Practicing Yoga While Travelling has great mental and physical benefits
Travel can be life-changing but also stressful – both mentally and physically. This is where yoga comes in! If you already practice yoga, like I do, you will know that yoga offers great physical and psychological benefits to your every day life. And just because you are travelling, doesn’t mean you can’t continue with these benefits during your travelling life. In fact, there are great benefits of practicing yoga while travelling. In this post I will discuss these benefits plus advise what yoga gear you need to travel with including my 5 best travel yoga mat suggestions. So if you want to travel better and longer, consider practicing yoga while travelling.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is a form of static stretching which involves many sutras (positions) to achieve physical strength, mental peace and spiritual awareness. In yoga, the body, breath and mind are seen as one. I feel more relaxed already! How about you?
What Benefits Does Yoga Offer Travellers?
Yoga offers many benefits to everyone including:
Improves Strength, Balance and Flexibility while Travelling
Yoga involves static stretching of muscles and joints of the arms, legs, and muscles of the back. With this stretching comes flexibility and strength of muscles. With this flexibility and strength comes alleviation of tension and stain for joints and muscles enabling you to travel longer and better.
Helps you be more aware and focused
Yoga is not only exercise for the body but exercise for the brain to stay focussed and calm. During travel, you can be exposed to many new things at once, but with yoga in you life, you can sit and observe the nature around you.
Provides neck and back pain relief
Sitting for long hours as can happen when travelling in cars, buses, trains and planes can increase the tenderness and muscle soreness in the back muscles and neck. Stretching these muscles through yoga can remove the post-travel symptoms of stiff neck and back pain. Yoga stretches done in your seat can while travelling can help to alleviate this.
Helps maintain Balance
During travel, many people feel imbalance and symptoms of motion sickness. Yoga can help alleviate the symptoms of imbalance and increase body awareness, thus helping you travel better.
Relieve and reduce Fatigue
During long flights and long trips in cars, buses and trains you can experience fatigue. Yoga is great to minimise this fatigue by increasing blood circulation to different parts of the body. Which leads me into my next benefit of doing yoga while travelling.
Enhances the duration of deep Sleep
Yep, yoga helps release the negative energy from you body which helps calmness and increases the duration of quality sleep. So do some yoga after a hectic and long day of travelling to help you sleep better. And lastly,
Yoga improves Mental Health
Yoga increases blood circulation, thus more blood flow to the brain helps improve the brain’s functioning. Morning yoga can be beneficial in keeping the mind calm and relaxed for the whole day. Ten to twenty minutes of daily yoga can improve you mental health. It can sharpen your memory and alleviate any mild headache.
So Why do Yoga while Travelling?
Simple really. After a long day sightseeing, carrying a backpack on your back, sitting in transport, hiking up mountains or any other pursuit you like doing, you may be ‘spent’ by the end of the day. You may be stiff, have aches and pains and a racing mind. Yoga will help relieve all these symptoms. Having less or no pain and feeling relaxed will help you travel better and longer.
How to do Yoga while Travelling?
It’s easy to do yoga while travelling. Firstly, designate some time to do it. It only takes 5-10 minutes if the purpose of your yoga is for relaxation and mindfulness. Secondly, find a place you can roll your yoga mat out and start your yoga routine. This could be in a park, at the beach, on top of a mountain or by your bunk bed. Anywhere really. Don’t feel self-conscious of other people as your health is your main priority. The better your health – the better you travel. If you do feel reluctant to practice yoga in public spaces practice pranayama.
Types of Yoga to Practice
There are different types of yoga to practice. Each type has different benefits and can work for you at different times. You just need to work out what is best for you. I personally like the breath control and yoga postures. The main ones are:
- Yama (abstinences)
- Niyama (observances)
- Asana (yoga postures)
- Pranayama (breath control)
- Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses)
- Dharana (concentration)
- Dhyana (meditation)
- Samadhi (absorption)
As I mentioned, I like the breath control of Pranayama. It is a great exercise to boost my metabolism, improve my breathing and increase my lung capacity. This has helped me when I am running up that mountain. Yes running, instead of panting! As I like being fit to enjoy hiking while travelling practicing pranayama has been great for my health while travelling.
What Should Be in Your Bag to do Yoga While Travelling?
You should have the following items in your bag, most are optional but a yoga mat is a must. Yoga mats are important as they define your space, plus other things – keep reading to discover.
● Yoga mat
● Yoga clothes (optional)
● Stretch bands( if needed)
● Water bottle
● Shoes (optional)
Why do you need a Yoga Mat to do Yoga while Travelling?
