yet, it is always me. I am the same, no matter how I look and what I act like.

You can likewise take on different shapes, and still be you. Your outer can change, whilst your inner essence stays intact. As I can, you can embrace and be valued for all the forms you take on. Each form of you has a specific quality, you just need to figure out which.

And like me, you can make yourself available to the world. You can without judgement give what you have to offer. Make yourself useful, appreciated and limitless.”

 

Thus, dedicating a bit of time in nature with nature can be very rewarding.

If you're lucky, you become aesthetically recharged, learn about yourself, and find guidance to live rather than just moving along through life. Natures greatest gift is awareness.


 

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 9.46.52 AMMaria is a RYT200 and Reiki II practitioner from Yandara Yoga Institute. She has practiced since she was a teenager, but as she moved to a bigger town in 2011 she discovered that yoga is much more than asana practice. In 2014 she began to practice daily, which transformed her life. To Maria yoga is philosophy, mantras, meditation, and ethics. Yoga is a life style. It is a choice to be a happy and loving person. Last but not least, yoga is an art form. It is a way to find elegance and to connect with the inner self.

Besides from being a yogini, Maria is a master student of social anthropology, a travel enthusiast, and an amateur cook and blogger. Connect with Maria on Facebook!

Featured Image via: Clare Jim

The Good in Volunteering

  We’ve all been told from a young age that sharing is a good thing so it should come as no surprise that sharing our time by volunteering can benefit us in many ways. Time is a product that many of us have a limited supply of, so sharing it gives a sense of fulfillment while offering something that all organizations are begging for. While volunteering is great for our resumes, it also does a ton for our community and our psyche. Because of this, volunteer programs are on the rise and our young people are taking part in this trend to help their community as well.

For the Community

The obvious winner for those who volunteer is the community that they are volunteering for. Volunteering your time offers resources for the community free of charge, works to help the business you are volunteering for, and sets an example in your community. For many programs that have volunteer opportunities, they are providing a service that isn’t for profit. Many of these institutions help animals, children, or those in need. They keep cities clean, help to rebuild, and raise awareness. Because these organizations aren’t creating a product for profit, volunteers are the legs keeping them standing. When you volunteer for organizations like this, you are really making a difference in the community that the organization is a part of.

The latest estimated value of volunteer time is $23.07 per hour. According to the Corporation for National Service, about 62.6 million Americans gave 7.7 billion hours of volunteer service worth $173 billion in 2013. These numbers show just how much time costs to the organizations receiving volunteers and how much the price of volunteering has become more profitable for organizations since 2001 when the value of volunteering was around $16 per hour. These numbers literally mean life or death for many organizations helping people across the world.

For the Soul

Many people have issues with the idea of volunteering for any reason that may benefit them. Since volunteering is essentially very selfless and altruistic in itself, it’s difficult to look at volunteering as a way to gain anything tangible for risk of sounding selfish. Realistically, volunteering is good for the soul. It allows you the chance to make a difference even if it feels small. It increases self-confidence, provides a sense of purpose, and combats depression. According to a study done by the London School of Economics called Simple Changes, Big Rewards: A practical, easy guide for healthy, happy living, the more people volunteered, the happier they were and the higher their average income compared with those that don’t.

[bctt tweet="Volunteering is good for the soul. It allows you the chance to make a difference even if it feels small."]

Ultimately the message is that giving to others does positive things for your psyche and it is okay to seek out opportunities to help others in order to gain happiness within yourself. Volunteering time to your community is a circular thing. You volunteer time to help others and then you are profiting from others that are volunteering. Each person is giving, gaining, and living a happier life.

For the Youth

There are many popular volunteer organizations for small children all the way up to young adults. Young people are more likely than any other age group to have volunteered informally in the past years. Youth volunteer participation is higher now than it’s ever been. This is due to more programs being offered every year, many schools and jobs that offering preference to those that have volunteered, and many schools offering volunteer programs through their institutions. Because so many communities are offering perks for volunteering, young people are willing to take these volunteer opportunities to gain experience, more chances for scholarships, and the prospect of adding to their resumes.

