Tips For Tranquility On The Road

IMAGE VIA

IMAGE VIA

My career as a Performance Enhancement Coach and Speaker requires traveling on a weekly basis. For those of you who travel, it can take a toll on our physical, mental and emotional well-being at times. I need to be on my game when I arrive to meet my clients, so taking care of myself is an important part of my self-care. Not only it is physical as I’m frequently changing time zones, but it’s mental. And, my mental state plays a large role in my body’s ability to be resilient.

Throughout my years of traveling, I’ve seen it all . . . delays and cancellations, the long security lines, the crying baby, sprinting to make your connection and my all-time favorite: being told by the security checkpoint that I had to go back and get a printed boarding pass because the App for that airline wasn’t accepted in that airport.

Here are some tips that keep will keep you mindful amidst the chaos:

  • 4-Part Breathing When I can feel my mind and body becoming tense, I use this breathing technique, which is a rhythmic counting through each part of the breath; inhaling for 5 counts, holding the breath in for 5 counts, exhaling for 5 counts and hold the breath out for 5 counts. Go through several rounds until you feel grounded and rooted. This exercise gives your mind something to focus on and the body reaps the benefits.
     
  • Alternate Nostril Breathing For those days when you have to sprint to the gate, incorporate Alternate Nostril Breathing, which changes the pattern of how the breathe enters the brain. Once seated raise your left hand and use your thumb to close off the nostril breathing into the right nostril, then use your left middle finger to close off the right nostril and exhale out the left nostril. Repeat on the left side, alternately breathing. This brings the heart rate down quickly and encourages a serotonin release putting you back at ease.
     
  • Self-talk Survey Travel often throws up roadblocks both literal and figurative. The airlines, staff, and others traveling aren't necessarily there to purposefully challenge you as we are all in the same boat and doing the best we can under the circumstances. Yet, when challenging situations arise, pay attention to your self-talk. See how you can use the opportunity to see where I’m judging and labeling others.
     
  • Take A Brain Break Yes, I’m that guy stretching and making noises at the airport gate. Take a few minutes to breathe and move your body in ways that support optimal brain function. This will help to alleviate musculoskeletal issues that arise from all the sitting and standing during your day of travel. 

Taking good care of yourself is an essential part of any travel routine.  It is up to you to maximize your time and use it wisely.  When I hit the road, I can either get caught up in the fray and participate in the chaos OR I can focus on me. I choose ME. GO BE GREAT! – Ed Harrold

 

Learn more from Ed Harrold when we spend December 2nd – 7th in Costa Rica. You’ll learn ways to improve health, reduce stress, build resilience and exercise healthfully, all while using the breath as a starting point.

Top 5 Wellness Travel Tips for Planning A Summer Vacation

PHOTO PRAVASSA©

PHOTO PRAVASSA©

Daylight hours are expanding and summer is just around the corner. The idea of being cooped up indoors for the next few months is not on the agenda. As it is we work too many hours thus far. You are not alone, 42% of Americans did not take a vacation day last year. Many of us feel on the verge of burnout. In order to change direction, boost happiness, strengthen our relationships, increase creativity and up our total life satisfaction, it’s time to hit the buy button on a summer escape. These 5 wellness tips will ensure a less stressful, more interesting experience that will leave you changed by travel.

1. Choose Your Destination via Instagram
Technology can be used for good and Instagram is one of the best wanderlust inspiring options out there. Spend a few hours searching popular travel hashtags #welivetoexplore and #traveldeeper to find new destinations that visually excite you. Make a list of those places and determine which two or three could be ripe for a visit based on your timing and budget. Then head back to Instagram and post questions in the comment section of your favorite images to learn more. You’ll open your eyes to new parts of the world and may end up some place that wasn’t on your radar before.

2. Avoid Traveling on Holiday Weekends
It may sound obvious, but holiday weekend travel, by train, plane or car adds additional cost and stress to a vacation. The simple math of supply and demand means airfare and hotel rooms will cost more, routes and itineraries may be sold out and traffic will be worse. Save yourself the hassle and book the weekend before or after peak travel times to enjoy the benefits of less crowding and more quite. If you cannot avoid travel during summer holiday weekends, then embrace the fact that you’ll most likely pay more, be delayed, and not get your first choice for tour activities or restaurant reservations. Acknowledging this in advance allows your mind to move through these challenges and begin to view them as adventures instead of impediments.

3. Book a Workshop Led by a Local
Sitting on the beach doing nothing as a form of recovery has its appeal, but after a day or two most of us end up on our digital devices to combat boredom. Instead, stimulate your creativity center and book a workshop led by a local. Find a low cost option such as a nature hike led by a naturalist, tap into your inner foodie with a cultural cooking class, get your hands dirty in a printmaking session or discover an unknown area in your destination with a photography workshop. The added bonus: being able to make real life connections with new people, which boosts your confidence and happiness level.

