Duli, Taiwan: Yoga Retreat for the Body, Mind & Spirit

Katrina Mayer, author and motivational speaker, once said: “Time spent in nature heals your body, mind and spirit.” I found this quote to be especially true as I enter the last leg of my year-long travel journey. After a few months of nonstop travelling from country to country, and then settling back into life in Taipei as a student learning Mandarin once again, I felt I needed a little getaway to reflect, relax, rejuvenate and reconnect with myself. Call it divine intervention or whatever you will, one night as I’m googling away on my laptop searching for travelling to Taitung, I found out about a yoga retreat taking place there at the end of June.

I’m so happy to have discovered Teacher Joe’s (Joe 老師) 3 days/2 nights yoga retreat in the scenic Eastern tropical region of Taiwan. The sceneries along the way from the train station to our retreat centre in Duli, a small village in Taitung county, was absolutely breathtaking: trees so green and lush, and the ocean has 3 to 4 different shades of blue. After seeing this, I now understand why the Taiwanese always recommend people to go to Taitung. Fewer people come here, so it seems as if it is untouched by the human hand. It’s like nature in its true form.

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I love the secluded area of the retreat centre called Oceantree Yogasurf Ecocamp (https://www.facebook.com/TYTguesthouse/). It is run by a very down to earth and extremely welcoming couple, Mark and Kite, and they have two very cute children, plus two friendly and docile dogs. Mark teaches surfing, while Kite teaches yoga.

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From here, I really felt in tune with nature, from listening to the singing of the cicadas,to the chirping of the birds and sounds of the ocean waves. Seeing the neighbouring pineapple field and the farmers harvesting the pineapples, and then eating the pineapples in our vegetarian meals was an incredible experience. I always thought that pineapples came from trees like coconuts, and never thought to investigate it. When I discovered they actually came from the ground, I was in awe and once again am reminded that in life, we take a lot of things for granted, or it’s based on our own ignorance. At that moment, I made a pact to be genuinely more aware of things around me and not to take things for granted.

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The pineapple field

 

The vegetarian meals in the retreat was a reminder to eat healthy and of the connection between earth and us. I’m inspired to cook healthy homemade vegetarian/vegan meals when I return home to Canada, thanks to this retreat centre’s talented creative chef Jake!

At this retreat, I discovered 4 new things about myself:

1. My Mandarin has improved a lot since last year, despite taking a 4 months’ break from it. I was comfortable being in a full-immersion Mandarin speaking environment. For the most part, I understood what everyone was saying and I could communicate with them. Of course at times I would be confused, and could not find the right vocabulary or grammar pattern to talk. I’m still learning the language. At the same time, I realize that taking a break from a language and then getting back into it truly works!

2. Sometimes you just have to cast your fear aside and not think about anything, and do it. Thanks to Mark’s encouragement and attitude that “surfing is fun and like playing in the water”, that is exactly what I decided to do for my first surfing lesson. I have always been afraid of the water even as a kid even though my parents put me through swimming lessons. In the process of letting go, I learned that I love surfing! It is so fun and it is definitely something I want to continue so that goes hand in hand with relearning swimming as an adult.

3. Another huge fear I have decided to cope with this year throughout my travels is to try to overcome my phobia of dogs. In the past if a dog came near me, I would be freaking out, jumping up and down, and even getting on the table to get away from it. Therefore I cannot be in the same room with it. Two months ago, after meeting a very well-trained dog in Macau, I guess I got some courage to see if I can continue to be closer to dogs. This time even though I’m still apprehensive, I noticed that it is okay for me to be in the same room with them if they are well-behaved like Mark and Kite’s dogs, as long as they don’t pay too much attention to me.

4. I used to think that I’ll never be able to do aerial yoga because it requires a lot of flexibility and doing craziness high up. It is amazing to discover what happens when there is a very good encouraging yoga instructor (thank you Joe 老師!!) and when I let go of my doubts. Aerial yoga is actually not as difficult as I perceived it to be, and it is really fun!!!!

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Aside from making connections with the others, here are two of my other favourite moments on this yoga retreat:

-Waking up early at dawn to do beach yoga as we listened to the sounds of nature (ocean waves, birds and cicadas singing) around us, and seeing the sunrise.

