Oh, the many misconceptions about yoga! As a yoga instructor, I hear them almost daily. Though yoga has become much more well known over the past few decades, the idea that we yogis and yoginis spend our days standing on our heads, chanting, and eating lettuce surprisingly still runs rampant. Every discipline is subject to fallacies and criticisms, of course, and yoga is no exception. Among the plethora of wild assumptions out there, here are three of the most common misunderstandings that I’ve come across.
I’m late and I’m lost. Not completely, but its 9:53 and I can’t find the correct street. I ask a man for directions, which is so not like me. As an avid traveler, my rule of thumb is to find anything and everything on my own, no matter how long it takes, but under the current circumstance, I succumb to breaking it. With French instructions and a hand gesture, he directs me left. Gauche. I make a mental note to remember this for class, if I find the studio in time.
I rush to the corner and turn left. One more turn and I’m home free! My mind is jumbled and I’m too disoriented to decide if my next turn is right or left, so I go with my gut. I should know by now that 98% of the time going the opposite way of my directional gut is the better move. And sure enough, half a block down, it’s clear I am going the wrong way. It’s 9:57. I spin around and run to the other side of the street. People around me are walking with purpose, probably to work, but I’m too late to observe anything more than their clothing. It’s August in Paris and everyone is donning jackets and scarves. It is a chilly 65ish degrees and flat-out cold for a Miamian like myself. Despite the temperature, I am sweating and nervous.
Breaking into the yoga world can be intimidating and confusing. Thoughts of “I’m not flexible, patient, zen enough” might come to mind. Or maybe you’re thinking “Nah, I need to sweat to feel like I worked out.” Ignore those voices in your head. There are so many different styles of yoga, that with a little research and practice, you likely will find exactly what you are looking to gain. From Ashtanga to Vinyasa, there is a style for everyone, right here in Miami.
Miami loves yoga, and there are so many good studios that giving due credit to all is tough. To start, we’ll help you narrow your options to the styles that sound most appealing, and check out a few studios that offer it. Finding your yogic path can take time, but remember that life and yoga are all about the journey.
Growing your own fruits and vegetables in a tiny outdoor space or balcony might initially seem impossible, but it’s totally doable. According to Déva Presence of Permaculture Miami, as long as you have access to sunlight (and really, here in Miami we have more than our fair share), a watering system, potting soil, and good fertilizer, you can grow your own dinner. All it takes is a little TLC for that green thumb to appear. And even with a small space, there’s plenty of options. But first, “Know your plants!” says Presence.
If you want to maintain your exercise routine:
Rent bikes from your hotel or from the city bike share program, DecoBike. Ride along the promenade from Miami Beach to South Pointe Park. Want to try something different? Rollerblades are still a completely acceptable form of transportation. Rent them from South Beach or Bayside with Bike n Roll Miami, and wallow in your 90s nostalgia.
Jogging on the beach is never a bad idea. Especially if you join the iconic Raven’s Run, a free running club led by the famous Raven. A Miami local, he has successfully run 8 miles on the beach every single day for the past 40 years. If you prefer to run solo, head to the boardwalk that starts on 23rd Street.
Kitesurfing is a popular pastime down here, especially in the Keys. Thankfully, you don’t have to go far. Key Biscayne is known for its plethora of kite surf instructors, so book your lesson and hit the water. If possible, stick around until the sun goes down. This island is known for its incredibly colorful sunsets.
Miami’s proximity to the Caribbean means ocean waves are few and far between. That’s why Miamian’s prefer paddle boards to surfboards. Paddle under the sun through the bay from Sunset Harbour Marina, or wait until dusk and join one of Miami Beach Paddle Board’s Neon Tours. Explore the Sunset Island channels on boards equipped with LED neon lights.
If yoga is your thing, you are in luck. Free and donation-based classes are offered all throughout the city, and most take advantage of our wonderful weather and gorgeous vistas. Practice in front of the ocean at sunrise or sunset at 3rd Street Beach, hosting classes every day at 7am and 5pm. Sleep in a little bit and meander over to the Mondrian Hotel on Sunday mornings at 10am to get your vinyasa on in front of the bay, overlooking Miami’s impressive downtown skyline. In contrast, practice with a view of Miami Beach at Bayfront Park, offering free yoga classes every Monday and Wednesday at 6pm and Saturday at 9am.
