This is the third of a three-part series on the topic of traveling, since many of us will be traveling this summer. Part one was about Food and Digestion, Part two was about Sleep and Immunity.
Traveling is challenging for the body because it usually requires lots of sitting and sometime lots of walking (sprints to catch your plane, anyone?). Increasing awareness of what you are asking of your body during your travels, and supporting it with movement, can be of immense benefit in how you feel - body, mind and spirit.
Sitting a lot, whether in a car, plane, bus, or train, leads to stagnation of energy in the body - you will likely feel tired, cloudy headed, and your digestive system will slow down (which can result in constipation and increased hunger). The stagnation in the body leads to lethargy in the mind and can show up as grumpiness, impatience, or complacency - none of which are ideal while traveling. In my practice with yoga and Ayurveda clients, I talk about the importance of Breath Body Practices - awareness of moving the breath and body to create energy, resilience, and set the metabolism. Again, the information I am sharing here can be applied to your life, regardless, but will certainly help support you while traveling.
A few general guidelines for movement:
1. JUST MOVE - Listen to your body and see how it wants to move. Dance, shake, roll around. It's all helpful. The earlier in the day you get your body moving, the more benefit you will experience. If you have a long day of travel ahead, start with early morning movement and the day will be more enjoyable.
2. REVERSE YOUR POSITION - Whenever you spend more than an hour in a position, take time to reverse the position, for at least 30 seconds. This means if you are sitting for a long time, you need to stretch out by standing or laying down, open your chest, and expand your limbs and front body.
3. BREATHE DEEP- Deepening the breath is always helpful. Sending oxygen to your cells, especially if you can't actually get prolonged exercise, is important and nourishing.
Check out this quick video I made to demonstrate how you can incorporate movement into your days of travel.
BENEFICIAL MOVEMENTS DURING TRAVEL:
1. Twists - Massage the organs and flush them with fresh blood. Rotating the body helps to release toxins and keep the body agile. (Ex: Swing arms side to side, seated or reclining twists, wide leg forward fold twist)
2. Forward fold - Compressing the front body allows for inner connection and reflection, releasing the back and hips, and stretching the hamstrings and calves. (Ex: Standing forward fold with the knees slightly bent, seated forward fold)
3. Heart openers - Build energy, stay open to the adventures ahead, lift the mood, and reverse the forward rotation of the shoulders that is habitual for most people when they sit for long periods. (Ex: Lift the heart while spreading the arms wide and up, from seated or standing, interlace hands behind your back and look up)
4. Joint rotations - Lubricate the joints from the inside. Keep them agile and ready for action, like running to catch a flight, hoisting luggage onto a bus, or pushing open doors. (Ex: Roll hands and feet around in circles to massage out the wrists and ankles, roll the shoulders)
5. Hip openers - Reduce discomfort in the back, legs, and hips. (Ex: Hip circles while standing, seated hip openers like figure 4 stretch or sitting with legs wide, bound angle pose, squats)
6. Back stretches - Elongate the spine to alleviate the pressure from sitting or standing. (Ex: Table dog, sitting upright and reaching arms above the head)
7. Side body stretches - Alleviate side body compression, bring space into your torso and awaken energy. (Ex: Side body stretches from seated or standing, reaching opposite arm long).
And, don't forget the breath!! Deepen your breath whenever you can. Relax your jaw and your shoulders. Travel can be stressful, but it can also be an invitation for us to be aware of how stress is held in the body. What new awarenesses do you have from reading this today?
If you have ongoing issues with body comfort, consider attending a yoga class and learning how to connect more deeply with your body and breath. Feeling good is totally worth it!!