I’m going on a big long holiday and along with the excitement of travel comes the realisation that I have about thirty-four hours in a variety of planes to look forward to, jet lag, beds that aren’t my own, and a new schedule to adapt to that won’t be the consistent every day. So, I have to accept the fact that my normal yoga routine and system of self-care is going to go to shit and if I don’t do something about it I’m likely to go a little crazy. But that’s alright, and I’m not going to stress too much about it.
What I am going to do is be realistic with myself and make sure I have a maintenance plan in order to keep me energised, calm, and rested throughout the extraordinary experience I have planned for myself (hint hint it involves the Great Wall of China among other wonders).
So here’s my plan which I’ll do my best to stick to.
1. Front-load practice before departing
I want to arrive with some yoga fuel in my tank. So, especially before I get on that plane I’m going to have a long practice, a long savasana, and a long meditation. I want to have a reserve of peace and good balanced energy in my body. If I can, I’ll do this for a few days before hand.
2. Keep practice short, simple, and consistent
I’m not going to be doing 60-90 minutes every day. I’m just not. I’m going to be too busy exploring and enjoying with early wake-up calls, planes to catch, and tours to meet. I do yoga to support my life and not to avoid it. It’s alright to let my normal routine slacken a bit. So if I can get in 15-20 minutes in regularly – even simple stretches and movements wherever I can find it – that’s just fine. If I’m too ambitious it’s either not going to happen or it’s going to prevent me from fully using the limited time I have available.
3. Don’t be limited to being on a mat
I don’t have room in my suitcase for a mat, nor do I really want to schlep it around. But that’s alright, I can stretch while sitting in a chair in an airport terminal. I can find a corner in my hotel room by the minibar to do the best I can. I can stretch my shoulders while queuing in passport control. I can take care of myself in whatever way I need no matter where I am in small but effective ways.
4. If I’m stuck somewhere without much to do, use the time for good
For those many hours cramped on a plane, I’m queuing up some podcasts and dharma talks in longer form than I usually do for my tube commutes, to flood my mind and heart with some positive influence. So that long Pema Chodron audiobook here I come whilst flying somewhere over India. There will be some movies too, but I’ll use some of the time for self- care rather than distracting myself from the joy of being stuck in a tiny seat in a metal tube.
5. Give myself rest
I’m going to be super active on holiday whilst exploring, and at a deficit for rest because of jet lag, so my priority is going to be restorative and gentle practice to give my body rest and prepare myself to sleep. I may not have bolsters, but there are always pillows, cushions, towels and jumpers to help me get a bit of release.
6. I’m not going to regress
The idea of linear progression and losing steam is just an imagined problem we create for ourselves. There is only responding to and supporting the experience of now. Handstands and arm balances will still be waiting for me ready to go when I get back, for now I’m going to enjoy where I am.
7. There’s always time and space to meditate
Even if I can find a few moments of stillness, observing my breath, and resting in my immediate experience, I know it will remind me to bring that sensory awareness and clarity to enjoying the experience of my holiday.
So when you go on long holidays or business trips, use some of the above, and have your own game plan to best experience your time away and maintain your system of self-care.