As the holiday season kicks into full swing, I want to talk about a question that’s an annual challenge for a lot of people – how do I fit my practice into all this travel? Whether you’re on the go, staying with friends or family, or even feeling uprooted within your own home during the holidays, it’s hard not to worry about your practice getting thrown off. Luckily, I’ve got some tips for you!
First, make sure to bring a yoga mat, clothes, and any other essentials you need to make your practice happen. You don’t need to create any new reasons not to practice – getting a travel mat and having everything you need prepared in advance is an easy way to break down that particular barrier to your practice.
Second, find your space to practice! I know this can be challenging. Maybe you’re staying with family, or in a too-small hotel room, or sharing a room with someone – there can be all sorts of obstacles to finding a space for your practice, but find a space. I’ve practiced in bathrooms before when I was visiting other people’s houses. Whether it’s in the corner of your hotel room or at the hotel gym or your parents’ kitchen, there’s always somewhere you can find some kind of space. Even if you need to modify your practice slightly to accommodate your environment, what’s important is that your practice happens.
Third, find the time. It’s times like these that it’s important to remember that your practice is always available to you. Maybe, as with the space, you need to change your practice slightly to make it work. There’s nothing wrong with that! Your practice is supposed to support your life, not the other way around. It might be impossible to prioritize your practice time when you’re busy with holiday plans, so just make it work when you can. This is the key to making it work at all. Maybe you don’t have time for everything you would usually do, but if you can find a few minutes for some Sun Salutations? Great. Maybe you can get outside for some breathing practices? Perfect. It doesn’t have to be asana. As long as you’re keeping yourself rooted in your practice, that’s what matters.
Next, go light! I’m already a big proponent of the 70% Rule, which I’ve talked about on this blog before. And if that’s my approach to your everyday practice, what do you think I’m going to say about practicing when you are traveling? Especially after trips that involve time zone changes and flights. Practice in a way that your physical body slows down enough for your subtle body to find it. Don’t beat yourself up and ruin your own day trying to force a certain kind of practice where it doesn’t fit and definitely don't practice in a way that you put yourself at risk of getting injured.
This goes with my next point, which is to be compassionate with yourself! Be gentle. This is always a challenge, but it’s especially important when you’re traveling. Maybe this just isn’t the time for you to practice, but these days are exactly what you’ve been practicing for. Part of nonattachment is nonattachment to the very things that took us down its path – you don’t want to get so attached to your practice that you can’t function without it. All the work you do on your mat is to support you in the times when you can’t be on it.
Another very important thing is to accept your circumstances. Normally, I like to get to sleep early, eat a light dinner, not drink much, get up early, and practice on an empty stomach. And I’ve been able to make all that work great and make it really work for me in my normal routine. But we all know travel throws your normal routine way off. Whatever life throws at you, it’s important not to turn the conditions of your everyday life and practice into rules where you can’t practice if you’re not following them. Doing that will only create one more obstacle and give you one more excuse. Don’t rule your practice out – make it work for you, like it’s meant to. All of these conditions are temporary. Enjoy where you are and what you’re doing, and your routine will still be there for you on the other side of that.
Finally, if nothing else is working for you? Visit a shala! That’s a pretty simple solution to save for last, but it’s easy to forget that the option might be there for a lot of us! If you’re lucky enough to be traveling somewhere with a shala nearby, take advantage of that resource. We can all get so rigid in what we think our practices need that it can be easy to forget the options right in front of us. Even if you can’t get to a Mysore room, just dropping into a yoga class can be a great way to get back into your practice and out of your own head about how to do it. It’s still yoga, and it’s still your practice. You’ll be back home soon, and anything you can do to maintain your practice is better than nothing.
And most importantly? This is what you’ve been practicing for. To be able to enjoy the rest of your life! Your practice is meant to support you, not the other way around. Take this as an opportunity to let it. Let it be your holiday gift to yourself.
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