Unless you’ve been living in outer space for the past decade, you’ve probably noticed that a centuries-old Hindu practice called “yoga” has exploded in popularity. Yoga is no small thing, in the U.S. alone approximately 15,275,000 people practice yoga1 (more or less).
And yoga’s not going away any time soon. At least if marketers have their way. In 2013 Americans spent $27 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “b”) on yoga products2. That’s more than enough incentive to keep the tight-pants and colourful mats in sporting goods stores and high-end boutiques alike.
Yoga is so prevalent I’m going to assume that you’ve tried it a few times and that you liked it. Also that you’re on board with the health benefits3 (even if you’re not sure you’ll attain enlightenment like yogis of ancient India).
I’m betting no matter how much you enjoy your yoga routine – whether at a class or in your home – when you travel, you probably take a break from your routine yoga practice. This is a big mistake, because yoga is especially beneficial for travelers.
Benefits of doing yoga when you travel
By skipping yoga when you travel you’re not giving yourself a “break”. You make yourself feel worse by not taking the time to release the mental and physical stresses you’re under.
And sitting on a train, airplane, or bus – no matter how comfortable – for hours at a time doesn’t do anything good for your body4.
Know what helps keep you from unraveling mentally and physically? You got it: yoga.
In case you need more convincing, here are the benefits of yoga, specific to travelers.
- Sleep better. Have trouble sleeping in a new place? Try yoga before turning out the lights. The deep breathing relaxes your body and has been shown to help insomniacs5.
- More energy. The movement of your body combined with breathing can give your fatigued body an energy boost. Stimulating blood flow6 through your limbs – especially your back – can give you the energy you need go out to explore the city instead of crashing and ordering room service.
- Fight anxiety. Security lineups, tight connections, hair-raising cab rides, lost reservations… There are plenty of travel situations that can put your nerves on edge. Yoga focuses your attention7 on the body and breath, lowering your anxiety.
I can almost hear you saying “Yeah, yeah, I know. I want to do yoga when I travel, but I don’t.”
Well, your next step is to figure out what’s holding you back. Then find a way to overcome it.
Excuses for not doing yoga when you travel
Now you’re convinced you should do yoga when you travel. But even knowing the benefits, it’s easy to skip it. Why is that?
I’ve taken a guess at a few of the reasons you might have for not doing yoga when you travel, and thought up solutions. You’re welcome.
I don’t have room in my bag for yoga stuff
OK, I hear you. I’m a firm believer in carry-on only and I’m down with reducing your travel wardrobe for maximum maneuverability in an airport.
Taking the clothes you need for yoga is possible, if you’re careful about what you choose to pack. The fashion industry is your friend – yoga clothes that look like “regular” clothes can be found8. And that means you can mix them into your “normal” wardrobe.
Also, you don’t need to take your huge cushy yoga mat with you when you travel. I promise. Consider renting a mat for a few dollars at a studio, or using a towel from your hotel room. You’re a road warrior, not a cushy yoga princess – you can still do yoga without the yoga mat you love and cherish.
There aren’t any yoga classes I can get to
Staying near to a yoga studio that offers a class you want exactly when you want it would be great. …But don’t get your hopes up. In my experience, it doesn’t often work out.
Check YouTube9, download some videos, or do a routine from memory. Be prepared to step up and do things your way to get your yoga on.
I feel silly doing yoga by myself
So there aren’t any classes you can go to, and you’ve decided to do it on your own. Where to go? Some people love yoga so much they don’t balk at heading straight to a crowded beach, setting up their mat and just going for it, stares be damned.
Want more outdoor activities that are good for your soul? Try 5 Outdoor Travel Activities to Boost Inward Discovery.
If you’re not quite so confident doing yoga in a public place with strangers all around, you’re going to have to toughen up mentally or find somewhere private to practice.
Other than waking up early to find a quiet park or public space, your hotel or hostel room is your best bet for privacy. No, it’s not as big and beautiful as a classroom (or even your basement at home) but don’t let that stop you – you can do plenty of yoga without taking up a ton of space. Get creative.
I don’t have time for yoga
Travel schedule packed with sightseeing, meetings, dinners, meet-ups, and coffee dates? No matter how important these things are, your health is more important.
Just wanting yoga to happen when you travel doesn’t work – make it a priority by putting it into your travel schedule. Making time for yoga sometimes means cutting an activity short or getting up twenty minutes earlier than you really want to.
You’re the one in charge of your time, and taking charge is how you’ll squeeze yoga into an already full schedule.
OK, I’m in. I’m definitely going to do yoga when I travel
You’ve drop-kicked your excuses for not doing yoga when you travel, and I bet you can hardly wait to prove to yourself that you can do this.
Keep that burning fire of determination hot, you’ll need it. Telling yourself that you’re going to do something and actually doing it are very different.
Planning ahead is your friend when it comes to doing yoga when you travel, and the better you prepare the easier it will be to make good on your intentions.
- Pack the right clothes. Consider dual uses for your yoga clothing, and make space in your bag for what you need, even if it means tough choices.
- Research classes in advance. Google yoga studios at your destination in advance, so you know if you can include a yoga class in your itinerary.
- Prepare to be your own teacher. If you’ll be on your own, find a YouTube channel you like or download a yoga video before you leave.
- Don’t expect too much. Doing yoga when you travel is not going to be the same as doing yoga at home. You could be in a tiny hotel room, or in an unfamiliar studio without the amenities you’re used to. Just go with it.
Despite the benefits of yoga for travelers, it can be tough to convince yourself to go to the trouble when all you want to do is relax after a long day traveling.
Destroy your excuses, stay strong, and keep your commitment to yoga. Your body will thank you.