For college students as well as recent graduates, volunteer programs with abroad options are becoming a popular way to gain experience, enhance their resumes, and change the world in some small way. Travel has always been a popular wish for the youthful and now there are more options than ever for those who wish to help out other communities and travel while doing it. For those that want to experience different cultures, the options for volunteering abroad have become a popular choice over the traditional ways of travel. This trend for our young people shows the example the generation previous had for us and the example we will leave for our children.

 

With so many perks associated with the act of volunteering it’s no wonder that the trend has been on the rise. Many people are sacrificing their time to organizations that make a difference in their communities. Without these volunteers, most of these non-profit organizations wouldn’t be able to exist, so for those that see the good in volunteering they are changing the lives for so many people around them including enhancing their own happiness.


 

Author bio: Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree in 2012 from the University of Montana. She spends her time with her animals, exploring Idaho with her fiancé, and volunteering at Simply Cats.

 

Feature image: ResoluteSupportMedia

 

The Wanderlust Generation: Why Millennials Travel So Much

There has been a lot of talk in the past few years about millennials and what lies ahead for our generation. The reason for all this discussion is that it is a very important topic. There are 83.1 million of us millennials in the US, which makes up more than a quarter of the entire population. When you compare this to the 75.4 million baby boomers you see that our generation is a force to be reckoned with.

New businesses are springing up to meet our needs that change entrie industries. Old businesses are scrambling to connect with our generation in an authentic way.

There are also plenty of stereotypes about millennials. Some say that we are entitled, lazy, or we just think we know everything.

Instead of focusing on these negative stereotypes that our previous generations have so kindly donned upon us with, I’d like to focus on one simple fact.

This fact is that millennials travel more than any other generation.

In 2013 Expedia did a study that analyzed how often people from various generations travel. This study found that people under 30 years old travel 4.7 times per year for business versus only 3.6 times per year for 30 to 45-year olds and 4.2 times per year for 46 to 65-year-olds.

[bctt tweet="Millennials travel more than any other generation."]

It also found that millennials take 4.2 leisure trips per year versus 2.9 trips for 31 to 35-year-olds and 3.2 trips fro 46 to 65-year-olds.

The United Nations estimates that about 20 percent of all international tourists, nearly 200 million travlers, are young people.

According to a study conducted by Boston Consulting Group, 75% of millennials are interested in traveling abroad as much as possible. For non-millennials this number was only 52%.

As you can see, there are plenty of statistics about millennials and our constant wanderlusting desires.

But what is the story behind these numbers? Why are we so eager to explore the world?

Simply put, why in the world do we love to travel so much?

In this article we will take a look into the story behind why we travel.

The Impact of Social Media on Travel

Forbes and Elite Daily recently partnered up to do a study of millennials. This study found that we are not influenced at all by advertising.

According to Forbes, “only 1% of millennials surveyed said that a compelling advertisement would make them trust a brand more. Millennials believe that advertising is all spin and not authentic.”

Social media and technology changed advertising forever. Instead of allowing TV commercials to shout at us to buy, buy, buy we fast forward. Instead, we pay attention to people we look up to and to our friends for guidance on what to do, what to buy, and where to go.

The Influencer Effect

Don’t get me wrong, advertising is still going on. However, the smart companies are going about it differently. Instead of telling us what to do themselves, they show us what to do by paying someone we admire.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide recently hired social media influencers to visit it’s new line of hotels and post about them on social media.

If our favorite Instagram celebrity visits a hotel and posts awesome photos we are much more likely to see ourselves there than we would if we saw a commercial about the new resort.

Similarly, when we see these people going on adventures it inspires us to have an adventure of our own.

The Perfect-Life Perception

We are not only influenced by ‘social media influencers,’ but we are also influenced by our friends.

