Yoga Your Way To A Happy Vacation
There have been many studies into holiday stress. Sadly, those studies show that such stress does exist; that summer vacation can actually prove more stressful than the rest of the year. It is ironic that millions of people dream all year of that escape from the daily grind, only to transport that daily grind to other locations. Delayed flights at the airport; hotel rooms with a view of a builders yard; cold food that should have been hot; mosquitoes who pay you much more attention than the waiter and hotel manager. All examples of possible stress factors.
If you think about it, that is not surprising. Remember as a child when you first learnt to ride a bike? You were taught not to ride as fast as you can and then slam on the front brake? Stop too suddenly, and you will go flying over the handlebars; breaking hard and late at a crossroads could send you not only over the handlebars, but into the flow of traffic coming across. That sounds very risky and dangerous. So what were you taught to do? Anticipate the crossroads and apply the brakes slowly, in advance. Come to a gentle stop so that you can proceed, fully aware of the hazards.
Now compare that scenario with your hectic, stress filled life much of the year. Frantic pace, a constant succession of agitation and frustrations, pressures to meet deadlines, achieve quotas or whatever might be key to your job. Does that sound like your year? Throw in daily traffic jams, noisy traffic, crowded commuter trains and a succession of colds and flu in the winter, and millions of stressed out agitated people around you, and you become a stress-bike, hurtling towards that crossroads at top speed.
The day comes when you set off on your vacation. Can you really expect to slam on the brakes then and expect the year's stress to come smoothly to a halt, so that you can enjoy your vacation in a 100% relaxed mode? It really is no wonder that many people go hurtling into their holidays still in stress mode.
Now, take a step back. Think again of learning to ride a bike and apply the brakes slowly. You are doing two things: 1. anticipating a given fact, the approaching crossroads, and 2. trying to avoid falling off the bike, or in other words avoid a likely hazardous event.
Applying The Brakes To Your Stress Bike With Yoga and Meditation
The use of meditation before your vacation can help you to apply the brakes to your stress bike. In a state of calmness and relaxation, visualize all of the most likely stress inducing events that may spoil your holiday. Then, visualize yourself dealing with those events in a calm and relaxed way; not as you would the rest of the year. Do not forget, that knee-jerk stress is going to be left behind when you go on vacation.
If you do that regularly for the month leading up to your annual vacation, then you should be better prepared. You have already started to apply the stress-bike brakes well before the crossroads ie the vacation itself. Regular yoga exercises in the same period will also assist you in your preparation. You will be determined to have a relaxed holiday, regardless of what stress potential may be thrown at you.
Using Yoga During The Vacation Itself
You are now better prepared for the reality of your vacation, but when it comes along you will still be attacked by stress factors which could, if you allow them to, ruin a very lovely vacation. Holiday stress is real and it can seriously upset the enjoyment of your much needed vacation. You may face many situations where you could get angry during your holiday: poor service in restaurants and hotels, inclement weather, crowded beaches with all the sun loungers taken, noisy tourists keeping you awake all night; these are just a few examples. Yoga offers several methods of reducing the effects of such negative elements in the form of meditation, sakshin, pratyahara and pranayama.
Meditation is a recommended practice when holiday stress pressures become active. Having used meditation to prepare for this much anticipated holiday, you are now well geared up to using meditation during the holiday itself.. Meditation not only helps you prepare for any potential stressful situations, it is invaluable during the stressful events and after they have passed.
The detached state of consciousness, which allows you to get a better understanding of the realities around you, is referred to as sakshin. Pratyahara, on the other hand, is a state of peace obtained by reducing to a minimum all outside interferences. The mind gets calm and relaxed, focusing towards the inside of your own body. By using pranayama, you should be able to calm yourself in almost any difficult situation, by regulating your breathing and thus harmonizing the energies in your body.
Being prepared for any stressful occurrences is vital for a successful vacation. Anticipating a potential problem doesn't mean worrying about it before hand. It means that when the problem does occur you should already have a good understanding of why it happened. You will always get much better results by addressing an issue with a clear and calm head, rather then acting on an impulse.
When a potentially stressful situation occurs, try to "step out" of your body and see yourself in that particular setting. Objectivity is hard to reach, especially when it comes to your own self, but it does help you to get a neutral perspective on things. Directing an action by the guidelines of an objective mind will prove more successful than jumping in head first into a situation. Expressions like "I couldn't help myself" should be constantly discouraged from your own vocabulary and thoughts. Take control of your inner self and you will have better control of what's outside your body in the surrounding world. You should first feel your body's reaction to an outside element and only react afterwards, when a clear judgment dictates what to do. Breathing techniques are of great help when it comes to relaxing an impulsive spirit and bringing calm to a particular event or situation.
Before you are able to take control of a situation, you need to intercept the actions of your subconscious mind. Initial responses are hasty, and are naturally very hard to avoid. But it is essential that, through practice, you are able to assert a constant feeling of control over your reactions. The first reaction to a negative element can be either that of fighting back or that of fleeing. In any of these two possibilities, a considerable amount of stressful tension fills your body, and it could be days or weeks before you manage to get over that one unfortunate event. That's your happy holiday gone. A far better alternative is to have a calm and balanced response, which has a chance of eliminating any sort of tension, before it even has a chance to spread.
Remember that most holidays are short and you don't want to spoil them by spending half of your time in a negative mood. After all, you are there to try to recharge your batteries, not to try to waste it on meaningless tensions.
If you find that this yoga and meditative approach, before and during your vacation, is successful, then maybe you will realize that you can control stress factors all year, not just during the annual summer vacation.
This yoga article was written by Roy Thomsitt, owner of the Routes To Self Improvement website.