We're a lucky generation. When I think about how much I've been able to travel in my fairly short life, I feel immense gratitude for living in this day in age. Hopping on a plane and traveling to all sorts of exotic locations isn't that uncommon for us, and more and more people are turning their passion for traveling into a general lifestyle, meaning it's not just vacation when they travel, it's just living! Being a huge proponent for taking life with you wherever you go, I've developed little tricks and ideas for ways to bring my yoga practice with me wherever I go.
If you're anything like the common jet setting modern yogi, the idea of practicing yoga while you're traveling is wonderful but the actual practice of it may fall short, and it's mainly because of not knowing how to start or even what to do! That's ok, that's what this post is for!
Bringing your yoga practice with you is no more difficult than laying in a blissful Savasana pose. Or at least it shouldn't be. There are only a few things to remember before rolling out your mat in your hotel room, beach villa or grass patch (or skip the mat altogether).
1. First, know what your intention is. This helps me to figure out why I want to practice yoga. I ask myself, “Do I need to chill out?” “Do I need to stop and breathe more?” “Do my legs feel heavy?” “Does my neck feel tight?” “Am I having digestive issues?” “Do I feel lethargic?” Understanding what's going on inside your body is the first step in addressing it. While traveling, numerous factors play into what's going on inside our bodies. Jet lag, for instance, is a big one. It can leave you feeling stiff, tired and bloated. If this is the case, some poses to try out are,
Twists - to detox your organs, relieve bloating, open your chest & shoulders and bring fresh nutrients to your organs. Pose ideas: any twist works as long as you're twisting from your abdomen first and then allowing your chest, shoulders and neck to follow.
Psoas stretches - to stretch hips, groin and glutes that often end up feeling tight after hours of sitting in the plane / train / car. Pose ideas: pigeon pose, reclined "thread the needle" pose where ankle is resting on opposite knee, and lizard pose.
Legs up - to invigorate your circulation with fresh oxygen to your blood, encourage toxins to flush out of your legs and to stimulate your immune system (this works great at the airport too!). Pose ideas: Legs up the wall and/or shoulder stand.
Moving - A tried-and-true option is to move through 3-5 Sun Salutation A's, (and B’s if you're feeling up for it). This sequence helps with bloating, stagnant fluid, sore muscles and poor circulation, among many other issues. Sun salutations also help bring awareness to your breathing, which ultimately helps you get acclimated to your new environment.
Pranayama - there's absolutely nothing like fresh oxygen to cure a decreased supply of it. Breathing exercises help fill up your lungs with oxygen after the plane's low cabin pressure has reduced your blood oxygen level by about five to 20 percent. Focus on inhaling for longer counts than your exhales. For example, breathe in for a count of 6 and breathe out for a count of 4, focusing on the energizing effect of breathing.
2. Get rid of expectations - While traveling and solo yoga-ing, it's easy to feel disappointed when we don't feel the same exhilaration we usually get from a packed-room Vinyasa class. And here's why: it's not meant to feel the same. The buzzing energy found at studios is unique to the studio, and striving for that is a misplaced hope. Here's the good news: the buzz is within. Yes, YOU have the ability to feel just as blissful while doing your own thing. It's just a matter of tuning into your body and giving it what it wants. We each have millions of cells that are zooming inside our bodies with tons of information for us - just waiting to be heard. So once you figure out what you need (from step 1), the more effectively you'll be able to give that to yourself.
3. Time is not a factor - As I mentioned above, taking your practice with you doesn't mean devoting 90 minutes or even a full hour to it. Don't deny yourself from practicing yoga just because you either "don't have time" or "don't know what to do." The goal of yoga is to connect with yourself, to thread a beautiful string between your mind, body and soul. We're such sensitive creatures but sometimes we forget to be sensitized to the closest thing to us - ourselves. While traveling, with or without a yoga mat, dedicate time to simply being still. In this stillness is where you'll find all the information you need in order to practice yoga. Do your own thing and don't be afraid of getting creative! It's OK to pull inspiration from your latest class or even social media, but never compromise what your body needs for what others tell you is right (including me). Whether it's five minutes or half an hour, your body will thank you for taking time to breathe with awareness, shedding layers of tightness and wringing out anything it doesn't need.
Your yoga practice is exactly that - yours. It's meant to be a hugely personal experience between your body, mind and soul. So give yourself the freedom and playfulness to experience the beauty that happens when you tune into yourself and stamp your passport with the loveliness of yoga.
Sending you all love and blissful travels,