Yoga teacher and BE Yoga Retreats organizer Elise Beechen explains how energy can get stuck after traveling and how some simple yoga poses can help get you back on your feet!
Planning and organizing your trip can be stressful! Making sure you have packed everything and that you've done all you need to do before you go away often translates into working overtime the week before. Then there's the traveling itself, which can be anxiety provoking. Travel stress is triggered by a variety of reasons: worrying about being on time, catching connection flights, finding your way in a new, unfamiliar place, etc. When we finally arrive at our destination, we may experience difficulty with our digestion (bloating or constipation) and even though we're tired from the journey we may still have trouble sleeping. Ironically, all this often means the first few days are spent recovering from the extra stress it took to get us on the holiday in the first place!
When we look at what is happening from an Ayurvedic and yogic perspective, we can see that all this can be prevented and energy can be restored with the help of a few simple yoga poses!
According to Ayurveda, Vata (the movement of energy in the body) is aggravated by the disruption of daily routine. That is exactly what happens when we travel. This starts to pull our energy upwards, so instead of being in our natural state of ease we feel scattered and overwhelmed.
Stress, whether it's pre-holiday organizing or is caused by the journey itself, puts the nervous system into a fight or flight mode – shallow breathing, shortness of breath, increased heart rate and blood pressure. When we travel, we are also sitting for long periods of time, which leads to tightness in the hip flexors, shortening the hamstrings and pulling the femur bones forward. This also causes a blockage in the pelvis, meaning that energy can't flow freely downwards into the legs and feet. This blockage in Apana-Vayu (the energy responsible for moving physical waste down and out of the body and for giving us a feeling of being grounded and deeply relaxed) makes it difficult to relax even when we're no longer stressed (i.e. when we arrive at our destination).
The first class I teach on any yoga retreat or yoga holiday is about arriving in the present moment and being grounded. The focus is on dropping out of your mind and into your body through connecting with your breath and the Earth. We spend time re-rooting the femur (thighbones) toward the back plane of the body and opening the hips, thus allowing the diaphragm to expand so that the breath can be full and deep again. This means that the whole nervous system relaxes and prana starts to drop right down into the legs and feet. The result is a wonderful feeling of deep relaxation and connection to the Earth. We finally arrive in the present moment.
Rather than being caught up in what has happened before, we start to move into a place in our minds where nothing is a problem and everything is ok exactly as it is. We will be able to connect more easily with others, we sleep better, our digestion and elimination improve and our relationships become more easeful.
I find this enables people to be able to slip quicker and much easier into the holiday mode.
This short Yoga for Travel sequence is recommended after a long journey, as it will help relax the nervous system, improve digestion and open your hips so that energy can move downwards and outwards.
You can experience this deep relaxation yourself by joining me and my sister Becky on our family-run retreat in Spain between 1st and 8th of July, 2017. At BE Yoga Retreats we aim to take the stress out of traveling – you book your flights and we'll do all the rest.
Are you feeling off-balance, disconnected, overwhelmed maybe? Go to BookYogaRetreats.com and choose among hundreds of restorative yoga retreats guaranteed to help you experience deep relaxation and teach you how to avoid travel stress in the future.