Summer travel is upon us. And, for some of you, this means a decrease in the in the quality and consistency of your practice. After all, travel shifts your routines and easily disrupts the rhythm of your practice. Yet, the value of practicing while we’re on the road can’t be over-stated. Maintaining your practice while you’re traveling—especially when you’re out of your time zones—can help reduce the physical stress of travel, improve the quality of your sleep and digestion, and help settle your body and mind into your new location. And, to be honest, it’s not very difficult. All you need to do is adjust your expectations and have a plan for practicing in your new environment. Here’s how to make yourself feel at home in your body when your away from home.
- Adjust your expectations
Whether you’re traveling for business, pleasure or both, travel changes your daily schedule. When your schedule changes you may be inclined to throw in the towel and skip practicing all together—especially if you’re used to a longer, more thorough practice. If this sounds like you, then it’s time to modify your expectations. Consider your practice while on the road to simply be maintenance. You don’t skip brushing your teeth while you’re traveling even though you may be using a lousy toothbrush. And, it’s still worth it, right? We’ll the same goes for your practice. 10-20 minutes at the very beginning or end of your day may be enough to keep your body in basic balance.
- Soothe your nervous system
Some people are deeply grounded, even keel, unflappable specimens. The rest of us, need help staying grounded and focused when the environment changes—especially if you’re in a new, stimulating place. One of the most essential things to orient your practice around when you’re on the road is keeping your nervous system from being over-stimulated. Practicing head-supported forward bends and inversions while lengthening your exhalations may help keep you more focused and calm.
- Unwind your tight spots
If you’re traveling for business and you’re cooped up for hours in meetings, it may be wise to focus on shoulder, neck and upper-back opening. If you’re pounding the pavement from dawn to dusk while you tour a city, practice hip, hamstring, quad, and calf openers. It stands to reason that there will be some distinct activity—or distinct lack of activity—that you’re engaged in while you’re away from home. Listen to your body and create a simple practice that focuses on whatever it needs to feel more comfortable at the end of the day.
- Rearrange your room and improvise props
Whether in a budget room or a decimate-the-budget room, I can rearrange my temporary quarters to resemble a halfway decent yoga studio in less than 10 minutes. Don’t travel with a bolster (no, of course you don’t because you’re not crazy)? That’s okay, you can remove the seat or couch cushion and cover them with a towel. Want a smaller bolster? Roll up 2 or 3 pillows in a towel. Forget your strap? Grab the belt from the robe in the bathroom. Didn’t bring your mat? Lay a towel on the floor and do seated postures. Is the couch, table and chair blocking your potential practice space? Move them! Setting up space in the majority of hotel rooms is easier then you think—and, I’ve travelled extensively in Japan, so trust me on this one. If you clear some space and unroll your mat, who knows, maybe you’ll have a killer practice in the middle of the night while in the throes of jet-lag.
Jason Crandell was recently named one of the next generation of teachers shaping yoga’s future by Yoga Journal for his skillful, unique approach to vinyasa yoga. Jason’s steady pace, creative sequencing, and attention to detail encourage students to move slowly, deeply, and mindfully into their bodies. Jason credits his primary teacher, Rodney Yee, teachers in the Iyengar Yoga tradition such as Ramanand Patel, and ongoing studies in Eastern and Western philosophy for inspiring to him bring greater alignment and mindfulness to Vinyasa Yoga.
Jason is a contributing editor for Yoga Journal and has written over 13 articles for the magazine and website – many of which have been translated internationally (including Japan, China, Italy and Brazil). His integrative and accessible teachings support students of every background and lineage, helping them to find greater depth, awareness, and well-being in their practice – and in their lives. Follow Jason on Facebook and Twitter.