Every day we log into Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat we are bombarded by pictures of our friends doing amazing things. It’s as if everyone is living an incredible life 24/7.

Yet, when you think about it, you don’t find yourself sharing the boring parts of your life because no one cares. You won’t get hundreds of likes with a picture of yourself doing laundry. But, you will get plenty of likes when you post your selfie with Mona Lisa.

Over time, through trial and error, we learn to only post things that will get maximize our likes. This creates the effect of everyone looking like they live a perfect life, leaving us to try to do the same.

Although this isn’t always a good thing, I’d argue that it pushes many of us to try new things. We see our friends doing something fun that we never even thought of before, so we go try it out too.

Crowdsourcing and the Sharing Economy

Where before we could only deal with companies, we now can deal directly with people. Crowdsourcing and the sharing economy are bringing the best of the best of traveling to light as other traveler’s share their experiences.

Crowdsourcing Knowledge

When most people hear the term ‘crowdsource’ they think of Kickstarter or IndieGoGo where people go to crowdsource money in order to launch a product or project.

Yet, you can also think of crowdsourcing in the form of knowledge. Think about TripAdvisor, Wikipedia, FourSquare, and HostelWorld.

All of these websites and apps have one thing in common: they are created or enhanced by the sum knowledge of other people. You have hundreds of people’s opinions and advice at the tip fo your finger tips whenever you want it.

This can make your travel experiences consistently incredible.

Instead of listening to one person’s advice on where to stay, such as your travel agent, you now can read the advice of others and find the right place for you.

Instead of just listening to your hotel concierge for advice on a restaurant, you can now look up the top rated place around and eat delicious food at every meal.

Our chances of having a bad experience seem to go down dramatically when we take advice from the masses. I mean if over 1,000 people rate a restaurant over 4.5 stars, it’s probably going to have delicious food.

This also pushes companies to improve so that they can be the ‘go-to’ place whenever someone visits. For example, Red Roof Inn just spent $150 million to renovate it’s properties based on TripAdvisor feedback.

Never before have we, as consumers, had such a massive direct impact on companies. We no longer have to settle for something that doesn’t meet our requirements.

The Sharing Economy

Not only do we have more of a say in what companies do, but we can also stay away from the ‘corporate’ side of travel if we choose.

Instead of walking into a hotel, checking in, and feeling like just another transaction, we can have a place to call home. By using AirBnB instead of a hotel we are more likely to save money and get a more local experience.

The sharing economy has flipped massive industires on their heads and us millennials are absolutely loving it. Sixty percent of American travelers ages 18 to 34 say they put their faith in services such as AirBnB, Home Away, Uber and Lyft, whereas other travelers only came in at 37%.

We no longer need to hire a shady taxi driver to drive us around. We can now hire a cool local as our personal driver with Uber or Lyft.

Once again it is innovations like these that are making it incredibly easy to have an amazing experience while traveling. One great experience leads to another and another as you are constantly seeking to learn more about the world.

Digital Nomadism

The beauty of the internet is that it allows us to work from anywhere at anytime. We are no longer chained to a desk if we don’t want to be. Digital nomads are a new type of entrepreneur that have sprung up around the world. Rather than optimizing 100% for income, they are also optimizing for lifestyle.

[bctt tweet="We are no longer chained to a desk if we don’t want to be."]

Tim Ferriss and The New Rich

In 2007 Tim Ferriss unleashed a book that would change the way thousands of people viewed their lives. The 4-Hour Workweek is a book that brought to light a new idea to what it means to be rich.

As Tim Ferriss says, “Gold is getting old. The New Rich (NR) are those who abandon the deferred-life plan and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich: time and mobility. This is an art and a science we will refer to as Lifestyle Design.”

People associate the word ‘rich’ with things like mansions and sports cars. Tim, on the other hand, associates ‘rich’ with freedom.

