Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
I’m a bit of an escape artist. There’s nothing like dreaming up an experience somewhere away from home and reality. For me, the farther away, the better. The planning, the dreaming, even the packing is all part of the romantic notion of getting away from it all—even if it’s just for a while.
Then the day comes when I actually get on the plane. Dreamer meets airport.
The airport is rarely a calm and peaceful transition to the beach or wherever you escape. It’s filled with people who are running late, had too many drinks, and are vehemently arguing why they should be rebooked on the next flight as opposed to a later one. I have to draw on some serious self-restraint and discipline to not lose my temper when I’m met with flight delays, or the person in front of me is screaming at the counter agent, or someone is rude for no apparent reason, or my luggage is lost…again. (One time the airline lost my gate-checked luggage! How?!)
In other words, the airport is the perfect place to utilize all of the skills we acquire in our yoga practice. We are tired, hungry, out of our element, and not yet in paradise. Yet, when we put our yoga into action, we’re able to create the desired state for ourselves. Here are my go-to ways to find ease and joy when at the airport.
Rather than focus your attention on all the things you didn’t get done before you left home or all the (many) potential problems that could lie ahead, ground into the present by finding three physical objects in your immediate surroundings and naming them. Example: A child playing; a carry-on bag; your cellphone. Naming these objects brings your awareness to the present moment and out of all the unknowns that arise while traveling.
See also: What is Mindfulness, Really?
Take a deep breath (repeat as needed)
If you feel your blood pressure rising as you get stuck behind someone who is just Not. Moving. Fast. Enough., it’s time to immediately regulate your nervous system—and I promise, it’s easy. Pause and take a deep breath. Close or lower your eyelids, shut out the world beyond your breath, and just breathe. If you find yourself really activated, extend your exhale to slow your reactions down to a more regulated state. Remember, your breath is a powerful tool—and you can use it at any time.
Note what you feel in your body and move it out
When we are in sympathetic nervous system response, which is that panicky feeling of being triggered, we can learn a lot by noticing where the sensations arise in the body. For example, if you feel the reaction in your gut, doing some simple twists can help move that out. If you notice it in your back, a forward bend can feel incredibly reparative. When we notice where we store our angst, we can more easily process our feelings by moving them out. Bonus: Some of these movements are so quick and easy, you can do them right there at the gate without as much as a sideways glance from your fellow travelers.
Ultimately, for travelers, there’s no money better spent than on noise-canceling headphones and your favorite music. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or activated, you can simply close your eyes and drown out the excess noise with sound. I always recommend creating a playlist of at least three hours of music before you travel. (If you’re using a music streaming platform, don’t forget to download it!) Don’t be afraid to hum or (accidentally) sing to help move some of that excess energy out of your body. Who knows? You just might find yourself being brought back to a space of joy—or rather, you’ll bring yourself back to that space.
About our contributor
Tamika Caston-Miller is an E-RYT 500 with a special interest in yoga for renewal, transformation, and social justice. Her yoga journey began in 2001 with a home practice. She now holds certifications from YogaOne Studios, Yogaworks, Kripalu School of Yoga, Judith Hansen Lasater, and Paul Grilley. Tamika’s teaching and practice have been informed by chronic pain and injuries, the very human battle between shame and compassion, the quest for ancestral healing, and love for the practice and philosophy of yoga.
More from Tamika Caston-Miller: Traveling? Take This Prop-Free Yin Practice With You