4. Schedule Nap Time
Our bodies crave sleep and start to shut down when we don’t get enough of it. Vacation is the perfect time to get back to a natural rhythm and/or pay back your sleep debt. When you dedicate time to sleep – treating it like an important vacation activity – you feel rested, it improves your mood, immune system, and eating habits. Schedule time in the mid-afternoon to dose off for an hour and wake feeling refreshed and ready for the evening. If for you naptime leads to poor sleep habits at night, then skip the afternoon snooze in favor of turning in an hour earlier at night.

5. Create Digital Rules
Most days we go from our smart phone to the computer to the TV in an endless relationship with our digital devices. The constant connection these devices provide have become the biggest source of stress in adults and children alike. Summer vacation is the perfect time to return to IRL experiences and limit everyone’s screen time. Now sure where to start? Ban devices from the bedroom and wake up with the sun this summer. Insist all meals be sit-down screen-free time where you can lose yourself in conversation. Be bold and leave everything but your phone at home. Involve the whole family when creating these rules and you’ll find that each member is more likely to stick to the plan. - Linden Schaffer

This piece was written for and originally appeared on the Yogalicious Blog.

Healthy Breakfasts from Around the World

PHO IN VIETNAM | PRAVASSA©

PHO IN VIETNAM | PRAVASSA©

INDIA

In India, food is as synonymous with healing of the mind, body and soul, as it is with health. "Ayurvedic medicine is the oldest form of whole-body healing, which began in India, thousands of years ago. The Ayurvedic system of eating is more than just food. Warm, quality ingredients, served in a calm environment, is a must. In the Ayurvedic tradition, starting your day with breakfast helps rehydrate the body, and sets a nourishing base, from which to approach the day. A balanced morning meal can consist of rice, stewed fruits with warm spices, such as apples or pears, mixed with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, plus simple grains, such as boiled oats with tomatoes, ghee, and cumin, topped with shredded coconut," explains Linden Schaffer, wellness travel expert and founder of Pravassa. 

VIETNAM

Another of Schaffer's top pick for healthy international breakfast is Vietnam. "Here, breakfast is the most important meal, and the primary energy source for the day. Throughout Vietnam, street food is popular, with certain stalls becoming famous for crafting one, perfect dish. The dish is made very early, the process begins around 2:00 a.m. for a 6:00 a.m. opening and when it's gone, vendors pack up and go home. Pho, a noodle soup, is Vietnam's traditional breakfast. Find the right vendor, and you'll be reward with handmade, gluten-free rice noodles, bone broth, spices such as cinnamon, clove, fennel and star anise, all of which have anti-inflammatory properties, onions and ginger. Pho is served with a side of fresh herbs and greens, such as mint, basil, bean sprouts, cilantro, and some chili. You can add as much or as little as you want, depending on your palate." 

Want to try these breakfasts for yourself? Book a customWELL adventure to India or join Pravassa's upcoming small group trip to Vietnam

 

Original article appeared in Reader's Digest. Read the full article here.

{WELL ON THE ROAD} Lena Franklin

Photo: Renee Choi for Pravassa©

Photo: Renee Choi for Pravassa©

LENA FRANKLIN
Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapist & Meditation Instructor

Most recently in: Thailand and Cambodia. I could go on and on about SE Asia, it's an intoxicating mix of spiritual power and natural beauty. 

The one snack you can always find in my carry on is: You’ll always find organic dried fruit and raw almonds in my carry on. First of all, I’m a savory and sweet kind of gal. But this combo also gives me the protein and fiber I need to stay energized and nourished while flying.

Tell us your in-flight ritual:  I use my flight-time for spiritual practice. It’s fun to think about flying as a built-in time for your own inner meditation retreat without iPhone interruptions! After settling into my seat, I begin applying my favorite essential oils. Lemongrass oil refreshes my mind and releases any negative energies and Frankincense keeps my immune system up and spiritual intentions alive. Then, during flight I usually set aside periods of time for mindfulness meditation practice (attending to my breath, thoughts, body sensations and emotional currents) and loving kindness meditation (sending loving kindness to myself, all those traveling beings on the plane and in our world!). And plenty of water!

How do you conquer jet lag once you've arrived?  The best tip I have is to force your sleep schedule to align with whatever time zone you’re in, and asap. Getting your body on schedule allows you to avoid long term jet lag. Your brain’s melatonin will adjust more quickly…allowing for more enjoyment as you’re diving into new experiences. I also make sure to ingest plenty of fresh greens to replenish my mind and body by seeking out salads, smoothies and sautéed greens. I drink plenty of water, avoid large amounts of alcohol and find time for meditation in the mornings.

