I love to travel. It might be one of my favorite things in the world. But as a diehard yogi, I’ve often struggled with keeping up my practice while I’m on the road. If you’ve ever felt the same way, know you’re not alone.
Listed below are a few strategies for you to keep up your practice while you’re away from home. Everything from when to practice, where to do it, why you’d want to practice yoga on vacation in the first place and exactly how to prepare yourself!
Before you even take off, it’s a good idea to incorporate a lot of yin yoga into your practice the week leading up to your trip. Yin, or restorative, yoga will help prepare your body for long flights or never-ending drives where joints and muscles tend to get tight and sore.
Once you’ve reached your destination, try practicing in the morning when you wake up, or right before you go to sleep. This way, you won’t have to worry about taking time out of your schedule to practice during the day.
If you want to practice at night, yin yoga is a great option to help you loosen up your legs and lower back from lots of walking all day.
And if you want to incorporate meditation, take some time to find a couple guided ones to listen to in your headphones. There’s a plethora of them online and ready to be downloaded.
Take a listen to these ones from Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach before you head out!
And just in case you need some help figuring out what kind of yoga to do while in transit, here are a couple suggestions:
Modified pigeon and seated cat/cow are two fantastic poses you can do while you’re up in the air or on the road to keep your circulation moving.
Start in a seated position with both feet flat on the floor, spine upright. Starting with your right foot, place it on top of your left thigh so you make a triangle. Keep your right foot flexed to protect the knee.
Either stay here or start to lean forward to open up your right outer hip. Stay for three to five breaths and then repeat on the left side.
In your seat, plant your feet on the floor and lengthen your spine. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and move your core forward while lifting your heart to the sky. Take a deep breath out and arch your spine, navel drawing in, and gently lower your head and neck to your chest. Repeat three-five times.
The options for where you decide to practice are endless when you’re traveling!
Start by doing a little research about the city you’re visiting. Find a local studio or check if there are any yoga meet-up groups in the area for you to join. It’s a great way to meet the locals and soak up a little more culture!
If you’re feeling creative, find a peaceful spot in nature, like a forest, beach or park, and make up your own practice! Teaching yourself and allowing your body to move in exactly the way it wants to can be very liberating and a lot of fun.
If you don’t want to leave your hotel or hostel to practice, online classes are always available if you have an Internet connection, usually at a very affordable price. Some great online yoga classes can be found at Gaia, oneOeight and YogaGlo.
You can also try to find accommodation that holds yoga classes. There are a lot of eco-retreat centers that are both affordable and hold daily yoga classes. Find them here.
So why would you want to take the time out of your vacation to practice yoga?
Maintaining your yoga practice while you travel will not only benefit your practice, but it will also serve as a mental and emotional break from your jam-packed travel schedule.
Setting aside even just 20 minutes of practice a day will give you the chance to reconnect to yourself in the midst of sightseeing, visiting friends/family and anything else you may have planned for your trip.
Keeping a consistent practice helps you stay motivated to continue practicing when you get home. A consistent yoga practice will give you the energy to pick up right where you left off and might help you recover from jet lag more quickly!
The last thing you want to do when taking off on vacation is to weigh yourself down with too much stuff.
Pack just one set of yoga clothes, maybe two. Be mindful of how many sets of clothes you’ll actually need. If you’re set on using a yoga mat, invest in a lightweight travel mat that can easily be folded into your suitcase.
If you don’t want to pack a mat, use a large towel. Better yet, if you decide to practice in nature you can simply go without a mat. You may find that you feel extra grounded after a practice without anything between you and the earth. I did that once during my trip to India.
Alternatively, if you opt to find a local studio, more often than not, they’ll have mats for you to borrow or rent.
Before you take off on your trip, set a goal for yourself to practice at least once a day. However, be flexible with your practice. Incorporate a few different types of yoga, as well as meditation, so you don’t get bored with the same thing everyday.
Practicing yoga while on vacation doesn’t have to be hard or scary. Try to have fun with it and step outside your comfort zone a little bit. Sometimes, the uncomfortable experiences have the greatest and longest-lasting effects on our lives. Live boldly.