If you are like me, work-free vacations are all good and fine in theory.
My vacationing style was typically somewhere between KGB Deep Surveillance and DefCon 3. My iPhone is rarely set to stun…..it means business. I have a Wi-Fi Seek-and-Lock app. My backup data roaming package can run a small business for a decade. I can surreptitiously knock out an email between two poached eggs; or during an abseil; or in deep aromatherapy; or while doing the Robot on the dance floor, and even – the unthinkable – while abluting. Yes, I was no amateur at working on vacations.
So when I found myself in Yoga-happy Ubud, I faced a conundrum.
Of course I was going to be out of place. A popular magazine review of our holiday destination actually included the enthusiastic but slightly creepy observation that “beautiful, svelte yogis laughed and socialised” at the nearby Yoga Barn.
They’d be laughing sociably at Unbendable Me, I warranted grumpily.
But I had to be present and in the moment. Not least because my other half would become my former half if I wriggled out of this chanting stretch-and-be-serene-fest. I’d be banned to the Downward-facing Doghouse. I’d be perennially in the Plucked Pigeon Pose.
I wanted to be authentic. I couldn’t just don crinkly linen, Birkenstocks and a three day beard, and in this fine disguise leave my mind simmering in office mode. Not anymore.
And so I sojourned – not too much like an Eating-Praying-Loving meander, but with some recognisable parallels – to find powerful yoga techniques that would help me nail authentic vacationing. I clambered in happy pants through vegan cafes eating kale crackers and drinking chrysanthemum tea, studying the ways of enlightened holidaymakers, to distil five lessons that have changed my vacations forever.
I share them with you, dear reader. For best results, please use them strictly in the following order.
1. The Essential Chakra Connect: Give (i) one preferably sensible person you report to, and (ii) one preferably unflappable person who reports to you, your personal email address. You know, the one you use to check that your kids are at school/your parents are out of jail/your Victoria’s Secret order is en route. Tell these two people (and only two) to feel free to contact you on this email if professional Armageddon is nigh. You will feel all guilt melt away as you optimise your connection to the universe.
2. The Karma Rollover Ritual: Limit any reports/articles/analyses you want to review to only five. Store them carefully in both hardcopy and on your computer at least 48 hours before departure. Then, 6 hours before you leave, burn the hard copies and delete the files. (a) You will feel like a rebel, and (b) this will accelerate you into vacation mode. Two-handed middle finger gestures are optional during this ritual and, while breathing powerfully into your centre, are deeply satisfying.
3. The Sunken Child Pose: Make your work email less accessible. Since iOS 7, a popular glitch allows you to create nested folders on your iPhone or iPad. Group your popular holiday apps (Google Maps, Urbanspoon, Facebook, Instagram, Tinder, Sudoku, Photo-editors, Snapchat, personal email etc etc) into a couple of nested bundles, and stick your work email folder way under all of that. The more layers you create, the better this technique works. This way, you distract yourself in a Swipe/Click/Like frenzy on your way to your work email, and hopefully never get there. To set up your device, see for examplehttp://www.iphonehacks.com/2016/02/how-to-create-nested-folders-in-ios-9-3.html.
4. The Extended Flyaway Pose: Whenever you think about work, pull out a papernotebook and pencil. It is important to eschew digital devices in this pose. In your notebook, plan the next five or ten years of your career with another employer or two. This is a wonderful redirection of work energy, even if it is a little mischievous. Caution: do not use if you have a self-employment condition. Higher-order effort: harness your creativity and increase yogic effect by drawing caricatures of your boss on every second page to create a flowing cartoon movie.
5. The Waterfall Warrior: Often considered to be the most mentally challenging of poses, it requires you to reach a venerated yogic state called No-Mind. In the Western world we often call the state of No-Mind “carelessness” or “accidental damage”, and the correct legal term is “wilful negligence”. Simply drop your iPhone or iPad in water and allow to soak for one minute. Best attempted with travel insurance firmly in place.
Namaste. Happy vacations.