Yoga is all about staying healthy and slowing down to appreciate the present moment.
Travel is most fun when you feel healthy, and most profound when you take time to pay attention to detail and have space in your mind to reflect.
Here are sixteen more reasons why yoga and travel are the perfect combo.
1. Yoga Will Help You Chill.
An airline once lost my backpack when I returned home from a 6-month European jaunt. Rather than fume and pace until the luggage finally arrived, I sat in silent contemplation and focused on my breathing.
Yoga can allow you to find stillness through meditation, giving you a little more Zen when you encounter frustrations on the road.
2. Travel Requires A Few Stretches.
When you travel, you need to adjust to packing and unpacking every few days.
How many times have you had to bend down and search for something under the hostel bed? Yoga’s gift of increased flexibility will make it easier for you to reach and bend.
Likewise, the equanimity instilled by yoga will make it easier for you to adjust to culture shock and other travel challenges.
3. Bus rides won’t break your back.
Hard bus rides or ill-advised zip-line maneuvers won’t hurt as much, because yoga keeps your joints and limbs supple, so that you can survive appalling travel conditions without your knees falling off.
4. You won’t die on the plane (not that you would anyway).
Deep-vein thrombosis is a condition that occurs when you sit still for too long — say, on a fourteen-hour international flight — and your body starts to form blood clots that can give you an aneurysm, a stroke, or just make your leg hurt.
Seat-bound yoga, or even some full-body stretches in the aisle, can mean the difference between life and death, or at least keep you feeling fresh when you arrive.
5. Yoga clothes are travel clothes.
Cotton and bamboo fabrics, all easy wash and dry, can also form the foundations of your backpacking wardrobe. Who doesn’t want to wear Prana all day?
6. Make New Friends.
Want to meet some friends? Go to yoga class in another country and strike up a conversation with someone before and after class! Or, practice yoga in a park or on a beach, and friendly yogis will no doubt pop out from the bushes.
7. Learn How To Say Downward Dog In 10 Languages.
Although many international yoga studios offer classes in English, consider trying a class in the local language.
While you may never need to know how to say, “Breathe deeply through your nose!” in Mandarin, you’re guaranteed to pick up useful new words and grammar structure – and make local friends outside the ex pat circle!
8. Soak Up Some Culture.
Yoga originally comes from India, but over the years it has been adopted and adapted by cultures all over the world. A yogic moment in Rishikesh might be totally different from a Bikram session in Los Angeles.
In some unfortunate countries where strict religious conservatives exert a lot of influence, yoga might even be an illegal act. I’m talking to you, Malaysia!
Get insight about the local culture by osmosis, and by participating in the yoga studio community. A yoga class is much more rewarding than hanging around the hostel listening to windbag ex-pat experts who can only speak 3 words of the local language.
9. Exercise Always Feels Good!
When I was in Sevilla, Spain, our daily routine looked like this: sleep until 2 pm, wake up, eat, drink some sangria, nap, eat, go out.
Travel is often a luxurious experience, and even though there’s nothing wrong about lounging around in the Spanish sun, everyone needs a little workout once in while.
Yoga is a good way to jump-start your endorphins and get the blood moving, which will help you feel great and avoid a travel funk.
10. Stretch Every Day!
Everyone should do at least an hour of gentle stretching at least once a day, to keep all the tendons and joints of your body in good working order.
Even invincible young vagabonds only get two knees and one back, and months (or even years) of traipsing down wobbly cobblestone streets in crappy flip-flops could leave you wishing for orthopedic inserts.
If your body is a bicycle, yoga is like oiling the chain.
11. Find A Lucrative Side Job
If you’re really feeling the bahv, you can consider yoga as a career path. Yoga studios around the world are looking for English speaking teachers.
After completing a teacher training course in your chosen specialty, you could find yourself with a steady part-time job. Teaching private yoga lessons, or getting hired at a spa or retreat puts even more dollars – or rupees – in your pocket.
12. Hit The Road, Find Enlightenment
All giggling aside, there’s a reason why people have flocked to ashrams in India for the past forty years. The ascetic lifestyle, the yogic principle of ahimsa (doing no harm), and the daily asanas all lead people toward a peaceful, aligned existence.
As the old proverb goes, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty.” Just because you’re not seeking peace of mind right now doesn’t mean you won’t be grateful for it someday.
13. Relaxation Is Key
Ujayyi breathing, the “ocean sounding breath” (or, more accurately, “Darth Vader breathing”), is a physically relaxing breath; it focuses the mind, takes more oxygen into your system, and allows you to release your muscles.
14. You Can Pick Up Hot Guys…Or Girls
Do yoga regularly and you’ll seem intriguingly spiritual and attractively muscular in one fell swoop. Plus, people who do yoga are hot.
15. Use Yoga As Therapy
Movement therapy is becoming increasingly popular worldwide. The theory is that people can express things through movement that they might not be able to express in words.
While the majority of therapy occurs behind closed doors with someone who has a lot of letters after their name, people consistently find that yoga (and other movement forms) can have big therapeutic benefits.
Practicing yoga can help unlock painful memories and let you deal with them. It can also guide you through a traumatic breakup, and allow you to express repressed aspects of your self.
16. Yoga Gets You Moving!
Let’s face it: yoga can make you feel utterly fantastic in both body and mind.
Best of all, yoga gets you moving, and since we’re all travelers, we know that pure, wonderful movement is worth its weight in gold.
Want more bliss? We’ve got a whole page of yoga travel resources for you, right here on the Matador Network.
Feature photo by Saigon Yoga, Matador’s favorite yoga studio in SE Asia.