5 Ways Yoga Makes You a Better Traveler
For all of the glorification that travel gets, the truth of the matter is that sometimes it can be pretty darn stressful. Whether you're dealing with airport madness, cultural confusion, or itinerary uncertainties, it takes a certain mindset to stay above the fray. Fortunately, yoga provides us with the tools to enjoy the ride and get the most our of your new experiences - no mat required! Here are five ways that yoga makes you a better traveler:
Not sweating the small stuff. There will always be bumps in the road (literally and figuratively) when traveling to a new destination. But when troubles arise, it's time to remember what you've learned in yoga and bring your attention back to your breath. This connection with the breath activates the parasympathetic nervous system - the part that activates our relaxation state - and has immediate effects on decreasing stress levels and bringing a feeling of calm. Being in a relaxed state helps you make decisions more clearly and navigate your next steps with a steady state of mind.
Being present. Through body, breath, and mind awareness, yoga teaches you to be in the moment. When you're traveling and experiencing new environments and cultures, it's so vital to be present and fully take in your surroundings. Directing your attention to the present moment also cultivates gratitude and enables you to appreciate the experiences that much more. Those memories will stay with you a lifetime.
Staying healthy on the go. The studies of yoga and ayurveda go hand in hand as ancient systems that are meant to bring balance into our lives. When you travel, it's easy for your body to get out of whack. Extreme environments like dry air on planes or different climates that you're used to can be a shock to the system and can throw off your digestion - usually the most obvious symptom of imbalance. When you feel like you're getting off-balance, try to stick to a few simple ayurvedic practices that can re-stabilize you. Maintain a routine (dinacharya) and eat foods that are balancing for your dosha (physical constitution).
Making cultural connections. Central to the philosphy of yoga is the concept we are one and the ultimate goal of yoga is union with the universe. A little too heady for you? On a day-to-day, more approachable level, we can feel this connection with others, regardless of their physical appearance, cultural differences or beliefs by remembering the things we share - prana. Prana means life-force and literally means the energy responsible for the body's life, heat, health, and maintenance. When you focus on the similarities rather than the differences, it's much easier to connect with people from different backgrounds, and provides a richness to your experience that you wouldn't experience otherwise.
Maintaining a global awareness. One of the yama's - yoga's ethical observances - is ahimsa, or nonviolence. Ahimsa means not causing injury to anyone in any form, at any time, or for any reason, in word, thought, or action. As a traveler, I interpret this as ensuring that I do not harm the local environment, economy, or culture of the destination that I'm visiting. You can do this by supporting local business, minimizing your environmental footprint, and respecting cultural observances.
All in all, it's about living your yoga and traveling with intention!
Do you have other ways that yoga has helped you be a better traveler?