Spread the light,
Be the light.
We are on the road a lot here at Exotic Yoga Retreats, so it is no wonder we have learned some travel tips and tricks along the way. People have all sorts of thoughts and feelings about traveling – and a multitude of approaches to packing and preparing for a trip. While these differences make us beautiful and unique, there are a few things that can make anyone’s travel experience much more relaxed from start to finish. We believe that all aspects of our yoga retreats are important and valuable.
With the wise words of Yogi Bhajan as a guide, here are a few key tips to keep your travel experience simple and pleasant:
Bring one suitcase and a shoulder bag.
The suitcase can be checked or carry-on; the shoulder bag will be used for in-transit essentials and also day trips or excursions.
In order to pack light, it is essential to have a few go-to layers of clothing that are versatile, in the same color family and multi-purpose. Think about what you could wear to practice yoga – and then what you might put on over it for sightseeing or a nice dinner. You will be able to create different outfits and maybe add your favorite scarf or cute shoes to pull it all together. A lightweight jacket or sweater will come in handy on cool evenings (or when visiting cooler climates) – and if it is compressible, it will take up much less room in your bag. Make sure you love each piece you bring, because you will be wearing it more than once!
Keep your travel info and documents organized.
Our new favorite travel companion is Trip It – an app that automatically downloads all of your travel info into one master itinerary. You will be able to access all of the info from your phone or mobile device and can also create a profile that keeps all your essential travel documents and contacts in one spot. As you decide on each aspect of your trip, remember to use the same email address for all of your bookings!
Traveling is an extension of daily life, not an ‘escape’ or totally separate from it. Often, people over-indulge while on vacation and arrive home feeling regretful or guilty. No need for that! On an Exotic Yoga Retreat, we encourage mindful enjoyment. Our trips are a beautiful opportunity to indulge wisely and appreciate every moment. Practice treating yourself with care and return to your daily routine feeling great from the inside out.
Air travel is particularly dehydrating. Here are a couple ways to incorporate the habits that keep you feeling good day-to-day:
Bring a reusable water bottle with you.
If you bring a bottle, you can drink water all the way to the airport and while standing in the security line. Make sure it is empty when you pass through! And then find a water fountain to fill it again once you are in the terminal. (They are usually near the restrooms.) If you forget and/or do not have a reusable bottle, purchase water in the airport and reuse the bottle as long as you can!
Bring healthy snacks with you.
Fresh fruits and vegetables that last a while without refrigeration and do not bruise too easily are great and help get a little more water in your system – think apples and carrots, among others. Dried fruits are good, too. Unsalted nuts or nut butter can provide a little protein – keep in mind that a lot of salt will further dehydrate you.
SPREAD THE LIGHT
Have you ever noticed how you start to feel a little anxious when the person behind you in line is groaning and constantly checking the time? By planning ahead and staying organized, you can calmly navigate the logistics of air travel (see ‘Travel Light’ tip) and even have enough time for some deep breathing and simple stretches. Even with the best of planning, things will sometimes get off track – this is the nature of life. Remember to stay in the flow and that a dash of good humor goes a long way!
If you feel yourself starting to get stressed, you can connect with your breath anytime and anywhere. Sama vritti (equal breathing, or inhales/exhales of the same length and quality) will encourage feelings of equanimity. You can also focus more on the exhale – making it up to twice as long as your inhale – to help calm the nervous system.
Make some space!
One of the best things you can do in between flights is simply walk and let the body warm up. In addition, here are three (modified) poses you can do pretty much anywhere without feeling too self-conscious:
Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) Sit on the edge of your seat, so that just your sitting bones are connected to the chair and as you press down through the sitting bones, your spine becomes long and tall. Gently cross one ankle over the opposite knee, keeping the foot flexed. You can lean slightly forward with a straight spine and/or press your raised knee down slowly with your arm/elbow. This stretch helps release the piriformis muscle – which can help relieve aches in the low back and hips.
Camel (Ustrasana) Stand tall with feet about hip distance apart and parallel – or sit on the edge of your chair. Press down through the feet (or sitting bones) and feel how your spine grows longer. Bring your hands to the spot where your low back meets the back of your hips and place them with the fingertips pointing up or down. Draw the shoulders down away from the ears and then bring the elbows closer to each other behind you. This will open the front of your chest and shoulders – you can also lift your chin to open the throat and/or drop the chin towards the chest to open the back of the neck. If you do this standing, you can also gently press your hips forward (keep the abdomen engaged to support the low spine) to open the hip flexors.
