For most of us it's difficult enough to maintain a steady and consistent yoga practice at home, but sometimes it's nearly impossible to fit it into a vacation schedule. If you're someone who's dependent on a studio for your practice, leaving the security of your familiar teacher and/or studio can give you the heebee jeebees. If you're leaving on the type of vacation where you're moving around a lot it can be hard to fit in any quiet time. If there's a time change, it's often hard to wake up early and meditate if that's what you're used to doing. This is the same for business trips too. Any change from the familiar can put you off of your practice.
An ease of adaptability can happen when you begin to LIVE yoga rather than DO yoga. Understanding that life can be a moving meditation, no matter what circumstances you're in, is a change in consciousness that can lead to greater joy, stability, balance and peace no matter where you are. Instead of viewing yoga as an activity that you do to reboot yourself and then you move onto other things, it's possible to learn how to incorporate breathing practices, stretching, strengthening and meditation into how we move through our day no matter if we're at the airport, on a boat, in a hotel or walking through an unfamiliar city.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga written by Patanjali give us guidance on how to live Yoga. The third and forth limbs are Asana (physical postures) and Pranayama (breath practice). If you have time and are vacationing somewhere where you can find a yoga studio or class in your hotel or the town you're in, be adventurous and go! I've had many wonderful experiences taking classes in other places in the world. Just make sure that you choose a class at your level (or below) to be gentle on your body and not overdo it. Many classes don't include pranayama, so it behooves you to take 5-10 minutes every day to sit quietly and breath consciously. In the morning you can practice Kaphalabatti or 'shining skull breath' and Analoma Veloma or alternate nostril breathing. In the evening practice 'Square Breath' and Analoma Veloma to calm yourself and prepare for sleep. You can find these breathing practices in my videos. Just remember that yoga is not a competition and if you find yourself in a class that is too challenging, do what you're comfortable with and leave the rest-
The fifth limb of the Yoga Sutras is Pratyahara or the withdrawal of the senses. Because there is often so much new stimuli when we travel to new places, withdrawal of the senses can be hard to do. I would suggest that when you're sitting in an airport, waiting for a train, or when you go to bed, listen to one of my meditations to experience withdrawl of your physical senses and consciously go completely within before you fall asleep. This will help you to calm and center yourself through time changes, frustrating airports and the disruption of your normal schedule.
Number 6 of the 8 limbs of yoga is Dharana, or concentration. This can be practiced while vacationing to help us be be completely present in the moment. This limb speaks of the ability to concentrate the mind on one object without distraction. So while you're on vacation playing golf, lying on a beach, hiking in the mountains, or walking through a museum, you can practice your yoga by being completely in the present moment. Being completely present brings a sense of wonder into your life. Wonder brings a certain innocence and magic into your world so that you can feel that childlike quality in your life again!
Here are few tips to live your yoga while your traveling-
1) Bring a travel yoga mat, a strap (this takes up very little space!), and I always bring a yoga blanket in my carry on if I need it to use in a cold airplane or to sit on for a picnic, or yoga, of course!
2) Use wait times in airports, bus stations, traffic, waiting to go through customs, etc. as a time to meditate. Choose a mantra to repeat with your breath and be relaxed. This helps when glitches happen with your travel plans. Don't let yourself get upset if things don't go perfectly. Breath, repeat your mantra and let go of expectations. You may end up having a more fun or interesting adventure than if everything goes the way you planned!!!
3) Do some research before you leave to see if there are yoga studios around where you'll be traveling. The hotel you're staying may offer classes too. Many resorts have great yoga classes that they offer their guests. You may even be able to book a class or two online before you leave.
4) If you can, take your mat outside and practice asanas or pranayama outside in a park, on the beach or in the woods. Being outside allows you to breath in lots of prana from the plants, trees or water around you. Don't worry about others looking at you- people may want to join in when they see you practicing yoga!!!
5) If you're walking, turn your walks into meditations. Inhale to 2 steps and exhale to 2 steps. Be silent and walk with an inner awareness. Contemplate the beauty of where you are and feel the peace that walking meditation gives you.
6) Practice kindness, compassion, acceptance and love when you travel. Be patient with others that may seem different than you. Be open to trying new things- remember that sense of wonder that being present in the moment opens for you. Traveling can help us realize that underneath our superficial differences, we all have the same struggles, joys, ambitions and desires. Feel your oneness with others rather than focusing on the differences.
7) Practice self love. If you're tired you may be suffering from time changes, long waits, food that you're not used to, beds you're not sleeping well in, weather extremes or differences that your body needs to adjust to. Love and take care of yourself. Don't push. If you're used to a daily yoga practice and you have to skip a day or two because you're not feeling well, let go of unrealistic expectations or self judgement, and rest. Relaxation is just as important as movement in yoga and tuning into your body and giving it what it needs is perhaps one of the most important parts of your practice.
I hope these tips help you to enjoy each and every moment of your vacation this season. Have a wonderful summer.
With love and light,