Exhale Yoga Retreats attracts positive people from around the globe that come together to unite a higher frequency of good vibes. Come join a fun loving crew and enjoy the company of new found friends in paradise for a life-enhancing experience.
The connection between mind and body is a powerful one, and making (and maintaining) that connection is important to anyone seeking lasting holistic health. When your body feels good, your perspective and self-image improve, and you feel more confident and more optimistic. This holiday season, work some self-care into your Christmas shopping, take advantage of holiday sales, and set yourself up with equipment that will help you stay healthier in both mind and body.
Unless your spouse drops a gym membership card in your Christmas stocking, getting enough exercise during the course of a busy week may hinge on how much working out you can do at home. Make your New Year’s resolution a week or two early this holiday season and resolve to set up a home workout space. Exercise equipment is among the most popular holiday gift ideas, so there are plenty of opportunities to outfit an exercise room in your home without blowing through that Christmas bonus.
Many companies got the ball rolling on Cyber Monday with sales on some of the finest exercise bikes on the market, including the Schwinn 130, the Marcy Fan Bike and the Sunny Pro Indoor Cycle, with deals of from 30 to 90 percent off. Cyber Monday has come and gone, but finding good offers on these and other exercise bikes throughout the holiday season won’t be much of a problem.
While you’re getting your cardio work in, why not round out your exercise space with some strength-building equipment like kettlebells and resistance bands? You can easily find a set of two 10-kilogram (22-pound) kettlebells for around $50. And consider adding a Self-Guided Exercise Kit from Walmart for just $17, which includes resistance bands, an exercise mat, and a stability ball.
Don’t leave your mental well-being out of the picture. Set up a meditation space at home, a quiet, distraction-free area that’s designed to help you focus and create the inner-peace you need to maintain a healthy mental/emotional state. People who
meditate on a regular basis often find that meditative self-discipline can elevate one’s sense of well-being and overall health. A well-equipped meditation room enhances the likelihood that you’ll stick with it year-round and enjoy the feeling of tranquility and relaxation that meditation can offer.
Overall, meditation is a pretty low-impact activity when it comes to equipment. Meditation or yoga mats and meditation cushions enhance the experience, are not expensive and can be found easily at most major retailers and through online sources such as Etsy. These items can also be used in the practice of yoga, another restorative practice that helps make that all-important connection between mind and body.
If you’re new to yoga and its many benefits, consider giving yourself yoga lessons this Christmas and enjoy learning with a class of fellow beginners. The average cost of yoga sessions at fitness centers is about $12, though the cost may be a bit higher in larger metropolitan areas. (If you do have a gym membership, be aware that some gyms
include the cost of yoga classes with your membership fee.) If you’re an eBay fan, you can find high-quality Manduka yoga mats in multiple colors for as little as $11.
People resolve to exercise more and lose weight all the time, but many fail in their resolution because they lack the space or equipment — or because it’s just too inconvenient to get to the gym every day. You can make that New Year’s resolution stick this year with affordable equipment you can use in the comfort of your own home.
Doing what you love and listening to your needs. Sounds so good, doesn’t it? And it is. It’s the most gratifying thing, yet it can seem so complicated. It’s not. It’s the simplest of things, yet the excuses for not doing it are countless. It’s not complicated yet it doesn’t make it easy. Surely, there are some challenges here and there and sometimes it is hard to choose what’s best for you. But is it complicated? No, not really…
The mind likes to make things complex, to exaggerate the hurdles and find reason as to why give up before we even try.
This new year, why not make it a little easier and eradicate the distractions that go on saying how things can never be the way you prefer them to be. Drop the excuses for a minute and ask yourself just this once, what are you longing for? Is it possible that your hearts deepest yearning is also exactly what you need? Well then go for it!
Are you wanting to adopt a daily yoga practice, enjoy good company and a coconut on a beach? Do you want to put yourself first for a little bit and just relax while having a little bit of fun too?
Exhale Yoga retreats are designed specifically to accommodate everything you desire and need for the optimal enjoyment and rejuvenation. They offer a loving atmosphere for everyone, whether you’re looking to unwind, be adventurous, connect with kindred souls, get the perfect start to a new year or just get away from the stress of everyday life for a bit.