Now, many people get the wrong impression of The 4-Hour Workweek saying that working a 4-hour week is just not possible. But they are missing the point. The point is that money is not the only thing that matters, especially if you can never use it since you’re stuck in an office for 60 hours per week.

This opened the eyes of thousands of people who decided that maybe they don’t need to be working for someone else. Maybe there is another way to lead an awesome life.

When this clicked for me I quit my commercial real estate job, backpacked around Europe, and started Travel This Planet as a result.  

Digital Nomad Hubs

Overtime this sparked the creation of hubs around the world of people living the life of the New Rich. Entrepreneurs, now referred to as digital nomads, congregate in amazing cities around the world to build businesses.

What most people don’t realize is that many of these entrepreneurs are actually making more money working for themselves than they would have if they followed the traditional corporate route.

Joel Runyon, a digital nomad and founder of Impossible, recently said, “The type of entrepreneur first defined by Tim Ferris in the 4Hour work Week has grown up with real multi-million dollar businesse and they’re covering the globe.”

Us millennials now have the ability to work, travel, and live wherever we please. If we choose to we can get away from the typical corporate path and start something ourselves.

Although this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, the romanticism of this type of lifestyle leads others to at least want to experience the travel side of it. When you read stories about people making a million dollars in five years while traveling the world, you can’t help but think “mabe I could do that.”

There are entire communities built around building location independent businesses. The most prevalent one is Tropical MBA’s Dynamite Circle, which connects thousands of these digital nomads across the globe with the purpose of helping each other grow their businesses.

Distributed Teams

Tim Ferriss’ book not only inspired individuals to go start their own businesses, but it seemed to also create a shift in company culture.

More companies are realizing how important travel is to millennials and using this as a perk to woo them into a job. Instead of requiring employees to come into the office there are now virtual work forces and distributed teams where employees can work from anywhere.

Companies such as Mozilla, Upworthy, Basecamp, and Buffer all utilize some form of this to run their companies.

This was not an option when the other generations were growing up. For millennials it’s a different story. We can travel the world and work at the same time to optimize for work-life balance.

A Shift in Values

The Economic Downturn

The economic turmoil of 2008 and the great recession that followed appears to be a blessing in disguise for millennials.

Some argue that millennials got hit the hardest by the great recession. Employment opportunities, income, and what the future held for us seemed to be at an all time low.

Yet, I argue that this was all a great lesson for us at a young age.

All of the families around us were trying to keep up with the Joneses. Big houses, fancy cars, and new boats seemed to be everywhere. Everyone was upgrading and going for the bigger and the better.

When the economy collapsed we saw foreclosed signs on every street. We saw families lose all of their new toys. We saw our parents investment accounts get sliced in half.

This changed our generation’s view on what’s important. We started to treasure experiences over material goods. We began to value memories that can last a lifetime rather than big houses that can be taken away from us and sold at auction.

What Happiness Means

Fast Company recently published an article that seemed to strike a nerve within our generation. With over 1.65 million likes and ten thousand shares, it’s been making it’s rounds to everyone’s newsfeed.

The article is titled, “The Science of Why You Should Spend Your Money on Experiences, Not Things.” It finally puts science behind what many millennials strongly believe: we should spend money on experiences and not material goods.

According to the article, people who don’t agree with this premise seemed to argue “that because a physical object will last longer, it will make us happier for a longer time than a one-off experience like a concert or vacation.”

Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a Cornell University psychology professor who has studied this subject for over two decades explains why this isn’t the case. He explains that people adapt to things over time.

You will get used to your big new house and your fancy car and they will eventually lose their impact on you. However, memories of experieinces will grow on you over time. You get to share these experiences with others in a way that doesn’t feel like a competition.

Final Thoughts

At the beginning of this article we set out to answer the simple question: Why do millennials love to travel so much?

The answer: Because we can.

Technology has provided us with an opportunity that no other generation got to experience. We are influenced by our friends to go travel and have amazing experiences. We then find ourselves posting about how amazing of a trip we had, which influences others to do the same thing.

