Traveling? Take a cue from this band who have become experts at practicing in transit with 11 poses to center you wherever you are.
Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine has long been a loud and proud yogi, but to find out more about the practice behind the band’s Jagger-like moves, we turned to teacher Chad Dennis, who travels with the band on tour. Yoga, Dennis says, is the one “sutra (thread) of familiarity” on the road for Maroon 5. “The scenery, people, languages, hotels, planes, etc., are in a constant state of flux. This can easily pull people off their center,” he says. “Yoga, for the band as well as myself, is the one ritual that creates a sense of home, grounding, and stillness.”
Spending so much time on buses, Dennis stresses, makes it especially important to get grounded whenever possible. He prioritizes his practice first thing each morning, but says the band members all have their own personal preferences, so he teaches each one of them individually. Levine, for example, prefers to practice at another very specific time: “We always do yoga right before he goes onstage,” Dennis says. “It gets him very calm yet very focused and energized.”
Since Dennis teaches each band member privately, he’s able to target each practice to their unique personalities and needs on any given day. He’s always striving to help them achieve balance, so the sessions sometimes skew toward stimulating and other times toward restorative. But that said, there are some routine differences in how he teaches different band members. “For instance, Jesse [Carmichael] really gravitates toward a more deep alignment style—holding postures for longer periods of time,” he says. “Adam’s nature, on the other hand, is more like a hummingbird—he doesn’t like to stop. For him we lean more toward intelligent alignment-oriented vinyasa and the primary series of Ashtanga.”
Have a trip planned? Take a practice cue from these road warriors and try Dennis’s sequence to undo the physical and emotional effects of travel.
11 Grounding Yoga Poses for Travel
Cat-Cow resets the natural blueprint of the spine and helps warm and bring deeper awareness to both the shoulder and pelvic girdle. This variation has the added bonus of deeply toning and awakening the abdominal muscles.
With wrists below shoulders, knees below hips, and toes pointing straight back, place a block between the upper thighs. Inhale and gaze up without tensing the forehead or compressing the back of the neck. Exhale and draw your chin toward your tailbone, engaging the abdominal wall and lifting your knees 2-3 inches (until your shinbones are parallel to the floor). Inhale and release the knees back down and look up. Repeat 5–10 times.
Downward-Facing Dog Slow Press
This slow-movement transition from Cat-Cow to Downward Dog strengthens the shoulder girdle, stimulates the deep viscera of the belly, and awakens the inner thighs and hamstrings.
From the hands and knees, keep the block between your upper thighs and lift shins 2–3 inches off the mat (until shinbones are parallel to the floor). Without altering the shape and placement of your shins, slowly draw your hips back until just the upper torso is in Downward-Facing Dog. Take 5 slow breaths, drawing the upper thigh bones back without losing the block, and straighten the legs into full Downward Dog.
Crescent Lunge with Knee Drops
This Crescent Lunge variation helps activate the gluteus medius and psoas of the front leg and helps stretch the psoas and other hip flexors of the back leg.
Step your right foot forward to your right thumb pad, bending the knee to 90 degrees directly over the ankle, thigh parallel to the floor. Bring both hands to the outer hips, lifting the torso to vertical. Firm the outer hips in to help stabilize the pelvis and lower back. Lift the front of the pelvis up and allow the back of the pelvis to release down without losing the natural curve of the lumbar spine. Take a slight bend in your back knee to allow the outside of the left hip to move slightly forward. Now, without allowing your pelvis to shift or the right left to move: inhale and straighten the left leg; exhale and bend the left knee until the shin is parallel to the floor. Repeat 5 times, then switch sides.
High Plank with Serratus Press
This Plank variation activates the two major muscle groups that help stabilize the scapula by balancing the actions of adduction (rhomboids) and abduction (serratus anterior).
From Plank Pose, keep shoulders over wrists and front hip points moving forward. On an inhalation, stabilize your pose by firming outer arms and outer hips in. On an exhalation, round the upper back slightly and feel the scapula move away from the midline of the body, wrapping toward the side body. Inhale back to plank. Repeat 5–10 times.
Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar)
Flow and warm up the whole body.
New to Sun Salutes? Watch this video demonstrating a Modified Sun Salutation
Warrior II Variation
This variation has all the same great benefits of traditional Virabhadrasana II but with an added stretch for the muscles of the front of the chest, specifically the anterior deltoid and pectoralis major.
Step or jump feet 3–4 feet apart. Externally rotate the right leg at the hip socket until toes, heel, and knee point out 90 degrees. Turn your left foot in 10–15 degrees. Bend the right leg until it forms a 90-degree angle, thigh parallel to the floor, knee directly over the heel. Shift weight onto the right heel to decompress the knee joint. Find the outer edge of the back left foot and draw your left thigh back toward your hamstrings. Take your hands behind your back and interlace all 10 fingers, bringing the palms of the hands together without locking or hyperextending the elbows. Bring your interlaced hands as far to the outside of the right hip as you can. Hold for 5–10 breaths. Then take your interlaced hands behind you, straighten the front leg, turn right toes in to parallel.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend
This pose is excellent for stretching the back body from the heels all the way to the crown of the head. Because of the wide stance, this is a more gentle stretch for the hamstrings. It is also considered a gentle form of an inversion, since the head is below the heart.
With legs wide apart and feet parallel, fold forward and observe if your tendency is to pronate and collapse into the inner foot and ankle or to supinate and roll onto the outer foot and ankle. Adjust accordingly. With hands interlaced and arms straight, keep the tops of your thighs energized and moving back to help deepen the inner groins and facilitate a deeper forward fold. Watch the tendency of the pelvis to drift back. Move the pelvis slowly forward until the hips are over the heels. Stay for 5–10 breaths and slowly return to stand. From there, externally rotate the left leg, bend the knee until the thigh is parallel to the floor, and come into Warrior II on the left side.
Bridge Pose Variation
This gentle backbend with hands interlaced under the body as in the previous two poses opens the chest and can reestablish the natural blueprint and curvature of the spine. This leg extended variation helps engage the gluteal muscles and further assists in stabilizing the pelvis and sacroiliac joint.
From your back, bend the knees and bring the feet to the floor hip-width apart and approximately 6 inches away from your seat. Lightly engage the gluteal muscles to lift and extend the hips. Take your arms underneath you and interlace all 10 fingers like the previous postures. Firm your outer hips to engage the gluteus medius and lift your right foot off the floor and extend and straighten your right leg until both right and left kenes are the same height. Concentrate on firming the left glute. Hold for several slow breaths, then slowly release the right foot back to the floor. Switch sides. Repeat 3–5 times on each side.
Supine Twist with Cactus Arms
This simple yet very effective pose neutralizes the spine when moving from a spinal extension pose (backbend) to a spinal flexion pose (forward bend).
From Bridge Pose, release the pelvis back to the floor. Bend your elbows on the floor, bring your arms into a Cactus position. As you shift and drop your knees to the left, twist and gaze gently to your right. Hold for 5 deep breaths. Return to neutral and repeat on the opposite side.
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose, passive variation
This forward fold calms and cools as it stretches and releases the external rotators of the front leg and hip, especially the piriformis.
From Downward-Facing Dog, draw your right leg forward and lay your right shin down parallel to the front of your mat. Make sure that the pelvis stays neutral to protect the sacroiliac joint, placing a blog or bolster under the right hip if necessary. Fold forward without collapsing. Stay for 10 slow breaths, then switch sides.
This restorative pose calms all of the systems of the body and quiets the mind.
Lie comfortably on your back and be still.
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