Twist (Bharadvajasana) On the edge of your seat, press down through your sitting bones and feel the spine lengthen. Take a deep breath in and then exhale and twist to the right. Bring your left hand/arm to the outside of the right leg and the right hand to connect with the seat or wall behind you. Spend a few breaths in the twist and then inhale to unwind to center. Roll the shoulders and/or neck gently between sides. Inhale fully to lengthen the spine and then exhale to repeat on the other side. Twisting is great for the spine and stimulates the abdominal organs.
BONUS: Legs-Up-The-Wall (Viparita Karani). This one takes a little more courage to practice in a public place, but feels great! Find a quiet spot (an empty gate?) with some blank wall space. Sit with one hip next to the wall and your knees bent. Gently roll onto your back and bring your knees toward your chest – then extend the legs, letting your heels rest on the wall. Your hands can rest on your heart and your belly – or open the palms to the ceiling with arms extended along the floor. This will reduce any swelling in your ankles and generally encourage blood flow back up into the body and brain.
BE THE LIGHT
You may have heard that the benefits of yoga extend beyond your personal practice, to everyone around you. Your deep breaths might remind the person next to you to breathe more deeply and feel calmer. Your efforts to move and stretch in between flights might remind someone else to sit up straighter or warm up the stiff back that is making them feel cranky.
Here is your gentle reminder that ‘life is a journey, not a destination.’ The same goes for your travels – and especially your yoga retreat! It is not just about your time in an exotic location, it is about all the little moments that get you there and the ongoing process of finding ‘home’ within your Self. Yoga teaches us to have greater awareness in each moment, to create expansion and ease where there was once contraction and tension. When we are mindful of the way we move through the world, there is more time and space to enjoy life’s simple beauty and appreciate each moment of this grand adventure.
We hope these travel tips make your Exotic Yoga Retreats experience a little simpler and sweeter! If you are interested in checking out Gayle’s sample packing list, click here.
Our Exotic Yoga Retreats teachers are incredible – and we would love for you to know more about them! As such, we have decided to create a series of features for each teacher. In addition to their general bios on our website, they have answered a few fun and thoughtful questions so that we know.. read more →
It is hard to know what to write these days. It is difficult to find meaning in what feels like madness. As we are bombarded with distraction and uncertainty, it feels natural to want to connect with our inner stillness. A yoga practice can help guide and give purpose to this turning inward – in.. read more →
It’s a brand new year, full of promise. And as usual, this first week has been full of messages about creating a new you. Often, you receive this message subconsciously and accept that you need to reinvent yourself. You feed the impulse to change who you are. You convince yourself that you will be happier.. read more →
. Xinalani Once we were Gods Immortal, perfect and bored We longed to play We longed to feel deeply So we created Earth Filled with trees, rivers and mountains Birds, animals and fish And many such wondrous gifts The game was ours to play And to love and struggle through When we came down.. read more →
Inspired by a great conversation with a wise young gal on a plane this morning, I share with you this poem by Hafiz. We spoke about God, divinity and the act of stepping into unknown territories (geographical, heart and mind)… the gifts that are always, ALWAYS here, simply awaiting us to receive them. .. read more →
People on retreats often ask if I meditate daily. The question makes me pause and ponder, “what is meditation”? For nearly twenty years I had a formal 2-hour daily practice. Now it’s very different and I imagine my ‘meditation’ will keep changing and evolving as I evolve. I like the idea of the beloved late Irish theologian.. read more →
Our luxury Ireland yoga retreat begins in just a few weeks and we are so excited to explore the lush countryside of this quaint European island. Since Irish culture has been exported to many countries around the world, most of us are familiar with at least a few aspects of life in Ireland. You will.. read more →
Every once in a while, life is just plain overwhelming. In sweet times, it feels like you are floating gently on calm seas – totally in the flow of life. Other times, it feels like you are holding tightly onto a slowly deflating life raft – battered by the storm and praying that it lets.. read more →
We would love your help! We host Exotic Yoga Retreats in phenomenal locations all over the world—but would love to explore the diverse beauty of the United States! Do you know of the perfect venue to host an Exotic Yoga Retreat here in the USA? If you introduce us to a venue—and we host a.. read more →
Most of our Exotic Yoga Retreats are designed to promote the Mediterranean style of living and overall health. In fact, we strive to offer our participants an experience in both good health and good living! We achieve this experience in a number of ways – some that are unique to each retreat and others that.. read more →
