Fresh off the heels of a weekend at Yoga Journal Live San Francisco, I am awash in thoughts of practicing yoga while traveling. Observing the celebrity yoga instructors come and go from their jam-packed classes and workshops, I am conscious that this quandary is one they can’t afford to have. It simply must be mastered because, these days, traveling goes hand-in-hand with being well known and sought after in the ever-expanding global yoga marketplace.
For me, however, the stakes are lower. I am not a traveling teacher or a yoga celebrity. I am a householder who, like many, juggles the competing demands of work, family, and self-care. For me, practicing while traveling is the rare situation, not the norm, which oddly seems to make it something of an appealing novelty.
I find it can often be easier to practice yoga while traveling than at home. There are no dirty dishes to be washed or piles of kid toys to be sorted in a hotel room. There are no animals pawing at me to be walked, no piles of mail reminding me of bills unpaid. The contents of most of my hotel rooms are simple, un-distracting, and yet not terribly compelling – which makes the allure of my mat all the more tempting. I find that I want to roll it out, to find a subtle sense of home in the unfamiliar, to feel special amidst the generic.
Perhaps you find the same to be true. Or perhaps the thought of yoga while traveling feels like just another item on the ‘to do’ list while you’re away and that is enough to deter you from diving in. Either way, the following short list of tips is designed to help ease your personal practice into place no matter where you are.
- Travel With A Mat . Chances are, if you pack a yoga mat, the sheer act of unpacking it will remind you that yes, this piece of rubber came along for the ride for a reason. Even better, if you set the mat up in a corner of your hotel room, or prop it by the door of your tent, the visual trigger will do the trick in compelling you to unroll and use it.
- Pack A Prop . You surely don’t need your entire arsenal of yoga props to travel with you everywhere you go, but it would be wise to pack one. Maybe it’s your ergonomic yoga blocks for that February ski weekend, your strap for the March business trip, and your meditation cushion for the family visit in April. Having just one prop along for the ride will invite and encourage you to explore poses and options with it, and may even cause you to venture into experimental territory.
- Make It Special . Whether it is a meaningful essential oil or the scarf you like to wrap around you during early morning meditation, be sure to take something meaningful with you on the road – something that personalizes your practice space and time. It will help create the spirit of sanctuary.
- Try Something New . Thanks to a vast mobile technology network, it has never before been easier to locate a reputable yoga studio while traveling. Between Yelp, Yoga Trail , and MindBodyOnline, the avenues for locating a beloved and well-reviewed studio in the town you’re visiting are endless. If you’re up for sprinkling a little variation into your travel yoga routine, find a new class at a new studio!
- Breathe Before Sleep . We yogis carry around a magical skill set that comes in particularly handy when we’re out of our home environment: we can breathe ourselves to sleep. Literally. We all know how hard it can be to pack in quality sleep while traveling and there is no need to suffer this hardship if a short evening pranayama practice might nip it in the bud. Even 10 minutes of Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breath) might be all it takes to up your capacity to tolerate a night of less than ideal sleeping arrangements.
Kate Tripp is a yoga teacher, writer, mother, and co-founder of Luma Yoga, an award-winning yoga studio for adults and children in Santa Cruz, CA. She shares her wisdom and experience on the Three Minute Egg blog with weekly, inspirational, yoga-related blog posts. Read Kate's full bio here.