Our ability to crowdsource knowledge and use the sharing economy to create consistently amazing experiences pushes us to continue seeking out new adventures.

Our ability to work from anywhere that we have an internet connection is a gift that we will continue to take advantage of. Whether we want to start our own company or work for a company there are plenty of options and communities out there that will help us do just that.

Our generation believes more in the power of experiences over material goods. We buy plane tickets over Porsches in order to seek out adventures that create memories of a lifetime.  

[bctt tweet="We buy plane tickets over Porsches in order to seek out #adventures. "]


 

Brian Kidwell "I started Travel This Planet to provide the best travel tips, hacks, and inspiration. You can call it a travel blog, but it is by no means about me. It's about you and providing you with the tools and inspiration to go travel. I've been fortunate to have experienced many different types of travel throughout my life and I hope to share the lessons and tools I've learned along the way."

 

Crown Chakra - Connection to the Divine

The seventh chakra is the one that brings all of the other chakras together. It is our connection to the divine and it makes us feel like there is a deeper purpose to our lives. Are you perhaps searching for this deeper meaning in your life at the moment? It may mean that your spiritual journey has begun, and that your Crown Chakra is starting to open up.

Sahasrara - Our Point of Connection

The last of the seven chakras is the Crown Chakra, Sahasrara. It connects us with the Universe and the Divine around us. This chakra is located on the top of the head, and through it we can experience the connection and unity with everything and everyone. It allows us to experience peace, joy and calm surrender knowing there is a larger purpose to life. We know there is a deeper meaning to our lives, and trust the Universe to take care of our soul, as we are indefinitely part of the universe.

The Crown chakra is represented by a lotus flower with thousand petals radiating violet and white light. It is the point where the body and the ego meet the soul and the universe. Thought the Crown chakra we receive energy from the Universe, and we give it back towards the Universe. We all radiate energy from within us, and these energies form a collective consciousness, a matrix of energies, and are all interconnected and influencing each other. Therefore by changing your energy, you can change the collective energy.

When the Crown chakra is in balance, we can live in peace and be grateful and joyous about the events in our lives. We are aware of the connection between us and the Universe, and feel that there is a grand plan for everything unfolding.

Different Stages of the Crown Chakra

Unlike the other chakras seeking balance, the crown chakra can be closed, in the process of opening up, or open.

Closed Crown chakra

If the Crown chakra is closed, we may have a belief that the deepest intuitive knowledge and connection with the Divine is not meant for us. We can be skeptical towards the spiritual world, and have the tendency to only believe what can be seen or felt. We may lack the feeling of connection to others, and can have a strong urge to possess material things in life.

Opening Crown chakra

When the crown chakra is in the process of opening, one is beginning the spiritual journey. This quest for spiritual connection is different for every person, some are finding guidance from meditation or yoga, and some find other means of getting in touch with the inner urge to find a deeper meaning to one's life.

Open Crown chakra

When the crown chakra is open, a person is completely connected with the Divine, and very open to the source of life.

How to Open Your Crown chakra

The Divine speaks to us all equally, some of us are just more tuned in. So how can you become more tuned with your 7th chakra, and hear the guidance available to you?

Shutting out the noise from outside will be helpful to let the divine information come in. Meditation is a great way to turn the awareness and energy inwards, and quiet the mind. When the mind is quiet, we can hear the soul, which is always connected to the great Universe, the Divine Source.

We can practice gratefulness as a form or praying. When we notice all of the things around us that we have, we can be grateful for them, appreciate them and bless them. Instead of asking for more, when we are grateful for what we already have, we open the channels for more good to come into our lives.

You can also write down any dreams and visions you have. These can be intuitive feelings, colors, shapes and visions that may at first seem like they do not make sense. But don't judge these visions with the mind, but stay open to them and observe the guidance they are providing you.

