During the holiday season, many of us have plans to travel to other states or even other countries to spend time with family. It can be fun to do something outside your normal routine and stay somewhere different for a few nights, but travel can also be fairly stressful, both physically and mentally. Anxiety comes into play if you hate flying on airplanes or driving in heavy highway traffic. Lack of sleep can also make an appearance with time zone changes and sleeping in an unfamiliar bed.
1. Yoga Reminds You to Breathe
The breath is a vital component of your yoga practice. When you focus on your breath during your yoga practice, challenging poses become more accessible. Something similar happens when we travel. Challenging situations arise (cancelled flights, anybody?!) and we can forget to breathe.
Instead of going off on the poor gate attendant who really has no control over flight schedules, take a full, deep breath and ask yourself what can be done to alleviate the situation. Challenges are always going to arise – whether you’re on the mat or on the road. Learn to focus on your breath – it can make the solution a bit more accessible.
Try This Breathing Technique:
Try the 4-7-8 breathing method, as described by Dr. Weill, next time you’re caught in a stressful situation. It takes less than a minute and can be done anywhere!
Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, just behind the top front teeth
Inhale through your nose for a count of 4
Hold this breath for a count of 7
Release through your mouth (making a whooshing sound) for a count of 8
Repeat this 4 times
2. You’ll Find Space for Quiet Reflection
New adventures are fun! But, how often do you pause to appreciate your current location?
Yoga teaches us to stay in the present moment, and find steadiness there. Sometimes, the present moment is difficult to appreciate, but we can practice gratefulness for simply having the opportunity to travel.
On the road, it can be difficult to devote a full hour to a daily yoga practice. So, you can reap the benefits by spending a few minutes each day in quiet reflection, to shift your perspective and appreciate the adventure.
Try These Yoga Poses:
Once you find a comfortable seat that supports the spine and skull, close your eyes, and allow your senses to turn inward for a reflective meditation. Each of these seated postures stretches your hips and ankles and strengthens your back with varying intensities.
Easy Seat (Sukhasana) – least intensity
Kneeling Pose (Vajrasana) – moderate intensity
Lotus Pose (Padmasana) – most intensity
3. Yoga Alleviates Muscular Tension
Travel with a backpack? Pull your suitcase along cobblestone streets? Spend 12 hours on a bus? The physical act of getting from one destination to the next creates some serious stress and tension in our muscles. This can lead to fatigue and possibly injury if we don’t address it regularly.
Traveling is stressful on our bodies, and sometimes it just feels good to stretch. While yoga is more than just stretching, a continued practice gradually lengthens and strengthens muscle tissue keeping us safe and strong.
Try These Yoga Poses:
Cat and Cow Flow to gently stretch your spine
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) to stretch your hamstrings and calves, and alleviate tension in your low back
Eagle Pose (Garudasana) stretches your upper back and shoulders, as well as your glutes and hips
Half Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) stretches your hip flexors and quads on one side, and your glutes on the other
Banana Pose stretches your entire side body
4. You Can Practice Yoga Anywhere
Many hostels offer yoga classes, you can drop in to many local studios (which is always fun to take a yoga class in a foreign language), or you can simply find a quiet corner of an airport and move through your favorite poses before boarding your next flight.
You don’t need any special equipment for yoga on the road. Just your body and enough space to stretch out.
Try This Warrior II Sequence:
This Warrior II sequence is a great place to start! Inhale to expand into each pose, and exhale as you transition to the next pose. Perform the flow starting with your right leg, then Vinyasa to finish on the left leg (Chaturanga – Upward Dog – Downward Dog).
Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana II)
Reverse Warrior (Reverse Virabhadrasana II)
Triangle (Utthita Trikonasana)
Side Angle (Parsvakonasana)
Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana)
5. Yoga Boosts Your Energy
The jet lag struggle is so real. Even if you’re not traveling through time zones, travel is still tiring. It offsets our normal sleep patterns and can leave us feeling less than optimal for the next day’s plans. Even a 15-20 yoga flow helps get your blood flowing, oxygen moving, and reduces your stress levels – all of which increase energy.
At the end of a day of adventure, a gentle restorative practice before bed can prep your body and mind for sleep. The combination of these gentle poses with the pranayama practice activates your parasympathetic nervous system, decreases cortisol levels, and helps your body and mind relax.
Try These Relaxing Restorative Poses:
Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
Reclined Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Reclined Twist (Jathara Parivartanasana)
Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
Thread the Needle (Parsva Balasana)
Child’s Pose (Balasana)