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-Facing the pineapple field and feeling the ocean spray touch my face once in a while as I’m reading about mindfulness in my quiet spot.

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In reflection, this yoga retreat in beautiful and serene nature was indeed perfect healing for my body, mind and spirit. I am filled with gratitude and look forward to living with mindfulness and finding peace within myself each day! 🙂

The Power of Positive Affirmations

This summer I traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana to get my kids yoga teacher certification. One of my favourite moments during training was a 20 minute drawing and breathing activity where we reflected on who we are in an authentic honest way.

It seems we are constantly surrounded by noises, chaos and the hectic pace and demands of our daily lives whether it is from our family responsibilities, work tasks etc. I find it especially true in the twenty-first century whereby technology or social media plays a really big role in most people’s lives. In the process of meeting the demands of this pace of life where we just live on “autopilot”, we lose ourselves, the core of who we are. There is no time to really think about who we are and what we want to do in our lives to be truly happy. It can be so dire, that some people experience mental, physical and emotional burnout and depression overtime.

This drawing and breathing exercise reminded me once again how important it is to really “pause”, whether it is for a few minutes or one hour out of our daily lives to simply breathe and connect with ourselves and think positive thoughts. Remember: “You are what you think.” These positive thoughts are essentially positive affirmations that help us to realize and actualize our potential and dreams.

One of my dance instructors once shared with us her positive affirmation. She said that every morning when she wakes up, before she does anything, these are the words she utters: “I am happy. I am healthy. I am blessed.” We all thought it was a beautiful way to start the day. As part of her class, we made it into our routine to end the class with these words. I truly felt these words and believed it about myself as I continued my everyday life.

Here are my positive affirmations from my yoga drawing and breathing exercise which I truly see and feel as my true self:

Butterfly_affirmations

I have this on my cell phone that I look at as a daily reminder. 🙂

What are yours?

They can be as short and simple as my dance instructor’s or as long as mine or anyway you want them. It only matters that you are finding time to pause, breathe, reflect and believe in the power of these two words: I AM.

Go and try it, and see how powerful your own positive affirmations can have on your life to achieve genuine happiness!

Being Thankful: Life’s a Piece of Cake!

It’s our Thanksgiving in Canada, and as always it’s time for many of us to pause, reflect, surround ourselves with loved ones and be thankful for all we have in our lives.

Over the Thanksgiving long weekend, I caught up with my vegan friend, Emma, whom I met this summer in Korea and we became really good friends in a short span of 3 weeks. We decided to meet up in my favourite Korean cafe in town since we both miss our time in Korea and wish to reminisce the good times we had this summer.

While I ordered the cake and tea combo (I think this cafe has the best red velvet cake in town, and I decided to cheat by having some gluten and dairy; after all, life is all about balance right? 😉 ), I couldn’t help but think about how simple and sweet life can be like a piece of cake! So, the quote “life’s a piece of cake” came to my mind while I was chatting with Emma. When you really think about it, life is simple, and so many wonderful things happen along the way such as the many adventures I had this summer and the promise of a lasting friendship. 🙂

You may argue, but what about the “bad” things that happen to us in life? Well, I will argue it’s all in our mindset: the way we look at and interpret events that happen to us. Don’t you think that when we over-think, our minds go in turmoil and that’s when we find our lives are complicated? Even with uncontrollable events that happen to us, we can look at it from a different lense. This lense is what I call the positive mindset.

When we cultivate a positive mindset, things in life become crystal clear and simple. Yes, we will stumble along the way with challenges and have unexpected detours, but in the end, we become stronger and find something that is beautiful and are more appreciative and happier than we can ever imagine. If we don’t experience such challenges in life, how can we realize how sweet that piece of cake is? Just take a moment and think how powerful positive thinking can be. For me, it makes me be thankful that I am alive and breathing, and can enjoy that piece of cake fully!

"Life's a piece of cake! Enjoy it to the fullest!" :)

“Life’s a piece of cake! Enjoy it to the fullest!” 🙂

In addition, I am thankful for my family, old friends I still keep in touch with and new friends I made through my life’s adventures!

What are you thankful for?

Wishing you all a bountiful, beautiful and peaceful Thanksgiving!

XO,

Violet

 

 

 

Lazy Sundays are Good for You!

