How Travelling is Yoga in Practice
When it comes to travelling, even some of the most detailed plans tend to derail in execution. The ability to find flow in the midst of turmoil is one of the greatest lessons of life on the road. For yoga practitioners or teachers, the lessons that we learn and practice on the mat truly come alive through travel. It’s easy to find balance, peace, tranquillity, and openness in a dimly lit room with tranquil music, incense and all thoughts, phones, obligations and worries left outside the door. Travelling, while exciting in nature, also pushes our buttons, takes us outside of comfort zone and challenges us in new and dynamic ways.
The more we practice yoga, the more we come to realize that life offers us constant opportunities to honor the yogic path. There’s nothing like stepping out of your habitual routines and embarking on a journey in a foreign land to test your inner yogi! The nature of travel is a beautiful invitation to dive into the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual lessons of yoga.
Your alarm sounds, you jump in the shower, grab a quick breakfast and head out the door to work. The daily routines of life require little attention; they are automated, intrinsically ingrained in our cells. The familiarity of our surroundings becomes a beige landscape, no matter how content we are there. We are creatures of habit and the faces we see, the meals we cook, the hobbies we fill our weekends with and the coffee shop we frequent on weekdays, all fall into a reliable construct of order and predictability.
Travel throws these routines and expectations out the door in the most liberating of ways. The very essence of travel ensures that the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes are all new and foreign. Like a young child taking in the world with fresh eyes, we become acutely aware of our surroundings. Travel is a sensory bombardment in the most pleasurable of ways. Every moment is an opportunity to be truly present. The short duration, temporary nature, or essence of impermanence that comes with being in a foreign land, makes us appreciate things with more will and intensity.
In the digital age we live in, travel has become incredibly easy. We can book our flights, shuttles, accommodations, day trips, meals and more from the comfort and safety of our home before even leaving for the airport. Yet, even the most careful planner is bound to face deviations when the journey translates from a laptop screen to real life.
Flexibility is a lesson that will make every journey that much more bearable and pleasurable. Trains run late, ferries are canceled, flights are postponed, yes can mean no, no can mean yes. The list continues. Changes in plans often are accompanied by heavy luggage, extreme heat, pesky mosquitoes, foreign tongues, a baffling new currency, time constraints or pressures, and usually a simple fear or uncertainty when faced with an unknown environment. Travel requires a degree of simply letting go and being adaptable. While we are creatures of habit, we are also admirably adaptable by nature and travel reminds us of this quality.
As we push our boundaries and step into the unknown, we discover a remarkable inner strength. Solo travel, in particular, asks us to dig a little deeper and truly step into our own power. Without this inner strength, the chances of having somewhat of a breakdown is indeed a real possibility on the road!
Learning a new language, learning the road rules, understanding the correct etiquette and navigating new terrain all requires a degree of persistence and dedication. Chances are you may have faced times in a foreign land where the idea of packing up and heading home is an alluring option. Staying strong and moving through challenges is where we grow. Travel transforms us and reminds us of our ability to move through those rough bumpy patches. With strength comes persistence, resilience and true reward.
If you are reading this article right now from your computer or smartphone, chances are you are in a better position than the majority of people in the world. We live privileged lives where simple things such as food, shelter, family, and safety are a given. Travel opens our eyes to the way other people in the world live their own day to day lives. With these realizations, we both become more compassionate human beings, and simultaneously, we become more grateful for the privileged lives that we do have.
Travel opens our heart and inspires us to be more and to give more. There are unlimited ways we can help those less privileged than ourselves and that doesn’t mean financially; a huge smile, five minutes playing with children, a meal with a local family, these things all matter. It takes us tiptoeing out of our safety bubble to really see the ways in which we can help make the world a better place, how we can quite literally be the change we want to see in the world.
The beauty of travel highlights two contradictory things: how different we are, and how intrinsically similar we are. You quickly learn on the road that while language may separate you, a sincere smile has the same meaning all over the world. The streets, buses, cities, and beaches are no different to a yoga room; we see ourselves in others.
Friendships form very quickly on the road and can often last a lifetime. These friendships are formed easily as the barriers and barricades we often hold up in everyday life are lowered and flicked to the wayside in a new land. The differences we hold are fascinating, and the similarities we share as human beings, are undeniable. Just as in yoga, we see light in those we meet, and in doing so, connect to the light within ourselves.
There are many opportunities to take yoga into our everyday lives, but travel is a poignant example of the lessons of yoga in action. Feeling inspired to take a trip?!
About the Author
Kelly is a passionate writer and raw/vegan chef who combines her love of writing with her forays into health and wellness. Kelly has traveled and worked extensively across the world in health resorts, detox centers, raw food restaurants and wellness retreats, sharing ways to live simply, mindfully and sustainably.
Her work is regularly published in print media and online, as well as her own website, ‘Raw By Nature’ which offers vibrant nourishing recipes and information about plant-based living. A gypsy heart and lover of nature, Kelly finds inspiration in the world around her and translates her visions into whimsical stories and edible creations.