A Mind And Body Workout Best For Travel Tension
I like to think there’s no downside to traveling, but that’s simply not true. There will always be downsides to anything we do, but the trick is to realize what they are, understand, prepare, and find ways to turn that thought upside down... or right side up.
One thing that’s nearly impossible for people to keep up with is their workout routine. You have to be a serious machine if you manage to make that work while exploring, and God bless you if you do.
So, can we talk? I want to know more about your mindset.
For the rest of us, the downside with travel is not just forgoing the workout routine, but getting stuck in uncomfortable positions for longer than our bodies should handle. We can easily say goodbye to cardio for a week, but the simple act of sitting still and static on planes, trains, and cars for extended periods of time will always take a toll on the body. That stiffening of the muscles will later carry into our overall flow of the trip which can lead to laziness, stress, and so on.
That is why I will always preach about yoga. It is calming for the mind and does wonders for the body. You don’t need to run off and sweat for an hour, I applaud you if you do, you just need a few minutes to connect. You can practice anywhere, at any time, and on your own terms. So instead of whining about the fact that you feel out of shape and stiff from your last trip, you can turn that thought around and embrace it knowing you have a beautiful practice in place that leaves you feeling grateful and limber.
I decided to seek out what poses have been helpful to my fellow travelers. I questioned, “If you were to use one pose on a trip which one would it be and why?” I received these six beautiful answers that could make a fun combination of asanas if you were up for it.
Do you connect with any of these moves? Share which ones.
Anjali mudra | Hands to Heart Center
Hands to heart center is not a complex pose, and or even a pose at all, but it represents so much about what makes yoga so special. Traveling can be one of the most exhausting events in life, no matter how amazing the journey you're on maybe. The emotions and senses can be firing at 1,000 miles an hour. Being able to remember to stay centered, closing your eyes and bringing your hands to heart center and taking a few deep breaths always brings us back to the moment when we're feeling stressed on the road, and hopefully, it will do the same for you too.
Enjoy standing or seated.
Bring your hands to prayer at hearts center.
Close your eyes.
Bow your head.
And take a deep breath in for 4 and out for 4.
Eka Pada Utkatasana | Figure 4 Pose
A seated hip stretch is my favorite yoga pose for travel days (or all days, really). It can be done anywhere - even on a plane - without having to get on the floor or take up much space. Most people don't even realize I'm stretching when I do it.
This is a hip-opening stretch that alleviates lower back pain, improves flexibility and mobility, and releases pent-up negative emotions, like the ones you may get while waiting in the security line when you’re late to the airport. This is a good stretch for before and after long flights or long days exploring new destinations on foot.
Move your bottom to the edge of your seat with both feet flat on the ground.
With your back straight and shoulders down, cross your right ankle over your left knee into a 90-degree angle. To protect your knees, always keep your foot that crosses your leg flexed (so it looks "flat") and your support knee directly above your ankle.
Lean forward and take a few deep breaths.
Repeat stretch with your left ankle crossing your right leg.
Anjaneyasana | Low Lunge
When we’re seated for long periods our hip flexors tighten, our pelvis slumps into a posterior tilt and our upper back rounds, tightening the muscles of our chest. And for some inexplicable reason, all the sitting we do while traveling also makes us lethargic.
Anjaneyasana, low lunge, is a simple posture that will begin to undo a lot of the physical discomfort associated with travel. It lengthens the hip flexors and brings the pelvis into an anterior tilt. This cactus arm variation also engages the muscles of the mid and upper back and opens the chest. As a heart opener, it’s energizing.
If you have sensitive knees, you might like a folded blanket or towel under the back knee.
Stack your front knee above your ankle and make the pose active: press your front foot down into the earth, gently hug your thighs in towards the midline, and lightly ‘zip up’ the lower belly.
Draw your shoulder blades back towards each other and down towards your waist. At the same time, absorb your lower ribs into your torso rather than letting them pop out.
Hold and breathe! Stay for five to 10 breaths then change sides.
