The great American road trip. Few things can conjure up such fond memories of childhood. Getting up early, packing the car and striking out for parts unknown. Road trips have ingrained themselves in our culture and are a fantastic (and often inexpensive) way of disconnecting, spending time with friends and loved ones, and experiencing something new.
If you’re planning a road trip (or any vacation for that matter) in the near future, make sure to remember your yoga mat. Just because you’re going out of town doesn’t mean you need to break your routine. Here are five reasons why practicing yoga on the go can be a great way to make the most of your time off and guarantee you return relaxed and centered.
Traveling can be eye-opening and life-changing, but it can also be stressful. Spending eight hours in the car with your in-laws, or sitting in traffic with no air conditioning can test the patience of even the most zen-like traveler.
Tap into your inner-self with structured breathing and stretching exercises to help relieve tension and ease stress. Researchers at Harvard found that, “yoga modulates stress response systems, which in turn, decreases physiological arousal…reducing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing respiration.” Next time you’re feeling stressed or need to stretch your legs after a couple hours in the car, grab your yoga mat.
Traveling to a new place can make us feel off-balance or disconnected from ourselves. Practicing yoga, even for a short time each day, will help you stay centered and connected to your mind and body. A study conducted by the National Institute of health reported that, “yoga serves as a relational technique facilitating connectedness and shared experiences in a safe environment.”
If you need a quick pick-me-up on your trip, lead a short yoga session with a friend or relative. Even if they don’t have any experience, the act of teaching and the resulting bond will help you reconnect with yourself and others.
Before you know it, you’ll be back at work or school, buying groceries, cooking dinner, and paying bills. Take time to appreciate your trip and be present in the moment. Yoga is a easy way to slow down and make sure that you aren’t taking things for granted.
Many people enjoy the communal aspect of yoga. It’s a great way to meet other like-minded people and connect with them on a deeper, spiritual level. If you’re traveling to a new place that has a yoga studio, check out a class to relax and meet fellow yogis. The best part of traveling is the stories you bring back to your friends and family. Use yoga as a way to experience something new and push you out of your comfort zone.
The free app YogaTrail (available in the iTunes app store) is a quick and easy way to find yoga classes while you travel. Think of it as Yelp for Yoga.
Humans find comfort in routine but sometimes we need to break our everyday habits and challenge ourselves. While traveling, try to mix up your yoga routine and try some new poses and locations that challenge you. If you’ve only ever practiced yoga in a studio, try to find a quiet, flat spot outside and enjoy the sounds and smells of nature. Be inspired by the world around you and channel the sites and sounds into your session.
As explorer and travel writer Freya Stark says, “If you’re at home in yourself, as yoga teaches us to be, you can be at home anywhere.” Don’t forget your mat for your next road trip – you’ll head home feeling more relaxed than when you left.