If you love doing yoga, there's no need to stop when you're on the road or even when you're at home. While you may not be able to get in 90–minute yoga classes three times a week, with some improvisation and flexibility you can still build it into your week or month away.
Doing yoga asanas when you travel helps to reduce fatigue and eases the back tension you can experience when carrying your backpack. Traveling often entails a lot of sitting or standing around so it's good to do some deep stretching and get the blood flowing with some easy poses.
No matter where you travel, there will be opportunities to do yoga. They may not be what you're used to but if you think outside of the box you'll come back as flexible as you did when you went. Here are a few tips on how to include yoga in your travel plans:
1. Find a Place to Practice
You’re probably not going to have the usual space you have at home for yoga but there will still be a spot somewhere to find a sanctuary. Maybe you have a terrace or some green space outside your accommodation. There may be a common area that’s perfect for pulling your travel mat out for. If there’s not much space, you can always focus on standing poses that don’t need much floor space to work with.
Try some poses for ten minutes during the day whether it's a few Sun Salutations in the evening or when you have a break during the day. All these small sessions will add up to something big by the end of your trip. Don’t forget to make use of the props as you travel, such as items in your hotel room. You may have to improvise with what is available. Use a scarf instead of a strap, a blanket for more cushioning on the floor and pillows to substitute the blocks.
2. Do Your Practice in the Morning
Traveling can often be hectic because you are constantly sightseeing or planning your next day. Doing your yoga practice in the morning is a great way to ensure you fit it in during your day. If waking up early isn’t your style, schedule it in as best as you can. Do some yin poses before bed if you can’t fit it in throughout the day.
3. Break Out a Pose During Your Quiet Moments
Sometimes, just doing one pose can change the way you feel. A yoga asana like Downward Facing Dog has so many benefits. Do it for longer than you normally would to stretch out the back of your legs and add some heat to your shoulders.
4. Just Breathe
Breath work is a large part of yoga. It helps you to move through poses with more fluidity and is highly beneficial for many areas of the body. Deep breathing will help you to relax and stay grounded during your trip. It takes practice to breathe consciously so when you put some extra focus on it your yoga practice will improve.
Just sit with your legs crossed and take a deep breath counting as you breath in. Breath out and count up to the same number. If you find your mind wandering, hold your breath for two or three seconds in-between the ins and outs. You can practice breathing techniques anywhere with your eyes open or closed, even if you're sat on a bus or train.
Remember that moment at the end of a yoga class when you lay on the floor and meditate? Why not put some focus on meditation while you’re traveling? It is another important part of any yoga practice that we sometimes forget. You can meditate anywhere and it doesn't have to be in a lotus position either. You can be lying in your bed or sunbathing or a beach.
You can even meditate when you walk or when you eat. Just being mindful of your feet touching the ground as you walk, or your food as you taste it slowly are forms of meditation. Try going for a walk with this intention and download a meditation app such as Headspace or find a free meditation or Youtube.
6. Find a Yoga Retreat
A great way to travel abroad and do yoga is to take some time out and immerse yourself in a class or a retreat. Research the availability of classes in your chosen destination. If you are traveling abroad, research the local studios, hotels, and spas that offer yoga facilities to their guests. Some hostels even offer yoga classes.
There are yoga retreats all over the world that allow you to stay for all different durations from one night to one month. The price usually includes all your food and accommodation too.
Yoga retreats are also a great way to solo travel. During my travels I've experienced yoga trekking in Nepal and a yoga ashram in India where I met other solo travellers and improved my yoga practice at the same time. To move your body to the sound of the River Ganges is just magical.
7. Yoga Outdoors
Why not get outside and do your whole yoga practice? If you’re shy you may prefer to do yoga inside in the peace and tranquility of a room, away from the staring gaze of strangers. But being outside gives you a difference experience. The sights, smells and sounds will invigorate your spirit and you will reap more benefits from the practice and be able to use the Earth to ground. If you feel a little shy doing this outdoors, convince yourself that you are only there for a time. Go to a park and put down your mat under a tree. You'll have all the space you could ever want.
8. Get a Travel Yoga Mat
If you really want to maintain your yoga practice, make sure to invest in a travel mat. This allows you to practice yoga safely and more comfortably no matter what the surface is. If a yoga mat is too bulky, there are folding yoga mats or travel yoga mats that you can take with you. Having it with you will be a gentle reminder of what your intentions were before you started your travels.
9. Go To a Local Yoga Class
Yoga is extremely popular worldwide so chances are, wherever you’re going is going to have some form of yoga. This is a great opportunity to amp up your yoga practice and you may also meet some like–minded locals that want to show you around. You never know what might happen if you put yourself out there. You could look for yoga meet up groups on the Meet Up platform too.
Download an App – If you are limited to indoors or unable to find a yoga class, you can find a class online instead. There are plenty of yoga apps such as Gaia or Down Dog to guide you through a yoga practice at home or from a hotel (I use the Gaia app and love it!)
10. Other Ways To Exercise Your Mind
If finding floor space is just too difficult, there is more to yoga than just the asana. You don’t need to be doing the downward dog to feel the benefits of mental clarity.
Try one of these techniques to help exercise your mind when you travel:
- Meditate in a seated position every morning for about 10 minutes
- Practice deep breathing or a visualisation exercise before you go to sleep
- Keep a journal and write down your thoughts and feelings
- Say thank you daily for 5 things that make you feel grateful
- Rebalance your chakras; download a chakra meditation and listen to it on the plane or at other times when you just want to reflect.
- If your floor space is tiny just practice the viparita karani (legs up the wall) position to help restore your body and mind for a few moments.
Yoga can be done everywhere so don’t worry about how you’ll maintain your practice. If you’re willing to try anything and be creative, you may just find that your yoga practice somehow improves. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you do miss a few days. You are traveling after all.