Parivritta Trikonasana | REVOLVED Triangle Pose
Yoga benefits us in everyday life but it is really useful when we are traveling and for instance, need to sit in cramped conditions. I always have a very strong urge to stretch my body in all possible ways especially on a plane or on a long bus journey.
My back gets sore quite easily and with yoga, I have managed to keep it afar. Yoga lengthens the back which is good for all of us, who sit all day in front of a computer. Hence, I like all kinds of back rotations and asanas which have a positive effect on the back.
One of my favorite asanas is parivritta trikonasana, revolved triangle pose, because it lengthens the back and gives that nice rotation. It is a very versatile pose, it stretches your thighs, opens up your hips and chest.
This posture asks us to find the balance. In that sense, it reminds us of the importance of grounding. I like the idea that even though we are traveling which can be hectic and stressful we can still have time to ground ourselves and calm the mind.
Step your feet wide apart. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees so your toes are pointing to the top of the mat. Pivot your left foot slightly inwards.
Raise your arms to the side so they’re parallel to the floor.
Reach through your right hand in the same direction as your right foot. Shift your left hip back. Fold at your right hip right arm towards the right foot.
Rest your right hand on your outer shin or ankle. If you are more flexible, place your right fingertips or palm on the floor to the outside of your right shin. Extend left hand to the sky.
Gently turn your head to gaze up.
Ardhachandrasana | Half Moon
The truth is, travel equates to every good thing of the world, but above all, can be really stressful. Those long bus journeys, hard bed at a hostel, a sudden slip at the beach or a wrong posture in sleep can take a lasting physical toll. For me, the good old yoga always comes to rescue. More so, because I travel with a chronic medical state of back ache. The constant jerking of a car does no help. A prolonged period of being on the road will only worsen the situation for me. Of course I took advice from the physio and doctor and refrain from practicing stressful physical activities but Yoga Asanas are a savior for me.
I indulge in a quick 15 min yoga break twice day, if not more during travels.
Ardhachandrasana or Half Moon enables me to relax and stretch at the same time, and takes care of burning extra calories I typically indulge in at the beachside shacks. Needless to say, it makes for a great photo as a travel memory!
Start in triangle pose, above.
Bring your left hand to rest on your left hip. Turn your head to look at the floor. Then, bend your right knee and step your left foot 6-12 inches closer to your right foot. Place your right hand’s fingertips on the floor in front of your right foot or on a block.
Press firmly into your right hand and foot. Straighten your right leg while simultaneously lifting your left leg. Work toward bringing your left leg parallel to the floor.
Stack your top hip directly over your bottom hip, and open your torso to the left. Then extend your left arm and point your fingertips directly toward the sky. If you can balance comfortably there, turn your head and gaze at your left thumb.
Supta Tadasana| Reclined Mountain Pose
Even though travel is fun, it can be exhausting. And now that I’m in my thirties, when I travel my body really feels crumpled after a long train or plane trip and it takes time to get back to normal. Although I have a home yoga practice, about 5-6 times a week, I admit that it’s hard to get into the routine of doing yoga on the road.
I find that doing Supta tadasana is a good way to get some yoga in on a trip. It seems like a simple pose, but it has nuance, if you don’t fall asleep in the process.
I don’t need a mat, and if I happen to be in a natural place with grass or sand, it’s the perfect pose to commune with Mother Earth. I feel grounded after tadasana. After being in uncomfortable positions in transit, stretching out with mindfulness is exactly what my body needs.
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Lie flat on your back on the floor.
Bring the legs together with the toes pointing up towards the ceiling.
Take the arms along the sides of the body and rest the backs of the hands on the floor.
Rest the head on the back of the skull so that the eyes look straight up and the chin is neutral.
Spread through the toes and the balls of the feet, keeping the soles of the both feet flat, as if you were still standing upright.
Stretch the legs out of the waist.
Try to flatten the back down on the floor and remove the natural curvature of the spine.
Roll the shoulders down to the floor and tuck the shoulder blades into the back