It’s a matter of compromise, and in all compromises- we must come to understand where our true priorities lie. When we start choosing differently, we also begin experiencing life differently and new things come into play. When we choose our well-being, compromising the need to please everyone else, we shall see that things start to shift. Our priorities tend to rule our lives, especially when we are unconscious of them. Thus, when we start looking at them more consciously, we are given the chance to reorganize a bit and, naturally, the way we feel begins to change.
What has been in the forefront that needs re-evaluating and de-prioritizing? What are you choosing to put first for this coming year? And what are some tangible things you can do to really act in alignment with your new priorities for yourself?
Make a list and start living in alignment with what is most important to you. It doesn’t mean that all else is forgotten, it merely means they come second. You just can’t pour from an empty cup, so what might you want to fill it up with this New Year? The choice is yours!
Do you give up on your exercise plan when you don’t see results soon enough—even one as fun as biking? Or are you more likely to let fitness take over your life, sacrificing sleep and socialization for an extra hour of cycling? While both stories are common, neither is the healthiest approach to physical fitness.
Biking—and exercise in general—should be used as a tool to improve your life, not just your aesthetics. Physical activity should uplift you; it should give you energy and feed your soul. It should also exist in harmony with the other important aspects of your life, because true health includes emotional and mental wellness, not just your physical health. If you’re struggling to balance the roles of biking and fitness in your life, this advice is for you.
Make Holistic Fitness Goals
Fitness goals don’t exist in a vacuum. Achieving a muscular or super-lean physique takes a lot of time, energy, and commitment. If that’s what you want to pursue, you have to be ready to say “no” to a lot of other things in life in order to schedule time for cycling—after all, there are only so many hours in the day. Think about all the priorities and responsibilities you have and their relative importance, then figure out how much time you can commit to each item per week. If your fitness plan would take time away from higher-priority items, you may need to adjust your fitness goals to match your life goals. One way to save time is by setting up an in-home gym. The garage, your basement, or a spare bedroom are great spots for this space.
Know It’s Not All or Nothing
Unfortunately, we tend to approach fitness like it’s all or nothing, like the belief that you’re either a fit person or you’re not. But that’s not the case at all. When it comes to getting active, something is always better than nothing, and there is such a thing as too much.
Take Care of Your Body in All Ways
Biking doesn’t negate other abuse to your body. If you’re not eating and sleeping well, misusing drugs or alcohol, or doing other things that wear your body down, your training and your health will suffer. You’ll get the best fitness results when you’re caring for all aspects of your health, and fitness can actually help you make good choices in other areas of life.
Use Rest Days for Self-Care
Rest days are important for preventing injury, but they don’t need to be spent lazing on the sofa (unless you want to!). This is a chance to take self-care beyond healthy meals and good sleep and into the activities that help you connect with your inner self. You can read, journal, meditate, or garden, or you can follow Fitness Blender’s suggestion and get active rest in the form of a nature hike, gentle yoga practice, or long walk with your dog.
Understand When to Step Back
If your biking or all-around fitness routine is causing your relationships, work, or physical or mental health to suffer, it’s time to step back. Overtraining puts you at risk of injury and leads to a variety of health repercussions. It can weaken your immune system, cause fatigue, make it difficult to focus, and even contribute to depression. (Learn more signs of overtraining at MyFitnessPal.) However, overtraining isn’t the only way you can push yourself too hard. If your biking regimen is negatively impacting your self-esteem or getting in the way of other responsibilities, reassess how it fits into your greater life goals. Exercise is a wonderful tool for strengthening yourself in body and mind. However, your fitness goals are just one piece of what makes your life healthy and fulfilling. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a dedicated biker, make sure you’re leaving time and space in your life for everything that’s important to you.
50m tall buddha in Sri Lanka. An incredible site to see and experience.
Life is incredible. I feel happy and totally full of love for myself and this world. This is truly living and experiencing life to the fullest potential. Being around like-minded people who keep you up, culture that is so genuine and kind, nature so vast and powerful, history and devotion so rich - every moment a new opportunity to be present in the exact moment we are in. That goes for everywhere we are - whether traveling or living as our true self back home.
