The Grounded Traveler: Keeping Up Your Practice

Originally published here in YOGA JOURNAL


Establishing a rhythm is easy at home, where you control your schedule and can settle into a comfortable routine. But when you’re traveling (for business or for pleasure), that rhythm is disrupted, which can throw you off-kilter. To set yourself at ease on any journey, learn how to ground yourself.

Staying grounded away from home really comes down to being mindful and centered regardless of changing environments, time zones, and meal plans. “It means finding a relationship between your brain, body, and breath that disconnects you from the past and future but aligns your energy in the present,” says Lawrence Biscontini, manager at the Wyndham’s Golden Door Spa in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. “When you’re grounded, you breathe well, digest well, and concentrate on the present well.”

In other words, you enjoy each moment to its fullest. While that can be tough on the road, you don’t have to nix travel plans and cling to your regular schedule. Instead, try these strategies.

Create a Harmonious Space: Cluttered surroundings can make you feel unbalanced and anxious. Unpack your belongings as soon as you arrive and take the time to arrange your room so it feels comfortable. Buy flowers or set up personal photos. “You’ll feel like you’re at home rather than coming and going, which will keep you in the present,” says Nina Molin, M.D., an Ayurvedic practitioner and staff physician at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires, Massachusetts.

Invigorate With Oil: Like candles, essential oils stimulate the sense of smell, which can influence how you feel, Molin says. Ayurveda prescribes lavender oil for vata imbalance, jasmine or sandalwood for pitta, and eucalyptus for kapha. Add two drops to a bath or mix a few drops with almond, olive, or sunflower oil and massage into your skin.

Light a Candle: When Biscontini travels, he sets an aromatherapy candle on the bedside table. “The cities change,” he says, “but the candle gives me a constant.” To refresh your senses and calm your nerves, try one scented with lavender, lemongrass, or musk.

Detach From Results: It’s natural to harbor dreams of perfection when you travel, because you’ve invested time, money, and effort. But when the inevitable mishap does occur—like missing a connecting flight, getting sick, or being stranded without a hotel reservation—yoga philosophy can help.

So what would Patanjali do? He’d probably remember the second of the eight limbs of classical yoga, the niyamas (observances). Cultivating two of the niyamas in particular, Ishvara pranidhana(the practice of surrender) and samtosha (contentment), can help remind you that oftentimes, the joy is in the journey, whatever unexpected form it may take.

Modify Your Usual Yoga Routine: You may not have the time, space, or energy for your full yoga practice, but sticking to some form of it will make you feel better. Try to meditate for a few minutes, and practice mostly standing yoga poses. As Kathy Sprague, Canyon Ranch’s mind-body coordinator, reminds us: By grounding your feet, you’ll automatically feel stable.

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