Have you been looking at an Exotic Yoga Retreat, but want to go on a trip with your non-yoga-practicing partner? Are you excited about and committed to your yoga practice, but your partner wonders what you find so alluring about it? Perhaps he has never tried yoga – or tried it and didn’t care for.. read more →
The small, isolated nation of Bhutan was closed to tourism until 1974. Considered by some to be the world’s last Shangri-La, this Himalayan kingdom has intrigued and charmed its visitors for over 40 years now. Our Bhutan yoga retreat is truly exotic, taking place in a natural wonderland that few people will ever visit. In.. read more →
Home is where the heart is. Yoga is a journey. Each individual practice brings you from one state to another in your body, mind and heart. In such a lovely way, the evolution of your practice over time will continue as long as you continue to show up on your mat. The beauty of yoga.. read more →
Yoga travel affects us and everyone around us. Last week, we celebrated Independence Day here in the United States. We declared our freedom from Great Britain 240 years ago – not a long time, in the overall timeline of this planet and human history. As one of the founding principles of this nation, we greatly value.. read more →
There is something about Switzerland – perhaps the ruggedly beautiful landscape or serene alpine lakes – that simply exudes relaxation and inspiration. Add a touch of luxury, daily yoga, and ample opportunity to explore the mountains and our Switzerland yoga retreat becomes a deeply rejuvenating experience. Our 2016 Switzerland Yoga Retreat begins in just a.. read more →
The Tuscan countryside brings many pleasant things to mind: fresh pasta, roasted meats, farm-grown produce, and of course, the playful palette of Chianti. What better place to fully enjoy these Italian pleasures and deeply connect with yourself than on a soulful Tuscany yoga retreat? As you may know, our Exotic Yoga Retreats are about much.. read more →
The first ever Exotic Yoga Retreat was a yoga and wine holiday in Puglia. “Yoga and, uh, wine?” When Exotic Yoga Retreats was launched over four years ago, it seemed that everyone I told about it responded with this question — as if yoga and wine did not belong in the same sentence. I expected.. read more →
“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money”. There are packing-nerds (like me) who pack their bags weeks or more in advance of a trip. There are the packing-challenged, who procrastinate digging out the suitcase until late night before travel… read more →
UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN I will admit, I signed up for the Tuscany yoga retreat on a whim. I had been feeling frazzled and overwhelmed by life’s demands — work life was in no way balanced with my personal life and a recent health scare had taken its toll. As I scrolled through my Facebook.. read more →
Travel light, Live light, Spread the light, Be the light. –Yogi Bhajan We are on the road a lot here at Exotic Yoga Retreats, so it is no wonder we have learned some travel tips and tricks along the way. People have all sorts of thoughts and feelings about traveling – and a multitude of.. read more →
An Exotic Yoga Retreat is the perfect yoga retreat for the solo traveler! Have you been wanting to go on a yoga retreat, but can’t quite seem to coordinate schedules with your friend or partner? There are many reasons people travel solo (and love it!) – and a yoga retreat is the perfect opportunity to.. read more →
3 Things to Make You Jump On Board Our Exotic Croatia Yoga Cruise! In recent years, Croatia has become the hot spot to visit! With turquoise blue coastlines on the Adriatic Sea, pristine national parks, historic landmarks and quaint island villages, there is no wonder this Eastern European country was recently recognized as the Mediterranean’s fastest-growing travel destination… read more →
Blending the magic of the Middle East with the traditions of the Berber people, distinct images often come to mind when you hear of the North African country of Morocco. Maybe you imagine the colorful markets, snake charmers and layered scents of spices – or perhaps you picture a sandy ride atop a lumbering camel… read more →
Meditation is essentially any practice that focuses your awareness to a degree that the busy mind quiets down, and you become simply aware of the present moment. Why is this simple act of presence so profound? It’s not easy to explain in words—like other profound experiences in the life—it’s only in the experiencing that you understand meditation’s.. read more →
Yoga relieves stress and boosts mood While all forms of activity are beneficial for your mental wellness, there is something special about yoga. If you find that you can’t relax during other forms of exercise, yoga is the ideal choice of activity. Stress often contributes to depressed mood, but research shows that yoga can effectively reduce.. read more →
My sister Katherine and I visited Morocco recently to scout the perfect exotic location to hold our first Morocco Yoga retreat—that special kind of place where simplicity and luxury meet in natural harmony. When we venture into a new location, it’s with a lot of thought and inquiry as to whether it has that ‘magical.. read more →