I feel Sri Lanka in its entirety pulsing through my veins so strongly. I will cherish and value this experience more than I have any other. This is our chance to shine brightly as ourselves - just like Jungle Dance with Rachel last night. Closing our eyes and moving our bodies freely, dancing to the beat of our own drum. Then witnessing if and how quickly our rhythm morphs to another persons when we open our eyes. All of us are unique, all of us have different individual paths to our own truth, all of us must flow in our own way aligning with that truth.
Photo taken during the buddhist site pilgrimage day. Monkeys everywhere!
The time is always now. We cannot think of whats to come over what is now if we truly hope to live in the present. Worry, doubt, fear, etc. are all very real feelings we often get, however each of those throw us off balance with living life as truly ourselves - to do that we must trust the universe and listen to it along with our hearts at all times with big ears and small eyes. If we ever feel out of balance with this, go to nature for fresh air + fresh perspective. Breathe Deep and do something we know without question is good for our soul - go explore a new place, go outside in nature, meditate, practice yoga, listen to songs that make your heart sing, write your thoughts down, collect yourself and bring yourself back to the present moment. For it is here in the present moment we are alive and as close to the universe as possible.
This universe surrounds us on the outside, and completely fills us on the inside. Trust that. Trust ourselves and the person we were meant to be. Above all - LOVE unconditionally that inner self through every moment. My heart is so full for those around me, the people I've met here are all different versions of myself in which I learned from in past lives, or am still learning from. It is these like-minded people who I will keep in my soul as reference points for my journey through life.
Stay true along my road home. Feel the vibrant colors in my blood, gently rock my head to the left and to the right mixing both sides of the brain, let the breathe roll through my body in its entirety like smooth glassy ocean waves. Close my eyes and simply listen to everything around me and within me. This is life, and the time is always now.
Photo taken during Exhale Yoga Retreats 200hr Yoga Teacher-Training in Bali
If you observe yourself and those around you, you will see how much we close ourselves off just with our body language. We’ve gotten used to hunching over our computers and limiting our vulnerability through new forms of communication, like email.
What will help open us up to the world, while improving our posture?
These are powerful poses that offer many benefits, but there are many reasons that people limit or avoid them in their practices.
Typically we think of ourselves as having a frontward orientation because our eyes face forward. However, we need to find balance by exploring the other side—the back. This can be scary for many people because you can’t see where you are going in backbends, or in much of life for that matter.
They require trust, patience and strength of mind and body.
Physically, backbends strengthen the legs, back and arms. They open the shoulders and chest and stretch and elongate the spine, improving posture and lung capacity and strength. The extension of the back increases blood flow to the spine, which increases energy and relieves anxiety and tension. Backbends also stretch the front of the body, including the hip flexors and abdominal organs.
The physical benefits alone are great reasons to practice backbends. However, backbends also have so much energetic healing power.
Backbends are heart openers and they stimulate the Anahata(Heart) Chakra. Anahata means ‘unstruck’ or ‘unbeaten’, which is a fitting way to live our lives. By accessing your heart, you can live more fully, unbeaten by the things that frustrate or upset you. Once you open your heart you may release stored emotions like love and courage, but also sadness or fear. With this release, however, you can also find your true self and feelings of freedom.
As backbends and the unseen (unknown) can be scary, the process of practicing them improves your self-confidence and gives you the courage to try new things. Combined with opening your heart and seeing what you love, backbends will help you have the strength and courage to not only listen to your heart, but follow it.
So now that we have explored some of the benefits, which ones to do?
Backbend Poses and Categories
It is good to start with baby (gentle) backbends likeBhujangasana (Cobra Pose), its variation SalambaBhujangasana(Sphinx or Supported Cobra Pose) and Bitilasana (Cow Pose).
Once you gain openness and strength, explore some of the other back-bending poses:
Depending on your particular practice, consider the three categories of back-bending poses: contraction, leverage and traction.
Exhale Yoga Retreats 200hr Yoga Teacher Training student.
In these poses the muscles of the back are contracted to oppose gravity. A good example of this is Salabhasana (Locust). In this pose, you are lying on your stomach and you use your back muscles to lift your limbs and chest off the ground.
