Packing 101

I am gearing up for a one month backpacking trip through Europe! I leave in five days and I haven't given much thought to packing yet. This isn't my first long trip through Europe, nor is it my longest so I'm actually not worried about packing at all. In fact, I've made plenty of packing mistakes in the past so I feel super ready to never make those same mistakes again. At this point I'm kind of a pro - which is why I am sharing my do's and don'ts of packing for long trips!

 Montserrat, Spain 2013

Montserrat, Spain 2013

Do:

  • Check the Weather:

Get a solid idea of what weather you should expect in each place you're going to. This will help you avoid having clothes you never end up wearing. But also - pack layers in case the weather changes unexpectedly. 

  • Take Only a Backpack:

I took a three month trip to Europe a few years back and made the gravest rookie mistake of all time. I took a giant suitcase. It was the biggest hassle and such a pain to carry up and down steps ALL. The. Time. After a particularly long day partying in Croatia, I went to leave my hotel in this beautiful, old, but very lively area with super worn down stone steps wearing my favourite combat boots. I got about one step down carrying my giant suitcase before I slipped on the slick, worn stone steps and landed right on my tailbone catching the giant 50 pound bag in my lap... in front of several outdoor restaurants and tons of tourists.  You don't need more than a backpack's worth of stuff. And trust me, you really really don't want more than a backpack. I promise. 

  • Leave Some Space in your Case. 

Don't take a case, definitely take a backpack - but backpack doesn't rhyme with space. Leave room for things you'll want to buy. My last trip I started out all fine and dandy with my backpack...until I had to buy a second backpack to wear on my chest because I couldn't fit all of my new stuff. You already know you're going to want to buy things. I would definitely try not to buy too many things in each spot but leave a little room in case there's anything you really love or want to buy for people back home. 

 Cliffs of Moher, Ireland 2015

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland 2015

Don't:

  • Don't Forget an Adapter!

It's so much easier to get the adapters you need while at home than it is to have to go find them while traveling. Check to see if different countries you're going to require different adapters. For example, the UK uses different electrical outlets than the rest of Europe so you'll need both. There are also universal adapters which are super clutch. 

  • Don't Take Appliances!

 For starters, you don't really need them. I've brought hair straighteners and curling irons with me before and didn't even realize that they didn't work until weeks into the trip. Because I never even tried to use them. Oh and also reason number two why you shouldn't take them is they won't work. Sorry. Let your hair go au naturale for your trip. Many AirBnB's also have hair dryers anyway so if you really must use one you can probably find one where you're staying. 

  • Don't Sweat It!

Other than your passport, you can pretty much buy anything wherever you're going. If you forget toothpaste it'll be okay, they brush their teeth in other countries too. If you're taking trains everywhere, it may even make more sense for you to buy full size toiletries once you arrive, rather than buying mini ones to take on the plane and then just having to buy more once they run out. 

 

 Sevilla, 2013

Sevilla, 2013

release through yoga.

So humbled.

One of my students today shared with me after my chair yoga class that she cries in closing meditation every time. She lost her son to a car accident in January and she takes care of her sick husband at home. She has nowhere to cry. She hasn't been able to grieve.

Two other women noticed her crying and came over to comfort her. These are the two self appointed "chairmen" of the class (it's chair yoga, get it?). And it just made me realize what an amazing little tribe I have. They support each other, they laugh together, and for many of them that class is the highlight of their week. And the three of us just talked with her about what was going on and reminded her that it's okay to cry, and why it's healthy to cry. 

We release things when we cry. When we bottle up emotions they cause tension in the body, and sometimes they can cause some very real harm.

Crying sets your pain free.

This made me feel so grateful that I get to do this work and hold space for people. I get to be a part of their emotional healing journey. 

I cant imagine devoting my life to anything else.  

 

sacral chakra & creativity

I've been wanting to write a blog about each of the chakras for a long time now, but not anything formal or even informative.  I just wanted to write the first thing that comes to mind about each. What I've written below actually wrote itself yesterday. It's about creativity. Which is exactly what I think about when I think about the second chakra. 

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But first, a little about the second chakra.

The second chakra is the sacral chakra, or svadisthana. The element of the sacral chakra is water.

Flow. Movement. Emotion.

 Amorgos Island, Greece  

Amorgos Island, Greece  

Imbalances here can show up as bottling emotions, or being overly emotional, intimacy issues, repressed sexuality, or issues with addiction. It can also show up as writer's block, loss of creativity, or a loss of authenticity

My svadisthana mantra is "Creativity flows through me like water." And some days it's, "I feel, I'm in touch with my emotions, I'm in touch with my sensuality."

