Staying active and healthy while traveling can be difficult. Because yoga doesn’t require much (or any!) equipment and doesn’t require a lot of space, yoga while traveling is a great activity for staying active and healthy.
I am always on the lookout for yoga tips I can implement while traveling, and I recently turned to some amazing yoga travel experts to learn more. These inspiring women have perfected the art of practicing yoga practically anywhere.
Here are 6 practical yoga tips they shared with me!
Pack a Lightweight Yoga Mat
Getting your yoga practice in on a work trip can be challenging but not impossible. Plan ahead and you can enjoy yoga during your break time, late at night or early in the morning. Be sure to pack a traveling, lightweight yoga mat that will fit easily in your bag or backpack and not be a burden to carry.”
Subscribe to an Online Yoga Instruction Service
There are a number of web-based services that allow you to access high-quality yoga classes on-demand via your phone or laptop. Udaya is a great option to help you practice yoga where and when you can. “Even 30 minutes a day can go a long way towards developing a solid practice and these on-demand classes are a great way to sneak in a shorter session if you don’t have time for a full class,” said Rima Danielle Jomaa of Costa Rima, a company offering fully customizable yoga retreats and other travel experiences across Costa Rica.
Especially if you’re traveling while pregnant, consider investing in a program like Yoga4Mothers, a platform developed especially for moms-to-be. You’ll be guided through ways to relieve hip discomfort with poses, like extended side angle pose or Goddess Squat, “both excellent yoga poses if you’re pregnant to stimulate the lower body, activate muscles that have been languishing while you’ve been riding in a car or on a plane, and help the entire lower body feel more active and less uncomfortable,” according to Christelle Donaghy, of Yoga4Mothers, a collection of prenatal and postpartum yoga videos and articles.
Practice Yin Yoga the Week Before a Long Haul Flight
Traveling by air, especially long-haul flights, can mess with your balance and alignment.
“Unlike flow yoga, yin focuses on deep stretching and relaxation. Air travel can be extremely challenging and stressful, so practicing yin yoga in the days leading up to your trip can help soothe your body and mind to prepare for any new stress you may encounter as you travel,” explained the team over at The Travel Yogi, a team who run a number of yoga retreats around the world each year.
Yin is also more focused on deep muscle stretching, so can help offset some of the tightness and discomfort you may experience from a day in an airplane seat.
Practice Yoga in Your Plane Seat (Really!)
Sometimes, just changing your attitude can take you to a new place in your body and mind. The Travel Yogi team also suggested that rather than feeling “trapped” in your seat, think about this: you have the next several hours with no cell phone calls, no laundry, no emails, no dishes and no cooking. Maybe use this time to deepen your meditation practice or build your “Sangha” or community as you take some time to get to know the passengers seated around you.
Practice Yoga While You Fly
It is possible to even get in some yoga while you’re en route. Check out this modified pigeon pose. Bring the heel of your right foot to the top of your left knee. Flex the foot strongly. You should start to feel a stretch in the outer right thigh. If you’re not feeling it, begin to walk the left leg closer to the body. Stretching the outer hip can release the S.I. joint in the low back – a common source of pain while traveling! Hold for 2 to 5 minutes. Repeat on side 2.
You may also want to try a modified Cat Cow, another favorite travel post from the Travel Yogi team. (Okay, this one may only be comfortable if you know your seat-mate!) Sitting up tall in your chair, inhale, arching the back forward, opening the chest and gazing up. Hold the breath in. Exhale, roll the shoulders forward, press through the spine like an angry cat, arch the back the opposite direction, and bring the chin to the chest. Continue this movement for as long as you’d like. Cat & cow pulses help lubricate the spine, keeping it soft and flexible despite prolonged sitting.
And Most Importantly… Just Breathe
And the one piece of advice ALL my new yogini-friends shared? Meditate, breathe, sit still… it all counts as yoga!
If you feel comfortable in double pigeon or lotus pose, take one of these postures right in your seat. This helps change the position of the hips, preventing the hip flexors from getting tight. Otherwise, remain seated with the feet grounded. Lightly tuck the pelvis back so you feel grounded on your sit bones. This will take your back slightly away from the back of the plane seat. Travelers tip: use your neck pillow here for lumbar support. Release the shoulders away from the ears, rolling them back. Place the hands palms up in the folds of the hips and meditate.
Extra: Yoga’s Influence on Metabolism
Despite common misconceptions, yoga can be great way to increase metabolism. No matter what the activity, increasing movement can increase the metabolic rate. By improving digestion and circulation, and creating lean muscle mass, yoga is an all-encompassing way to help increase your metabolic rate.
Check out this detailed yoga sequence to increase metabolism, which can easily be done in a hotel room while on the road.
I love these amazing words of advice! How do you stay active and healthy on the road?
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Street yoga photos credit: Sarah Elizabeth Sorenson