Proper planning and preparation can reduce risk and improve the experience when you adventure.
Why do I practice Yoga? Because it prepares me for everything else I do. Sure, the poses are challenging and moving my body in ways that compliment my habitual posturing helps to relieve pain and discomfort, but ultimately, the benefits of Yoga are most noticeable when I am playing.
Stretch, Warm Up, Recover
There are many reasons to visit Lake Tahoe. The views are incredible, the mountains are amazing, the lake will steal your heart. And, there is a whole lot of outdoor fun to be had. Many people come to Tahoe to play. Mountain bikers can’t wait to get out on the dirt and improve their skills. Skiers wait for the perfect powder or bluebird day to make turns. We can golf, hike, paddle, trail run, cross country ski, I could go on and on.
When was the last time you stretched before you started skiing? How often do you warm up before a mountain bike ride? Did you take fifteen minutes to properly prepare your body for a hike? Most of us don’t and that’s where Yoga comes in. Even if you only join a couple of classes a week, it can help you to retain mobility and feel limber when you go out to bike, hike, run or play. Engaging in practices before and after your other activities help your body to prepare and recover. The movements we do during a Yoga asana practice are designed to keep your joints mobile and your muscles long.
Whether you are heading out for a leisurely hike or training for your next marathon it is important to consider more than your physical health when you are preparing to play. Sure, your body needs to be strong and mobile, but a clear and calm mind can be the difference between failing gracefully or becoming a disgrace. Have you ever noticed how you breathe while you’re skiing or rock climbing? It may be particularly evident when you’re visiting Lake Tahoe. At the lake you are standing at 6200 feet above sea level, that’s over a mile up. Climb a hill or ride the ski lift and the quantity of oxygen available decreases. Breathing slowly, deeply and calmly will help you to maintain focus.
Did you know that there are specific breathing techniques you can do to prepare your body for physical effort? Over time, many Yogic breathing techniques have been modified and renamed to help people feel more comfortable trying them. They have continued to be utilized for thousands of years because they work. Before you begin an activity or if you feel stressed or fearful while in it, your breath can help you to return to a state of calm. A simple two-part breath that allows you to completely fill and empty, slowly, will calm your nervous system, help you focus your thoughts, reduce anxiety and help you to return to a more calm state of being.
Mindset is everything. The thoughts you have about and during an activity can effect the experience you have. Practices that help us to focus upon the positive, when done regularly, can shift your perspective over time. If your day includes something that is going to challenge you in some way, perhaps because you will be engaging with crowds of people, trying something new or leveling up your skills, a positive mindset is incredibly important. A tool that can help you to establish a positive mindset is a journal. Making daily notes about the good stuff and re-reading what you’ve written will help you to keep these thoughts fresh in your mind. With these thoughts on the top of your mind, you’ll become better at seeing the “silver lining” when you feel challenged.
If you’d like to learn more about the practice of Yoga, breathwork, mindfulness and how these tools can help you to prepare for and recover from your play visit Bliss Experiences. Beyond traditional Yoga practices, sessions include healing sound, reiki and forest bathing and more. Beginning while you’re on vacation could help you to establish new practices that will prepare you for your next trip to Lake Tahoe.
Try It Out
I've been practicing living a lifestyle of Yoga since 2000. When I first began practicing it was because my friends were going, it was free and I liked the physical workout. The first practice I tried was in the style of Svarupa; a gentle practice which uses blankets and blocks and requires a lot of stretching. At the time, I was living in Boston and, once my wallet got a bit fuller, I was able to experience a variety of other styles simply by wandering the city and looking at posted schedules.
The Yoga Lifestyle
When I moved to Tahoe I couldn’t find a studio that aligned with my lifestyle. Living here afforded me many opportunities to explore, adventure and play, but I didn’t feel at home at the only studio in town.
I was the local school counselor and had been hired to teach a few Private Practices. As people got to know me, they asked me to begin offering classes locally. Soon, I had a following and I begun developing a small business. Now, I share my lifestyle with people in my studio, at various homes, on the beach, paddle board and am happy to practice with anyone, anywhere.
More Than Poses
When I’m not working, I play outside at any chance I get. During the Summer I ride my bike every day. I ski and hike, swim, paddle, and am always looking for a new experience to try.
