Next on my List

I have a big travel list of where I’d like to go in the works all the time. I took this 6 month part time job abroad to accomplish some of my restless wanderlusting goals and dedicate myself to my yoga practice. During the process of finalizing I had a lot of fear crop up in the way of finances- at 23 you’re supposed to be starting your career and looking towards the future. In one particular moment I remember having a meeting at the bank and the accounts person across from me saying “have you started saving for a down payment yet?” My response was “a down payment for what?” He wasn’t so impressed- “A house, of course. If you want to be in your own place by the time your 26 you’ll need to start saving now…big time.”

And here I am. Student loans in tow, not saving for down payment, spending all my money on yoga classes and tourist traps. I don’t know- the future will most definitely be financially interesting, but I’ve learned that no matter what, its always worked out for me financial wise. Always. I’ve always made it WORK. SO why can’t I make it work for what I really love? 

This list is my 6 month no financial fear travel calendar/ list. I will not ‘put a trip on hold’ because of money- there is always a way to make it work- you just have to work it. 2017 is my year baby!

JANUARY

Luxembourg:

IMG_5763.jpgluxlife.jpgSettling in Luxembourg has taken some time and I’ve tried to be as open book as possible with sharing all the ups and downs. And there have been many ups and downs! A few months ago, back in Canada, I honestly couldn’t have told you where Luxembourg was on a map. Now I’m living here. It still boggles my mind a bit. I’m so close to everything and the country is absolutely more beautiful than I ever could have dreamed of. Sitting on 3 different plateaus I never realized how beautiful a land formation could be with an old and historical city built upon it.

Trier, Germany:

From Luxembourg, Trier is only an hour train ride away and is Germany’s oldest city. Its an ancient Roman capital that was inhabited a thousand years even before the Romans came along. Its been described to me as the perfect historical day trip- which sounds perfect while I’m settling into Europe.

FEBRUARY

Paris, France:

I think hitting Paris in February is the perfect time- not only because its valentines but it’s also my Mama’s birthday. I think we should meet in Paris- how romantic!

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-MARCH-SAVING MONTH-

APRIL

Amsterdam, Netherlands:

Meeting my parents in Amsterdam for a week of biking & yoga would be a perfect holiday! I get holidays in april & may so these trip will be longer and more thorough. Amsterdam seems like a good relaxing city- walking along canals and visiting museums.PLUS, the tulip festival is in April!!

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MAY

Greece-Anywhere & Everywhere:

May is my birthday month and I plan on making it a big one. I’d like to be in Greece for a week, island hopping, doing yoga and getting salt water cured. I’d love to get the history of Athens mixed with the relaxation of a good ol’ blue and white beach. 24 couldn’t start any better in my opinion.

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-JUNE-SAVING MONTH-

JULY

This is my big one. My big dream. My most expensive. I’d like to finish these 6 months with a yoga retreat in Bali. Its all to be decided…to be dreamed of more…but its on my list and I can’t seem to get it out of my mind.

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Those are all my MUSTS but I do have a list of optionals OF COURSE, depending on cost:

  • Rome, Italy
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Florence, Italy
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Provence, France
  • South Africa
  • Marrakech, Morocco
  • Croatia
  • Goa, India (but thats big dreamin’)

Where else shall I go and write about? What are some of your best travels?

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**Most of these inspiring images are not mine.

PACK & PRACTICE: Travel Yoga Essentials

Being that I can fit most of my belongings into a carry on, I thought I would write a yoga essentials on the road post. Now I want to preface this by saying, you don’t need anything to be a yogi on the go. Nothing. None of these things i’m about to show are actually essential. All you need is a body to do yoga on the road. However, things can bring comfort and I know these few yoga related things that I have bring me an immense amount of comfort while being away!

On the Go Yoga Mat

travelessentMy numero uno. My ride or die. I love this yoga mat. I had been researching it for a while before buying and Santa ended up putting it under the tree for me (he/she always knows♥). Previously I owned a Jade Yoga mat- which I really liked- except for how *heavy* it was. Even walking to yoga class down the street was an exercise. It was GREAT for my home practice though!! Anyways- when I moved I ended up downsizing a lot and ended up with no mat.

