The Saint-Etienne Cathedral in Metz, France

While I can’t say that Metz is my favourite city I’ve ever visited, I can say with a huge degree of honesty that it holds my most favourite cathedral, which makes this a travel story that I must tell.

The train to Metz cost more than I thought and seemed to be a little bit longer too, but was made fun by the lovely ladies I was traveling with. It was a dreary, rainy Saturday in February that we decided to go and boy, did we make a mistake in not brining a map. We got off the train, starving and ready to be tourists in France. Only we ended up going the wrong way from the train station and walking about 20 minutes AWAY from the tourist part of town we had wanted to be in. Lost and turned around, sopping wet from the soggy rain, we went walking up and down the same street, trying to figure out which way we had gone wrong. Eventually, after speaking some broken french to a stranger and realizing that he too was directing us in the wrong way, we made it to the part of town we had wanted to be in.

It was adorable, with lots of shopping and places to stop and pick up pastries or meringues.But the absolute best part of the day was the cathedral. Now, before this trip I had never heard of Metz or this cathedral. I had absolutely no idea what I was in for.

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Nicknamed ‘The Lantern of God’ (and rightly so), Metz Cathedral is known for its ***fantastic*** stain glass windows & gothic architecture. Walking in, I was absolutely amazed. Even on this rainy, ugly day the colour from the windows was glinting everywhere.  The high ceilings and archways are enough to make you feel as big as an ant, but paired with the colourful glass windows and I was speechless.

metz5metz3 If anyone reading this has seen disney’s version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame- I felt like singing ‘God Help the Outcasts’ like Esmerelda in front of the stain glass. (then again, i’ve always wanted to be Esmerelda so maybe thats not such an odd thing for me)

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All in all, if you happen to be in the Lorraine region of France any time soon, it is WELL WORTH the trip to Metz for the cathedral.

It will forever be one of my most favourite churches I’ve ever seen.

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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