Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, is a great way to keep your health in check and stay balanced while traveling. When we travel, our bodily systems go awry. While travel is exhilarating, novel, and adventurous, it is oftentimes challenging, uprooting, and tiring as well. I’ve comprised my favorite Ayurveda travel tips in order to help stay grounded and rooted, no matter where in the world you may be.
When we travel, our Vata dosha becomes imbalanced. The primary elements that comprise Vata are air and ether, and so, particularly with air travel, we can imagine how this may affect us.
Vata is a subtle energy associated with movement from one place to another, among other things. Factor in speed, the dehydrating nature of flying in an airplane, and adjusting to all other changes associated with travel, we begin to recognize how important it is to be mindful to our bodily response.
Vata is associated with anxiousness, fear, and general overwhelm. Especially when traveling solo, where these feelings may arise on their own regardless, it’s important to keep your Vata in check.
I always have a hard time sleeping the first few nights in a new place, whether they’re at a neighbor’s house or on a foreign continent. There are a couple of habits I’ve adopted over the years to help combat this response, so here they are – Ayurveda travel tips, whether you’re going somewhere near or far.
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Perhaps the number one Ayurveda travel tip I could recommend is actually the easiest – stay hydrated! The attributes of Vata energy are dry, cool, rough, and subtle – staying hydrated helps to keep from an excess of Vata. If you’re going to have coffee and alcohol, do so in moderation and try to refrain altogether on the plane. Compensate with extra water, even if it means climbing over your neighbor on the plane to make it to the bathroom.
Drink Warm Water
That being said, try to stick with warm water. Warm water helps with digestion, which is commonly disrupted during travel. This is due in part to dehydration, eating foods your body may not be accustomed to, as well as new sleeping patterns and a punch in the gut to your routine. Stay away from ice on the plane, and, if possible, try to start each morning with a cup of warm water.
Triphala (“three fruits”) is an Ayurvedic blend of Amalaki, Bibhitaki, and Haritaki. These are medicinal plants that are native to India. The use of Triphala has been documented for thousands of years, so it’s not new to the scene. It’s grown in popularity worldwide for its many health benefits. Triphala is great to take when traveling because of its effectiveness in treating constipation and inflammation, two common travel pitfalls.
Pack Ayurveda Essentials
My personal Ayurveda essentials are a tongue scraper, abhyanga massage gloves, and a neti pot. They’re all compact enough to tuck neatly away while still leaving room for everything else I’ve got to pack. If you’ve got some favorite essential oils you want to bring, stick ’em in there, too. Bringing these things not only keep me feeling good, but also help me stick to a routine of sorts.
Another way I love to combat dehydration – rose water. I bring a small (carry-on size) spritz bottle of hydrating rose water to spray on my face and chest while on the plane. Be mindful of your neighbors, some may be sensitive to smell (or simply not want to get sprayed!), so it’s best to do this in the bathroom.
Bring Your Own Airplane Food
The general rule of thumb for balancing Vata energies with food are: warm, moist, cooked. Make a batch of something in a Crock Pot or Instant Pot and be sure to seal it properly. This helps you to ensure you’re eating something nutritious as well as prevents digestive disruption from frozen airplane food. I personally would try to avoid things that have a very strong smell – after all, you’ll be in close quarters with strangers!
Stretch Before, During, and After Your Flight
Vata not only has to do with the movement from Point A to Point B, but also the natural movements that take place within our bodies. That includes circulation, muscular movement, digestion, and everything else in our bodies – right down to the cellular level.
Try this yoga sequence for pre- or post-flight movement.
During the plane (or train) ride, you can do some unobtrusive movements in your seat as well, just to keep the circulation going. Give yourself a big hug, try to reach your shoulder blades. Roll your ankles in one direction and then the other. Point and flex your feet. Undulate your spine in a seated cat-cow stretch, or simply do some neck rolls. If you’re on a long-haul flight, a walk up and down the aisle is a good idea as well.
Since Vata is associated with air, it’s helpful to also incorporate some pranayama into your routine. For balancing Vata, I like to take an inhale for 4-5 seconds, hold it for 4-5 seconds, and exhale 4-5 seconds. Repeat as desired! For a more grounding effect, keep your feet on the floor and hands palm-down on your thighs.
Since excess Vata is dehydrating, a good practice to add in to your daily routine is a self-massage, preferably with an oil of some sort. Rub the soles of your feet, your arms, and legs, hands, belly, and anywhere else you can reach. This aids in rehydration of the skin and stimulates circulation and digestion. If you don’t have much of an itinerary or set plans, why not treat yourself to an actual massage? Any time I’m in Budapest I always treat myself to a day of relaxation, which includes the thermal spas and an aromatherapy or Thai massage.
Establish a Routine
One of the best Ayurveda travel tips to assist in balancing Vata is to establish some sort of routine. Add a couple of practices into your existing morning or evening routine, such as self-massage, tongue scraping, neti pot, yoga practice, pranayama, regular bedtime, etc. This maintains balance both mentally and physically and helps to offset any disruption caused by changing time zones.