5 Tips on how to take an instant mental holiday

We’re heading into summer here in Barcelona, although it’s been off to a slow start this year. I often find that by this time of year, I’m well and ready to kick off my shoes and take a break. Only problem being that the holidays have still not arrived. There are still deadlines to meet, exams to write and hard work to be done. That’s why I’ve put together a little list of tips on how to take a short mental holiday, before the real thing comes along, in order to keep your batteries charged. Of course it’s also good for your sanity and those around you as well.

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  1. Do Viparita Karani for 15 – 20 minutes (also known as legs-up-the-wall pose) This is definitely one of my top, go-to poses. If I feel tired, but wired and still need to get a lot done, 15 minutes spent in this pose will make the world of difference to how you feel. It’s an instant pick-me-up with rejuvenating, yet deeply grounding after-effects. So put on your favourite music to chill-out to and spend 15 – 20 minutes here. For instructions on how to do the pose, have a look here.
  2. Reconnect to your breath   Easier said than done, this thing of staying present. If you’re feeling stressed and as though you’re completely disconnected, taking just 2 minutes to sit quietly and watch your breath, will make you feel like a different person. An effective technique is to silently count your breath as you inhale, e.g. count to 3 or 4 or 5 and then keep the count the same as you exhale.
  3. Abhyanga   In Ayurveda, there is a massage called, Abhyanga, where you massage your whole body with warm, organic sesame or coconut oil, before taking a shower in the morning. Massage your limbs by using long strokes and use circular strokes on your joints. Then take a shower, at first with hot water and then finishing off with cold water. This Ayurvedic practice is incredibly detoxifying and revitalising. You’ll feel amazing afterwards.
  4. Put on your favourite dance track and dance your heart out   Our bodies are designed to move and often we need to get rid of some excess, negative energy in order to reboot our brains and get our endorphins flowing. Only requirement here, make some space, turn up the volume and have fun!
  5. Go and sit under a tree and watch the world go by   When is the last time you just sat down on a bench or on a patch of grass and drank in everything that was happening around you? Without any judgment, just watching people, animals, nature, everything moving at its own pace and feeling your connection and place in the world. Notice how time slows down, when we are more present to everything around us.

What are some of your favourite ways of taking a mental holiday?

Spring cleaning in Autumn

4 Countries in 9 DaysBratislava • Vienna • Prague • Budapest

A few days ago, as we returned home from an impromptu action packed, 9-day trip which included Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Prague, I had the sudden urge to start spring cleaning. Except that seeing as I’m living in the Northern Hemisphere, it is, quite frankly, the wrong time of year. It could be due to the fact that I lived in Dubai for four and a half years, where there weren’t any seasons. Only hot and hotter than Hades. And now my body is finally tuning in to the change of seasons again. Presenting an ideal opportunity to get rid of all the unnecessary stuff (emotionally and physically) that we lug around in order to fully embrace the coming winter season and all that implies. Which is normally to slow down, and embark on a more quiet, inward journey, taking stock of where we are and how that aligns with where we would like to go with our lives.

In addition to the physical purging of clutter, I have also signed up for the 7 Day Fall Ayurveda Detox with Yoga Journal, starting on 12 September. The detox involves the following 4 steps: step 1 – slowing down and reducing stress; step 2 – following a detox diet consisting of ayurvedic foods specific to my dosha; step 3 – practising daily cleansing yoga; and step 4 – self-study or svadhyaya. I will blog a little bit more about Ayurveda in later posts, but in short, it is the ancient Hindu system of health and medicine, which approaches healing in a holistic manner.

If you are feeling inspired to join the detox, you can sign up here on Yoga Journal’s website to receive daily yoga practices, recipes and tips on how to make the best of your detox experience throughout the week. It’s completely free to sign up and a fantastic way to get your body and mind ready for winter.