Describe your workout on the road style: As a former college athlete I've had to shift from a hard-hitting workout regimen to the softer side of movement. I’ve learned how to listen to what my body needs to stay fit and strong. My vinyasa yoga practice keeps me lean and toned while on the road. I’ll either find a corner in my hotel room or practice outdoors. I also find that good old fashioned crunches, push-ups and squats are fabulous portable workout practices that keep me in-shape on the road. And, I LOVE to walk! Walking through a new city without a particular destination or purpose gets my blood flowing while my keeping my inner wanderluster happy.

How do you keep sickness at bay? Sleep! While traveling, I get on the cosmic cycles of sun and moon ~ rising with the sun and winding down when the sun sets. Making sleep a priority is a non-negotiable for me to keep sickness at bay. I also eat plenty of citrus while on the road to ensure I’m getting enough vitamin C.

What's your 'go-to' restaurant item when traveling? There’s something soul nourishing about soup. Each country seems to have a soup specialty that embodies historic contexts and yummy ingredients from that part of the world. I gravitate towards ordering soup whether I’m savoring a bowl of pho in Vietnam, miso in Japan or spicy chicken soup in Mexico.

What do you do to stay grounded? Meditation in nature, wherever I am in the world, keeps me grounded and centered. My practice is a non-negotiable just like brushing my teeth or showering. Meditating in nature allows me to connect more deeply to myself and the culture that surrounds me. I love to practice sensory-based meditations while I travel. For example, I might sit in a park, the woods or on the beach and listen to the soundscape around me ~ birds singing, trees rustling, motorbikes whizzing, families conversing in their native tongue. Awakening our senses to the present moment experience allows us to grow roots of mindful awareness, inviting us feel grounded as a small but integral part of the world.

What is your preferred method of staying connected with loved ones? Text or email keeps me directly connected with loved ones. But my tribe also knows that I document my journey via Instagram so they love to follow me on there for cultural captures along the way!

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Lena works one-on-one with clients, provides mindfulness corporate trainings, and teaches workshops. She is leading her 3rd Pravassa wellness vacation this year to Vietnam. Follow all of Lena's journeys on Instagram.

Changed by Travel: Katie Cavuto

KATIE CAVUTO

KATIE CAVUTO

At ten years old I found myself in Russia. As a young gymnast, I was in Leningrad for several weeks to train. I may have been young, but this, my first international travel experience, left a substantial and lasting mark on my soul. Witnessing the way other people lived humbled me. This trip sparked in me a desired to explore the world. This was my first #changedbytravel experience.

During my freshman year of college, my gymnastics career ended prematurely. This was the catalyst for an intense identity crisis one that to this day reminds me, that with crisis comes clarity. Our struggles all have meaning if we choose to learn the lessons and surrender to journey.

Yearning to find myself, I embarked on a solo adventure through much of Europe which molded who I am today in so many ways. This trip truly solidified my passion for food, cultural cooking techniques, and the deep-rooted history of medicinal foods. Changed by travel, this adventure inspired my career and led me to culinary school, then led to my masters in nutrition.

Finally after years in the classroom, I was longing to explore the world again. I landed in Costa Rica where I led a group of students on a variety of community development and conservation projects. It was here that had a meaningful introduction to what it means to live mindfully. Stationed in rural, impoverished communities, with no more than I few changes of clothes, I found immense peace. A peace that was echoed by those we lived with. During my time here, I was present. I was happy.

One night lying in bed, the sound of the rain approaching and the sweet smell of the humid, tropical air; the rain moved across the tin roof and it sang a calming song that has stayed with my to this day. Now, anytime I get overwhelmed or detached I remind myself to appreciate the beauty of the world around me. I remind myself of the peace that exists in each moment if you quiet you mind so you can bear witness.

Travel has often grounded me during uncertain times in my life. It has gifted me the opportunity to step away from my surroundings, to immerse myself in the unknown, and to connect with my true self. I am thankful for the many opportunities that have followed since that that time in Russia years ago. I now would like you invite you to join me for my next #changedbytravel journey as I lead Pravassa’s upcoming trip to Bali this fall. Together we will reflect, reset, and be humbled by the fact that we are all connected. - Katie Cavuto

Join Katie Cavuto in Bali, September 29th – October 7th. Register here.

10 Stress-Free Travel Tips

IMAGE VIA

IMAGE VIA

Taking the stress out of travel is what Pravassa is known for. While most of our travelers reach their destination via airplane, the car and train can present their own set of travel-related stressors. Taking a toll on your health and well-being shouldn't be one of these things.

