I rarely eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches these days, but there is something about the combo that brings back sweet memories of the easy days when mom made my lunches and my biggest worry was who was “it”. It’s comforting, cozy and makes me feel right at home; which is exactly how yoga makes me feel. On my mat I’m at home. And it’s also the first thing to go when most people travel. After weeks of hotel rooms, mattresses that are not quite hard or soft enough, miles of walking, straining your eyes to read Google Translate on your phone, eating unknown concoctions and messing with your body’s sleep cycle in a foreign land or dealing with back to back stressful meetings, yoga is a great way to keep at least one thing constant and bring mindfulness into your day so you actually remember your whirlwind trip. Here are five reasons to keep your yoga practice as you travel.
Trips, whether for leisure or business, are almost always stressful, no matter how fun and exciting they are. Yoga or your exercise routine is usually the first thing to go, and if you are like most people, travel is a big part of your. Learn to stay calm, relaxed and mobile by bringing your yoga practice with you on the road.
Travel is all about connecting, right? You travel to connect to nature, or a different culture, to meet people and learn new things; yoga is the same. Yoga allows you to connect with yourself and explore the world through more awareness about the world around you. How much of your trip are you actually going to remember? How many times have you experienced something and then later wished you had been more present to soak it in and really enjoy it. Have you ever told a dramatic story ending with, “we didn’t think it was funny then, but now we do!” Learn to be in the moment, stay positive and recognize those moments before they are over. Yoga does that by slowing you down, connecting your body with your breath and giving you silent moments to reflect.
Sleep and Digestion
Even if you are traveling domestic, travel messes with your diet and sleep schedule. Many yoga poses (think twists and postures that message your internal organs) regulate your digestion and other yogic techniques (think calming Yin Yoga sequences and Yoga Nidra) help you sleep better.
Create a Global Community
Want to make friends with like-minded people wherever you go? Go to a yoga class. Look up Yoga + the name of your destination on Facebook groups and events, Meetup.com, Couchsurfing.com or ask the concierge at your hotel. Try something new like Acro Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Inyegar Yoga or Dharma Yoga, for example. Look up special workshops at local studios to see if you can catch a class with a teacher you admire but doesn’t live near you. You are sure to meet welcoming people who are might keep in touch with. Soon, you will be part of a global community of not just yogis, but people who are also open-minded, curious, adventurers, deep breathers and spiritual gangsters.
It’s Easy to do Yoga on the Road
Unlike many other sports and hobbies, you don’t need fancy equipment. In fact, you don‘t need anything at all. Try a few minutes of meditating in the morning – that’s yoga. Try stretching and moving your body with your breath – that’s yoga. Be kind to yourself and others, and always leave places better than you found them – that’s yoga.
As for those who can keep their asana (physical) yoga practice, I suggest investing in a light foldable travel mat. I bought a Manduka eKo travel mat a few years ago and it changed my life, I now take it everywhere with me. However, your asana practice can be done without a mat too. In fact, holding poses for a long time without a mat is very difficult, giving you a isometric workout with many benefits. Get outside and practice in nature. Practice near monuments. Practice in a park. Practice where you feel inspired.
I hope you feel inspired to yoga more, even when traveling. Yoga is a powerful way to enhance your experience and get the most out of your trip.