I've recently returned from leading yet another amazing yoga retreat in Europe! Its oh so sweet to be home, getting back on my mat in my little yoga room, back in the studio with my sangha, snuggling my fur babies, and sleeping in my own bed....heavenly! Yet, I am in love with the excitement I feel every time I have the opportunity to travel and see a new land with a group of people who are equally as excited as I am to be there. The challenge however, lies in the journey to the chosen location. We can never be fully prepared for what we may encounter along the way when traveling by planes, trains, and automobiles. Sometimes the journey is super sweet and smooth, and other times we encounter a whole heap of issues that delay our arrival or simply make the journey very challenging both physically, mentally and emotionally. So what can we do when traveling to keep ourselves in check? Our patience gets tried on every turn, people are often cranky around us, one may be sitting for hours in an uncomfortable seat, and let's not forget about the unhealthy food choices surrounding travel. Never fear my nomadic traveling friends! Keep reading on as I share tips with you on how I survive what may be perceived as obstacles while traveling about this big beautiful planet!
Tip numero uno! One must learn to flow like water over, around and through any circumstance, follow the current, and soften the hold! In other words, let go of a tight agenda and allow the journey to be what it is...an adventure! Traveling is not for the weak or weary, it poses so many challenges along the way. But its how we face these challenges and how we have packed our bag of tricks to allow us to not get overwhelmed, stressed, or cranky. Now, don't get me wrong. I can certainly attest to having gone thru every one of those feelings. Yet can you learn to recognize and change how you're reacting when it arises? YES, you can!
How to prep for the journey....
Before I travel I'm sure to do a pre travel yoga practice and pranayama/breathing practice. Sometimes short and sweet to allow my body to open before sitting for an extended period, and sometimes longer if time permits.
Hip openers, forward bends, a couple of mild backbends and twists are my go to before flying. Kappalabhati, sun moon, and sama vritti with retentions on inhale and exhale are the breathing practices that allow my mind to become balanced and calm. I notice a distinct difference if I don't do my pranayama practice beforehand. Freak outs and anxiety are kept far far away! I also prep with a variety of herbs, oils, and acupuncture several days before departure. I drink a ridiculous amount of organic cold pressed juice of every variety so I'm hydrated and cleansed. And the use of Ayurvedic herbs are extremely helpful, like Triphala, Travel Well, Nasya oil to name a few.
And then we have the on flight travel essentials. Peppermint oil for nausea, Lavender oil blend as a hand sanitizer, SPZM chinese herbs to keep the neck and shoulders relaxed, Curing which is another Chinese herb I keep on hand for upset tummy or motion sickness. Scarf or wrap with some thieves oil on it which helps keep the neck warm and face covered warding off evil germs in case there are people coughing and sneezing around me. Nasya oil to help keep the sinuses from drying out and to trick the brain to think I'm still on the ground (a trick I learned from an Ayurvedic friend and can be done with sesame oil as well). Always have some C packs for extra electrolytes and hydration as well as a reusable water bottle. Socks to keep the feet toasty warm, an eye mask for rest and to block out any light, noise cancellation headphones, and of course some snack foods. Bags of raw nuts, dried figs, energy bars, some cut up veggies and hummus, or anything you know will hold you over. Airport and airplane food just plain suck!
During flight practices...
Meditation and mantra have become an essential while speeding through the air in these giant metal tubes with wings. I don't have a fear of flying as I grew up in small planes with my brother and father being a pilot. However large planes full of people tend to make me a little uncomfortable at times. And that's when I turn to horizon gazing meditation or mantra repetition until I drift into a deep state of being blissfully unaware that I'm on a plane. Taking intervals to walk and stretch are extremely helpful on long hauls and often the galley will have space for a few moves like a simple squat or forward bend. If not, yoga in your seat works beautifully! Shoulder stretches and more hip openers are a must while seated. Try garudasana arms, gomukhasana arms, or hands clasp behind back while lifting them away from lumbar spine. And then a few minutes of thread the needle for the hips or even a hamstring stretch if you have enough space to bring the leg up without offending the person in front of you. I actually took to lying on my seat with my head hanging towards the floor and my legs up the back rest for an inversion to help my leg circulation on a 9 hour flight. People may look at you funny, but really I think they are envious and wish they had the courage to do it to!
Post flight, settled in and grounding....
Once I arrive at my destination I'll typically wander around in nature to get my feet connected to the earth and breathe in some fresh air. I continue my hydration, and will do a mini flow practice to get my circulation going and reboot my energy. Standing balances help ground me, shoulder openers, sun salutes, twists, backbends to open up from all the forward slumping in bad seats, simple inversions and a mini meditation to get a new vibe and clear the channels. Pre bedtime routine consists of applying sesame or coconut oil on the soles of the feet, and some restorative poses with pranayama or sutra readings to wind me down for a restful nights sleep. And of course some really sweet tunes to lull me off into dream land!
Different beds, different pillows, foreign environment, and being out of your usual eating routine can really throw one for a loop. So be prepared for anything, take a deep breath, and let go into the flow however it may be revealed. Soften your gaze when you feel yourself hardening around a difficult situation as it arises, and find the strength to know that you are a part of something beautiful! Patience and grace allow us to find goodness in everything, and grace finds beauty in everything. When we flow with grace and ease, allow a smile to appear on our face, soften the gaze, the universe gets us to where we need to be! And you might even be surprised that those once cranky people encountered along the way are suddenly showing kindness and grace too!
What do you do to keep yourself happy and comfortable while traveling?
Love all ways!