Fresh Italian pasta? Baguettes et chocolat? Barbeque wars here in the USA? Culinary adventures are a major (if not the) highlight of the best destinations. When you’re out on the road, is it possible to eat what you want and still button your pants?
While I am a full advocate of letting go of your restrictions and immersing yourself completely into the country and culture in which you are traveling, it can be hard on your health and your waistline. You can take care of yourself while still indulging in the local cuisine with a few mindful choices.
Go for active intensity.
Tours are often categorized according to level of physical activity. If you want to maintain your usual active lifestyle, or you want to balance your (over)eating with activity, choose a fast-paced tour. Look for itineraries that include a lot of walking, hiking, and extra options, such as biking excursions. Operators like Overseas Adventure Travel, AmaWaterways (partnering with Backroads), and Go Ahead Tours design their tours with a moderate amount of daily activity, with options to always do more.
Location can play a big factor as well. Local tours of ancient, Mediterranean cities are guaranteed to include a lot of walking, as buses cannot get to the center of these cities anyway. South American nature treks are sure to include a high level of physical activity. You might find that tours of modern cities, like many here in the USA, are bus-based. Insight Vacations’ or Road Scholar’s slower-paced programs, or Collette’s National Park’s tour, are a few examples.
Take the stairs.
In hotels, airports, even tourist attractions, if you have the option to take the stairs, do it. Avoid skytrains and motorized walking paths in airports if you have time before your connecting flight. Use these ride-along options only when you are dragging heavy luggage—or when you’ve got the 30th floor master suite penthouse!
Make it a point to stretch.
Bus tours involve a lot of sitting. It can be easy to settle in next to the window with your book and camera for hours without movement. Set your watch to beep every hour, or better yet every half hour, and remind yourself to move. Neck rolls, ankle rolls, a quick stretch of your arms and legs, and an easy torso twist will help keep your blood moving and your joints free.
And take every opportunity to get off the bus. Even if you have absolutely no interest in the photo stop, even if you have no desire to use the restrooms, just get up and off the bus. Walk in circles around the parking lot if you have to. Your body and your mind need it.
It’s hard to drink enough water on tour when you spend hours on the bus and even more hours meandering through foreign lands. Toilets may not be very accessible or comfortable. However, I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay hydrated. New food and spices, an excess of alcohol, air pollution, extremes in climate, and traveling on planes are all dehydrating. Drinking 2-3 liters of water a day will help keep your system clear. Find out if your driver sells it on the bus, ask about the safety of the tap water where you are staying, and stock up on bottles of water when in doubt.
Choose your vice.
Food and wine cruises, like Tauck’s A Taste of France, mean that on tour you are going to eat. A lot. You are going to try foods your body isn’t used to eating every day. If you really want to keep control of your diet, choose one thing to indulge in and cut another. For example, if you’re going to have dessert, pass on the bread. If you want wine, opt out of the cheese plate. Making the choice to indulge in one thing will ease the pain of foregoing another.
Follow the Leader!
As a yoga instructor, I bring my mat everywhere I go and practice for at least 10 minutes each morning to stay energized and feel fit. I encourage my guests to incorporate movement into their mornings, whether it be a quick run, walk, or simple stretch, before starting their touring day.
After long transfers on the bus, I also remind travelers to take a walk around the city or a nearby park to loosen the joints. If you work with a trainer or take classes at home, ask for some on-the-road exercises that you can do in your hotel room or the fitness center. Most hotels also have walking or running routes that they recommend for guests.
In short: Finding the balance between indulgence and activity will help you enjoy your tour more. It will make your adjustment to “the real world” easier when you get back home, too!
Best known for miles of off-road cycling trails and breathtaking waterways, Oleta River State Park — at just over 1,000 acres — is the largest urban park in all of Florida.
Going on vacation doesn’t mean you have to abandon your active lifestyle. In Miami, it is easier than you probably think. Find out how to maintain your exercise routine, your healthy eating habits, connect with nature and treat yourself while still having a blast in Miami.
“Dancing? Um, no thanks.” I reply as my out-of-town friends suggest a night out club-hopping. The idea of scantily clad twerking tourists spilling drinks all over my conservative white cotton button down and reasonably long shorts gives me immediate chills. “Oh come on, it will be fun! We need to move,” they beg.