Most of the students visiting our yoga teacher training program are part travelers and by the time they reach home they would stop by few cities and may disrupt their regular yoga practice. So if you’re planning a longer trip but aren’t sure how to integrate your daily practice into it? It might be a bit more challenging, but it is definitely doable. Many people worry about not being able to do yoga as much or that they won’t be able to progress and that a travel practice is nothing more than a “maintenance practice”.
I beg to differ: With the right attitude, your travel practice can be a lot more than maintenance practice. I’ve been traveling for two years and my practice has grown substantially in those two years. I have compiled a few tips for you that help me do yoga every day even when I’m traveling.
Get a light travel mat:
Let us start off with the basics: You need a mat that is simple to transport and not too heavy, if not you might be tempted to leave it at home altogether. There are a few brands that make travel mats or extra thin mats, if you have knee problems I suggest using a towel/scarf/pillow as padding. Once you have a mat with you practicing will get a lot easier, you’ll try to practice more because you made the effort of bringing it along and not using it now would make bringing it pointless. Also use a mat sling instead of a yoga mat bag, it makes carrying your mat around easier and takes up less space.
Make sure to keep your mat with you on flights, do not check it in unless you’re packing it in your backpack/suitcase. If you just strap in on to your backpack it might fall off when being loaded into or unloaded from the plane.
Check out the local yoga studios around you:
In cities it’s very easy to find yoga studios, and you can easily integrate a Drop In-class into your day. Do some research online: There might be a studio close to where you’re staying, if not there might be one close to the attraction/café/restaurant you wanted to go to, so just go there an hour earlier or stay an hour longer to have time for your practice. You can find most schedules on the studio’s website, so classes should be easy to plan in advance. Some people feel most comfortable practicing with the same teacher over years, and there’s no denying that a teacher that has seen your practice for months or years will know your body better than a new teacher, but every teacher has a different style of teaching, different alignment cues and maybe even different ways of getting into poses. I’ve really profited from having many different teachers, sometimes I just needed a different instruction or approach to get into a new pose.
With the right attitude, your travel practice can be a lot more than maintenance practice
Find your practice space:
Look for a good place to practice right when you check into your hotel/hostel. If you’re lucky there might even be a yoga deck or a terrace with a nice view – if you’re less fortunate there might not be enough space in your room or you’re sharing it with others. Find a quiet space in the garden/common room instead, preferably at time when most people are out exploring. If it’s busy and people can still see you where you’re practicing, remember that your practice should be about you and no one else. You’re not doing this to show off or be judged by others, you’re doing this to come closer to yourself, calm your mind, or get closer to a personal goal, but that goal should never be to show off. So focus on yourself and don’t let the presence of others influence you. (Don’t get me wrong, I am not telling you to unroll your mat next to a group of party tourists playing drinking games and to ignore them, but I am sure you know which space seems appropriate for your practice. A general rule of thumb is: If you have to practice right next to where somebody is sitting/eating/having a conversation, the space is too cramped for your practice.)
Use an app or free flow:
If you’re somewhere with no yoga studio around, then this is a great opportunity to practice your free flow if you usually follow classes. If free flowing really isn’t for you, then you can always follow a class online or on an app, and if the Wifi is too bad there’s always videos you can download beforehand. But I strongly suggest free flowing as an alternative to led classes to get better at improvising, it might come in very handy if you should forget the sequence for a class you’re about to teach.
Try to maintain a routine:
Try to develop a routine instead of sticking to a set time: Your days will probably look very different from how they are back home with all the new impressions and people you’ll meet, so don’t try to do yoga at a certain time every time and get angry at yourself when you fail, but try to make it a priority to practice once every day. It doesn’t have to be as long as your usual practice, but it might as well be: What keeps you from practicing? You probably have more time for yoga now than you had back home.
Try to practice as early as possible:
As mentioned before, this doesn’t have to be a specific time, but the sooner the better. When we’re traveling or on holiday, we easily get carried away exploring a new town, meeting new people, going out for dinner or a glass of wine and before you know it the day is over or you’re too tired to practice. After getting up might be a good idea – this doesn’t have to mean that you’re up by 7 am, it might be 10 or 11 o’clock, but make it the first thing in the morning if you can.
Find a hotel/hostel that offers yoga classes:
More and more hostels and hotels now offer yoga classes that you can usually join for free or for a donation. If not, then this might be the perfect opportunity for your first teaching practice: Just tell the reception that you’re a certified yoga teacher and if they’d be interested in hosting classes. If they decide to make the classes free, you usually get to stay for free in return, if they’ll be paid, the money goes to you. (It might be better to look for hotels/hostels that have already established yoga classes, if not it will be up to you to find a place to rent/buy mats and props for your students)
Include simple poses in your day:
Waiting at the airport? This might be a good opportunity for a seated Figure Four or a Double Pigeon. Sitting in a café? Do some neck rolls while you’re waiting for your coffee. It’s quite easy to include simple poses during your day, and they can add up to a small practice if you use every opportunity to get a few stretches (of course I am only talking about subtle movements here, no leg behind the head while you’re waiting for the bus).
Treat yourself to a yoga retreat:
The perfect way of seeing a new place while keep up (or even stepping up) your practice is a yoga retreat: You usually have classes twice a day, learn more about the philosophy of yoga, are in a calming and relaxing environment, get served healthy and nutritious food and make new like-minded friends. You don’t have to give up on the traveling: Yoga retreats are usually in very stimulating and beautiful locations, and you still get time to explore the surroundings when you don’t have classes. By making yoga the focus of your day you make it impossible to skip your practice or make excuses, and it can be very refreshing and relaxing to stay in one place for a few days and to dedicate all your time to meditation, reflection and yoga after a long period of traveling.
Remember that yoga doesn’t only happen on the mat:
Yoga is so much more than asanas. It’s also about awareness, humility, generosity, contentment, gratitude, compassion and kindness. You don’t need your mat to practice those virtues. You could do a body scan in the morning to stay present and become aware of how you feel or think about things you were grateful for today before going to bed. Remind yourself to be generous, compassionate and kind when you’re interacting with others. Even if somebody annoys you, try to be compassionate. We don’t know what they’ve been through – and you’re the one who’s stuck with negative emotions if you get worked up about it. Share what you have with the ones that are less fortunate. Remember that it’s those qualities that make you a real yogi, not a cool arm balance, so don’t get too focused on the physical aspect of yoga.