It’s August and it’s that time of year! That’s right – vacation time. As any parent knows, vacations are simultaneously fantastic and stressful! Between packing, travelling, eating, the incessant “are we there yet?”, and bathroom breaks, EVERYBODY needs a way to unwind! After all, vacations are meant to be fun; the last hoorah before it’s back to school or the daily grind. So what can you do? How can you keep everybody sane and healthy? YOGA principles, of course! Yep, you can still fit in a downward dog on your trip to Disney. Here are five ways to make your vacation more enjoyable and stress-free:
1.) Wake up with a mini yoga practice. When you get up in the morning, encourage your children to stretch and move with you. Keep it light and fun with simple, energy producing poses such as downward dog, upward dog, chair, warrior, and tree. If you’re limited on time or you’re the type that likes to adhere to a stricter itinerary, wake your family with a loud bugle (JOKING!) and do two rounds of Sarge Salutations, with or without music. Don’t be too worried about it being a perfect “class”. Just move, breathe, and prepare your head space for the day.
2.) Mindfulness is part of yoga and can be a big help in preventing a stress-induced meltdown. One my favorite ways to implement mindfulness is through food. This can be especially useful when on vacation and our diets go down the drain. Mindful eating gives you the opportunity to enjoy tastes and textures, and fully enjoy your food! If your children are really little, eating slowly might seem like torture, especially if you’re in a restaurant, but it can be done! Ask them about the colors, the shapes, the pictures on the menu. Keep a dialogue open! Even very young children will pick up the skills you lay down. If your kids are older, let them decide on a novel place to eat. Ask them what sparked their curiosity with that restaurant or food. Eating can be a nourishing and learning experience in the present-do it together!
3.) After a long day it may be tempting to just crash but, as many parents know, kids often don’t just go to sleep without a fight. They need a transition period. Take an evening star stroll. As the sun sets and the stars and moon rise, grab your sandals and your family to take a short stroll. As you step on the grass, notice how it feels beneath your feet. Ask your children to remove their sandals and feel each blade on the sole of their foot. Point out the stars. Walk in silence together as you reflect and enjoy each other’s presence. This walking meditation is sure to calm even the most rambunctious.
4.) It can be easy (too easy, actually) to complain and whine when you’re standing in long lines for days on end. While waiting in those never-ending queues, play a round of “Orange Ya Grateful?” Usually, in a Kidding Around Yoga class, you say something you are grateful for as you pass an orange to your neighbor with your feet. Here’s a secret: you don’t necessarily need the orange. The focus here is to live in the present and become aware of our fortunes, so to speak. Well, that, and distraction! Take note of the amazingly funny responses you get!
5.) Lastly, make a family journal/scrapbook to add to daily. It doesn’t have to be elaborate if you’re not the crafty type or if you can’t prepare ahead. A simple (empty) photo album can work. Each time you get a small souvenir, add it to the album with craft adhesive. Or, you can take a picture to add to the scrapbook later, along with photos of the family. (Don’t be afraid to take photos of yourself or to ask other tourists to snag them. They are once-in-a-lifetime, after all!) Each night, write a little blurb together to put into the album. You can always pretty it up when you get back home.
Vacations can be stressful, but they can be fun too! Remember that yoga teaches us to not expect perfection, but to live in the present. Live fully, enjoy each other, and build bonds that will last a lifetime. Your children will thank you for those great memories.