Travel to far away places brings excitement and adventures. Jet lag and travel exhaustion can be a temporary damper to new experiences. Building on your regular yoga practice will help you adapt to your new surroundings more quickly.
Preparation is key! With packing, planning, and anxiety of finishing everything up, the days before leaving can be stressful! Keeping up with your regular yoga and meditation practice also helps to keep you mentally balanced.
High levels of stress impacts your immune system, so try to stick to your regular bedtime schedule. Getting sufficient, good quality sleep is the best way to keep yourself from getting sick at the beginning of your journey.
The long journey begins and you’ll (hopefully!) reach your destination soon. Start changing your body clock by sleeping according to the new time zone.
Being confined to a small space with your body stuck in a static position seems to be the norm when traveling. Whenever you have the opportunity to move about, do so, even if it’s just for a few seconds or minutes.
When the body stays still for long periods, blood circulation slows and the muscles become stiff. Get up, stretch, move your back, arms, and legs to get blood flowing. Walk, do some asanas, or modified asanas where possible.
Even if you’re stuck in the middle seat of an airplane, moving is still possible. Pointing and flexing the feet works the lower body and improves circulation. Make rolling circles with the neck, and then your shoulders. Arching and rounding the back helps release tension.
Reaching one arm up and over to the other side stretches the side of the torso. Depending on your flexibility, you might get a leg up toward the ceiling to stretch the hamstrings. To finish, breathing exercises (pranayama like Kapalabhati and Anuloma Viloma) will help increase blood and oxygen circulation to your entire body.
Arriving to a New Adventure
You’ve arrived at last and you’re so tired your eyelids refuse to open.
As much as you may want to stay awake to get over the jet lag quickly, remember to be gentle with yourself. Don’t throw away the awareness and acceptance you work so hard to cultivate practising yoga and meditation.
Perhaps you can to take advantage of your jet lag – some experiences only take place at times of the day which normally seem crazy, so embrace where you are and what is happening.
When you finally do awake, it can be really difficult! Rouse yourself just like after savasana. Breathe a little deeper, bring your mind to your body, wiggle your fingers and toes, and then give yourself a big stretch!
If you’re really feeling sluggish, do a few very slow rounds of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) to chase the Tamas (lethargy) out. Practicing this while facing the sun is best as the light helps adjust your inner clock quicker.
Listen to your body when it signals that you desperately need sleep. Balancing your needs (to sleep) and desires (to be awake) is a delicate yet important endeavour.
A gentle, consistent yoga practice will help your body energize and get back into its routine in your new time zone. Breathe and enjoy the experience!