To my dear readers:

The past 2 weeks have passed by like a whirlwind. I’ve been so busy adjusting back to my regular and new routines, also fitting in socializing and family times that I realize I am neglecting something very important in achieving work-life balance. It is ME!

Where I am, we have been blessed with warm summer-like weather for the past 2 weekends even though it’s Fall. Last Sunday I was thinking I should take advantage of the beautiful sunny day by doing something outdoorsy. However, I finally listened to what I really wanted and needed which was a lazy Sunday spent in my pajamas and doing nothing at all. I have been mentally and physically exhausted for a while now. My version of a lazy Sunday was being in my PJs and baking some goodies with the windows wide open so the sun can shine into the kitchen, while listening to peaceful music. Having a lazy Sunday all to myself made a world of difference for the rest of the week whether I am at work, exercising or being with other people. I felt more refreshed, energized and happier. 🙂

My lazy Sunday reminded me gently that all of us have to slow down once in a while and really listen to what our body and mind need to rejuvenate our soul. Having “Me” time allows us to enjoy and live in the moment and makes us feel more calmer, re-energized and confident in dealing with anything that comes our way in the upcoming days.

What is your version of a lazy Sunday? 😀

Wishing you all a happy beautiful Sunday & week ahead!! ❤

XO,

Violet

I found this awesome online poster on pinterest and it describes my version of lazy Sundays perfectly! Enjoy! :)

I found this awesome online poster on pinterest and it describes my version of lazy Sundays perfectly! Enjoy! 🙂

 

Cultivating a Positive Mindset

Have you been feeling weigh down by negative thoughts, due to certain situations or environments, when you are by yourself or you feel them from people around you? Believe me, it happens to all of us, and it is up to us to make these negative feelings last either for a brief moment or for a longer period of time.

To be honest, the past year or so has been difficult as life has thrown quite a few curve balls my way, but I will reveal to you that what helped me through these negative situations was cultivating a positive mindset. I have learned that no matter what happens, I have to believe in myself and make the best out of every situation, and to try my best to bring sunshine with me wherever I go. This is the only way to live my life with joy, peace, love, hope and passion.

Last week I was introduced to Christian D. Larson’s beautiful poem called “Promise Yourself” and it describes the magic of having a positive mindset towards life, and it’s exactly what I strive to do every day. I love it so much that I would like to share with you! ❤

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing in this moment, even if you are in doubt or filled with negative thoughts, think of this promise and believe wholeheartedly in the power of positive thinking.

May this poem bring a smile to your face and be a source of strength and inspiration to you! 🙂

XO,

Violet

Promise-Yourself

 

 

Ten Easy Tips to Good Health!

Ten Easy Tips to Good Health!

Hello to all my dear readers & fellow blogger friends,

I have been away for a month or so due to low energy and sickness (I’ll explain and share with you what I learned during the time in some upcoming posts ^^) and am happy to be back here again! 🙂 I look forward to more blogging and connecting with you all once again!!

My best friend shared these awesome tips with me and I would like to share with you all here.

I love these simple tips, because it’s easy to follow on a daily basis!!

Cheers to good health to all of us this year! 😀

XO,
Violet

Feeling Inner Peace…

Taiwan Peace pic

This is one of my favourite quotes of all time.  It was introduced to me by my eternally cheerful, empathetic and optimistic yoga instructor Josie, who is known by all students to begin each class with a thoughtful and inspiring quote.  The quote really resonated with me during that particular yoga class, and when my daily life gets crazy hectic, I return to it.  It empowers and reminds me to stay calm, centered and joyful no matter what happens in my life.  I chose a photo that I took from my travel to Taiwan’s Alishan (Mount Ali) to match this quote.  A few years ago, I went to see the sunrise on Alishan and I have to say, it was one of the most breathtaking moments in my life, to be surrounded by such a gorgeous scenic view, tranquility and pure fresh air.  At that moment I felt so at peace with everything and myself.  Whenever I think of this quote, my mind immediately connects me back to this beautiful moment on Alishan.

I  hope you find inspiration and inner peace from this quote and scenic photo in your own daily life. Keep smiling!! 🙂

What do you do to find or keep inner peace?  Please share. 🙂

Thanks and Love, Violet