If you practice yoga, sometimes your life begins to revolve around your time on the mat. After more than 20 years as a Yogini, I have learned to modify my asanas to fit my evolving world. Before kids, my practice was more frequent and vigorous. I shunned restorative poses and always sought improvement that could be measured by my backbends, length of headstand or other obvious results.
Now, with a busy family and work life, I’m constantly looking for ways to integrate my yoga to suit me: my moods, schedule and health. Traveling always includes my trusty mat, attached to the outside of my checked baggage, encased in a cheap yoga bag. This battered and dusty mat has a lot of miles on it. Whether on my in-laws’ deck on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, my friend’s adorable apartment in Paris or a geothermally-heated floor of a guest house in Iceland, my mat is more vital to me when I travel than almost anything else, besides my passport. Sure, practicing yoga before and after your journey can be a great way to ground your travels, particularly after long flights and dramatic time changes. But beyond the rigors of air travel or long road trips, there are practical reasons why I love to practice diligently when away from home.
For one, when I’m gone I don’t have all my day-to-day responsibilities and maintenance to eat up my time. Two, yoga really helps me feel good physically: awake, in the moment and ready to tackle a day on my feet or food that is presumably different from my regular routine. I have taken yoga trips or retreats where yoga is the trip, but that’s a different story. I’m talking about taking your mat, maybe a belt, even a Styrofoam block or eyes pouch, and carving out time to practice; even fifteen minutes in the morning can set you right for the whole day.
There is that immeasurable gratification one gets from combining loves in your life. Whether atop a mountain, on a beach or in your hotel room, bringing yoga into your travels and travel into your yoga helps to expand both practices.