Traveling Tips for Yoga Enthusiasts
Continuing our yoga practice even while traveling is very beneficial for our overall health and wellness. Though you may be traveling somewhere for vacation, the shift in altitude pressure, dehydration from flying, hustle and bustle of cabs, flight times, cramming in food and not to mention delays and those unexpected events can be very warring on the body, mind and the spirt.
Even if you lack a traveling mat, yoga can be practiced anywhere and at anytime. Here are some helpful tips to keep a simple yoga practice alive during your travels.
- Take A Yoga Class. Look into an on-site yoga class either at the hotel, lodging or condo you are staying at. If you cannot make it to the scheduled class(es), most facilities offer private yoga sessions to accommodate odd hours and/or more personal modifications and adjustments.
- Yoga on Your Own. Practice on your own. Below I have put together a simple and short sequence for students of all levels that is a handy tool when class times don't work. It is only a 30 minute sequence as well so during those busy meetings and/or family adventures, you can still fit it in!
- Travel Mat. Easy to carry, folds up into a square and lightweight. Yoga travel mats can be purchased through lululemon athletic and Manduka Mats. I never go anywhere without mine!
- Yoga Online. Want a class setting but can't make it to one, try out YogaVibes.com or YogaGlo.com. These are two really wonderful yoga sites that offer over 100 nation-wide yoga teachers, their styles and classes for you to watch and take from. Most range from $18-25 a class or unlimited for a month.
- Quiet Time. Let yourself enjoy some respite time. That is part of the practice of yoga. In this world today, we go and we go fast! Taking some moments to enjoy the sunset, watch the sunrise, listen to the stream and be in nature is essential to our wellbeing. It helps us to connect to the natural world around us and begin to hear the beat of our own natural rhythm.
- Use the Breath. Yoga is about conscious breathing. We use something called Ujjaii breath in the yoga practice, providing us with long, slow and deliberate inhales and exhales. As we practice we connect that breath to movements of the body. Start your day off with 5 minutes of breathing; and I mean really mindfully breathing. Notice how your mind will shift to the day or yesterday or even about food. Let that happen and come back to the breath.
- Stretch breaks. When we travel we do a lot of sitting. Let yourself move during your day. No matter how long you are traveling, let yourself literally yawn your body awake with movement. Simple forward folds waiting your turn for the airplane bathroom (just watch out for your neighbor), interlacing your fingers and reaching your arms overhead, leaning side to side while standing, and even a soft twist from right to left in your airplane seat go along way. Don't worry about what you look like because the effect of stretching is so invigorating, your body will thank you.
- Backbends and Inversions. Our bodies naturally want to concave in towards our heart, the shoulders rounding forward and thoracic spine rounding more so. Practicing backbends, (Bridge Pose, Wheel, or just continually drawing your shoulders back) is a great way to keep your yoga practice up and keep your breathing pathways open! Inversions, going upside down, helps to circulate our blood flood, gain focus, increase stability and to change your perspective.
- Be Grateful. Most, but not always, our travels bring us to people, events or places that we want to be at. Even if we don't necessarily want to be where we are, we get to take this travel as a time to "check in". As things are moving quickly around us these days, checking in can be done anywhere. Sandwiched between the unknown john doe on the tram or having to choose which middle seat you'll take on the plane are actually things to be grateful for. We can travel faster these days, moving to our destinations with even a sense of ease. Practice your yoga by taking moments during your travels to check-in and be grateful to be able to travel and to arrive safely with the help and transport of others work.
- Connect. With so much technology today, we are creatures who connect more so through ipads, iphones, texting, etc. Traveling opens up a whole new world of community if we are willing to see it that way. Yoga literally translates as "yoking" or "union". Practicing your yoga on the road can simply be to learn about the person next to you. Where are they headed and why?
A Simple Yoga Sequence for Travelers
Beginning Intention. When you get to your destination point, unpack and unwind, find a quiet space and let yourself start a simple practice by noticing you breath as you sit in silence.
