Take Your Yoga With You – A Guide to Practicing on the Road

This post is by Aimee Morrison, one of our wonderful yoga teacher trainees. Aimee travels a lot for work, so she wrote this post to share what she’s learned about bringing yoga along on her travels.

Summer time is travel time! Maybe you’re at the cottage, or visiting family. Maybe you’re taking a big road trip or going camping or waiting to see which city has the best summer festival to go to. If you’re out of town, you can’t come practice with us at the studio. And it’s hard to maintain a home practice when, well, you’re not home. But you can still incorporate yoga into your travels, no matter where you are.

I travel a lot for work, taking between five and ten trips a year, and I’ve discovered I’m a lot happier (and less kinked up from air travel) when I do yoga. There are a lot of ways to do this, from studio practice to self-practice. Here are some of the ways I incorporate yoga on my travels–and some ways that you might, too.

Find a studio

I like to practice in at least one studio in every city I visit. Most studios in most places accept drop-ins, with rates from $15-25, depending on location. Some studios even have introductory pricing, like first class for $10, so this can be pretty inexpensive.

If you have a smartphone, the “Om Finder” app will literally find you the closest yoga studio and tell you their schedule and map you a route to get there. Using your phone’s GPS to determine your location, it will suggest studios within a specified distance: when I was in LA recently, it determined that there were more than 15 studios within a 2km walk of my hotel. West Hollywood has a lot of yoga studios! For $15, I attended a mixed level class Anusara yoga class at Yoga Works West Hollywood, where the cues included “gaze back toward the ocean,” and “turn your front foot toward Melrose Ave.” That was fun! I’ve also attended classes in Raleigh, North Carolina (level 1-2 hatha yoga), and Washington, DC (level 2-3 Iyengar), and Victoria, BC (Lululemon store).

Practicing with a new teacher in a new studio with new students always jolts me out of my usual yoga routine: it’s definitely not the same as doing yoga at my home studio, but that’s part of the adventure.

(You don’t need an app — you can also just ask Google for yoga studios nearby, and it will also use your GPS to find you a place to practice.)

Hotel practice

If you’re staying at hotels, there’s usually just about enough room to swing a cat, or lay down a yoga mat, but not both. Leave the cat at home and invest in a travel mat that’s very small and lightweight, but keeps you from sliding on the hotel carpet. Or from having to touch the hotel carpet. Ew. I use a Manduka natural rubber travel mat that folds up smaller than a laptop computer and fits in my carry-on luggage. There are lots of travel mats to choose from, relatively inexpensively. Or if you’re traveling by car, you might bring your full sized mat! It’ll be a conversation piece!

If you do want to practice in a hotel you can replicate the experience of a class by subscribing to streaming yoga classes, such as Yogaglo — there’s a two week free trial period for that particular online service, and a subscription cost thereafter. They have a huge library of classes you can play at any time, including longer or shorter classes, harder or simpler sequences, more active or more restorative. I like the short classes dedicated to “yoga after flying somewhere.” Alternatively, you can put together a travel sequence for yourself, taking suggestions about good poses for long car rides from your teacher, or from the internet. (Just Google “yoga after long flight” or “yoga after long car ride.”)

You can also just do your regular home practice, of course, no teacher required.

Yoga outside

I was recently at a conference on a university campus, where the attendees were very active on Twitter. I put out a call for a yoga meetup, and four of us practiced out in the quad every day, taking turns leading the group in a 30 minute practice between the workday and supper. Bare toes on grass! No mats required! That was fun, and I met some nice people and learned about the kinds of yoga they studied (Bikram! Ashtanga!)

You can always practice outside by yourself, too! In the summer, practicing on the grass in bare feet means you don’t even need to have a mat. Just know that your going to get bits of grass stuck to you–I think that’s a good look, personally.

Stealth yoga

You can do yoga anywhere, anytime, of course. A mindful tadasana in the missed-connections-now-stranded line at the airport! A blissed out savasana on the beach while waves lap in the distance! Standing side stretches and twists when you get out of the car at one of those indistinguishable rest stops along the 401! A handstand at the base of the Eiffel Tower! In many ways, yoga is a mindset and a set of tools for mindfulness and body care that we always carry around with us, ready to use. Even if that’s a calm-yourself-down long hold uttanasana in a corner by the baggage carousel, or just coming back to your breath at the exit of the roller coaster.

Happy travels!

aimeeAimee Morrison is in our 2014 Yoga Teacher Training Program. When she’s not observing classes at the studio, she is teaching Critical Media Studies at the University of Waterloo, having fun with her daughter, or taking selfies on her phone after runs in the rain.

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