Traveling is a life-changing experience. But, travel can also be very stressful, both mentally and physically. Time zone changes, sleeping in new places, things not going according to plan—these can all cause anxiety and wreck havoc on our bodies.
Travel brings new experiences and forces us outside of our comfort zone. We must learn how to adapt to new situations, think on our feet, and find a sense of peace amongst all the chaos.
Enter yoga. Yoga teaches us to calm our minds, breathe through the stress, and provides a quiet space for reflection amidst the noise of life.
5 Benefits of Yoga for Travel
Developing a yoga practice can help alleviate the anxiety and stress that sometimes comes with travel. Here's how:
Yoga Reminds You to Breathe
Breathing is a vital component of yoga. It allows you to access challenging poses more easily and allows your mind and body to release the tension associated with that challenging pose.
Just like we encounter challenging poses in our yoga practice, we encounter challenging situations while traveling.
Next time the airline cancels your flight, instead of going off on the gate attendant, take a deep breath and remind yourself it's not her fault. Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it. You have control over your reaction to stress and remembering to breathe can help you navigate the stress related to challenging situations.
Try this breathing technique: Alternate-Nostril Breathing
Alternate-nostril breathing allows greater oxygen flow to your brain and suppresses your sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response that's triggered during stressful situations). It's also great for headaches and migraines, which can be helpful if you are sensitive to cabin-pressure changes while flying. Try it out before your next flight and see if it helps!
Yoga Gives You Quiet Time for Reflection
Traveling, while fun, can be an incredibly stressful experience. Taking a few moments for quiet reflection with help calm your mind and reduce some of the physical effects of stress while traveling.
Yoga teaches us to stay in the moment and appreciate the present. Sometimes it can be difficult to stay in the present moment while traveling because there is always so much to do and so much to plan!
Try this technique: Reflective Meditation
Take a moment every day on your trip to quietly reflect on the adventures from that day. Find a relaxed yoga or meditative position that supports your spine, take a few breaths, and allow yourself a few moments of reflective meditation.
Yoga Relieves Tension & Anxiety
Research on yoga shows that it reduces the impact of the stress response on the body. It reduces the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and eases respiration. Yoga also increases heart rate variability, which is a part of the body's ability to respond to stress more flexibly.
Some yoga poses help with anxiety and tension more than others. With the help of these poses (varying levels of practice), you don't need to let your anxiety control you. Some of these are easier to do while traveling, but all will be beneficial for releasing tension and relieving anxiety.
Try these poses for anxiety:
Child's Pose (Balasana)
Tree Pose (Vrikasana)
Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)
Legs Up The Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
Yoga Boosts Your Energy & Improves Quality of Sleep
The health benefits of yoga are well-known. As mentioned above, regular practice improves cardiovascular health, flexibility, balance, and strength.
While traveling, a quick 15-20 minute yoga flow after a long flight will help get the oxygen in your blood flowing and refresh your energy.
After a long day of adventure, some gentle, restorative poses will help prepare your body and mind for sleep. Pair these restorative poses with pranayama (the art of conscious, controlled breathing) and you will activate your parasympathetic nervous system. This leads to a decrease in cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and helps your body and mind relax before sleep.
Try these restorative poses for sleep:
Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
Reclined Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Reclined Twist (Jathara Parivartanasana)
Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
Thread the Needle (Parsva Balasana)
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
You Can Practice Yoga Anywhere
There are many yoga poses you can do anywhere! You don't need a mat or a studio to practice yoga, which makes it an ideal form of strength and flexibility exercise to do on the road.
However, if you do prefer to practice yoga in a guided class format, many hostels offer yoga classes or you can do a little research to find a local yoga studio and request to join a class while on your trip.
The easiest yoga flows to practice while traveling involve standing poses. There are many Warrior sequence variations you can practice without needing a mat! Inhale as you expand into each pose and exhale as you transition to the next pose.
Try this Fierce Warrior Sequence:
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
Humble Warrior Pose (Baddha Virabhadrasana)
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)
Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)
If you need some more ideas for yoga poses to do while traveling, try out some of these standing poses:
Triangle (Utthita Trikonasana)
Upward Forward Fold (Urdhva Uttanasana)
Goddess Squat (Utkata Konasana)
Half Moon/Revolved Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana/Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana)
Half-bound Lotus Forward Fold (Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana)
You can find examples of these poses and even more ideas for standing poses at Yoga Basics.
If you prefer to follow along with a video, here's a great travel yoga video! The first 15-minutes include a standing yoga flow and from there, the video goes into some lying poses.
Next time you travel, try out some of these yoga practices!
Yoga complements the travel lifestyle by providing you with a chance to slow down, breathe, and enjoy the present moment. While there are so many more benefits of yoga for travel, these ideas will get you started.
Which one are you most excited to try out next?