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Travel tips for yogis

March 18, 2015 by Jennifer Ellinghaus 

  Yoga For Travellers final cover Does anyone out there truly love long-haul travel? Cramped spaces, trying to sleep sitting up and jet-lag to look forward to. It couldn't get much worse could it? Sure it could. You're going travelling! And whether for work or leisure, you can make the most of it: 1. Yoga and flying Travelling can be tough on the body. But a regular yoga practice, or at least a post-flying practice, will definitely help. It’s not always possible to predict how you will feel after a long journey. You might want to jump about after being cooped up for however many hours, or perhaps you feel a bit wired and exhausted and need to take it easy with gentle stretching. My advice is to go with what is happening in your mind and body at the time, rather than what you think you should do. When in doubt, I tend to go for a grounding practice. Spend a bit of time in savasana (lying on your back), have a big stretch in every direction, take a twist from sitting, throw in a few sun salutations, lie on the floor with your legs up the wall, and finish with a few more minutes lying on your back. Of course it isn’t necessary to wait until your plane, train or bus journey ends to practise a little yoga. If nothing else you can circle your feet and ankles, flex and point your feet, circle your shoulders and bend your knees to your chest – all while in transit. Easy! Airport-January-2014-copy-300x225   2. Practising santosha (contentment) Try using yoga's concept of santosha (contentment) to reframe some of the less enjoyable travel experiences. After a ten-hour bus journey to a national park in China, I discovered that I could not continue my journey towards Beijing as I had planned. I would need to either take an eight-hour bus trip to the site of China’s largest nuclear weapons-grade plutonium production facility and hope for a connecting train, or repeat the same ten-hour bus journey back to where I came from. I wasn’t too happy about this. I had spent a lot of time deciding what I would do in the last days of my trip and repeating a ten-hour bus ride was not part of my plan. On the morning of the bus trip, however, it occurred to me that I would just love ten hours to read, listen to music and look out the window at beautiful scenery back in my busy ‘real’ life. As a result of reframing the trip, the bus journey ended up being one of my most enjoyable. This taught me a valuable lesson – that travelling time is my time. This is something that we can remember during long-haul flights, but also in our day-to-day lives on our commute to work or journey to a friend’s house. Rather than begrudge the time that you spend in transit, remember that it is your time – time to read, to listen to music, to think, to relax, to simply be and enjoy the journey. This is yet another example of how, by simply having a think about what we can be grateful for in any given situation, we can choose contentment. Yogaclicks-banner-300x225 3. Staying Grounded For me the travelling lifestyle is a more ‘concentrated’ version of life. One day on the road can feel like a week at home, with new experiences and fast-built, intense friendships and romances the norm. There seems to be a general sense of living for today (great!) but also, perhaps, a tendency to overindulge. Be mindful of this. It’s nice to relax, have a different schedule and be less hung up on the perfect diet and number of hours of sleep, but it is worthwhile comparing your travelling lifestyle to your ‘normal life’ from time to time. Would you have a glass of wine every day at home, for example? If you spend your entire time partying, you might find that you return from your trip exhausted and having missed out on quality thinking time. Yoga is about balance. By incorporating yoga into your travel days, whether time on your mat or reflecting on yoga philosophy, you are taking a big step towards that balance. And rather than detract from your holiday activities, yoga will add to your experience, much as in day-to-day life, complementing your travels by providing valuable opportunities for reflection and learning about yourself, other people and the world. About Jenny Jenny is the author of Yoga for Travellers, a how to guide for anyone wanting to practise yoga on the road, both on and off the mat. She loves yoga and travelling and hopes to pass these passions on to others. For more information please visit the Yoga for Travellers facebook page.