During the festive season we find ourselves often on the move and out of our normal routine, causing us to feel imbalanced, fatigued or “out of sorts”.
Traveling has been a big part of my life, visiting over twenty countries living and working abroad. Travel, especially via air, can be very strenuous on the body. Over the years, I have learned to apply the principles of Ayurveda to combat the effects of travel.
One of vata’s qualities is mobile and so travel tends to aggravate the vata dosha. The elements of air and ether are increased in the body and mind and can leave us feeling ungrounded. From the re-circulated air, low humidity, temperature, changes in cabin pressure to excessive movement and eating foods often low in prana, our body’s functions can become under stress.
To prepare the body before travel:
Kitchari is gentle on the system and keeps agni enkindled so is a great pre-travel meal to prepare (and great to bring in a thermos for a warm meal on the plane!)
Keep well hydrated
Administer nasya – lubricating the nasal passage with warm oil can bring calmness to the mind and combat the drying effects of the planes’ circulated air
A self-abyhanga with warm sesame oil can help the skin stay nourished and keep the nervous system calm
Meditate – travel can often fill people with anxiety due to delayed schedules or fear of the unknown – by practicing meditation before leaving home, it gives the mind a chance to reach a deeper level of calmness helping to problem-solve any challenges that may be ahead
Some tips for during transit:
Carry a small dropper with rosewater to use as eye drops for dry, irritated eyes
Wear soothing oils such as sandalwood or lavender to help you rest and reduce the anxiety of flying; place in a spray bottle with water for a refreshing face mist
Avoid alcohol, coffee and black tea – choose water and herbal teas – pack a few teabags from home such as licorice, tulsi or ginger. Request hot water from the steward and put into your own small flask
Fasting during a flight can relieve the stress on your digestion
Snacks such as fresh dates, soaked and peeled almonds and raisins or other dried fruit will give you the energy you need when you are feeling tired or overwhelmed
Get up and move – a few easy yoga moves such as side bends, leg lifts and forward folds can keep the blood circulating and prana flowing
Practice deep full breathing – this can bring much needed oxygen to the brain to keep you feeling alert and bright. It’s a great time to listen to those guided meditations you have downloaded but “not found the time for”
At your destination you can include the following into your routine:
Adjusting to your new time zone can be difficult but aim to sleep at night with the new time zone as best you can. If sunny, go outside and let the sun soak into your skin for 20minutes, particularly your forearms. Sunbathing can reset your body clock to local time, helping you keep alert.
If experiencing jetlag the following herbs can assists: jatamansi (from the family of valerian), ashwagandha or tagar (similar to melatonin)
A foot massage or a self-abhyanga with warm oil can help calm the nervous system and aid rest in your new location
Practice some yoga poses such as cleansing twists for kidney and digestive support, backward bends for spinal stiffness and any inverted poses to help with blood flow back to the brain. (contra-indicated if menstruating)
Eating different foods and drinking water in another location can affect digestion, ensuring you have some triphala in your suitcase will help with keeping your bowels regular and cleansed
Being on holidays is a wonderful opportunity to immerse in a new culture, to try different foods and stimulate new ideas through experiences. Whilst away from home, maintaining usual daily routine is an important part of keeping the doshas in balance, especially vata. However, a holiday is also about allowing spontaneity into the daily routine. It’s important to fully embrace the time away from home to nourish your inner happiness. Only then will you return feeling truly refreshed and nourished.