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August Bucket List

Summer is the season of possibility. The long (if not lazy!) days invite us to break out of fixed routines and deep-seated habits. Get a little messy. Feel mud between our toes, traipse sand into the house. Play like the kids we once were!

Here are some prompts from my personal August Bucket List, with a word or two on why all of these count as “yoga” off the mat. Venture out, come up with your own. Report back to how it feels to step outside your box and dive into life!

AUGUST BUCKET LIST

  1. Jump into the Ocean! Not the bay, not the pool. Ocean temp off Long Island last week was 77 degrees—practically Caribbean! And even when it’s chilly, a dive into wavy salt water is way more fun than the current craze for “cold plunges” in 58-degree tanks!Why it’s yoga: Yoga challenges our bodies by moving them in new and different ways. We learn both how to exert effort and surrender to what is. Playing in the ocean means knowing when to duck under an incoming wave and when to go “rag doll” if your timing is off. It’s also all about being in the moment!
  2. Pick up some beach—or park, or sidewalk—litter. Grab a bag and collect some of the trash that washes ashore or remains from less thoughtful visitors. The fish will thank you for this small act of karma yoga, as ingesting all this stuff is affecting their breathing. And fellow humans will appreciate a place unsullied by the rest of us.
  3. Visit a farmstand or farmer’s market for some local produce. Peaking right now: peaches, zucchini, corn, and of course tomatoes—especially those little orange cherry tomatoes from Pike’s Farmstand in Sagaponack, which are sweeter than any fruit I’ve tasted and only appear a few weeks every summer!Why it’s yoga: Ayurveda, the Indian “Science of Life” or traditional medicine, encourages us to eat what’s in season, forgoing tasteless produce loaded with preservatives to survive shipping from California and Central America.
  4. Share a picnic in a park, on your deck, on your rooftop—anywhere outside. Everything tastes better closer to its source in Nature, and eating with others is a time-tested route to spiritual connection (Sanskrit word satsang). It’s well worth getting a little sand on your plate or sharing your meal with ants!
  5. Practice yoga outside. Of course, I’d love for all of you to join my class at Wolffer Vineyard for the rest of the season! There’s nothing like being surrounded by rolling fields of vines, with a bright blue dome of sky above. But a park, yard, or rooftop will do!Why it’s yoga: Yoga doesn’t require special equipment or specific weather conditions. You don’t need protective clothing or a heart monitor. You don’t even need a mat. Just you, your body, and your breath.
  6. Visit a museum or sculpture garden. If you’re in the city, you’ll probably have a cool, dark, air-conditioned culture hub to yourself. If you’re in a summer resort community, remember that your cultural institutions rely on summer visitors to sustain them through the “off season.” My Hamptons list includes the Parrish Art Museum, Guild Hall, Longhouse Reserve, Madoo Conservancy, the Watermill Center, the Southampton Arts Center . . . and more!Why it’s yoga: Art connects us to each other and to the world in deep and meaningful ways. Svadhyaya, Sanskrit for “self-study,” usually translates as study of the scriptures. But many of us find our truth through art. Take it in, and wake up!
  7. Attend a talk, panel, or reading. Tickle your brain. Learn something new, or discover something you already “knew” but couldn’t articulate.Why it’s yoga: Raja yoga uses the mind to connect to Spirit. When you hear something that resonates, you get that hit of connection— which is the true meaning of yoga. “Yuj,” the root of the word yoga, means to yoke or connect two things together. Person to person, spirit to Spirit.
  8. Wander outside at night. If you’re near the shore, head for the beach. In the city? Find the darkest spot or highest rooftop, as close to the sky as possible. Have a look up at the stars. August is primetime for shooting stars, so settle in and await a vision!Why it’s yoga: Yoga is about bringing the ego down to “right size.” Gazing up at the endless home of countless celestial bodies has a way of putting our little human struggles into perspective.
  9. Try a new activity. Sailing, fishing, clamming, pickleball, croquet, labyrinth walking, paddleboarding, truffle hunting, bungee jumping, slacklining . . . . Invite your body-mind into unknown territory. Move a muscle, change a thought!Why it’s yoga: Yoga casts aside all of our back-rounding, shoulder tightening, stress-inducing postural habits and replaces them with new, weird, and ultimately healthy patterns, changing us from the outside in. Any new physical activity will open up vistas in your mind and heart.
  10. Visit someone who is housebound, limited, or ill. You’ll light up their day and feel a surge of gratitude for how fortunate you are.

Why it’s yoga: The Buddhist practice of metta asks us to practice lovingkindness to all beings everywhere. It’s a tall order, so start local!

Yoga News Aug 3, 2023

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