Wanderlust often gets us out of our comfort zones and into the lively adventure that this life is meant for. But, traveling is also a voluntary fall into the unknown and unexpected. Rather than letting these inevitable moments become the dark spots on an otherwise enlightening trip, consider these traveling tips as a way to bring your mindfulness lifestyle with you as you explore our incredible planet!
5 Tips to Increase Mindfulness When You Travel
1. Soucha, the Sanskrit word, and yogic tenant note how essential it is to be organized.
Having a dedicated space for things and thoughts not only prevents confusion and wasted time but also allows for peace of mind.
Pay attention to each item that goes into your carry on and in your luggage. This will keep you levelheaded as your environment changes drastically from your home base. Have a special place that you keep non-negotiables (i.e. ID, Passport, petty cash, credit cards, medication) and another place for copies (i.e. Passport, emergency contact name and numbers, embassy info, cash).
Folded clothing and an extra bag for dirty clothes will help keep the volume of your luggage slim, and will prevent odors from spreading.
Keep an extra change of clothes, basic toiletries, snacks and chargers in your carry-on. In the event that you’re separated from your checked bags, you want to feel that you have the bare essentials to take on the adventure ahead!
Before you close your bags, take an extra moment to review where you’ve placed everything. This will help you to keep an ongoing inventory as your bags change hands and locations. It will also help you access what you want faster without having to unpack and repack.
2. Asana, the Sanskrit word for “seat,” as in the stance you take to practice your meditation.
Carrying luggage, waiting at the gate or bus stop, sleeping on planes and trains…these are goldmines for physical suffering! Take these moments on your travels to practice yoga posturing.
When carrying luggage, use a cross-body bag to disperse the burden. Switch hands when holding a bag and alternate which shoulder you’re toting your carry-on. Physical distress and general exhaustion can provoke impatience. Avoid exhaustion when possible.
When waiting for transportation or in line for food or security clearance, stand with both feet on the floor and evenly distribute your weight down through both legs. Avoid slouching over – looking down or at your phone will cause this! Unless you’re carrying a child on your hip, keep your hips centered beneath your squared-off shoulders. Sassy hips or having one leg bent and one leg straight will cause the torso to be imbalanced and make your back muscles work harder than needed.
3. Pranayama or breath awareness is so obvious it goes unnoticed.
Having to be “on” like when in a busy airport, new environment, under deadline, or out of your normal ebb and flow will cause the breath to be excited and shallow. Stay grounded by breathing deeply and slowly. I do this when approaching a long line at the check-in desk, when taking off and landing and whenever I’m in line waiting.
People’s impatience and discomfort can get contagious. Stay immune!
4. Pre and Post Flight Movement
Many students often ask me for tips on how to avoid the stiffness that happens while airborne. While it may not be so strange in Los Angeles to see someone practicing yoga postures before boarding, it may be odd at your local airport. Be that person! You will get onlookers but you may inspire them to practice self-care in public, too.
Postures that expand the chest by drawing the shoulders back and down help to counteract the slouching that all airplane seats cause.
Try: Rolling the shoulders, tilting the head side to side and interlacing your hands behind your back while pulling the chest up towards the head.
Postures that help to bring circulation to the hips and leg muscles will help to counteract standing still.
Try Firelog Pose, Downward Facing Dog, and Seated Pigeon Pose.
Sitting for long periods of time can create compressive tension around the lower spine.
Try Garland Pose, Forward Bend Pose and Seated Twist Pose.
5. Namaste, used in India like “aloha” or “salutations,” has an esteemed meaning
This word is a mental practice for choosing to perceive all beings as a reflection of the divine consciousness.
Yes, it is a hard shift from the normal perspective of preferring one thing or person over another. This is a practice of going beyond the surface to consider the gift of life. Part of the treasure we discover while traveling is how the world is a smaller place than we first suspected, and that all people share beautiful things in common.
Diversity allows us to know ourselves more fully. Make every interaction happen from a place of kindness and patience. Taxi and shuttle drivers, airport personnel and flight staff, locals and fellow travelers are all people you can use to practice this attitude posture. A friendly smile is a currency that knows no borders.
6. Gratitude Attitude
Traveling for the sake of wanderlust is a luxury. It takes resources like money, time, a travel agent or savvy Internet skills. It takes a disposition of courage and curiosity. Remember that many people do not have enough of these resources to willingly choose to take time away in order to explore. Every weird food, strange ritual, odd sign… Cultivate appreciation by recognizing throughout your journey the great gift you receive each time you step outside of your normal.
Lastly, find gratitude for all of the moving parts of travel both seen and unseen that keep us safe in the air, on the ground, and in new and alien territories.
I hope these notes keep your inner-chill intact from packing to baggage claim and beyond. Safe travels and blue skies!
Thank you to Niki Saccareccia of Light Inside Yoga for this guest blog post about mindfulness and travel.