According to Ayurveda, the excessive rigor and commotion of travel disturbs vata dosha, which governs all movement in the body and mind. Travelers commonly experience signs of aggravated vata: difficulty sleeping, constipation, nervousness, and feeling scattered. Without a strategy for combatting the speed and stressors of travel, excess vata can even get enough momentum to deplete ojas, the nectar of immunity. Maintain well-being, protect your immunity, and keep vata balanced while you travel with these simple Ayurvedic tricks.
1. Prioritize hydration.
According to Ayurveda’s two laws about qualities like increases like (i.e., dry + dry = more dry) and opposites decrease (i.e., dry + moist = balanced). That means dry airplane air + summer’s dehydrating heat can really sap your hydration. Favor hydrating foods like fruits, vegetables, smoothies, and be sure to bring your big refillable water bottle everywhere.
2. Reduce sensory stimulation.
Vata oversees the intake of information through the five senses. If the sense organs are overused during travel (e.g., too many movies on the plane) or misused (e.g., overly loud music at the restaurant), then vata becomes aggravated. The remedy: Give the sense organs a break. Turn off the in-flight TV and shut down your computer. For even a short flight, cover up with a blanket, put in earplugs, and settle in for a quiet nap.
3. Take a long exhale.
Soft, deep breathing is incredibly useful for relaxing the body and calming the mind. Whether you’re in a plane, train, automobile, or your mother’s kitchen, you can practice this pranayama. Try it: Sit comfortably and elongate the spine. Take a long, smooth inhalation to the count of three. Relax as you lengthen each exhalation to the count of six. Continue for 2–3 minutes. When complete, return to a natural breath and feel for the nourishing imprint of mindful breathing. Repeat 3–5 times a day.
4. Maintain your routine.
Aim to keep your regular meal and sleep times wherever you land. Sticking to a routine throughout your vacation helps support healthy digestion and ensure you’re getting enough rest.
5. Gargle with warm salt water.
Traveling exposes us to all kinds of germs. You don’t likely travel with a neti pot, but you can simply gargle warm salt water to remove toxins from the throat, wash away germs, and protect immunity.
6. Take a few forward folds.
Forward folds are cooling and restorative. They help ground vata and settle the mind. Any of them will work. The bound variation of Janu Sirsasana is a nice challenge for Summer, goal-oriented Pitta season.