So below is what I wrote yesterday about living a creative life. I felt like it was appropriate to share along with this. Hope you dig. :)

Writing can me to tears.

Reading about writers writing gives me butterflies. It's something that I know is mine. I can feel it in my blood. It rushes through my veins like words rush onto a page. 

I feel this way about teaching yoga. Sometimes I feel this way about painting too. 

You don't have to stick to one calling. You can have all the callings you care to. I nourish my inner creator every time I step on a yoga mat, every time I pick up a paint brush, every time I write.

Sometimes I feel like I don't do it enough but the truth is, I just do it when I feel inspired. And sometimes that's five times in one day and other times it's five times in one year. 

The reason I'm writing this is because it asked to be written. But also because I want you to know that you have permission to create whatever your heart desires. 

You have permission to become anyone or anything that you choose. You do not have to stick to the path you're on.  As human beings we are truly blessed with the ability to create. And we do it every day. We create style when we get dressed. We create culinary art when we cook. We create so much more than we give ourselves credit for.

 And that inner artist in you is begging to be recognized. Just to be acknowledged. Then maybe inspiration will flow to you too. And if it doesn't, just play. There is nothing wrong with making art that isn't "good", whatever that means. It's the process that counts, the journey if you will. The act of making the thing, not the thing itself that is important. 

This is our gift. 

To create. To be inspired. To play. To connect with our divine. Our inner creator. 

This is the magic that exists within each and every one of us. 

Whether you choose to accept the gift, or not is your choice.

This is a public promise to myself that I will write when I feel inspired. That I will paint when I need colour. I will move when my body asks me to move. I will live creatively, because it's the only way I can. This is my soul pledge. 

This is a formal invitation to join the movement. There is enough room for all of us. There is enough inspiration to go around for everyone. Will you come create with us? 

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how to let go: say goodbye to stress in seven days.

More and more people every day are experiencing stress. In fact I am constantly seeing articles online about the rise of stress related illness, and about the number of people who report feeling stressed at work or overwhelmed.

So what's causing this trend? And how do we start to reverse it? 

The top three common sources of stress are money, work, and family responsibilities in that order. These are all real things that we have to deal with to be a functioning part of this world. Neither money nor work can actually be avoided, and I'd be willing to bet the same people who say that their family responsibilities are a source of stress still love their families and wouldn't want to avoid them.

So if we can't avoid stress, what's the solution?

This is not the part where I prescribe a cure all or say some magic words and render you stress-free. Sorry.

This is the part where I offer you a solution that works - but it takes a little effort on your part. Consider this a seven day stress relieving challenge. 

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Day One: Where is your time going?

Do some soul searching. When was the last time that you felt truly free? It probably wasn't the other day when you got stuck in your Facebook news feed for 25 minutes when you meant to just go in and send one message. 

Maybe that was me. Oops. But maybe you've done the exact same thing. Or maybe you've spent six hours of your day binge watching Netflix. Recognize where your time is going. Ten minutes here and there, or a few hours a day may not seem like a lot right now but trust me the time adds up. This time is basically stolen from you.

Most people also don't feel particularly fulfilled after scrolling for half an hour or watching an entire season of something in a week. Usually once you finish that season, it's just like, what's next? 

Do you know what two things rarely seem to go together? Stress and fulfillment. More on that later.

For day one, your task is to recognize where your time is going. Be radically honest with yourself. Take notes all day. Write down every time you open social media and how long you spend on it. Write down what shows you watched and how long you sat in front of a screen - this gets fun when you time how long each commercial is and find out how much time you're being fed advertisements. 

Ideally you'll keep this time diary for the entire seven days. But getting one full day in will at least give you an idea of where your time goes. 

Day Two: What can you let go of?

Now that you have an idea of what is sucking up your time, it's time to make some decisions.

If you realize that over the course of one day, you spent an accumulated two hours of your time on the Facebook app, it may be time to delete the app. I'm not saying delete your account, just make it less easily accessible. Instead, give yourself 25 minutes at the end of the day to go through your news feed on your laptop or computer. Set a timer & stick to it. 

Let go of the things that steal your moments. 

The moments that make up your day are the moments that make up your life. Do you want to spend it scrolling? 

Release the things that aren't bringing you bliss to create space for happiness to grow. 

Day Three: What are you grateful for?

Create a gratitude practice. 