These are back extensions that use the ‘leverage’ of a stable object (for example, the floor) to stretch the front of the body. Bhujangasana(Cobra) uses the leverage of the hands against the mat to stretch the front of the body and extend backwards.
In traction poses, the muscles of the front of the body contract to oppose gravity while in a backbend. In Ustrasana(Camel) the front of the body will be active and contracted while bending back.Therefore the front of the body controls movement of the back of the body.
Backbends release a lot of prana(energy) so they can be exhilarating yet emotional. Practice them with greater awareness of yourself and your breath. Use them to bring love to your practice, for others and yourself. Allow yourself to explore your heart, your limits and your strength.
Sharing the love during Exhale Yoga Retreats 200hr Yoga Teacher-Training.
About the guest blog writer:
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. Learn more about Meera on her website by clicking here.
It turns out that breaking a sweat will break you out of the cycle of substance abuse. How does it do that? A better question would be how doesn’t it. Therapists, fitness experts and former addicts are discovering the physical and mental benefits of wellness, especially for those in recovery, and they are numerous. Here’s a look at some that may inspire you to go for a run right now.
Undoes the Damage
Though you may not feel it, drugs and alcohol have likely put your body through the wringer. High blood pressure, weakened muscle tissue and decreased lung capacity are all symptoms of long-term abuse that have a tremendous negative effect on your overall physical health. A diet and exercise program will help you recover your strength, stamina and energy, ultimately leading to stronger mental health as well as a better physique.
Fixes Your Neurochemistry
Your brain has been rewired through substance abuse to constantly crave the high you get from your poison of choice. Exercise turns that cycle to good use by boosting production of feel-good endorphins, providing a high similar to drugs and alcohol but from something healthy. Over time, you’ll even begin to feel this chemical reward from other activities such as eating or meeting someone new.
Exercise helps you manage your anxiety, says a doctor in Health magazine. That’s because of a crucial link between the mind and body, and what’s good for one is good for the other. According to research cited in the article, the three best activities are running, hiking and yoga, the latter of which provides a number of additional mental health benefits thanks its incorporation of rhythmic breathing and mindfulness.
Gets Rid of Anger
Fitness also serves as an excellent outlet for frustration as you release your negative emotions through physical activity like a flurry of punches on a heavy bag. The exertion will also kick-start that endorphin boost, leaving you with a healthy post-workout buzz in place of the pent-up anger you felt going into the gym. Any kind of exercise works, and the wellness website Lifestrong.com suggests simply going for a walk or a jog.
The best way to feel better about yourself is to accomplish something, and exercise allows you do just that. With each run at the park or session at the gym, your physique will gradually improve until there’s no denying that you look better, and feel better to boot, or so say the experts at health website Sharecare. This will inspire increased self-confidence as you realize what you can achieve with a little effort.
It takes some self-control to exercise every day rather than wasting your time with TV or video games. It turns out that it’s a two-way street, and you’ll be rewarded for sticking with your workout with increased discipline to keep doing so in the future, according to an article in the New York Times. One researcher suggested that exercise alters parts of our brain involved in higher-level thinking and decision-making to encourage impulse control.
Establishes a Routine
The chaotic life that you once led is now shaping into something completely different. Fitting in your aerobics or weight-training means sticking to a strict schedule throughout the day. You’re quickly falling into a routine, which helps you balance work and family while keeping you away from the harmful elements of your previous lifestyle.
Improves Your Social Life
You’ll make new friends, or even find a new romantic interest as exercise puts you in touch with others who share the same interest in fitness and can bond over a particularly strenuous workout. The easiest way to meet people would be to sign up for a group activity such as aerobics, Crossfit or yoga where you’ll have ample opportunity to chat and exchange numbers while cooling down afterward.
Now can you find the time to add a workout into your daily planner? You’ll get the best results through consistency, so make time everyday for exercise, even it’s just a half hour in the morning or evening. It’ll be even easier if you choose something fun and crank up the music.
There’s this cultural habit the western world often embraces that I’ve come to learn is a major impediment for our mental, emotional, physical and financial maturation.
