For the yogini, travel poses a different set of obstacles. More and more of us are travelling in this day and age, for work or for pleasure or both. And like everything else in our world, travel today is faster than ever before. 100 years ago, it took weeks or months to travel from, say, Europe to America. Now it takes only a few hours. And as anyone who has experienced jet-lag knows, this puts a heavy strain on our body and our metabolism. Our sleeping and eating habits are disrupted, and our bodies can be confused by sudden changes in climate.
With all this going on, maintaining an asana practice while on-the-go can be very challenging: jet-lag, busy schedules, cramped hotel rooms and smelly old hotel carpets are only a few of the limitations! All this assuming that you are able to practice on your own, away from your favourite classes and teachers.
Here are a few things that I've found helpful along the way, maybe with the holidays coming up and many of us preparing to pack up and go, some of these will be helpful!
Before you Go:
- Pack yoga-light. Unless you're going on retreat, realistically you'll only need one set of clothes for your holiday practice. Think about the climate where you are going - it may be different to where you came from, so you may want to pack a yoga outfit that you can layer up or down.
- After years of travelling with a cumbersome yoga mat, I have discovered the skidless yogitoes "yoga-towel", which to me is the perfect compromise. It's not perfect, but laid out on a hotel carpet it's fairly grippy and a lot easier to pack. Plus, easy to wash! [I also bet "yoga paws" would be great to travel with but I've never tried them].
- If you don't have a regular home practice, it will be worth spending time to write down a sequence you can practice while you're away. Use your favourite book or DVD, or ask your teacher to help you - I would advise aiming for a 45min-1hour sequence.
While you're there:
- Be prepared to modify your practice and accept that you probably will not be able to practice as much as you do at home. A rough guideline based on my experience when travelling as a tourist is half as often, and 3/4 of the usual length of practice.
- Travel can be stressful to your body, and we all carry it in different places. Be prepared to listen to your body's needs and modify your practice accordingly. If you are carrying heavy bags, you may want to focus on poses that loosen up your back, neck and shoulders. If you are doing a lot of hiking or walking, you might want to go easy on the standing poses and practice a sequence of restorative forward bends. Feel uprooted? Try solid, grounding standing poses that open up your hips and, hopefully, your mind.
- All the new sensations, sights, smells and tastes you encounter when you travel to a new place can be overwhelming! Try to make time in your busy schedule for meditation or a restorative practice, or keep a journal of your trip. Whatever works for you, give yourself some you-time to process all your new experiences.
- When it comes to asana on holiday - practice non-attachment! Yoga is much more than just doing your asanas. Engage in the Yoga of action as you see new places and meet new people. Allow yourself to be open to the other types of transformation that a voyage opens up in us.
When you get home:
- Sometimes it can be hard to get back into your regular routine. My advice: start straight away (or as soon as jet-lag permits)!
- Sometimes, returning from a trip is also an ideal time to start a new routine, maybe something you've been meaning to do or let slip along the way. Again, the best time to start is as soon as you get back, before you get swept up again in your old routine.
Those are a few things that I've gleaned from my travels - as always I would love to hear if anyone has anything to add! Namaste everyone and enjoy.