Traveling is one of my greatest passions in life. I love seeing the world in it’s glorious splendor and discovering traditions different from my own. With traveling comes a shift in routine, sometimes small and sometimes overwhelming. Maintaining our yoga practice, even at its most basic level, will allow us to weather the highs and lows of being away from our usual routine. Not to mention it allows us to maintain our composure when we encounter the occasional travel hiccups of canceled flights, lost baggage, traffic, etc.
I just returned from leading a retreat in Peru’s sacred Valley last week. And If my incredible retreat group can maintain their practice at 11,000 feet above sea level, so can you. Because I know life isn’t just one big yoga retreat all the time, I’ve condensed today’s blog to focus on the five most beneficial poses you can do while traveling to maintain your level of practice, keep your nervous system calm and steady, boost your immune system, and quiet your busy mind.
1. Suryanamaskar A
if you can commit this one sequence to memory you will have a comprehensive practice at the ready 24/7. Sun Salute A provides us with forward bending, back bending, weight bearing, lengthening in our spine and waist, and so much more. It organizes our nervous system and invigorates. It packs a big punch! If you are really pressed for time (or space), simply do as many of these as you can and then lay down. Shoot for 5 repetitions.
2. Trikonasana A&B:
Triangle and revolved triangle pose deepens mobility in muscles around the knee (it provides strength here too), ankle joints, hips, groin muscles, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest and spine. It strengthens your sense of balance as well. This pose is paradise for a body which will be spending the day walking/touring/hiking.
3. Pascimattanasana (Seated forward bend):
literally translated as “intense west or back of body pose”, is vital for maintaining healthy digestion while traveling. Since most people need time for their digestion to adjust while traveling, especially when crossing time zones, this asana is a must!
4. Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose).
In addition to providing deep movement in the pelvis, which counters the hours of sitting we do while in transit, this pose just feels great. This pose also combats fatigue, relieves anxiety and depression, stimulates reproductive organs, releases sciatica, and stretches inner thighs, groin, and knees.
5. Sarvangasana (shoulderstand)
I must begin by saying that if this pose isn’t doable for you, simply take viparita karani, in which you lay flat on your back with your legs up against a wall. An even more relaxing variation is to bend your knees over the seat of a chair, which feels deeply relaxing on the lower back. Both these variations will allow you to receive the benefits of shoulderstand. This pose calms the brain, relieves stress and depression, stimulates the thyroid glands, stretches the shoulders and neck, has a therapeutic effect on asthma and sinus problems, reduces fatigue and alleviates insomnia. No wonder it is called the “queen” of all asana!
6. Padmasana (lotus pose).
This pose calms the brain, stretches ankles, knees, and hips, and stimulates the pelvis, spine, and abdomen. Ancient texts say it destroys diseases and awakens dormant energy within the body. Make this your last pose prior to resting, and holding it for at least 10 breaths.
You’ll notice I didn’t include savasana. Honestly, who needs to be told to lay down while on vacation?!?! It is assumed that taking rest after practice happens automatically. So if it isn’t, change that now.
If practicing while away is difficult for you, this blog will help you get on your mat with more direction. If you want to take it to the next level and practice with greater dedication when your life gets uprooted, download my audio bundle and take class with me wherever you go.