It’s the tendency to “vacation” in such a way that when it’s over, we find ourselves requiring time to nourish [read: detox] ourselves back into a high functioning member of our communities.
Have you ever said "I need a vacation after that vacation?”
By no means am I preaching to you from a high horse. I’ve been there, I’ve said that.
The way late nights turned early morning parties. The copious alcohol consumption, over indulgence in the all you can eat buffets and a general air of nonchalance towards the habits, actions and attitudes that best serve our highest self.
We guise this abuse under the veil of “vacation”.
I’ve been on “holidays” that have battered my health so much that the thought of climbing a mountain or getting on my yoga mat midst “break,” was out of the question. But as I live out the later years of my twenties I’ve been able to see the other side of that coin.
Let me explain.
Like many of you, I’ve worked my ass off to save and visit a beautiful, exotic destination - just to party so hard for the majority of my trip that upon my arrival back home I’m cranky, tired and less productive then before I left.
Admitting this is not the hard part, because I know I’m not alone. What is hard, is wrapping my mind around how long it took me to see the light.
Sure, I like a good party and have been known to throw down on a dance for ‘til the wee hours of the morning. And yes, I’ll always have a weakness for quality red wine. But, somewhere in the last couple of years my style of “vacationing” has changed dramatically and not so coincidentally, the quality of my life.
I think the pinnacle of this evolution can be summed up in my most recent Exhale Yoga Retreat experience.
At the end of last year I embarked on an epic two week adventure with the Exhale Yoga Retreat Tribe and can honestly say that when it was (sadly) over I felt - revitalised, rejuvenated, full of energy, inspiration and motivation to live my fullest, most bad ass self upon my return to “reality.”
A stability and energy level that has not depleted in the weeks since my departure.
Prior to my retreat, I had completed a 200 hr yoga teacher training (also with Exhale - full disclosure, I am an avid Exhale addict). I knew that after my training I would be living abroad, travelling Asia as I continued to navigate the unfamiliar waters of nomadic entrepreneurialism.
I left the safety of that incredible teacher training feeling a little exhausted, slightly overwhelmed and yet eager to “do something” with my life. However, since I wasn’t heading back home, I had no idea what that was going to look like and had little motivation to figure out how I was going to sustain myself.
I did have these grand ideas of what I “could" create but lacked the concentration, the clarity and the drive to make it happen. For a few weeks after my training I basically just floated out on a surf board in the ocean contemplating my existence.
Then I decided to join Exhale on their Bali Wander Retreat because I wasn’t ready to be back in reality.
We had an insane amount of fun.
Jungle dance parties, long pool side chats and laughter that lingered late into the evening. We rode horses along beaches, gawked at the stunning scenery, marvelled the magnificent sunrises and soaked in every sunset. We ate like royalty and there may have been a cocktail or two enjoyed during a happy hour outing in Ubud.
My routine was pretty steady, I woke early with the sun every morning and rolled out my mat with my tribe. During my flow I was incredibly present to the power of the people that surrounded me, to the potential that flowed within me, and to the inner voice that kept repeating "you are exactly where you are supposed to be and the universe is taking you exactly where you need to go.”
During my practice, I held in my mind’s eye, this image of me living an incredible life. I saw myself as a successful, motivated entrepreneur, in deep meaningful relationships with people that contributed to the light and positive development of our world. I made a point of injecting intention into everything - from what I ate, to how I moved, to the conversations I had and the activities I did.
In the evenings we practiced this incredibly nourishing, slow yin class and again I would lay there embracing the beauty of self-care and repeating kind words to myself over and over and over. It instilled within me a sense of trust, that I knew that I was doing what I needed to do, to be all that I had to be, to live the life I desired to live.
I had these extraordinary conversations - ones that inspired me to share my biggest dreams and open up to people about my fears and all that may prevent me from leaping with both feet into my truth.
I immersed myself in this environment for two whole weeks. It was bliss.
As they say, all things come to an end and I reluctantly had to leave our hub and embark back into the world.
I’m not sure how else to describe this, other than the person I came out of that retreat as was not the same person who entered.
My state of mind, my capacity, my bravery, my life… exploded in the best sense of the word.