Link Breath & Body. In a seated pose, connect your breath with the addition of your arms. Circle them overhead on the inhale and let the palms touch. Then on the exhale, bring them down to your heart. Do this a few times to unite your breath with your body movements
Cat/Cow. Come to all fours. Shoulders over wrist and knees over hips. On your inhale arrive into a backbend by lifting your tailbone to the ceiling and letting your belly and heart sink, with straight arms, to the earth like a cow. On the exhale, reverse this by puffing and rounding the back, pushing the floor away from you, feeling the shoulder blades pull apart from one another. This will resemble a scared cat.
Build Some Heat. On all fours now, extend your right arm forward and your left leg back, inhale and then release on the exhale. Repeat on the other side; left arm forward and right leg back. Do that 5 times each side. Keep the belly strong here and don't come into your cow pose.
Downward Facing Dog. On all fours with your toes tucked under, come to Downward Facing Dog by lifting the hips high into the air and pressing the heels down to the earth. Keep the chest and belly pressing back towards the thugs and the arms straight as you shape your body into a V. Hold for 5-10 breaths. Whatever feels good.
Childs Pose. From Downward Facing Dog, drop down to your knees and press your hips back onto your heels, tops of the feet flat on the ground. Keep your arms outstretched in front of you as you bring your forehead to the earth or to a block. Stay for a few breaths and let your hips stretch and your arms lengthen.
Downward Facing Dog - Plank. From Downward Facing Dog, come forward to Plank, with shoulders over wrists. The body will be in a horizontal line in this pose. If it is challenging on the arms or low back, drop to your knees but keep your belly sucked back and in. Shift back to Downward Facing Dog on the exhale. Using the breath come forward again to Plank and exhale to Downward Facing Dog. Do this 3-5 times.
Forward Fold. Walk your feet up to your hands and hang over your hips. Bend your knees a bit to release any tension in the hamstrings or low back and let yourself really dangle here. You can reach your hands behind your back and interlace the fingers, letting the hands come forward overhead or even take opposite elbow to opposite hand and sway right to left from your hips.
Mountain Pose. Slowly and very slowly roll up to standing from forward fold. Pause here and close your eyes. Take some deep breaths and let yourself feel tall and rooted. Setting an intention for your practice at this point is great.
Sun Salutations. These are traditional poses sequenced together in the practice to connect breath and movement of the body, while building more heat. Sun Salutations can be found online easily.
Warrior 2 Pose. This pose helps to increase strength in the legs and arms, open the hips and practice steadiness.
Triangle Pose. This pose can be easily accessed from Warrior 2 by straightening the front leg and reaching the top arm forward and down. It is great for the hamstrings and lengthening the sides of the waists.
Tree Pose. Standing poses are great for balance, stamina and finding steadiness in the body and mind. Tree pose also helps to open the hips more and focus the mind on a single object.
Side Plank. If you didn't love plank that much, you may not enjoy side plank as much either. But it is great for strengthening the arms, legs and toning the belly.
Dolphin Pose. This pose is just like Downward Facing Dog except that you are on your forearms. Gently walk your feet in, bend the knees if you need to, so that the shoulders begin to stack atop the elbows. Your belly will kick on here big time, so this is a good time to really remember to breathe! Hold for 5-10 breaths. Then take a Child's Pose.
Bridge Pose. Opens the chest, strengthens the legs and tones the upper arms. Do 2-3 Bridge Poses holding for 5-6 breaths between. In between each pose, walk feet forward and take them as wide as the mat, then allow the knees to knock into towards one another. Rest 2-3 breaths.
Thread the Needle. On your back, with your knees bent, soles of the feet on the earth, externally rotate your right leg in the socket and place the right ankle on top of the left thigh. Gently reach your hands around the left thigh and slowly draw the right shin bone towards your chest. Keep the hips on the ground though. Breath. Repeat with left leg next. Hold 5-6 breaths each side.
Plow Pose or Seated Forward Fold. Plow Pose is great if you don't have any neck issues, injuries or conditions. Seated Forward Fold is a nice way to access similar muscles in the body. Both provide you with a sense of coming into yourself and cooling down the physical body.
EZ Twist. Many variations of this. Choose your favorite and let yourself unwind from the day, the plane or even that crazy roller-coaster ride.
Savasana. The final resting pose. Lay yourself out like a starfish, smaller perhaps, and let the breath, the mind and the body dissolve into the earth. It's like a blissful yoga nap :)
For more information on Aria Spa & Club's yoga, program, go here.