Yoga While Traveling
By Jen Coco and Elisabeth Hinckley
Are you one of the 36.7M Americans that practice yoga? When you go on the road, do you leave your yoga practice at home?
It is not always easy to keep your flow on while travelling.
We asked one of our favorite Yoginis, Jen Coco, who teaches yoga in Barbados and Southern California, for some tips on how to enjoy the benefits of yoga away from home, when we don’t have much time, space, or access to a class.
Here is her travel-friendly program that you can do anywhere, anytime.
Each of these poses helps increase blood flow, stretch the body, and can be either relaxing or rejuvenating depending on what your body needs. Jen recommend doing them in this order, but they can be done in any order, in any combination, and they are also great by themselves!
- Half Sun Salutations – Start standing tall with hands at heart center. As you inhale reach your arms up overhead and touch your palms together, as you exhale hinge at your hips and come into a forward fold, keeping your knees bent as much as needed. Inhale lift halfway up with your hands on your shins and back flat, exhale and fold forward again. On your inhale ground down through the feet and press all the way back up to standing, touching palms overhead, exhale and draw your hands back to your heart center. Repeat at least 5 times.
This will get the breath flowing through the whole body, it will start to circulate the blood, and build some heat and energy. These do not take up much space; so can be done in a hotel room, in the airport, or even in the aisle of an airplane!
- Downward Facing Dog – start on hands and knees in tabletop with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Step your hands forward about three inches, tuck your toes under and press your hips up and back toward the sky. Keep the knees bent as much as you need to, and then try peddling the legs by bending and straightening one leg at a time. As you root down through the palms, send energy up your spine to your hips, then breathe that energy down the backs of the legs. If your heels don’t touch the floor, energetically root them down toward the earth. Draw your shoulders up away from your ears to make space around your neck. Take 5-10 deep breaths then rest back to tabletop.
- Child’s Pose – From tabletop, bring the inner edges of your feet to touch, toes pointed back so the tops of your feet are flat on the floor. Bring your knees together, hip-width apart, or out a bit wider than your hips. Sit your hips back onto your heels and drape your torso forward over your legs until the center of your forehead is on the floor. Arms can extend forward or down alongside the legs.
This is a great pose to relax the shoulders, stretch out the spine and the hips, and to turn your gaze inward. Forward folds are very introspective postures; so use this one to gently stretch the body as well as to tune into what you may be feeling/dealing with mentally or emotionally. Take 10 slow deep breaths.
- Reclined Cobbler’s Pose or Reclined Butterfly Pose – this is a gentle hip opener, which can be much needed if you’ve been traveling for a few hours by car or plane. Lie on your back, bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together, then let your knees drop apart. Let the full weight of the torso rest down, and let the knees fall heavy to the sides. If this feels too intense for your hips, you can cross your shins in the middle and then let the knees drop out to the sides. Be sure to switch which shin is front and repeat for the same amount of time on the second side. Your arms can be down along your sides, resting on your body, or for a gentle shoulder opener you can reach them up overhead in a diamond shape.
- Spinal Twist – a great one to stretch out the spine, the hips, the legs, the side body, and to wring out internal toxins. Start on your back with knees bent and the soles of both feet on the floor. Cross your right leg all the way over your left, slide your hips a few inches to the right and then let your knees drop over to the left. Extend your right arm out to the side and turn your gaze over toward your right palm. Your left hand can rest on your belly, on your right thigh, or extend out the left side. Take 10 slow deep breaths, releasing into the twist with each exhale. Come back to center and switch sides, left leg over right, and then 10 deep breaths on that side.
- 6. Legs up the Wall – This can be done many places as well, from a hotel room, to the airport, to the airplane. It is really rejuvenating to get the feet up above the heart and let the heart pump blood up to the feet rather than down. This is especially important for circulation if you’ve been sitting for a few hours, and a great way to restore at the end of the day.
Sit sideways and bring your hips up against a wall. Slowly roll down onto your back as you extend your legs up straight against the wall. Let your legs relax and begin to feel weightless. Close your eyes and rest your arms down along your sides, on your body, or up overhead. Slow down your breath, evening out the length of your inhales and exhales. Try it for 10 minutes to start.
Thank you Jen for these travel-friendly poses!
Another tip from savvy traveler Jen is to make your travels comfortable so that you arrive at your destination rested and ready to go! On the long flights from LAX to Barbados, she enjoys the HappyLuxe Paris Travel Set. It has everything you need to get quality sleep on an airplane: a sleep mask to block out the light, a perfectly sized travel pillow , and a luxurious wrap/travel blanket that keeps you warm and cozy, even on a cramped and crowded airplane.
And, in case you are planning a trip to Barbados in October, here is information on her yoga retreat.
If you are in the Los Angeles area, you can also take classes with Jen at Harmony Yoga in Redondo Beach.