How is Your Intuitive Guidance?

How connected do you feel to the Divine Source? Do you wish you could be more connected, or are you still skeptical of the spiritual world? How easy it is for you to follow the inner guidance and find the deeper purpose of your life?

You can remind yourself daily:

I am part of the Divine, and the Divine is within me. I cherish my spirit and trust my intuition.

What a Yoga Travel Tree Teacher Training Has that Others are Missing

If there’s one important lesson we’ve all learned from our own yoga teacher training journey, it’s that there’s so much more to becoming a yoga teacher than knowing how to teach yoga. Yoga isn’t just a mashup of poses and postures and creating playlists.

[bctt tweet="Yoga is a philosophy. A lifestyle. A way of seeing the world."]

We want you to have more than just a teaching certificate. We want you to have all the information, knowledge, insights, and abilities you need to go out into the world and find success - financially, physically, and spiritually.

That’s why we include several bonuses in our trainings that we feel are important to giving you the best possible yoga teacher training experience possible, and go above and beyond the Yoga Alliance requirements.

Introduction to Ayurveda

Our lead instructor, Kate, has spent the last several years running her own Ayurveda coaching and consulting company. She brings that experience (and her Ayurveda Practitioner Certification) to our 200 HR teacher training to give you a detailed introduction to Ayurveda. Whether you’ve never heard of this sister science to yoga or if you’re looking to broaden your knowledge, you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of Ayurveda that you can share with future students.

Advanced Business Training

All Yoga Alliance registered schools are required to talk about the business side of becoming a yoga teacher, but we take that to a whole new level! Our mission is to not only help you deepen your own practice and knowledge of yoga, we also want your training to be PRACTICAL. After this experience, you'll walk away with strategies and approaches to securing your first teaching positions, know how to professionalize your approach to this new career, and much more. Because there are only so many hours in a day, we also give all of our teacher training graduates discounted access to Brooke’s 6-week Soulful Business Bootcamp advanced online training course. We believe in providing and delivering value and helping you achieve the professional success you want!

Advanced Mediation Training

Meditation is the cornerstone of any well-rounded yoga practice, and unlike other trainings, we don’t just say “hey you should probably meditate.” We include daily group guided meditation to show you the many different styles, structures, and approaches to meditation, so you’re prepared to bring the practice back to your future students. Of course, this daily practice during the training will help you broaden and deepen your own meditation journey along the way.

Yoga Travel Tree Retreat Discounts

We wouldn’t be a very good yoga travel company if we didn’t encourage and help our teacher training graduates see the world with us! That’s why we provide travel grants and discounts for our training alumni to use toward a retreat of their choice. There’s only one thing we love more than giving the gift of travel - it’s giving the gift of travel+yoga!

[bctt tweet="We provide travel grants and discounts for our training alumni"]

Teach on A Yoga Retreat

Once you’ve fulfilled your training requirements and gotten some teaching experience under your belt, we would love to have you teach on one of our global yoga adventures held throughout the year! First things first... let’s get you trained and certified through Yoga Travel Tree!

What EXACTLY is included when you train with Yoga Travel Tree?

So we’ve shared a lot of information with you about our yoga teacher training programs, and now we want to give you a quick and dirty breakdown of what exactly you receive when you embark on this journey with us.

Here’s what’s included in your Yoga Travel Tree investment:

  • 200 Hour Yoga Alliance approved and registered teacher training curriculum with the Satyam Yoga School
  • Comprehensive teacher training manual (only distributed at our trainings)
  • Welcome bag full of surprise goodies!
  • Access to not one, not two, but THREE experienced and expert instructors
  • All accommodation and three delicious+organic meals per day
  • Organized airport pick-up and departure shuttles to make your transition to/from the training seamless
  • Certificate of completion after all training requirements have been met
  • Camaraderie and friendship with like-minded yogis on the path to becoming a teacher
  • Full-immersion in a new culture and destination
  • Small class sizes and instructor studio ratio - All trainings are limited to 25 students
  • Mentorship, teaching, and coaching from our instructors before, during, and after the training
  • Complete roadmap to structuring and teaching Vinyasa  + many other styles of yoga at studios and events around the world
  • Broad understanding of the anatomy, functionality, and connection between the body and mind, breath and movement, yoga and life
  • Teacher Profile in the Yoga Travel Tree Teacher Directory on our website (including bio and links)
  • Opportunity to teach yoga on a Yoga Travel Tree yoga adventure retreat

