AH, THOSE LOVELY muscle knots generated from being on the road for over 3 weeks—hauling the heavy back pack, walking non-stop, carrying screaming offspring, and the stress of adjusting to a new culture.
You seriously need some yoga.
If wired, you can take advantage of the free online yoga classes that cater to complete novices, Gumbies, or those in between. Travelers without internet need not miss out, as there are other ways to keep your Samadhi running smooth on the road. Your practice can be done anywhere, in your PJs or your birthday suit, and at 3am if you wish.
Here are some online yoga podcast classes that may transport you to classes back home, but without the regular crowd (and smells).
Elsie’s Yoga Kula. Elsie, a lively Anusara instructor has a thoughtful blog and many level 1-2 classes to choose from. Live class recordings.
Hillary’s Yoga Practice. Another Anusara yoga podcast that offers one hour long classes for mixed and beginner levels.
Yoga Today. A freebie yoga class can be sent to your inbox every week if you sign up. You can also buy a class for $3.99 and choose from a huge menu, arranged by skill level/yoga style/ anatomical focus. Way cheaper than taking a drop-in class.
Padmani Yoga. Padmani, a Jivamukti instructor, has got the best voice in the land of yoga podcasts. There are many 45 to 75 minute classes to choose from—the 45 minute economy practice is my favorite.
Yoga Download. These 20 minute power yoga classes can be downloaded and enjoyed for a brisk quickie.
Honorable Gumbies (or those looking to scorch major calories)
Yogi Wade. Wade has many years of archived 90 minute power yoga/Ashtanga style practices on his site, ones which incorporate more uncommon asanas such as crocodile pose. The audio quality isn’t the best, but his instruction and humor make it worthwhile.
Dave Farmar. Dave’s hour-long Baptiste style power yoga class isn’t to be taken lightly. He’ll sadistically have you holding arm balances, twists, and inversions for an eternity as he talks philosophy, completely oblivious to your discomfort. You’ll no doubt get your workout, and thank him in the end for your toned muscles.
Pack it in. Pack some portable books such as Light on Yoga or a flow chart filled with yoga sequences for different practices. If you don’t like to flip pages while balancing on your head, many companies make yoga cards that allow you to mix and match poses. For suggestions, browse Amazon.com and check out the ones that received stellar reviews.
Use the web. For the ultra-organized, go to the Yoga Journal website, print out sequences of asanas for each day of the week, and place it in a folder with color coded tabs.
DVD run. Borrow some yoga DVDs from the library at home or better yet, at your new destination—it’s a fun way to pick up the target language.
Practice with others. If you’re willing to spend some money for a real yoga class, the best way to find one is to go to Yoga Journal; they have a directory of international yoga studios. It also helps to ask locals that you meet for suggestions – many health food stores and vegetarian restaurant staff are more than likely to have suggestions in locating a studio.
Final Morsels of Advice
Toting a yoga mat can be cumbersome, but it can be used to multi-task – remember, the mat can be used for a picnic, or placed as a protective layer between you and the ground when sleeping al fresco.
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of carrying one, buy a pair of Yoga Paws or socks—they’re meant to give enough traction so that downward facing dog is a possibility whenever the urge strikes.
If the idea of forking out an hour for yoga interferes with sight-seeing plans, go for yoga spurts instead—a head stand while your buddy is in the bathroom, yoga nidra meditation on a train ride (others will just think you’re having sweet dreams), pranayama during a walk, and standing postures done randomly throughout the day—at a park, over a castle wall, or on the beach.
Use restorative poses an alcohol-free nightcap. And if you are a gifted individual who can advanced Ashtanga, it’s a great conversation starter.
For those used to using props in their practice, be creative: the phone books in the hotel room can work as blocks, that back pack as a bolster, and the benches or chairs for a supported shoulderstand.
What are some other tips for maintaining your practice on the road? Share them below.