As some of you know, I was lucky enough to travel to the Kimberley earlier this year. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on the benefits of yoga whilst travelling.As the summer holidays are nearly here, and many of you will be travelling, you might like to think about the following:
No mat. No worries.
Sometimes it is difficult to fit your mat in your luggage. Don’t let this stop you! I have a set of yoga paws (yogapaws.com) that are non-slip gloves and socks that take up next to no room in your luggage.
Alternatively, you can use the props available to you where ever you are staying, towels, blankets and cushions are all useful props. If you are lucky enough to fit your mat in your bag, put it right on top. That way it’s easy to access and a great reminder to practise when you open your bag!!
Delay at the airport.
Turn this potential frustration into a great opportunity to meditate or at least sit quietly and practise mindfulness or, just simply, follow your breath.
Long car trip.
This is another opportunity to meditate or sit quietly. But not if you are driving! If you are the driver then be aware of the mindfulness required to drive alertly and safely over long distances and don’t forget to take regular breaks.
Long plane trip.
If you are lucky enough to take a long-haul flight, don’t forget to hydrate and stretch regularly. There are plenty of stretches that you can do in your seat or the aisle! I do lots of neck and shoulder stretches plus twists in my seat and lateral stretches, standing forward bends and balances in the aisle.
Sleep is often problematic on long haul flights. If you can’t sleep, be sure and rest. Calm your nervous system as best as you can by doing your best to be warm, quite, dark and still. Use the blankets, eye-covers, ear plugs, cushions etc.
Once you reach your destination, nobody likes to be slowed down by jet lag. Yoga is a great natural way to minimise the effects of jet lag. My personal favourite jet lag remedy is to lie down on the floor with legs up the wall (viparita karani). If possible, place a firm cushion or pillow about one brick width from the wall and place your buttocks on the cushion so that your hips are slightly raised from the floor, then extend your legs up the wall. Again, you can further assist your nervous system if you can be warm, quite, dark and still.
Lack of sleep
Whether it’s jet lag or strange beds, sleep sometimes evades me on holidays.
I travel with yoga nidra on an MP3 player. Yoga nidra is also known as psychic sleep and is a fantastic tool to keep in your yoga travel bag. The yogis say that 15 minutes of yoga nidra are equal to an hour’s sleep. I practise yoga nidra any time I am awake and can’t sleep. I also find it helpful to practise if I wake without feeling refreshed.
Out of Routine
There are plenty of things we can’t control on holidays; keeping our usual routines, the food we eat, being on a different schedule. This is a great opportunity to practice letting go. Or, at least, notice what causes you difficulty and gently try not to react.
If you are anxious about flying or travel generally, practise consciously connecting with your breath. Try for a leisurely, deep and even inhalation and exhalation. Even a couple of minutes of this practise is very calming.
The Practise itself
Being out of routine, notice that there is a fine line between having the discipline to practise when you can and the flexibility and equanimity to accept when you cannot practise. In addition to practising on your own, if possible, visit a local yoga school. This is a great opportunity to try a new practice and meet the locals. Be open to these new experiences.
If you are lucky enough to visit natural environments, enjoy your natural surroundings as much as possible as this is very rejuvenating. Try meditating or sitting quietly in nature. Activate all 5 senses, sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, to maximise your experience.
Don’t forget your gratitude practise whilst you are travelling. Research shows that grateful people are happier people! A journal is a great way to record your travels, generally, but also all the things you are grateful for; all your new experiences, new friends, the break from your usual routine; family, job etc. Finally, don’t forget to be open to new experiences as travelling really can broaden your horizons, both literally and figuratively.
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