This Manduka eKo Superlite Travel Yoga Mat is the best thing that ever happened to my yogi traveling butt. I can fold it up to fit in my purse, not even just my carry on but my purse. Its super thin and light but also super grippy. I can move into all aspects of my practice on it. I know you don’t need a mat to practice yoga- at all. But in a time where I feel like I don’t have a true ‘home’, it has really helped to have a little space that is constant & familiar. My mat is like my home- it’s where I come back to myself- and I’m so happy that Manduka made it possible for me to take this feeling of home with me wherever I go.

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Books & Yoga Journal

I brought a few books in physical copy that I simply can’t live without. Now warning, they aren’t tiny and they did make it so that my carry on suitcase was impossibly heavy. However, I made it through security alright and got help lifting it into the overhead bin so it al worked out in the end. They’re just too good to let go. BUT- if you have an ipad or tablet, it would probably be easier to buy them in digital copy. So much lighter.

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I’m loving ‘Teaching Yoga’ by Mark Stephens– while I’m not currently teaching yoga, I am always trying to plan home practices for myself and keep track of ones I love for someday when I will be teaching. This book has a great overview of asana and yoga theory that is wonderful to return back to over and over. ‘Ayurveda: The Science of Self Healing’ by Dr. Vasant Lad is also one of those books you can go back to over and over both for answers for yourself and for students. Health is on a spectrum and sometimes while traveling- finding balance is really hard. Sometimes looking to ayurveda is the answer for me on remember how to balance my body and mind.

Finally, my last essential book is my yoga practice journal.Everyday I practice and I write about it. Sometimes the practice isn’t asana. Sometimes its laying in bed and wondering what i’m doing in life and breathing. Sometimes its a hardcore vinyasa class that kicks my ass. Either way- having a journal to check in with how you are feeling creates a more stable container so you can figure out how to find balance. My journal is from Chapters and says ‘Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History”- to remind that feeling is in direct correlation with growth.

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Comfort and Cozy

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Being on the go can be exhausting. Coming back to the self more often than not, can help restore some energy. The moment I take off my shoes I put on my reading socks from Chapters. Meditation always goes better for me with warm toes. Why? I have no idea. Also, I bring a travel candle with me and my amethyst, rose quartz & selenite. I’m super smell oriented, so the candle helps bring me back to a space of calm and the crystals make it feel more like ‘my’ space (even though truly, we own no space).

Self Care

travelessent7Last but not least are my on the go self care items. Dry brushing is an Ayurvedic technique that stimulates the lymphatic system, boosts circulation, gets rid of dead skin cells, improves digestion….and the list goes on. I dry brush every time before I shower while the water heats up.  I may not adhere to all ayurvedic cleansing techniques (oil pulling every morning is hard when you can’t bring a big jar of coconut oil with you everywhere) but I do keep up with this. Its more-so just a shower prep for me where I can have a few extra moments to myself. For Christmas I got this cute little travel sized brush and while getting the middle of my back is tricky- it is quite a useful little tool.

Once I get in the shower, I use this Rituals shower oil to restore some moisture to my skin. I was wary of this at first when my mum had it- oil…is…oily. But this shower oil from rituals is like a body wash. Its not slick or slimy at all! I love the smell of Yogi Delight and bought one as soon as I got to Luxembourg. I’m completely hooked.

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Next are my on the go essential oils. The first, I got from my mum last Christmas and it is a mix of sandalwood & frankincense for grounding. I used it all throughout my yoga teacher training whenever I started to feel nervous or agitated- which was often –  and I still have plenty!! The mix is by Yogandha . My second blend a new one I got in the UK while shopping with my best friend at Neal’s Yard. It’s their Travel roller, a mix of bergamot, rosemary and clary sage to dispel fatigue and ease anxiety. I’m not an anxious traveler- except when it comes to ‘missing’ a train or flight. I arrive hours early because i’m so anxious that I will miss the transportation to wherever I’m headed. Traveling is a big financial investment which is where the anxiety crops up! This oil blend keeps me mellow-ish and ‘ready to roll’.  travelessent9

And of course…headbands to keep my hair outta my face.

