Basic Yoga Poses and Tips for Travelers
When you’re on the road or hostel-hopping, it can be difficult to stick to your usual yoga routine. You’re following a different, often fast-paced rhythm, your eating hours change and perhaps, you can’t always find the right time or environment to roll out your mat and get into an hour-long Vinyasa flow. Know, however, that this is the most important time for you to stick with your yoga practise, or any grounding feel-good routine. Whilst you’re travelling, you will receive many new daily impressions; your mind won’t have time to absorb things as quickly as they are coming to you unless you can find a quiet moment of calm for yourself.
Wherever I go I am always looking for a yoga studio or a teacher. I have never done a full yoga practice alone at home and like many people I know, it’s much easier for me to practice with someone or in a group. So for me it was not easy at first to practice on the road by myself. But when I’m traveling fast I don’t always have this luxury, and so I try to practice yoga at least 3 times a week, wherever I am, even if it’s just for 15 minutes a day. Here are some grounding yogi routines you can easily fit into your nomadic lifestyle.
10 Minute Silent Meditation
We all know the benefits of morning meditation, but it can become one of your most important tools while travelling. Starting your day out with ten minutes of silent meditation will be extremely beneficial to you. In doing so, you are centring yourself for your day ahead and allowing yourself the opportunity to connect with your mind and body and iron out any glitches before starting out your day with full energy.
Simply find a quiet and comfortable place to sit; you don’t need any props for this, but are of course welcome to use your mat, a pillow or a block. Sit down in Sukhasana or any other seated position you feel comfortable in; find your centre by rolling your shoulders up towards your ears and then down your back a few times; slowly raise your chin, as if you’re giving someone to the right of you a friendly nod and then slowly let it roll across your chest, before raising it back up to the left. Do whatever you need to do to get rid of any tension, before you settle in.
Take these ten minutes to focus on your inhale and your exhales, the sounds around you, the sensations in your body and simply embrace them. You will find that you will bring this awareness into the rest of your day.
Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar)
Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) should be just as important to your day as breakfast. Not only is it the perfect remedy for muscles stiff and tired from sleep or strenuous days wandering through exotic cities and lush jungles, it also gives you an energetic jump start to your day. Sun Salutations bring a whole lot of benefits for various different parts of your body, including the legs, arms, chest, throat, intestines, heart and liver. But most importantly, this series of movement will enhance your solar plexus, which is the central power point of your body. This is where your emotions are stored, the point from which your gut feelings arise and in training it through sun salutations, you will achieve greater mental stability and intuition – two very important factors for the travelling yogi. You can repeat the flow for as many times you want – go ten rounds or three, whatever fits into your schedule!
This may not sound very “yogic” to you, but journaling immediately upon waking up and having your first cup of chai can have the same effect as silent meditation. If you think about it – that’s exactly what journaling is; a silent form of reflection and cleansing your mind of all unwanted weight and thoughts that no longer serve you. We are at our most pure and sensitive when we get up in the morning; we are still processing our dreams and our emotional state has not yet been altered by our day’s agenda. This is the perfect time to sit down and freely jot down any thoughts that may have arisen before going to sleep the night before; to reflect upon yourself and the experiences you have had leading up to this blank page. This is your journal – there are no rules. If you benefit from recording all the things you’ve seen and all the people you’ve met in writing, do so; it will give you a chance to relive these experiences in a quiet moment, allowing you to put them into perspective. If you rather concentrate your daily entries on your personal thoughts or feelings of gratitude – go for it. Whatever approach you take to journaling, setting aside twenty minutes to write will quickly become a welcomed and grounding routine to incorporate while on the road.
Upright Pigeon and Cat Variations
If you’re short of time but are feeling as stiff and creaky as the Tin Man, you can always sneak in a yoga quickie in the form of Upright Pigeon or cat/cow variations. You can do these anywhere – you don’t even have to leave your tent or hotel bed for this flow. The cat/cow flow works wonders on a spine that has been cramped into tight airplane seats or buses on a regular basis. These movements will gently warm and stretch the spine, the abdomen and the hips, the muscles that are most affected when we spend too much time sitting in bad positions. Given time, it will improve posture but will motivate you to elongate rather than compress throughout the day. This is a super relaxing flow which will teach you how to work in coordination with your breath, in turn ridding you of any feelings of stress or anxiety.
I personally love the Upright Pigeon pose (although I know many do hate this infamous bird pose). This pose also releases the pressures put on the spine and Lower abdomen (2 lower Chakras).
There are many beautiful pigeon and cow variations you can play with; for some inspiration, click here and here.
Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhan Pranayama)
When you return back to your hostel or caravan at the end of an eventful day spent hiking through the Andes or biking through Amsterdam, your mind will be a-buzzing; not the best recipe for a restful sleep! So after you’ve had your shower (or camping style “cat wash”!) and prepared for bed, find a comfortable seated position and treat your soul to a few rounds of Nadi Shodhan Pranayama, otherwise known as, alternate nostril breathing. This breathing technique calms the mind and releases any tension you might be feeling. It will help you wind down and unlock any blockage in your energetic channels. Nadi Shodhan Pranayama also works excellently in preparation for meditation. Here’s how it’s done.
If you can incorporate one, if not all of these exercises into your travelling lifestyle, you will recognize the benefits in a matter of days – you’ll find plenty more energy in your body and more tranquility in your mind, two important factors that may well prolong your travelling experience….