Editor’s Note: This blog post was written by Sheila Miller of Yogapedia who goes into detail about the benefits of yoga and travel.
My first time traveling abroad and doing samskara yoga
I was 16 my first time traveling abroad alone when I took a big trip without my family or any of my friends. Everyone else knew one another, and as the new kid in an existing social structure, I had the opportunity to see the consequences of my choices clearly.
Going through our daily lives, it can be difficult to detangle our own patterns and habits from the world around us. Doing so is a crucial part of the yogic practice. The yogic sages taught that in order to create lasting transformation in our lives, we must extract ourselves from karmic and behavioral patterns, called samskaras. If karma is not a concept you find helpful, consider that the patterns of belief and interpersonal interaction in your family are probably much older than you are.
That first experience of traveling alone gave my 16-year-old self a chance to determine which sufferings I could directly control, and the three-and-a-half weeks I have away convinced me I had the courage to make difficult changes and face adversity alone. When I returned, I made two big changes. My life has been better ever since.
Important aspects of yoga: studying yourself
While that might not sound like yoga at first, one of the most critical aspects of yoga practice is studying yourself. Our physical prowess amounts to mere tricks if it doesn’t relieve our suffering and change our behavior when we are in challenging situations.
Removed from our usual surroundings, we can see ourselves more clearly. The process of using our powers of reason, analysis, and observation to learn about ourselves connects to every other part of the yoga practice. In the remainder of this article, I’ll offer three ways travel can further inspire your yoga practice. Yoga and travel are easy when done right.
New Beginnings and how to stay healthy: travel and change your life
Any disruption to our schedules can be an opportunity to form new, positive habits or abandon negative ones. This is a really important point for how to stay healthy, too. Whether you’d like to eat oatmeal every day or begin setting aside 10 minutes daily for pranayama, a shift in your schedule and priorities gives a window in which to make it happen.
In addition to being free from many of our usual time constraints, we are less subject to the patterns and habits that govern us when we are outside of our usual environment. Before your next trip, you might choose a habit or activity that would bring you joy and plant the seeds of that life each day during your journey.
During an extended trip on Costa Rica getaways, I finally started using my Neti Pot daily. Those fantastical sounding claims about it improving your sleep (among many other benefits)? They proved true for me.
Going Deeper with yoga retreat vacations in 2023
Yoga can be the purpose of travel, too. Setting time aside for dedicated practice, such as going to a retreat, can help you break through plateaus and elevate the baseline satisfaction you experience with your practice.
There are so many yoga retreat vacations that it can be hard to choose. I recommend finding a teacher from whom you’d like to learn, a technique or practice you’d like to spend time with, or a place to which you feel a connection.
A retreat enables you to gather a store of resources to call upon when you return to daily life and to meet yourself very intimately. I did my first week-long, silent meditation retreat 20 years ago, and I still learn lessons from it to this day.
Yoga and travel can really influence us to stop bad habits
Even while traveling, we aren’t free of our habits, patterns, and conditioning. A journey puts us outside of our comfort zone; it’s up to us what we do while we’re there and how we can use that to stop bad habits.
One of Patanjali’s sutras on yoga that I have found especially helpful to work with while traveling is this one, Heyam duhkham anaagatam (Yoga Sutra II.16), which may be translated as “future suffering can be avoided.” This means that if it hasn’t happened yet, then we still have room to intervene.
Travel allows us to feel and experience our own reactions to thoughts and circumstances. The clutter in our minds and hearts of needing to pay the bills, be at work, and so on, quiets, and we have an opening through which to see what we would like to change.
Realizing we wish to change something in our lives can be frightening. Still, this is one of the most potent ways in which yoga and travel can go hand-in-hand. Simultaneously, being out of our usual environment affords us affirmation that we’ll be just fine. Through change, comings and goings, fear, and comfort, we’ll be alright.
OM To-Go in 2023
The main idea is this: traveling the world and the lives of others helps us to better see ourselves and the impact of our actions more clearly. No matter where you go or whether you can bring your yoga mat, you can still bring your practice. Happy travels!
Yogapedia is dedicated to curating knowledge from around the globe. Our intention is to help seekers turn within and connect with the Self (Ātman) through a shared understanding of the philosophy and practice of yoga.
Don’t forget to check out Glamping Hub’s guest blog on Yogapedia, too—read on here.