And beyond all that, we also have some great bonus materials for you! 

  • Introduction to Ayurveda
  • Advanced Business of Yoga Training + Discounted Soulful Business Bootcamp
  • Advanced Meditation Study
  • Exclusive discounts on future yoga retreats with Yoga Travel Tree
  • Opportunity to teach on a Yoga Travel Tree retreat

There it is. The whole enchilada! We hope you’re inspired to find the perfect yoga teacher training program for you!

How to Travel Solo As A Lady

We live in an age where travelling is a real option. And many of us love it. We crave the wanderlust way of life, the new, the different and the unknown. We want to trace every corner of the globe, every desert, every beach, every forest. While travelling, we collect memories. From camping in The Syrian Desert, to backpacking our way through the Gringo Trail in South America. From eating snakes in Vietnam and safaried in Tanzania. Those of us who are lucky, have someone to share it with. A friend, or partner who craves the same adventure and wants to accompany us, as a witness and co-author to our life changing memories.

In your early twenties, it can be easy to find such a companion. See, when you tell people, "I want to backpack (insert amazingly fun/diverse/new country here)' there is usually someone with the freedom and desire to join you. And what a better way to live, right? Spending your time with a backpack on on your back and friends in company.

The thing is, things change. People grow up, get married and have families. They settle down and buy houses and form roots. Less and less often are there people jumping at the opportunity to trek the Himalayas with you over the Summer, when there is the mortgage and kids to worry about.

So comes a time when you need to embrace solo travelling.

And it's amazing.

It's fun and empowering and scary. It's the best.

When embracing the art of solo travel, there are a few tips that help you embark on your first trip with confidence. Little hints to help you take that plunge and embark on the journey of a lifetime.

1. Do NOT feel self conscious.

Everyone thinks that as a solo traveller, people are watching you. They are not. You can eat solo, drink at a bar solo, walk around town solo. People don't think you're weird. They envy you.

2. Talk to everyone.

If you see someone that you think looks nice, talk to them. Don't overthink it, just go up and say something. I met some of my best friends in the world by walking up to them and just chatting about nothing. People are nice and want to to talk back.

3. Language is not a barrier.

Don't speak the language, don't worry! Try and word or two and then just smile. A combination of sign language and laughter will get you far.

4. Find things you enjoy.

This is a great way to meet people. Find things you enjoy doing and use this a base to meet people. Try cooking courses, scuba diving, kitesurfing, yoga (of course), parasailing and rock climbing courses to mention a few. It actually doesn't matter what it is, any kind of interest will help you meet people and find common ground. It's the best way to meet people. Don't have any interests? Even better- try something new.

5. Relax.

Remember, this is a holiday. Don't like it here, you can go home. Finding things difficult, just relax in bed, sleep a bit more than usual and you'll be home in no time. Take the pressure off. It's a vacation after all!


Stephanie Johnson is a passionate school teacher, yoga teacher and environmentalist. As a primary school teacher in Sydney, Australia, she incorporates yoga teaching into all aspects of the curriculum. She has a severe and incurable case of wanderlust and has travelled to over 50 countries, with more plans to jetset abroad in search of yoga and adventure. Connect with her on Facebook or check out her blog at www.thatyogafeeling.com

Yoga Club: Breaking High School Boundaries and Spreading Acceptance

Writing this article is something we never imagined we would be doing. We can’t help but think back to a year ago when we were building Skyline Yoga club from the ground up, sitting at this same kitchen table in Emma’s house. As we tried to focus on the logistics, as well as designing the best posters possible, we were unsure about how it would all play out. All we knew is that we wanted to do more yoga, and if possible, make yoga more accessible to our peers.