Hip and Healthy, an online wellness magazine based in London, released their top 10 stress-busting travel tips to implement into your routine this year. What's on the list? 

  • Don't over pack
  • Pack healthy snacks
  • Let someone else do the planning for you. 

Want to check out the full list? Read it here.

Spring Clean Your Diet

IMAGE VIA

IMAGE VIA

Seasonal change often bring about renewed energy and the urge to purge all signs of winter hibernation. This year, commit to spring cleaning your diet and dial back the sugar to feel lighter throughout the season. Sugar is the leading cause for concern in the modern American diet (averaging 126g a day!) and is the traceable origin of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Refined sugar found in sodas, candy, and desserts are the obvious culprits, but often it hides in foods that don’t appear sweet like breads, pastas and cereals. Scant in nutritional value, sugar can lead to hormonal imbalance, mood swings, unhealthy skin and spikes in blood sugar levels that trigger intense energy crashes. 

To curb sweet tooth syndrome, Dr. Michael Feigin suggests weaning from sugar slowly to avoid headaches, fatigue and lack of focus. Aim for eliminating one sugary drink, snack or meal a day. Replace your chocolate bar with a bowl of naturally sugared juicy strawberries, or kick your daily vanilla latte for a creamy avocado smoothie. With endless options for fresh, in-season produce, ‘tis the season for healthy eating. As energy levels soar, skin glows and weight falls by the wayside, your saccharine cravings will slowly fade and you may find that you don’t miss them one bit.

{WELL ON THE ROAD} Hope McGrath

Hope Mcgrath
Transformational Coach, Intuitive Healer, Style Consultant

Most recently in: Ethiopia

The one snack you can always find in my carry on is: Bananas and granola bars!

Tell us your in-flight ritual: I love books and journaling, so I get excited that I have to stay put and relax into reading or writing. Plus I love reading some favorite fashion magazine and catching up on a movie. I can barely sleep on planes so I have all sorts of things to keep me occupied. Traveling with kids keeps me busy too.

How do you conquer jet lag once you've arrived?  It's all about pushing through and trying to stay in tune with the time zone in which I've landed. I don’t do caffeine, so I need to rely on my wellness tools to keep me awake.

Describe your workout on the road style: Unless I’m swimming, my workouts are the long daily walks sightseeing on the road. I don’t make an extra effort to seriously work out except for doing yoga on my own. If I don’t do yoga regularly, my back is a hot mess. If there happens to be a pool in my hotel, I will swim daily, but for yoga, I love the website DoYogaWithMe. The great videos are perfect for when I want to take a class my own time and in my own place.

How do you keep sickness at bay? Eating as healthy as I can and keeping up with my vitamin supplements. If I feel sickness coming on, I swear by Sambucol, the Black Elderberry syrup. My whole family didn’t get sick all winter because we take Black Elderberry. Lots of water too!

What's your 'go-to' restaurant item when traveling? I would go for Thai food first if it's available. I love all varieties of asian foods, especially all the fresh herbs and vegetables.

What do you do to stay grounded? Meditation and connection to my mindfulness spiritual practice. Yoga. Journaling. Nurturing friendships and family relationships. Practice daily gratitudes.

What is your preferred method of staying connected with loved ones? I’m old school. I just pick up the phone and call people when I really want to connect. Email and text is fine for brief communication, but I love the phone. I keep on reminding my single friends that there is not relationship in the world that can blossom via text. I also believe in the power of the handwritten note. So I still send postcards on occasion. How we communicate is everything.

Hope is based in NYC and works with her clients in person and via Skype. She hosts visioning parties throughout the year, which can be found on her website. You can follow Hope's journey via Instagram.

Forest Bathing: Japan

PHOTO ©PRAVASSA

PHOTO ©PRAVASSA

Japan -- The average American spends 87% of their time indoors, which contributes to our high stress levels, lack of vitamin D and depression. In Japan, scientists found this to be a serious problem among their culture too and in 1982 coined the term Shinrin-yoku or as you may have heard it: Forest Bathing. In the past three decades Shinrin-yoku has been studied and confirmed as an effective treatment for both physiological and spiritual rejuvenation. The art of forest bathing requires you to leave your smart phones at home and fully engage all your senses in nature in a mindful way. Smell the trees, hear the crunch of leaves underfoot or sit and watch as the animals come out to play. Anywhere from a few hours to a few days will have positive effects on your health and well-being. Sixty-seven percent of Japan is covered in forests and with trails devoted to Shinrin-yoku, going direct to the source has never been so fun.

Want to experience Japan for yourself? Join our October group journey or request a customWELL itinerary from us.