In the spirit of authenticity, I have a confession to make. I went offline at the end of May. Like, no reception for a week, bathroom in the woods, offline. Initially I felt guilty. I was so excited to share with you some amazing wellness tips that our lovely lady businesswomen in Savannah have to offer, and I felt like it had to be within the confines of mental health month.
Then, I thought, what if we do things when we are ready? With no rush, at a time when we intentionally decide it’s right. So, here we are. It’s June and (almost) post-pandemic, and yet, caring for ourselves will never go out of style.
If you have ever strolled with a coffee or jogged around Forsyth Park on Monday and Friday mornings, say around 9 a.m., you’ll notice a unique gathering of people doing yoga near the big palm tree due North of Collins Quarters. If you’re at the fountain, you’ve gone too far.
In fact, something magical is happening under the Spanish moss this Friday, June 11th from 9 - 10 a.m. at this exact place. Yoga Under The Trees, sponsored by Collins Quarter Forsyth is celebrating its one year anniversary. The yogi mastermind behind it all is, of course, Hygge Savannah’s dear friend, and Connect Savannah’s Best Yoga Instructor 2021, Meg Shuba. We’ll all be out there listening to beautiful live music from singer/songwrite, Levi Moore, as we flow. Brunch and music to follow!
In the spirit of this annual celebration, Meg was graciously willing to impart her wisdom about how to stay calm in times of uncertainty. And she’s done her research. She has two Yoga Alliance-accredited Teacher Training’s coming up in August (200-hour) and November (300-hour) and she looks forward to hosting international yoga retreats once travel restrictions are lifted.
So much of the practice of yoga has to do with heightened senses, whether that be breathing deeper, listening closely to the teacher or in this case, our sense of smell. Scent memories are a true phenomena and have the ability to bring up intense emotions. We’ve all been there—you walk into a bakery and it reminds you of your grandmother’s kitchen, or a passing scent reminds you of a difficult time in your past. Regardless, scent has some serious power over us.
Meg says she fell in love with essential oils working in an aromatherapy shop in Napa Valley, California, where they harvested their own lavender from Sonoma and distilled the oils in-house. Turns out, more than just wine is going on in this region of the country. She says essential oils are the “liquid yoga” because of the energetic and emotional benefits they can provide.
To get started, she recommends uses Certified Therapeutic Grade oils (especially if ingesting) but she urges you to do your research or reach out and ask her yourself. Along with your basic over-the-counter medicines, Meg recommends considering how essential oils can help supplement your medicine cabinet.
Here’s her top five recommendations below for some common symptoms you might be experiencing:
For headaches & migraines, use peppermint and Siberian fir.
For better sleep, try juniper and Roman camomile.
For digestion or upset stomach, try fennel.
For uplifting your mood or combating depression, try bergamot or wild orange.
For anxiety or acute stress, try vetiver and cedarwood.
Meg’s current summer scent is a mixture of jasmine and rosemary. “It says southern summer to me”, she says. When I asked her about a scent she was most surprised to learn of its benefits, she said frankincense because it increases the efficacy of all other oils, and it’s amazing for your brain and memory. It has a subtle, earthy aroma that feels grounding. As Meg explains, “who ever thought a plant could help your noggin?”
Along with most of us, Meg is also learning how to navigate impermanence and riding the metaphorical wave of the unknown. She says it took her years to learn, but once grasping on tight didn’t seem to do the trick, releasing and flowing (literally or figuratively) was the only thing that helped. She says this year taught her, most importantly, that it’s the people in your life that matter, and a sense of community.
Our favorite question to ask at Hygge is, how are you taking care of yourself? Meg does this in her own life by taking time for self-study and to sit quietly, either by journaling, moving on her mat to good music or meditating after any big life change (ie: loss of job, end of a relationship, or even start of a new chapter). It’s a never ending process, she clarifies, and one that requires constant practice.
Meg teaches the power of the SIGH in her classes, which in turn creates a physical and energetic relaxation of the body. Once you’ve mastered the sigh with no concern for how you look or sound doing it, try delving into proper Ujjayi breathing, which is when you breath in through your nose and tighten your throat as you breath out, which should sound a bit like a light snore. In yoga, breathing loudly is cool. This breathing technique leads to a lull of the mind, body and spirit. The good news is, you can come to Yoga Under The Trees and Meg will teach you how to do it herself!
Another quick way to practice mindfulness every day, is Thich Nhat Hanh’s, Telephone Meditation. Every time your phone rings—before you answer—take a breath. If you take a really good sigh before answering that work email, talking to your partner or picking up a family member’s phone call, you’ll shift away from reactivity and speak more truthfully and presently.
After three years of being in Savannah, Meg’s favorite things to do are walking historic downtown with coffee in the early, quiet morning hours, the beach at sunset and the tranquility of the marsh grass. Simplicity is key, especially when you’re dealing with something—aren’t we all? Meg’s home is a curated, comfortable space surrounded by shrines. Though she doesn’t have a proper dining table, she’s got singing bowls, cushions and, no surprise here, stocks of essential oils. She keeps her home candlelit and doesn’t undervalue the importance of having a beautiful space that you love. Again, it’s simple—to love where you are can have a profound effect on your mental health, and the good news is, you have the power to create it.
“There's comfort in knowing none of us have it all together. And honestly, if we all did, what fun would that be anyway? I have found the richness in life comes from the times when I didn't have everything figured out. Yoga teachers often tell students to "let go”, but what is it that I'm supposed to let go of? The need to know. The need to control. It’s like trying to cup your hands under a faucet and catch all the water….it's impossible. Instead let it run through your fingers without attachment. Remember every single one of us is trying to figure out how to be human. The learning to be human is the enlightenment. And we are all hiking up the mountain of life. As Rumi says, "we are all just walking each other home". So, grab someone's hand and let's do this together. See you under the trees.” - Meg Shuba Yoga
For more information on class offerings, teacher trainings and upcoming retreats, visit www.megshubayoga.com and follow her on Instagram @sweetnutmeg.