We are in the thick of summer travel season as I’m sure you can tell from everyone’s Facebook and Instagram feeds. Summer travel brings tons of fun, new experiences, and memories, but it can also take its toll on your body. As you all know I practice yoga regularly and make time for my practice during my travels. Yoga is a great way to nourish both your body and soul during the busy travel season. I spoke to certified Yoga Therapist and Senior level Iyengar teacher Carrie Owerko to get some great yoga tips and yoga poses for my fellow busy travelers.
5 Yoga Tips for Travelers
What are some yoga poses and exercises you can do on a long flight?
I like to get up and move about on long-haul flights. I stand up, go back toward the galley and do a series of plies and releves in a parallel position (like small standing squats or Utkatasan), then straighten my legs and slowly lift and lower my heels. I will do several of these on two legs, then on one leg while pulling the opposite heel up into my buttock to stretch my quads and challenge my balance. Then I do standing side bends, arm circles, standing twists and standing back arches. The standing back arches are essential. All of these will be interspersed with various arm movements like the gomukasana (cow face) arm position, garudasana (eagle pose) arm position, and interlacing my fingers above my head or behind my back. If I find enough space (I am petite, which can be helpful sometimes) I have even done lunge/front split (hanumanasana) progressions. Uttanasana/parsvottanasana/and revolved Trikonasana (standing front bend and revolved triangle) are also great. They lengthen the hamstrings and relieve excess muscular tension along the spine.
Before you travel?
Before I travel I usually do a practice of backbends and inverted poses. This type of practice makes a huge difference in terms of how my body feels during and after the flight.
In your hotel room?
As for accommodation, I like to stay in Airbnb’s instead of hotels. I travel extensively to teach and need space for my practice. I do not do the shared Airbnb thing–I like solitude, so I get my own space, and one with enough room for me to really move. I also like to get off my mat and do locomotive movement patterns so I am more interested in having space rather than furniture or nice things. I like to cook for myself as well, so Airbnb is perfect for me.
After you land to adjust to a time change?
Jet lag can be an issue, so I try and get out, about and into the light as soon as I land, unless it is very late in the evening. If it is, I do a relaxing restorative type of practice in my Airbnb, go to bed, then get up early the next day and get out in the light. Being outside, in the natural light is essential. I think cardio really helps as well. I do a walk/run type of thing wherever I find myself. It helps me get oriented to my new surrounding, increases circulation, and I feel more adventuresome and less fearful about being in a new place.
Why is it important to maintain your yoga practice while you travel?
Making sure I find time for practice is never really an issue for me. I love to practice. It is a priority. I think it is a non-negotiable, essential part of being a teacher. And for me, yoga/movement practice is where I feel most at home. It helps me connect and tune into my body and breath and because of this, makes the travel much more pleasurable and sustainable. I even find that I am more disciplined about my practice when I am traveling. I like the ritual of it, I find it grounding. I also love how being in a new space/place tends to make me more creative and awake in my practice. Travel (like yoga) can really help open your mind–and even more so if you commit to practicing while traveling. They are beautiful partners.
About Carrie Owerko:
Carrie Owerko has been teaching yoga and exploring the relationship between body, breath, and mind for several years. She holds a Senior Intermediate Iyengar teaching credential, is a certified Yoga Therapist (IAYT), and continues her studies with the Iyengar family by traveling to India on a regular basis, as well as with continuous and in-depth studies with her yoga teacher, Patricia Walden. Be sure to follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.