Travel Light — Yoga Travel Tips
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.