Vacation is a beautiful thing. We turn off from the real world and tune out for a few days. We lay on the beach, we climb mountains, we take road trips. Many of us give up our eating habits in order to try out decadent deserts or just plain new foreign food groups. In the hustle and bustle of it all, it is easy to forget to be mindful. Mindfulness is a funny thing: it comes and goes. We work to be in the moment, to have intention behind everything we do; that way we can release some stress that comes with worrying about the past and the future. Though vacation should seemingly be stress free; because many of us relinquish some control of our schedule and lifestyle – vacation mishaps and unpredictable situations can end up causing headaches and misunderstandings. Here are some ways to “yogify” your vacation, stay present and hopefully keep your sanity while you travel.
- Breathing and Mental Exercises on the Plane
Why not start in the air? Between destinations there is turbulence, crying children, and the worry of being late and leaving things behind. Between a full inhale and a full exhale there is peaceful transition, calamity, and a sense of pause. I suggest something called Viloma Pranyama where breaths in and out are separated with brief pauses. These pauses will serve as ways of clearing stress. I love to do this during uncomfortable moments in flight – children crying, turbulence, etc. More info here – (http://www.yogapranayama.net/yoga-breathing/viloma-pranayama.html)
As a somewhat nervous flier I also love to repeat a mantra to myself while the plane takes off and when it lands. A mantra is a statement that you repeat frequently in order to make it part of your thought process and really to make it a part of you. I repeat “lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu”. Very simply, this statement is loosely translated to mean “May all beings everywhere be happy and free.” For me, this makes sense when I fly. Try it on; see if it is fitting for you, or better yet create your own mantra! Maybe it will be a Sanskrit prayer or maybe something very simple and in your native language.
2. Eat Consciously
Of course you want to spoil yourself and try new or decadent things while on vacation. It is also one of my favorite parts of traveling! My suggestion is to make an effort to seek out farm to table local restaurants- they are usually known for good food, local chefs, and a good time. Also, going to a local farmer’s market is always fun – it is a way to explore local specialties, shop local favors, and get to know the place from a non-tourist perspective. These ways of eating will let you indulge, while keeping you away from tourist traps. I love feeling good about what I eat. I find that I additionally have more energy to walk around and explore when I fuel my body properly.
3. Morning Run/Yoga session
Sometimes there isn’t enough time to cut out an hour or two to practice or to seek out a local yoga studio. I love to wake up a bit early and either go on a run, which is a great way to explore a city or place as it’s waking up. You can also plop yourself down on a grassy knoll by the beach or a rooftop of your hotel room and practice some San Salutations. Even sitting down quietly for ten minutes and meditating can bring you some peace and quiet before a full day of activities.
4. Volunteer – practice Seva
Seva is a yogic concept of devotional work and of selfless service.
This can be something you do together with your family. I recently traveled to New Orleans and it is amazing to realize that the locals are still living in the after effects of Hurricane Katrina. Their lives have moved on, but there’s still a lot of help needed throughout the city. It would have been great to have known that in advance and to have been able to help out even in some small way.
Do some research before you leave town and schedule an hour or two to volunteer – beach clean up, house painting, or even helping at a local wildlife rescue can be rewarding. Seva on vacation is an eye opening experience that can reveal the true heart of where you are traveling beyond the tourist destinations and fancy resorts.
5. Svadhyaya – Self Study
Svadhyaya is a yogic concept of self study. It is a way of studying something on your own. Try reading a book that is simple yet inspiring. That way you don’t have to think too hard, yet you still polish your brain wheels a bit and open your mind to being present. Being present to your vacation will mean that you get to experience it that much more fully and that can’t be a bad thing. Some of my favorite reads are Darren Main’s “Spiritual Journeys along the Yellow Brick Road” and Max Strom’s “A Life Worth Breathing”.