I practice Yoga everyday and everywhere. This doesn’t mean I do Yoga poses every day. Nope. I've learned that Yoga is much more than poses. It's a way of living. Yoga is everywhere, all the time.
Every one of us can benefit from a little stretching, balance and strengthening. We can all benefit from peace of mind, and quiet time. Yoga is movement, breathing, mindfulness, wellbeing and contentment. You know that feeling you get when you're floating on three feet of powder? It's Yoga. How about when you’re cruising down the most perfect section of single track without a soul around? It's Yoga. When you’re the only one floating on the crystal clear lake. It’s Yoga. It's always there, even if you don’t consider yourself a Yogi(ni).
Practice Yoga Everywhere
Today take a moment to look at your own life and find those moments of Yoga; moments when you've reached out to others, enjoyed some time to yourself, found balance, strength and calm.
To learn more about finding those moments of peace in your life, join the practice at Lake Tahoe Yoga or book a Private Session with Jenay.
You are what you eat, and if you're not fueling your body correctly you might feel run-down. After all, your body is a machine. Food is fuel. Although, there is certainly room within the engine for a treat from time to time. There's a reason luxury car owners only put premium in their vehicles. They know it helps the car run better and can extend its life. It can also help reduce the need for some maintenance tasks down the road.
Your body works in the same way. It needs the right food in order to convert it into the kind of energy you can use. This is challenging considering there are a lot of elements in modern-day food that are highly addictive. However, if you focus on thinking of your body as a machine that deserves quality fuel, you’ll get on the fast track to feeling more energetic.
How Food Effects Performance
1. Sugar is arguably the world’s worst drug. There’s nothing wrong with natural sugar in very small quantities. However, most of the sugar we consume today is highly processed, and we consume it in great quantities. Eating sugar influences your sleep, your fatigue level, your mood, and your overall health. Processed sugar can be linked to type 2 diabetes, is highly addictive, and contains empty calories. Plus, we build up a tolerance for sweetness. A person who has never had processed sugar would likely gag at a slice of birthday cake. Re-train your tongue to natural sweetness, such as berries and fruits, and you'll find an energy boost.
2. Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world. Caffeine is genuinely a drug, but one that is socially acceptable. It affects every part of the body, including the brain and our energy levels. Like sugar, it is also very addictive. It can cause withdrawal symptoms if you have a coffee habit, and many people think they depend on it to keep their energy levels high. It can work in the short-term, but it also comes with a crash. Weaning yourself off of coffee and replacing it with decaf tea over a long period of time can help stabilize your energy levels.
3. The starve and binge cycle is doing a number on your energy. There are various approaches to eating for fat loss and muscle gain. Many work in the short-term, but at the risk of our sanity and energy levels. One diet in recent years that has leaked over from the bodybuilding world to mainstream society is intermittent fasting. There are many types of this fasting, but a common one is to have an eight-hour “feeding” window every day followed by 16 hours of fasting. During those 16 hours, only water, coffee, and small items less than 50 calories are allowed. It can help bodybuilders cut weight for competitions, but was not meant for non-professionals or for use long-term. As you can imagine, your energy levels will be all over the place. However, it can be addictive to see those pounds (aka water weight) drop so quickly. Remember that diets should be a healthy choice for life with wiggle room, not a prison that dictates your daily life.
4. Let your instincts drive your breakfast decisions. Should you skip breakfast? Only eat all-protein at breakfast? Keep it light? There’s no one answer for everyone. Breakfast is the time when you “break fast," and your body will tell you what it needs in the morning. As long as you’re not regularly heaping piles of pancakes or other desserts playing dress up as breakfast, you'll be on point. Some people need a generous breakfast while others require a little more time to wake up before their body starts asking for fuel.
5. You’re not feeding your muscles or re-fueling after cardio. When you work out, you depend on stored energy (fat and glycogen) to get through it. With weight-bearing exercises, your muscles demand protein immediately afterward to repair and heal. After a cardio session, your body needs a little BCAA boost. Failing to eat, or making poor food choices, after a workout isn’t just draining your energy. It’s also minimizing your workout.
