Traveling is always some sort of getting break of normal life, your routine. Usually people travel to go on vacation. To escape of “normal” life and get the well worth it rest. In other words: pushing the “reset” button before they must return everyday lifestyle. In their daily stress, unhealthy circumstances, speed of modern life are energy takers. So it doesn’t surprise that their vacation seems like a longer cheat day of a dogmatic diet.
However Yogis live (and travel) differently. And I don’t refer to the hundred-years-old-sitting-under-a-tree-in-the-Himalaya type of a Yogi. I mean common people (like you and me) who practice yoga in life. Persons who take care of themselves and act out of love and connection. Those modern Yogis learned how to adapt their lifestyle in order to reduce those energy takers in their environment. With a yogic attitude and a good balance in life.
Yogis don’t need a break from normal life. They keep their routine while traveling.
So that’s why Yogis don’t need to travel because they don’t need to escape from nothing. They travel to learn, to open their mind and to connect. But they keep their lifestyle routine. They stick with their yogic principles. How does this travel-like-a-Yogi attitude look like? Which are the principles?
Travel like a Yogi – 3 important principles
1 Take care of your energy
Once my indian yoga teacher asked me: “Jo, do you know what’s the most important thing for a spiritual being?”. I answered: “Saving energy.” He said: “That’s right”. But not only for a spiritual being this should be the first thing to focus. Taking care of your energy means being good to you, avoiding things which lower your energy, your well being, your vital force. So next time you travel around running from one place to another to get one picture of each monument, ask yourself if that is truly-taking-care-of-yourself? Or would it be better not to rush from one place to another? But stay at one place knowing, living enjoying it on its best? Which experience is more enriching? Having the picture of the four churches in Rome(looking all the same anyways)? Or having enjoyed an original Italian espresso on the Piazza? Having talked to the locals? To return home with having made social connections, experienced new tastes on your tongue and saved unforgettable memories, doesn’t make it your travel quality so much higher?
Do what gives you energy. Not what it takes away from you! Does’t matter what you are supposed to see or to do in your travel destination. Find a travelstyle that suits you, that works best for YOU.
My travelstyle is slow travel. Why and how slow travel is part of doing Yoga you can read here.
2 Self respect on your travels
In yoga classes we always focus on respecting our personal limits. According to our present state of our body and mind. And everyone knows that’s hard stuff.
What about normal life or traveling? How do we apply Self respect off the mat?
In other words: Do you respect your health during travels? Are you getting a burger at McDonalds for take away or have you made yourself some healthy homemade snacks? How do you keep your yoga practice abroad?
Those are lessons we all need to learn. Because we are usually not as self disciplined. In my case I cheated constantly on my diet when I went out with friends or was traveling. Again my partner in crime made me aware: “Why are you eating this now? You know that’s not good for you. Keep your eating habits. That’s a form of self respect.” So wise words.
That’s when I started to change, not only what I eat but how I behave during travels.
Why is it hard to be self disciplined and respectful on travels?
Biggest challenge: Social life. The moment we are in a social environment, interacting, is the moment social adaption replaces self respect. No one wants to be the one getting always the special treatment.
No one wants to be the one getting special treatment
When we are with others, respecting our individual needs is often much more difficult. And often it means that you do something on your own. And it’s risk to be rejected. So instead of respecting ourself we rather do a compromise.
But what’s the problem with compromises? They often are unnecessary and tiring. Why shouldn’t you order something else than all the others? It doesn’t hurt anyone. Instead you are happier, enjoy more your meal and probably practiced a bit more self respect. And that’s healthy.
As we have these cultural pattern in our mind, we usually don’t respect our special treatments. In fact mostly doing what we truly want is taken for egoism. And no one wants to be an egoist. But it’s better to be taken as a self seeker than not respecting yourself in order to fulfill others expectations.
Let’s take another example, everyone might know. Do you remember the last time traveling in a bigger group and looking for a dinner place. Everyone has a special preference but nobody really wants to take the lead. While everyone’s level of unsatisfaction increases (and your your rumbling tummy), there’s this discomfort of saying the truth: We won’t get everyone happy staying together.
What’s the problem with splitting up? I mean we are all different, right? We have special needs. Why not to make it easy and simple? Let’s split up in different groups. In fact after that proposal everyone’s faces relax. Pressure releases. Weird, hu? Why do we have this inhibition to communicate our individual needs in groups? That leads us to the next point…
3 Attitude of self care and love
Respecting yourself and being able to save your energy is connected to the attitude we have towards ourselves. When we feel uncomfortable of expressing our individual belongings, it’s because we don’t value them enough. And that’s a lack of self love. Let’s be honest, everyone ( I mean everyone!) needs to train this thing. Self love.
I am practicing this attitude of self care and love everyday. And on my travels I keep it. How? Being good to me. Loving myself on travels can look like that: Instead of heading to the next monument, I take it easy. Maybe my body is asking for a good rest after a 24-hours trip or is still adapting to climate change. So I give myself time. And love.
Don’t you think this is more important and much healthier than completing all the points on my To-See List?
How to apply the travel-like-a-Yogi-attitude?
All those principles sound great. But how do I apply them on my journey? Which actions will show my yogic attitude? All in all there are many ways that can reflect your self love on travels. Here I leave you my top 3.
1 Keep practicing – no matter where you are
Whether it’s a 10 minutes Pranayama practice in the morning, or a long yoga session at the beach. Keep your everyday practice. It doesn’t need to be a full Yoga class everyday. Make time for a 5 minute meditation. Or 5 rounds of Surya Namaskar in the morning.
Even when you’re in the clouds you can practice yoga. On a 10 hours flight your body will be very happy to be stretched and refreshed.
2 Good rest
A good rest is no.1 keeping your energy balance. Especially a good sleep is absolutely essential. Can you get a good rest while during the night people are coming into the room, making noise after having partied? I can’t. Sleeping in a dorm is big good-rest-killer. So spend a few more bugs for a Single Room. Your life quality during the day is worth it.
When you are on holiday it seems that it’s a never ending cheating day for your diet. Fast Food, sugary drinks, hotel buffet. And always too much. That’s ok for a day or two. But don’t you feel your body heavy and lazy afterwards?
Try to keep your diet. I have my personal diet reduced in carbohydrates. Especially on travels that is super difficult to maintain. Here a sandwich, there a cake. And at night some alcoholic drinks with travel mates.
And then the unknown aliments. In every country you have different products. That makes it even more difficult to keep your diet routine. So you have to adapt. Look what suits you the most. Every country has precious culinary discoveries to offer.
When I was in India my breakfast was usually a fruit salad with yoghurt or a coconut. Especially coconuts are so rich in nutrients that they replace a complete meal. And they avoid dehydration. Try it!
Rule no.1: Prepare your own food! That’s very important. Whether you are in a hotel or restaurants, the food will never be the same than preparing it by yourself. Stay somewhere you can use the kitchen (airbnb, homestays, hostal, aparthotels). Go to the grocery store or fruit market nearby and get fresh ingredients. This is not only good for your health but your purse.
All in all: Slow travel
This summer I stay 4 weeks in Bali. When people hear that loooong period they usually react with a “Oh that’s plenty of time. Surely you are traveling to other islands as well, right?” Well actually, I try not to. Staying just for 3 nights at one place is not the experience I am looking for. I stick with slow travel and minimalism. Why slow travel is the yogic way to travel and how you can do it, read here.