Essential Pranayama for Travel

In yoga, the most essential part of well being is circulating your prana (engery) via the breath.  practice is something that is commonly overlooked as a yoga practice with all the beautiful posed bodies on instagram however, it is more than often, most important for keeping a balanced self while traveling. I practice two key pranayams while traveling:

3 part breath: CALM: with one hand on my stomach and one on my chest, I breathe in 3 parts. First, deep into the stomach, then into the lungs, then into the clavicle (if its accessible to me that day). Then, I let go in 3 parts- the clavicle, lungs and stomach. Its a wonderful breath to use to bring you back to the self and soothe anxiety. Take it slow and if safe, close the eyes.

Alternate nostril Breathing:BALANCE: This is not to be practiced for anyone who has frequent seizures. Breathing into the left nostril while the right is blocked by a finger and then switching the blockage to left and breathing out the right. This continues **slowly** back and forth until completing by breathing out the left nostril. Always take a few moments to return to natural breathing afterwards.

Essential Asana for Travel

Malasana: GROUNDING: Malasana is a super grounding pose. Especially if you keep your hands firmly planted on the earth. Traveling all the time can tend to make us a little ‘airy’. Remember to come back down to the ground every now and again.

Cat/Cow: BALANCING: Cat/ Cow has a beautiful way of restoring the natural curves of the spine and balancing the mind (as long as you flow with the breath!). Carrying purses, luaggage ect, your spine can go a little wonky. Keep it healthy- its the centre of your being!

Downward Dog: CIRCULATE: Inverting your heart above your head can reserve blood flow ensuring that parts of your body that may have been getting limited oxygenated blood flow get a little boost- like your brain! Sitting in a plane, train or automobile keeps blood flowing consistently in one way. Shake it up and reintroduce some life to your body!

Seated Spinal Twist: DETOX: Twisting rings out the abdominal organs- where some have cited the key to health is! Keep your gut happy by twisting out any toxins.

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Trust

I’ve always felt like a fairly brave person.Not brave as in, no fear & solid as stone, but brave as in willing to walk through the fire and get what needs to be done, done. The cross-over to this year is teaching me that bravery is actually useless & harmful. Trust is much harder than bravery… Why? Because it’s a hell of a lot harder to trust what you are unsure of than to power through it without feeling the flames.

In bravery we are arrogant, in trust we are humbled.

I felt brave making this move to Europe. I felt I was making the hard choice to move and last month I began to doubt that a lot. Now I see that there is no right or wrong. There is no brave moves- only those that require a lot more trust. I trust that this is neither good nor bad but that it will lead me where I am meant to be. I don’t know that this will all work out and I’m not so fearless as to think that it will be without its hardship. So far I have been shown so much generosity and kindness that it has been overwhelming at times. There have been so many moments when fear creeps in and tells me ‘this is where everything comes crashing down and you return a failure’ and every time there is such a peace after the fear. Such a moment of quiet connection to ‘now’ that I feel humbled enough to trust whatever will come, even if it’s catastrophically horrible.

Yesterday,I went to the airport with my dad to fly to Luxembourg. When we got in the car I was nervous and ready to get it over with. I looked up at the driver to see on his dash board  2 ganesha sculptures. I laughed to myself- it’s meant to be, I’m moving obstacles, I’m making changes, I’m in the right place at my right time. Fast forward- past getting searched at security and a very chaotic Heathrow post New Years- I got on the plane to Luxembourg, nervous and shaking. The plane took off under the most beautiful sunset-a scene I will always remember. The seatbelt sign switched off and I got a gingerale to settle my nervous stomach. Then we hit turbulence. Then more. Then the captain (who kept saying ‘gentlemen welcome to your flight’ and ‘gentlemen please take your seat and fasten your seatbelts’ as if women were non-present on the flight) came on and advised that it was about to get even rockier so to please remain seated. I’ve been on flights with turbulence before but none quite like this. The woman next to me was losing. her. shit. and I found myself looking at her and thinking ‘thats what inside my head has looked like for what feels like my whole life’. I found my grip on my seat loosen and my mind wander to those two ganeshas. I’m not in control. I’m not making changes. I’m not walking through this fire. I am trusting that the obstacles are meant to be there. That they need not be moved by me– that they will move on their own accord when the time is right. I’m trusting it all will be exactly as it is. My insides suddenly didn’t reflect the girl freaking out next to me and neither did my outsides. I found myself grateful to her and her fear and to me and mine. I found myself happy to be beside someone who was entirely in her own experience while I was so entirely within mine. And that is the difference between trust and bravery…

According to J.M Barrie, one of my favourite authors,
“All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust”

That may sound hokey and too sunshiny / naive to some but I’m starting to believe more in the power of trust…even if it takes me to ugly places where i’m overwhelmed and lonely.It’s all life and that is more empowering than being brave ever will be.