Yoga club met for the first time on Tuesday, August 26th, 2014. We would be lying if we said the club was immediately popular. The first few meetings were very poorly attended, one of which only included the founders. Still, we managed to keep our spirits high, celebrating every new student who trickled through our doors. We quickly realized that a big part of why more students weren’t doing yoga was related to cost of equipment. Every student with an extra mat donated it to live in a communal yoga club locker (Lauren’s Band locker). At every meeting, the mats were taken out, and available for any student who needed them. Students were always encouraged to participate despite their attire, or their ability. Every class was “all levels welcome” and yoga club became a very judgment free zone. By November we had a few regular attendees, and our average class held about 10 students, not including the instructor or founding members. We were also becoming very immersed in many different kinds of yoga. We managed to bring in volunteer instructors who introduced us to diverse styles of yoga, including Hatha, Vinyasa, Bikrim, and Kundalini. We also hosted instructors for pilates, Zumba, and light-weight cardio.

Yoga Club SHS

Despite these unique experiences and opportunities, the more impressive outcome of yoga club was something neither of us expected. Yoga club’s population seemed to draw from many different groups around our high school. We had members from drama club, the Gay Straight Alliance, swim team, Soccer, Basketball, and even the football team. It’s impossible to ignore the reality that this diverse set of students wouldn’t normally spend time together. Throughout the year we started to notice the community forming. Across all grade levels, students were more than willing to talk to each other, and support their fellow classmates. Yoga club provided a special place for students to receive friendship and mentoring from their older peers. It also translated outside of our studio (the band room), where students would chat in the halls and other classes. Yoga club spread quickly with the aid of social media and word of mouth. It became Skyline’s best kept secret.

With numbers growing, yoga club became much more involved in the Skyline community. On numerous occasions we were Yoga Club SHSasked to provide services at school events, including a fundraiser for Make-a-Wish and a community Trick or Treat night. On both occasions yoga club members spent the evening painting children’s faces, and helping run the event. These events provided yoga club with the opportunity to give back. It also helped our students become more involved in the community around them.

What began as a fun past time became an opportunity for students to grow as individuals. High school is a very trying time. Students are constantly being bombarded with responsibilities including homework, jobs, extracurriculars, and social stresses. During a crucial period of personal exploration the littlest things make the biggest difference. It is important for students to have healthy outlets to help lessen daily stressors in a positive manner. Yoga club allowed students to become more mindful and self-confident. It also helped students achieve greater focus in and out of the classroom. Overall, yoga club provided a place where high school students could easily take a relaxing break from their daily lives, and come back refreshed.

Unfortunately, we only got one year with our little yoga club. All of the founding members have since graduated, but we are leaving the club in the more-than capable hands of some of our most committed attendees. They have already contacted a major studio in town, and have organized summer yoga activities. We are excited to watch from our separate colleges how they make the club grow.


Emma Creighton is a current student at the University of Kansas who regularly practices yoga, usually her favorite style of Bikram. One hot summer day, Emma and her best friend Lauren Bade decided on a whim to start a yoga club at their former high school Skyline, with the hopes to bring people together. A year later, the club is still going strong with new student leaders and Emma’s own personal practice of yoga has grown stronger.  

Lauren Bade is a student majoring in Biology at Brigham Young University. She loves dancing, gardening, and spending time with her friends and her two dogs Logan and Poppy. She first started doing yoga as a way to learn how to do cool tricks to show off at parties, but quickly fell in love with the practice, as well as the relaxation yoga brings. Lauren hopes to become a high school teacher, and also become a certified yoga instructor, so she can start another yoga club in the future.