Let’s face it – if you are traveling minimally or living out of a backpack for more than a week, then your yoga mat may not make the cut on your packing list.
While a yoga mat can help ground your practice, it is not necessary to maintain a regular yoga practice or care for our bodies and minds.
Luckily, yoga will always be there for us. If we take a break from our practice, we can always return to it. However, I offer some ideas on how you can maintain a consistent practice no matter where you are and whether or not you have a mat to practice on.
Set a Daily Minimum
What does your minimum practice look like? Creating a daily minimum helps us stay in check with how we want our daily practice to look like, while also being realistic about what is possible.
Many of us set lofty goals of how we want our practice to look like on a daily basis. This is great for encouraging growth, but as our environments, lives, and bodies shift, so will our practice. While we are on the road, we want to be realistic when imagining our practice and setting expectations for ourselves. Every little bit counts and when we discount the practice we do when it doesn’t meet our expectations, this can be disappointing and demotivating. Being realistic with our ability and our time is a means of caring for ourselves.
Knowing our daily minimum helps us stay on track and maintain our yoga practice in a way that doesn’t make overexertion an expectation.
How much do I want to be practicing at the very least? What will make me and my body happy?
A daily minimum can look like:
- Completing five half sun salutations every day
- A 20-minute standing practice
- “Floor yoga” in bed in the morning or before going to sleep
- Meditating for 15 minutes daily
- Reading ten pages in a yogic text every day
Every little bit is better than nothing and every small step will bring you further along your path in yoga, introspection, and self-care.
Creating a daily minimum encourages you to maintain your yoga practice, even when it is difficult to do so.
Modify Your Practice
Our yoga practice will naturally change as we travel and as our bodies change – because as we grow and change, our yoga practice will alongside us. Considering this piece will help us take care of ourselves. Your yoga practice will look different from how it normally does while traveling and that is okay. Modifying your yoga practice in times of change will make practicing yoga more accessible.
When a mat isn’t available, a bed, chair, desk, and the wall can all be used as props to modify your yoga practice. Try practicing down dog or a plank with your hands on a wall or on the corner of a bed.
If you typically use a bolster under your knees, swap it out for a pillow. If you use straps in your practice, switch to using a belt or tube sock. How can the items you bring with you on your travels be used and enrich your yoga practice as you travel? Think about this as you pack and on your travels.
If you like to use singing bowls, find recordings that can bring you back to your practice. A towel can be used as a yoga mat in a pinch as well.
Continue to Take Courses Online or In-Person While Traveling
Yoga has made its way all over the world and wherever you are traveling will likely have yoga studios or some classes that you can participate in. You can borrow mats from these studios for classes you join. Otherwise, you can take almost any kind of yoga class online with a studio or as a pre-recording on YouTube and yoga media platforms.
Moving beyond asana, there are many ways to practice yoga. You can engage in service, you can find kirtan groups wherever you’re traveling and sing devotional songs in community. You can focus on personal ethics and observances through the yamas and niyamas. Read books or listen to lectures on yoga philosophy.
While we all want to maintain an asana practice to preserve a strong connection to our body and the physical practice of yoga, it is also important to not focus all our attention on the postures by forgetting the other components of a healthy, holistic practice. Travel may feel disruptive, but it can actually enliven your practice by encouraging growth in other areas of the practice.
When taking off on the road, remember your daily minimum, but also remember to cultivate a practice that goes beyond asana.
We can take as many yoga classes and read as many books as we want but we can only incorporate what we learn into our lives by taking the time to integrate these. Traveling can also be a time to focus on integrating what you have been learning at home.
The most essential piece is that you see your shifting environment as an opportunity and not a hindrance. Yoga doesn’t require a mat or fancy yoga clothes – all you need is yourself.
Ashley is a digital content creator, yoga instructor, and tea teacher. She is passionate about connecting people to themselves, their community, and the Earth through healing practices, tea, and storytelling. After studying mandarin and tea in Taiwan, she wanted to bring this wisdom to English speakers. She infuses imagination and natural elements into her teachings, creations, and everything she does. You can find her at ashleyjuniper.com or likely on a hike in a forest somewhere.