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Columbia Road Flowers

**WARNING: excessive amounts of flower photos ahead!**

As a former garden centre worker of 3 years, I have a serious love for flowers and dirt. So when my mom mentioned that she wanted to go to the Columbia Road Flower Market on Sunday, I happily agreed. We woke up at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning so we could be there early as she was told that it tends to get crazy later on in the day. We got on the tube at 7:30 and arrived at the market around 9am! It was already bustling and busy after only being open for about an hour. cfm_9cfm_1

Being from Canada, I’m not used to seeing flowers this time of year. Usually, its purely white snow and pine. Here in the UK however, theres flowers all year round!! Despite the cold, the flowers were absolutely beautiful. HUGE blossoms and so fresh. Christmas wasn’t missing from the flower market either. Christmas trees lined the paths before the market and over the bustle you could hear “2 for five pound poinsettias!” being shouted. Real mistletoe (which I had never seen before!) and gorgeous large sprigs of holly were also big hits. Even cactuses in Santa outfits! cfm_2cfm_4cfm_3

Some of my favourites were the iris’ and roses which were so vibrantly coloured it was hard to believe. I found myself wondering how beautiful it would be in the summer months-how the flowers must look then?  On our way to the flower market I even saw rainbow coloured roses and was in awe. Rainbow!cfm_7cfm_8cfm_5There were also plenty of succulents for the forgetful gardener. cfm_6

We didn’t end up buying any flowers but just looking at them filled my garden spirits…hopefully until spring!

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Edinburgh’s Christmas Market

Alright, instead of posting about each and every christmas market I attend in the UK, I think maybe I’ll just post this one because it has been my favourite. I could live in this market. I was probably influenced seeing as it was my very first time to Scotland and I was swept up in the awe and beauty of Edinburgh itself. However, this christmas market was THE best (and not just because Michael Bubble’s christmas album played everywhere I went).

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When we walked in the first place we headed for were the scarves (of course). Beautiful plaid scottish scarves! Alisa bought a big blanket one because it was *freezing*.ed_8ed_7ed_6

Next we moved over to my niche- coffee! Flavoured coffee ground available for purchase at several different booths- I was in heaven. My absolute favourite coffee is blueberry (I know it sounds weird but don’t knock it till you try it). So I bought a small bag of blueberry coffee grounds as my Scotland souvenir. Would have loved to try chocolate orange though!

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Wandering around at night was magical. The market was completely lit by twinkle lights and rides, giving it a cozy glow. The sky was a deep blue and we were so happy with the weather we got. It was cold, sure, but as Canadians we’re used to blistering cold with piles of snow. This was more of a crisp cold, making it entirely bearable and just christmas-y feeling enough.

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Candies & ornaments & fudge everywhere. It was like I was living in a dream. The food stands were just as amazing. Crepe stands everywhere. Not to mention all the mulled wine and plum cider. Even the bars were lit with fairy twinkle lights!ed_9.jpged_10

The sky line was a beautiful mix of history and modern ferris wheel fun. The lookout we found overlooked the ‘Santa Land’ rides & christmas tree maze. The christmas tree maze was honestly what put this over the edge for me. All twinkling in lights it looked absolutely magical.

ed_skyIMG_4901.JPGIMG_4926.JPGed_slideThis huge pillar we learned was a massive slide for kids to go down!

Up the street there was another smaller christmas market with a huge light castle. We missed the carols & light show that they hold at that one however I read that it was fantastic. Just seeing the light castle was pretty amazing.

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This was by far the best christmas market i’ve seen. I highly doubt nothing could top it (except probably Germany’s – the home of christmas markets). We were only in Scotland a total of 48 hours but I convinced myself that I was a lost Scottish princess because of how at home I felt there. It truly is a magical place and a magical time to visit. I recommend if you’re thinking of going- definitely go at christmastime! I wasn’t too busy for the historical tourist attractions plus we had this wonderful night of christmas!

xx

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