Let Yoga Transform Your Travels

 Ciao from Tuscany!

Whenever I’m on the road, I get this romantic notion that I’m going to wake up an hour early every morning and practice yoga as the sun rises in whatever exotic country I’ve landed in. This never happens. Instead, I wind up hitting the snooze button, or I have to catch a train, or I stayed up too late the night before, or I’d rather just drink a coffee in peace. This year I vowed to do things differently and instead of telling myself I have to do yoga for exactly one hour or bust, I’m sneaking little bits of it in throughout my trip.

Here’s my top tips for using yoga to transform your travel experience.

1) Pack a Travel Mat.
The #1 reason people don’t practice yoga while traveling is because they don’t want to haul their mat around with them. A perfect solution to this problem is to buy a travel mat- a slightly lighter weight yoga mat that folds up real small and can be tucked easily into a suitcase or backpack. Lots of companies now make these mats (like Gaiam and Manduka) and they are usually cheaper than the average mat because there is less material used to make them.

2) Utilize Airports.
Every day it gets less and less ‘weird’ to practice yoga in airports because more and more people are doing it. Some airports now even offer specific spaces to practice yoga in (like San Francisco for example). If you’re a little too shy to bust an utkatasana in the airport lounge, then get creative and take advantage of the seating area. Here’s some ideas for poses to do while seated in your chair waiting for your plane:

  • Cross your right ankle over your left thigh and lean forward. Repeat on the other side. This will stretch the outside of the hips which generally get pretty tight while flying!
  • Place your left hand on your right armrest. Place your right hand behind you and twist your spine to the right. Repeat on the other side.
  • Raise your arms up into the air, interlace your fingers, and turn your palms to face upwards. Stretch the arms up and over to the right, then the left.

3) Practice Pranayama Whenever and Wherever.

Pranayama, or breath control, is crucial to remaining stress free and calm during your travels. Whenever you feel your heart racing, pause, and take 4 deep breaths in and out through your nose. I also like to do this whenever I’m seated at a cafe with a warm cappuccino or a glass of wine in my hand. Sometimes it feels like traveling is all about go-go-going. When I recognize the opportunity to stop for a moment, I make sure to truly enjoy it by getting present with my breath and calming my mind. This works really well when your flight is delayed or the hotel has lost your reservation!

4) Gratitude Meditation.
It may be last on my list but it is definitely not my least favorite way of practicing yoga on the road. In fact, I think it’s crucial. We work so hard to save the money and get the time off to go traveling but it’s easy to just plow through the experience without truly taking the time to savor it. Every chance you get to be present, think about how grateful you are for everything you’re seeing, feeling, hearing and tasting. Feel all the feels! That way, when you return home your memories of your traveling experience will be truly vivid. 🙂

Enjoy your time on the road and even if you don’t get the chance to step onto your mat, remember that it’s all yoga; every experience, every meal, every interaction is yoga. So enjoy it!

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