The weather is warming up, school’s out and it’s time for your vacation. If you are like most yoga students, you can’t wait to get away and have fun. But, you can most definitely wait for the process of getting there—long hours cramped in a car or plane—and the upheaval of being away from your usual yoga studio, teacher and home practice.
But, you don't have to abandon your practice when you travel. For most car trips, you can bring your YogaPaws with a few yoga DVDs or your computer and have a ready-made home practice when you arrive. Or, if you are flying, be sure to bring your YogaPaws in your carryon. Airports are even starting to have designated areas for yoga in between flights!! Even if its just in the corner at an abandoned gate, you will likely find that even a short practice helps you feel more grounded.
But, sometimes you need your yoga most when you are farthest away from your mat. The frustrations of transport, from flight delays to getting lost, can leave you yearning for a good Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose) right at that moment. That’s not always an option, though.
The most important thing to remember is that your yoga practice is a state of mind as much as a physical pose. The same patience you cultivate holding your Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose) serves you well if you are stuck in traffic. Take a deep breath, and try to find your focus.
That said, there are times when you need the physical release as well. Here are some poses to try without even taking your shoes off.
Benefits: This balance pose can help you feel more in control during a long trip. How to do it: Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Shift your weight to your left foot. Reach down and clasp your right ankle, bringing your right foot up to your inner left thigh if possible (if not, resting your foot on your shin is fine). Engage your core to bring your pelvis into alignment. Raise your hands above your head, palms facing each other. Focus on something four or five feet in front of you and hold for 30 seconds to one minute. Release and repeat on the other side.
Benefits: This basic standing pose will help you get grounded. How to do it: Stand with your feet together, big toes touching. Turn your palms to face forward. Stack your pelvis over your ankles and your chin above your feet. Look forward and relax your face and neck. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute.
Benefits: This modification of Virabhadrasana I helps release your hip flexors, which are often tight after long trips. How to do it: Start in Tadasana. Step your right foot back about three and a half to four feet. Bend into your left knee until it is in line with your ankle. Lift your arms overhead. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute, then release, come back to Tadasana and repeat on the other side.
Use your head. Whenever you can, let your eyes soften their focus and look around. Try not to concentrate on any one object.
Move it. During any break in a trip, stand up and walk around. Even if you can’t get a practice in, any movement will help make you feel less stiff and confined.
And, don’t forget to breathe. After the stuffiness of planes and cars, any air feels good. When you get out, take a deep breath and visualize the air you’re breathing in cleaning the “gunk” of the trip out of your body.