Yesterday was the unofficial start of summer, which means the unofficial beginning of summer travel season. My first adventure was a long road trip from my home near Charleston, South Carolina, to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where my husband’s family lives.
I love to get out and see new things, but I really hate being cramped in a car (or airplane) for hours on end with very little opportunity to move my body. I also am not a fan of the schedule disruptions, unhealthy food options (OK, sometimes I love the unhealthy food, but my body does not), and the natural stress that comes with feeling out of my element. Traveling comes with many inconveniences, but I try to remember that the most worthwhile pursuits aren’t easy. And when I feel the most uncomfortable during my adventures, I apply some of the lessons I’ve learned on my yoga mat. Here are a few of the things I try to remember. I hope they'll help you, too.
This too will pass. Discomfort doesn’t last forever. And at least when I’m feeling cramped in my car, I know it won’t be much longer until I can stretch my hamstrings again. Discomforts, both the physical and the emotional kind, don’t last forever.
Panicking doesn’t help. You know that moment when your plane is taxiing into the airport and you realize you only have 15 minutes to make it to the next leg of your flight. The gate is on the other side of the airport. You have a window seat toward the back of the plane, and you just know it's going to take 15 minutes just to get off the plane. There are two ways to deal with this situation. You could freak out, unbuckle your belt, and do everything in your power to get off that plane so you don’t miss your flight. Or you could take a deep breath, try to relax, and be patient. You can’t control how fast your plane moves or where your gate is or who happens to be sitting next to you, but you can control how you react to the situation. Freaking out probably won’t help. So you might as well relax and make the most of an unpleasant situation.
Delight in the unknown. I admit it. I’m a control freak. So I have a hard time when I’m in situations where I have to be a guest in someone else’s home. It’s polite to let my host be in charge of scheduling activities, food plans, etc. It can be scary not to be in control mostly because I don’t know what to expect. Yoga has taught me that each day my body will be different and my mind will react differently to different poses. On my mat when things don’t go exactly as I expected them to, I don’t get upset I just realize that this is the nature of things. I try to remember this when things don’t go exactly as I would have planned when I’m away from home. After all, if I knew exactly what was going to happen every step of the way, it wouldn’t be much of an adventure, would it?
Be present. It’s hard enough for me to stay present when I’m at home moving through my daily to-do list. So when I’m away from home, I have an even more difficult time not thinking about the work piling up for me in my inbox. I might wait until no one is looking and sneak a peek at my emails, prioritizing in my head how I’m going to tackle it all the minute I get back. This is a terrible way to spend a vacation. Not only am I not getting work done, I’m also not letting myself enjoy in the moment. Lately I’ve been trying to set boundaries on this and spend more time being present no matter where I am. Time away from home is a perfect time to practice.
You can take your yoga practice with you anywhere. Whenever I can, I grab my yoga mat (or that pair of socks I have with the rubber grips on the bottom) and take a long Down Dog: I breathe deeply. I shake out my head. I stretch my heels toward the floor. But even when my schedule on the road doesn’t allow for even a few quiet moments alone, I know that the principles of yoga are with me no matter where I am. My breath is the best prop for finding my center amid even the most chaotic moments of life.
How do you take your yoga practice with you when you travel?