Happy summer to you!
Happy summer, whether you are traveling for work, on vacation, wishing you were on vacation, or content that you’re not.
Yes, those vacations can cut both ways: sometimes they’re a refuge, sometimes a living hell (sometimes both).
A Different Routine
Traveling is interesting in terms of routines and habits. It changes the normal schedule, and this can help a person reset and rejuvenate, giving respite from the parts of everyday life that are a drag.
Other times though, old habits come along for the ride. Or, new routines end up getting in the way just as much as the old ones.
One common struggle is negotiating the needs and desires of family or friends during travel. As you know if you’ve ever traveled with other people, those needs and desires don’t always line up!
(Of course it’s also entirely possible to sink into a less functional routine all on one’s own, without any contribution from other people!)
Travel and Yoga
This is relevant to yoga because some people go on vacation looking to use the freer schedule to jump-start a personal practice. While this might call to mind yoga retreats in tropical locales, I’m referring more here to a person who simply wants to introduce some yoga practice into their day.
I’ve spoken with folks who have intended to do yoga during a vacation, and they often discover that the routines and rhythms of travel are not so conducive to anchoring a practice.
Being in a different surrounding, changing location frequently, staying in close quarters with other people– these sorts of conditions can easily short-circuit a practice.
Insight from an Old Text
Interesting to note: one of the major obstacles to practice that’s listed in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika is travel. This is understandable, especially if you consider the challenges of a journey in 15th century India when the Pradipika was written.
Yet the amenities and the speed of modern travel also do little to facilitate practice. If anything, the pace and distractions involved with moving around the world today make this centuries-old observation as apt now as it was 600 years ago.
So, travel can be an obstacle to practice, but does that mean it’s impossible? Should someone aspiring to practice on vacation just hang it up before starting?
No, and no.
Here are 5 simple things you can do to support your yoga during a period of travel. It’s worth mention that these strategies also work very well if you find yourself at home!
1) Make space for yoga off the mat.
A yoga practice can be more than asana on a mat. This recognition has the potential to bring the fruits of yoga into more of life. With respect to travel, it can mean being more present and appreciative of the enjoyable parts and being more level-headed during the challenging parts.
In this respect, yoga is about keeping in touch with a personal center that is steady in the face of different experiences that occur. This is the simplest manifestation of practice and also the most challenging.
Have you ever gotten so tangled up in the planning and logistics of travel that when you get to the place you wanted to go, you find that you are not really present?
The simplest way that I have found to avoid this sort of thing is to consistently keep my attention anchored in physical experience.
That doesn’t mean it’s all I’m noticing, but if I can keep returning to the space of my body, my connection with the ground and the feeling of my breath, I tend to be more present and resilient to ups and downs.
Sometimes it’s easier to access this, other times it appears far away, but just setting the intention to stay with it– to keep returning– can be very powerful.
2) If you are with other people, pinpoint the best times when you can practice.
Alone-time is healthy for everyone. Be aware though that personal space is a relative thing. If you are on a vacation with other people in close quarters, you may not feel quite as alone as you are used to, and this feeling can constrain interest in practicing.
This can be an opportunity to be creative with time. You may be able to squeeze in a few shorter sessions within a day. Times that work best are often found at the very beginning or the end of the day.
You’ll likely discover that you can find the most time and personal space in these periods.
3) Be creative with space and objects.
Just as it’s possible to be creative with time, you can also be creative with everyday objects, using them as props to support yoga poses.
For instance, cars, chairs, and other furniture can all serve as useful yoga props. Car hoods are great for poses like half-dog, as well as forward bends with one leg elevated, resting on the hood (utthita hasta padangusthasana).
Chairs of course are great for all manner of twists, forward bends, standing poses, backbends etc. Mattresses and couches are often great for supine backbends, depending on the height of the object and your flexibility.
The possibilities to be found in your surroundings are endless! Just make sure that whatever you are using will support you. And have a strategy for moving into and out of the asana so that you don’t injure yourself.
4) Envision and plan the physical act of beginning the practice.
If you can envision stepping onto a mat, or even write down simply that you are going to step onto a mat and practice, you’re much more likely to actually do it.
Telling someone else of your intention to practice is another way to firm up your resolve and make it more real.
5) Last, if you need support and reinforcement, consider some of the free audio practices available on the Solaluna website.
If you go somewhere without internet or phones, this won’t be an option; but if that’s the case, your surroundings will be a better teacher than a recorded yoga class anyway. More power to you for unplugging!
If you have access to the internet and are looking for some guidance, visit the programs page on our website. There are some active practices, gentle practices, and meditations.
Let us know what helps you and how your vacations and stay-cations and work-filled summers are going!