Summer is here, vacation time: Sunshine, beaches, summer camps, pajama days, and family trips, play dates, excursions and yummy ice cream! Most of us remember this time of the year as exciting, always counting the days until vacation - this long streak of long, warm summer days filled with never ending possibilities.
At least, this is how my summers usually started. And even my kids today tend to wake up earlier than usual on their first vacation days, excited about not having to get ready for school and having a whole promising day filled with sweet nothingness in front of them.
Later things tend to change, we have work to do, bills to pay, appointments and deadlines to keep and it becomes harder and harder to get ready for some real vacation time. Excitement gives way to the stressful hectic of finishing projects and making sure, everything will go smooth without us. And even if we manage to free ourselves from our main job duties we still are tempted to check in on our email and social media connections. As long as there is WiFi somewhere, it is hard to turn off and just be where we are for those few precious vacation-days, no matter how hard we worked to keep them free of daily duties.
Even most of our kids will have lots of plans throughout vacation. Camps and enrichment activities, summer school and prepping for the next school year are taking up a big chunk of the summer. And as fun and important many of those activities and educational opportunities are, there is a big reason to leave at least some space for doing nothing, for unplanned summer days, even for times to get bored or just be lazy.
Vacation means to "empty" yourself
The Latin root of vacation (vac) actually means to be empty, like in vacant or vacuum. Real vacation time means to empty us from daily duties, from offices, paperwork and washing dishes. It means to make space to enjoy and make time to explore what we like to do.
The society we live in seems to demand that we always have to get ready for something, to improve, to learn, to prepare for the challenges to come. But you cannot fill a bottle that is already full. This is, why vacation, why emptying ourselves is so important. And we encourage you to explore this most important lesson over the summer: Get empty, be free, enjoy!
YoKi Yoga tips to daily vacations:
When I first got my Yoga teaching certification I was more than excited to share what I had learned. Yoga had done so much good for me - and of course, I was persuaded, that it would do even more good, if I would share it with friends and family. But, my, was I wrong, at least at first.
For my husband Yoga seemed to be more torture than anything else - he kept asking after every pose, if we are done now. And my girls certainly did not get excited about Sun Salutations and stretching out in pigeon pose or a long, yummy downward facing dog. Their opinion felt more like a verdict to me: Yoga is boring. Let’s go and play!
Luckily that is exactly what I learned about a year later, while taking the YoKi Kids Yogatraining with Jill Rapperport. Instead of simply doing Paschimottanasana, seated forward bend, we stretched our hamstrings by stepping on our imaginary gas pedal. We walked like bears, stalked like antelopes and crawled like lizards. We didn’t merely do Yoga - we played with it. Hey, did we have fun!
What about a more playful approach?
And while we were racing and cruising playfully through our practice, something serious inside me started to change. What if I wouldn’t just practice and teach Yoga with a more playful approach? What if I would do the same thing while doing housework, writing articles, getting in arguments with my husband, doing homework with the kids, or while getting them to practice their instruments or doing their chores?
To tell you right away: It does not always work, not even when I am practicing Yoga. Not with me, no. The reason is not, that I am a super serious person and do not like to play, but sometimes I just need to get things done - fast! - or I want to make my point - now! Sadly or naturally and needless to say, this is usually the time, when things do not get done at all - or they get even worse…
Yesterday even our fuse box couldn’t handle my thorough determination of getting everything done at once and suddenly shut off, depriving vacuum, washing machine, dryer, dish washer of the necessary energy. Forget about a cup of coffee! And while I desperately tried to figure out the fuse box, the dogs smelled their chance and got into the compost, spilling egg shells, coffee grounds and banana peels all over the kitchen floor.
Clean up time! Grumbling I stomped to get out the broom, only to discover my girls piling pillows, blankets, towels and everything else which is soft and available in the living room for a big, beautiful nest. Great, we had to leave in 20 Minutes, nobody was ready and my kids refused to help, probably simply because they couldn't stand to be in my “get things done NOW”-Aura.
Sometimes it is all about the energy we send out
Yes, sometimes it is all about the energy we send out. It took a while for me to get it, but simply knowing about the magical science of our feel-good hormones, aka endorphins, dopamine and the neurotransmitter serotonin, makes it easier for me to put on a smile. Just so and despite whatever happened. Just for me.
Scientist and spiritual teachers both agree about the positive message of this little facial gesture. And the best thing: This feel-good message does not only get send to your own brain but is also contagious for the people around you. You smile, the world smiles back.
It really works! Nothing has really changed in my day, the kitchen is still a mess, the girls haven’t even thought of starting their homework and the dogs are barking desperate for attention and treats. I take a deep breath or maybe three or five, put a big smile on my face, take the dogs outside to the park and challenge the kids to a quick cartwheel contest.
The playfulness gets carried over into the next chore
The whole little adventure takes not more than 10 to 15 Minutes… Yes, we still have to be on schedule. Even fun Yoga-Games don’t take away the time pressure of hectic school days. To my surprise, it still almost always works. When we play a little together first, somehow the playfulness gets carried over into whatever chore we have to do next.
Oh, and one last thing about big, comfy nests in the middle of the living room. They just seem to come and go in our house - and more often than not, they now stay for a day, or three, or four. I know, we should clean them up, but first of all: those nest are really comfy and we do need a place to play and cuddle until this school week is over - and, most importantly my girls are set to teach me chakrasana, the backwards somersault used as a transition in Ashtanga Yoga and some Vinyassa classes. I am getting pretty close. And my kids are having tons of fun, of sharing Yoga - well somersaults - with me!
Whether you like to build your own nest in your living room or not, stay tuned for more tales and adventures with YoKi Yoyo and let us know about your ideas and success stories of how to survive a stressful day.
Join a Yoki Kids Teacher training to learn more about the ways how Yoga games and play can open up your mind and energy for creativity and joy, resetting your body and mind to be ready…. for whatever might come.
Join Yoki Yoga's Family Yoga with Josefine on Saturday 9 am at the Audubon Society (5530 Sunset Drive) to connect with your friends and family, to laugh and play together and learn to see things from a new perspective.