Even dedicated yogis struggle to maintain their practices when they travel. Most of us only manage a quick standing bow for a photo! It’s a shame, because time away is often when we need our practice the most:
Travel is hard on the body. Most transportation involves prolonged sitting, which is linked with increased mortality even in people who exercise regularly. Sitting can also cause short-term ailments like stiffness, soreness, and even blood clots. Crossing time zones disrupts your body’s natural “body clock,” which can cause problems with sleep, digestion, and mental function. Yoga can help you prevent and manage physical discomfort.
Travel can be hard on the mind. Even vacations come with their own stressors—especially if you’re traveling with kids! Changing scenery and disrupted routines can be exciting, but they can also be destabilizing. A few familiar postures can anchor you no matter where you are.
You might not have much time or space to practice, but don’t give up. Embrace the difference and work some simple but mindful movement into your trip:
Just move. You might not be able to do Sun Salutations on an airplane, but you can get out of your seat and stretch at least once every half hour. Skip the elevator. Every bit of movement helps! (This is true for anyone who spends a lot of time sitting.)
Get creative. Yoga can be done right in your seat. Start by rolling your shoulders down and back and expanding your chest, as we do in Pranayama Deep Breathing. Lengthen through your spine. You can try a literal Chair Twist, a “Half” Half Moon, or Eagle Arms. Try isometrically resisting into stationary objects, like arm rests.
Focus on the Big Three. Strength coach Dan John recommends focusing on key areas that are affected by travel and sitting:
- Hip Flexors – Extended sitting leads to tight hips. Loosen them up with Bridge, Floor Bow, or Pigeon.
- Thoracic Spine Mobility – Your low back is one of the first places you may notice the effects of traveling. Counter the tension with a spine twist, Windshield Wipers, or a few Cat/Cows.
- Rotary Stability – Try a “Bird Dog” (from all fours, extend one arm forward and the leg of the same side back; repeat on the other side).
Watch this quick little video on a series of movements to address these three issues.
Enjoy your trip and spread light wherever you go!