Feed Your Body What It Needs
When it comes to food as energy, it sounds so simple, but it can be very difficult to choose the right things. There’s a lot tied to food, including emotions and addictions. However, it’s a good idea to simply remind yourself that you’re fueling your body. What do you need, what do you want, and what are you trying to do with food that might be better addressed in another manner?
Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take hundreds of dollars per month and three hours every day to get into shape. It is possible to enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle, even if your budget is bare and you barely have time to breathe. These activities will fit into your schedule without purging your pocket.
Park entrance fees aside, hiking is an activity you can enjoy with friends and family for free. And even more than simply getting in shape, hiking will help you get in touch with nature, which studies have shown can have a positive impact on your mood. The Healthy Living section of Huff Post reports that hikers are among the fittest people out there and enjoy lower blood pressure and longer attention spans than the rest of us. Hiking on dirt trails is also easier on the joints than pounding the pavement.
There’s no denying that running is good for the heart. Even a short five or 10 minutes jog each day can drastically lower your chances of dying from cardiovascular disease. Fitness further reports that running triggers a chemical in the brain that produces euphoria and burns an astounding 12.2 cal per minute. Another significant benefit of running is that you don’t have to have any special equipment, just a pair of practical running shoes and a desire to strengthen your core, legs, heart, and lungs.
Like hiking, yoga provides a boost for both mind and body. It’s also one of the easiest ways to put yourself in a relaxed mindful state. Yoga and guided focus are used nationwide as alternative therapy in addiction recovery to help people overcome both physical, mental, and emotional burdens. DrugRehab.org explains, “This is because these activities allow you to focus your mind and can relieve stress and anxiety, both of which are triggers for relapse in many individuals who are in recovery.
Trampolines aren’t just for kids, although bouncing for half an hour with your children is an excellent way to burn calories while toning and tightening every muscle in the body. If you don’t have kids or the room in your yard for a recreational trampoline, a small fitness trampoline will get the job done. Not only is jumping on a trampoline fun, but this specific motion encourages your lymphatic system to rid itself of waste. Jumping also improves coordination and balance and is a relatively low impact form of cardiovascular exercise.
Take extra steps
How many steps in a 24 hour day does it take to meet general fitness guidelines? According to Fitbit: 10,000. That’s just enough strides to equal five miles…When you think of it that way, it’s an impressive feat for your feet. While it can be hard to figure out exactly how to get that many steps in on an average day, it’s possible if you look for opportunities. Here are a few ideas: park as far away as possible at the grocery store. Make two trips instead of one to the laundry room for each load. Walk to the mailbox instead of stopping on your way into the driveway,
Whether you’re hiking, jogging, jumping or sneaking in a little yoga under the stars, keeping your body in motion is paramount to a healthy body and mind. Dr. Edward R. Laskowski of the Mayo Clinic says just 30 minutes of physical activity each day will go a long way toward improving your health. And, when you break it up into short burst of activity, there’s no excuses for not getting off the couch or away from your computer.
Always Remember Where You Were
When I first moved to Tahoe my sister would call me up and say, "You live in a postcard, I bet you forget that it's beautiful out there."
Not for a moment.
Never have I forgotten to enjoy the beauty of our lake, the mountains and the freshness of each breath I take in. What I have done is the same thing that I did in Boston. I have forgotten to take the time to see my home in the way that the thousands of visitors do; as an outsider.
There are so many opportunities to experience the lake. Hiking Tallac or Freel, heading up to Eagle Falls, experiencing the views from the Gondola or riding the trolley are just a few. This spring, I went to Valhalla for the first time. We hit up the Renaissance Faire and I plan on going to the Gatsby Fest (who doesn't want to dress up like it's the 20's and dance with their knees?).
Every year there are changes, events that are added and some that go come to an end. What remains a constant is the lake and the many people who live here and work to create new and interesting opportunities to experience all that Tahoe has to offer. For some ideas of other activities to engage in, check out what Redfin gathered from some of us who love Lake Tahoe.
Yoga means Union. How can we find union if we aren't connecting with everyone, everything and every experience available? Get off your smart phone and look around. Enjoy the experience of hearing conversations and engaging in one. Connect with the people around you. Recognize the mirrors they provide. See yourself as an outsider. Don't just look around, be around. Be a part of this place we call home and show your support for all the hard working business owners who have made Tahoe what it is.
Take the time to practice Yoga everywhere.