I spend a lot of time traveling and teaching yoga around the world. When you’re moving around a lot, it can be a challenge to find the time and space to keep up a regular practice; however, it’s definitely possible. Travel can even enhance your yoga practice. Here’s some advice from my experience:
Use Transit Time for Meditation
Imagine you’re stuck on a bus/plane/train with barely enough space to wriggle your toes and you know you're going to be there for hours. What better way to switch from bored frustration to blissful, relaxed peace than by trying some meditation? I like to use a meditation timer on my phone, plug my headphones in and close my eyes to avoid distractions. Start with a 10-minute session every hour or so. It helps the transit times of the journey to feel more bearable. It also gives you the sense that you’re doing something worthwhile in the meantime. (Learn more in Don't Judge Your Meditation.)
Enjoy the Gift of Found Space
If you can, bring a travel yoga mat with you. These light, thin mats are ideal for squashing into the smallest of bags. Wherever you stay, if you can find a space the size of your mat, you can do something that resembles your regular yoga practice. I like to take advantage of some of the unusual spots I squeeze my mat into by considering what I can do in this space that I couldn’t do usually. For example, when practicing in a narrow hallway, I worked on handstands, building strength and finding balance by letting my legs “tick-tock” between the two walls. Practicing beside a bed helped me to gain confidence in my forearm stand and gave me the added reassurance that, if I toppled over, I wouldn’t flip all the way to the floor.
If carrying a yoga mat isn’t feasible, you can embrace the challenge of getting creative with some mat-less yoga. Most yoga asanas are perfectly possible without a mat, and not having the stickiness of grip can also teach you to engage your leg muscles more in standing postures. If you’re really missing the grip, you could invest in some sticky yoga socks and gloves, which turn any smooth surface into a mat. (Learn more in Which yoga mat should I buy?)
Practice in Beautiful Surroundings
One of the best things about yoga and travel is that by combining your enjoyment of yoga with the appreciation of a beautiful place, you can create magical experiences. Practice yoga on a beach, mountain, rooftop and under the stars. See how inspired you can feel by your surroundings. Being in a new place can help ground you in the present moment, as you’re likely to have a heightened sense of awareness and sensitivity to your location. (Learn more in Getting Grounded: What it Means and How to Get It.)
Develop a Flexible Mindset
Let go of the idea that yoga has to happen at a designated time and place. Instead, find unexpected ways to integrate your practice into your travels. Do garudasana arms to release your shoulders while sitting on the train; enjoy a quick half Sun Salutation when you get out of bed; or practice compassion and kindness when faced with a rude hotel receptionist. (Read more in The Freedom of Letting Go.)Remember, everything you do on and off your mat is part of your yoga practice! When you approach your adventures with this in mind, they become even more special. Happy travels!