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The Grounded Traveler

Techniques to prevent anxiety and restlessness, and make any trip more relaxing.

By Karen Asp


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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Reader Comments


All that's needed for me is a small room, a mat, and my Yoga posture diagrams. Going to a studio is very beneficial to ask questions, do the meditative sequence, have your posture corrected, and a place to relax.


I travel a lot both for and for pleasure. I always bring a large pashmina, cashmere in the winter and gauze in the summer. They can help me cover myself when I need some space and smell like. The good old blankie if you will. I also enjoy playing some of my favorite music when I first arrive. And of a candle. Peace.


what i always do while traveling is make sure i do some stretches and brahma asana for the neck and and then meditate for at least some time before meals on flights. if you can see the wonderful skies and the view from top if you can get a window seat the images that you form of heaven and how it would be, start to materialize you actually see a pretty sight.. Like wordsworth says that you can carry these images in your mind and heart and replace times of distress with the happiness you felt from nature with these images you saw on your trips. it works for me you could try it too...
you could also try avoiding the television and using the flying time for contemplation..

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