One really simple way to do this is to keep a gratitude journal by your bed and write in it morning and night. In the morning, write down three things that you feel grateful for. And at night, write down three things that you are grateful for that happened that day. 

Now I've already suggested that you keep a time diary for the week so if you're like, dude, I hate writing why are you making me write every day? Then another sweet way to practice gratitude is to do a daily gratitude meditation. 

You can totally find guided gratitude meditations on the Mindbliss app, or on YouTube, or any site that has meditation videos. One of my favourite gratitude meditations actually comes from the Tim Ferriss podcast. This meditation with Tony Robbins is super short, 11 minutes total. It's an excerpt from their full podcast. The full episode is amazing if you're into listening to podcasts, but if not just do the short meditation piece.

Eventually gratitude becomes a habit. It is literally a muscle that you build up. Once that muscle is strong, you'll begin to feel gratitude spontaneously throughout the day. Maybe you'll feel grateful every time you feel the warm sun on your skin, or every time you see a flower. These are moments of beauty. Look at you, getting those moments back!

Day Four: What jewels are you hiding?

This is where we get into fulfillment. Each and every one of us has something that lights our soul up. I love this quote from Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, "The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them." 

Today you're going on a treasure hunt.

Think back to the last time that you felt truly, blissfully, free. Maybe it was last month, maybe it was in childhood. We are all creative creatures. What was it that as a child you loved to do? Maybe you danced, or played sports, or ice skated, or made crafty things. Maybe you loved to tell elaborate stories, or sing, or color.

I was in love with art. I loved to sew Barbie clothes and draw and write poems. Now I know that as an adult I need to write and paint and make things to fulfill my inner creator. This is a non-negotiable. And when I neglect these needs, my inner creator turns into one of those hangry beasts from the Snickers commercials. Not cute.

Do you know what happens when you don't eat for a long time? At first there are regular signs of hunger like the stomach growling. But after some time those signs subside. It becomes a dull ache. Something that you learn to live with, to cope with. It becomes background noise. (Until eventually it becomes literally all you can think about)

Your jewels, your talents, your creative needs have always been there. But because the body doesn't physically need for you to create to survive, those needs become background noise. A dull ache, a feeling of emptiness. Something missing. 

Stress & fulfillment cannot co-exist. 

Find out what it is that would fulfill you. Maybe your jewel is listening to people. Beautiful, go volunteer at an elderly home and listen to the stories of their youth. Maybe your jewel is dancing. Beautiful, take a dance class once a week or make it a habit to go dancing once a week. Maybe your jewel is yoga. Beautiful, do it #everydamnday.

Make these things a priority. 

Day Five: What moves you?

What literally moves you? Movement is medicine. I've said it a thousand times and I'll say it another million. Movement is medicine

Your body is built to move. It is not built for this world that we've created. It is built to climb, to run, to crawl, to dance. Your body should move in every way, every day.

But not everyone has time for that. So make it a point to move in some way every day. And make it a point to change the way that you move as often as you can. 

Exercise releases endorphins. Simple. It relieves stress. But when we're stressed we don't think that we have time to exercise. When in reality, it would ease our suffering. 

Often the thing that you resist is the thing that you need most. 

If you are already a regular yoga practitioner, then change up your routine. If you're a dedicated Barkan method practitioner, then switch to a Budokon class instead. Just try something different - even Pilates or a bootcamp class. Nothing good grows from stagnation.

Overall, the most important thing here is to move. 

Day Six: Where is your mind?

Come back to the moment. 

When you're stressed, your mind is not here. Your mind is probably trying to juggle all of the things on your plate and spinning in a vortex of repeating negative thoughts and worries.

So come back. 

When you are at home or at work there is nothing stressful actually happening. You won't be eaten by a dinosaur. You won't be chased by a bear. It's all good. The problem is that it doesn't feel good in the mind. And your entire experience happens within the mind.

Try sitting or lying down and taking a slow scan of your body. Notice exactly how your body feels in this moment, starting from the bottoms of the feet and moving your way up to the scalp. Notice each and every muscle, every joint, notice the sensation of clothing on your skin, notice the surface that you're sitting or lying down on, notice the sensation of hunger or fullness in the belly. Get completely plugged in to your body. 

And breathe.

Bring your awareness to your breath. Breathe deeply. Even if it's only for five minutes. Coming back to the moment will significantly reduce, if not eradicate your stress. 

Do this every time you feel stressed. Every day if you have to. Until it becomes a reflex. 