A yoga mat is more than just a mat to help you stabilise on and provide comfort from bumpy surfaces underneath. A yoga mat defines your space and represents the space in which your body and mind might experience heightenment from the nature of daily living (and travelling). This is why it is good for the mind and the body to do yoga while travelling on your yoga travel mat. It can keep you mentally grounded and physically well so you can travel better and longer. And a travel yoga mat is a little different to a regular yoga mat because a travel yoga mat weighs less and is packable. They are tailored for travellers and people on the move to do yoga anywhere and everywhere.
Can you take your current Yoga Mat travelling?
I don’t see why not. As long as it is lightweight and rolls or folds up tightly, then by all means take your current one. But if it isn’t lightweight and easy to pack then it can become cumbersome.
What to look for in a Travel Yoga Mat?
The main things to look for when choosing a travel yoga mat for travelling is to ensure the mat is:
- Lightweight – you don’t want to be lugging around extra weight so the lightest mat possible.
- Portability – you want your yoga mat to not take up too much space in your luggage and be easily stored when not in use.
- Thickness – don’t compromise thickness for comfort. Yes, a thinner mat will be lighter but it can also be uncomfortable and you might as well be doing your yoga on a rocky driveway!
- Stickability – ever fallen on your face cause you slipped in your own sweat? Yeah, it can happen so stickability or the texture of your mat should be a consideration.
- Durability – some mats aren’t meant to go outside, if you plan to practice yoga on the beach, on top of a mountain or even your hostel’s floor, then the more durable the better.
- Eco-friendliness – not a necessity, but you may want an earth-friendly mat that is typically made from recycled rubber.
- Style – your yoga mat can become your best friend so choose it wisely.
The 5 best Travel Yoga Mats for Practicing Yoga While Travelling
There are plenty of yoga mats out there in the marketplace. Here are 5 that are great to take travelling so you can practice yoga anywhere, anytime.
The Manduka PRO Travel Yoga Mat is top of my list of best travel yoga mats for travelling. This is the one I travel with so I am a little bias. I love it because it is lightweight and at only 2.5mm thick, it is easy to pack. It is also non-slip, non-toxic and provides loads of cushioning and stability. It is also 71 inches or 180cm long, great for me as I am a tall girl.
Jade Yoga mats are great travel yoga mats to travel with as they provide superior level of traction as they are made from a natural rubber that has a much stronger grip. It is lightweight and easily folds up to fit in your backpack or tote bag. Many on the go yogis choose this mat as the makers give back by planting a tree for every mat sold.
This Gaiam Travel Yoga Mat is popular with yogis. It is 2mm thick and made of a non toxic PVC material and weighs in at 1lb or 453g – so very lightweight. It has a sticky texture that provides plenty of stability and it easily folds up, rather than rolls up, and fits into your carry-on or overnight bag.
This June and Juniper Travel Yoga Mat certainly makes a statement with its pretty pattern. The mat is next on my list to buy when my Manuka Pro needs replacing. It is a very versatile mat made from moisture-wicking microfiber and is nearly 6 foot or 182cm long. The mat is foldable and easily fits into your daypack or backpack.
The Hugger Mugger Tapas Yoga Mat is made of a strong polymer environmental resin (PER) so it is strong. It is only .06 inches or 1.5mm thick making it durable by providing solid contact with the floor, yet it is lightweight. It is easily folded so you can pack in your luggage.
How to Clean Your Yoga Mat While Travelling
Did you know you should clean your yoga mat on a regular basis? Why you ask? Well, they can get dirty from the surfaces they are rolled out on and from your body sweat. These can make your mat slippery and you don’t want to slip during your yoga practice. You want your yoga session to help you travel better and longer, not hinder it. So these are the steps I adopt to clean my mat so I can continue getting the benefits of practicing yoga while travelling.
- In a spray bottle, I mix 1/2 cup of vinegar with 1/2 cup of water – sometimes I add 10 drops of tea tree oil if I have it. (Or you can buy a specific yoga mat cleaner)
- Spritz your mat with the solution
- Wipe your mat with a cloth and let it air dry
- Roll it up and continue travelling
Are You Ready to Travel with Your Yoga Mat?
The benefits of practicing yoga while travelling is beneficial for both you mind and body. The reasons to practice yoga far outweigh the reasons not to. So grab your yoga mat and have a happy and healthy time travelling! If you currently travel with your yoga mat I would love to hear. Or if you are just starting out and having questions, ask away in the comments following.