I made these ridiculously incredible connections with outrageously inspiring individuals. I manifested a legal working and resident permit on an island that is notoriously challenging to do so in. I landed clients and built a rapidly growing media agency online. I so quickly manifested the ideas that I had whispered to my soul during those yoga classes on our retreat - to the point where I have had to hire help, expand, and say no to some otherwise desirable yes’s, because my life is over flowing with opportunity.
I say this with slight trepidation. I don’t want to sound boastful or at all like I haven’t had to work for this good fortune - trust me, I have, a lot.
The point of my story is this. I think that it is foolish or naive not to connect all the dots.
I have always had drive and ambition and yet I have constantly struggled in the past with properly utilising it in order to bring to fruition all that I could imagine for myself. However, in the last year I have made major lifestyle shifts. Ones that have moved me away from the work hard, party harder perspective and instead have birthed a mindful approach to literally everything I do.
This is not to say I never party or lose my balance, I do - I’m in my 20’s after all. I’m an advocate of ripping up a dance floor and living life to the fullest. However I no longer destroy my body in the process. I make sure that my health, my mental clarity, my emotional stability and my overall happiness are kept paramount. This allows me to stay focused, clear and intentional about the actions I am doing and how they impact the goals I know I aim to achieve.
My Exhale Retreat was a defining experience in my life that showed me the dramatic difference between a mindful and a mindless vacation. It so blatantly laid out for me the impact that each can have on your life, long term.
So, should you batter your immune system, sleep the day away and disconnect from the practices that ignite your light within - or - should you consider what a mindful vacation looks like for you and invest your time and money in something that will actually serve you in the big picture?
I won’t answer that for you - and I don’t think anyone else can.
The decision to put your well-being first, to consider alternative ways to relax, restore and retreat that differ from a traditional “all-inclusive vacation package,” will always be your call.
However I will leave you with this…
You can spend money on a trip that you will enjoy in the moment and perhaps have a couple of stories to share later on - or - you can spend your money on an experience that shapes who you are as a being in this world. One that aids you on your journey to living your highest self.
Those experiences in which you invest in your growth, health and overall betterment will ALWAYS stay with YOU forever and not only that, they will positively impact each individual you meet thereafter.
Under that analysis, any entrepreneur or rational intellectual would say that the latter of the two, has a much higher return on investment.
Morning meditation during our recent 300hr Yoga Teacher Training
Sometimes, when someone is so great- we forget to let them know, assuming that they’re already fully aware of their greatness. Regardless, every being deserves ample appreciation and recognition for who they are and how they show up in the world. I know, it may not seem very yogic to boosts someone’s ego, but that’s not necessarily the purpose here.
The purpose is more so to share the joy of Math’s teachings with the world. If you haven’t already seen him arm balancing on Instagram, laughing away on Codyapp or heard him chant in real life- you’re in for a treat. And for those of you who know what I’m talking about… well you know what I’m talking about! I’ve met few people in my life that can match the amount of passion that this man lives his everyday life with. It’s not a question of one class here and one practice there, his charisma and encouraging attitude is an unbroken constant. His life is an endless work of art born out of his joy and presence in every given moment.
Many wonder, and rightfully so, where he gets all his energy from, and my theory is he is self-sustained in such a way that his fuel is the sharing itself. The more he gives, the more he receives. In perfect balance, literally, whether on and off the mat, whether on hands or feet or fingertips or what not…
If you’ve ever attended a class of his you’ve probably heard him slip a French word here and there in the sequence, adding a Parisian romantic flair to the most unromantic of postures. He’ll challenge you until the bitter end because that is how much he cares about the evolution of his students. He doesn’t merely want to see his students show up, he wants to see them excel- and so he does. Any true disciple of his is bound to success in whatever they set their spirit to.
Mathieu teaches from his soul in a way that magically and inevitably draws you into the core of your own being, propelling you to become the best version of yourself possible. His ancient soul, along with his playful nature makes him one of the greatest teachers I personally have ever had the opportunity to learn from.
So, if you’re out there fumbling, whether beginner or advanced yogi, looking for a teacher to support you through some real deep transformation, Mathieu is certainly the guy for you!