Do not let stress steal your moments. Live in the here & now.

Day Seven: Who's in charge?

Who's in charge? You? Or your thoughts? How do you take back control?

Medicate. 

Just kidding. Meditate. 

Become the observer.  

Meditation helps you to train your brain to observe your thoughts, rather than attach to them.  So when your head starts spinning with stressful thoughts, instead of getting caught up in them you observe them and let them pass. 

Start a meditation practice. Start small, just five minutes a day. After five days, move up to six. And then add another minute every day until you make your way up to whatever amount of time you can set aside. Maybe that's 20 minutes once a day, or maybe that's an hour in the morning and an hour before bed.  

I use the Mindbliss app for guided meditation, but you can meditate on your breath as well. They have meditation journeys that you can do which usually start as shorter amounts of time and gradually add a little time. Find one for stress relief! 

 Ananda Yoga Shala - where we'll be practicing on my  Greece retreat!

Ananda Yoga Shala - where we'll be practicing on my Greece retreat!

It's time to break free from stress. Say goodbye!

I hope these stress relief lifestyle changes work for you! We will be going into all of these and more on my yoga retreat Awakening in Amorgos this August 19-26th! Pay your deposit by May 15th to save $200 off! Come ready to find true transformation and learn habits that you can take with you back home to lead a healthier, happier, stress-free life! I hope to see you on the island!

i believe in...

 Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

I believe in challenging the status quo. I believe that we are meant to feel good all of the time. I believe our bodies are fucking magical and strong and made for so much more than just sitting at a desk. I believe inner strength should be developed just as much as outer strength. I believe a body that is nourished, taken care of, and balanced will heal itself. I believe in taking the time to imagine the life that you want to live and then doing the work to create it. I believe in people. And movement. And bliss. 

This is why I teach yoga. Because the things that I've received from this practice are too good not to share. Because I genuinely love people and I want to see them transform into the best versions of themselves. There is this spark in people. You can see it in their eyes when they're determined. You can see them light up from the inside. And yoga brings that out. You see it when people surprise themselves. When they do something for the first time or feel something for the first time. It's beautiful. 

Our world, this artificial environment that we've created, doesn't allow people to explore their bodies or their minds the way that we're meant to. We were made to move in every possible way. And yet so many people get stuck sitting for hours on end. We were made to imagine and dream and create. And yet so many people use their minds to think at work and then turn them off at night with the click of a remote. 

I believe that travel is necessary. This planet is too big and beautiful not to explore. Each time we experience a new culture, our worldview broadens just a bit more. We get to question what we've become used to. And that allows us to change. Travel gives us these moments of presence, and wonder, and bliss. It inspires us to live in the moment. To just be. 

I am so excited to be hosting a retreat this summer on the beautiful Greek island of Amorgos. The retreat is seven days of exploring both the outside world, and the world inside of our own hearts. I hope you'll join me on the island! Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions! Click the link here to register for the retreat! Pay your deposit before April 1st and save $300 off!

 Amorgos Yoga Shala, Greece

Amorgos Yoga Shala, Greece

awakening in amorgos: a yoga retreat in greece

 Morning yoga in Amorgos  

Morning yoga in Amorgos  

I am so beyond excited to announce that I will be hosting a yoga retreat on the beautiful Greek island Amorgos! The retreat is this August 19th-26th, 7 nights! Each day will begin with an energizing yoga practice and end with a blissfully relaxing yin practice. The rest of the time will be spent soaking up the sun on the beach, exploring the island and getting immersed in Greek culture, relaxing in the spa, or taking excursions like cave exploration or boat tours. I am truly so grateful for this opportunity to share this transformational trip with you!  

 Amorgos, Greece

Amorgos, Greece

Join me on this week long journey of discovery. Explore the beauty of Greece, while diving deep into the depths of yourself. Leave behind your commitments, your schedule, your to-do lists, and all of the busy-ness of your daily life. Embark on a journey into your soul through your yoga practice, meditation, and allowing yourself to simply be.

 Amorgos, Greece

Amorgos, Greece


This retreat will include daily yoga, meditation, plenty of sunshine, clear blue waters, renewal in the spa, and free time to explore the beauty and the culture of the Greek island of Amorgos. Give yourself the gift of rejuvenation, self discovery, and peace. Take these things with you off of the island and learn to hold this peace within you during the chaos of daily life. 

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I hope to see you on the island! Click this link to reserve your spot! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at yogawithadriana@gmail.com! 

 Amorgos, Greece

Amorgos, Greece