The Yoga of Travel
Journeys to Bliss – A column by Vicky Iskandar
A journey becomes more meaningful when you see everything that you experience during your trip as yoga. Whether we travel for adventures or to relax, our journeys should inspire us and transform us into better individuals. Being flexible has its rewards – the joy of travel comes from an open mind and often the best travel experiences are those unexpected, spontaneous moments made on a whim.
Here are five ways of seeing your travels as yoga.
1) Traveling brings you into the present
I’ve found that traveling is one of the best ways to be present. When I’m in a foreign place, I become focused on what I need to do now to fulfill the most basic needs, like trying to understand the language, getting from one place to another, where to eat, and what to eat at this very moment.
2) You are more aware when you are in an unfamiliar environment
Travel takes you out of your comfort zone. When everything around you is unfamiliar, you notice more of what’s going on without attachment or judgment. What the gentleman across from you is eating and wearing, what the ladies behind you are chatting about, the subtle way the couple next to you are communicating with each other, the waiter’s nervousness – everything becomes more vivid. Colors seem brighter, and you notice the smallest things.
3) Being in nature gets you closer to the spirit within
Forget backbends. Traveling can be an effective heart opener. Most of us live in modern societies where nature may not be as accessible as when we travel. There are waterfalls to see, valleys to explore, local flora to admire, and sunsets to watch. You can feel the work of the divine when you get a profound sense of awe, inspiration, and wonder from time spent in nature. There are many sacred places around the world where the natives have prayed for generations to nature and have seen the divine reflections of deities in the forces of nature. You don’t even have to make a long pilgrimage to feel the power of nature. Take a walk in the woods or on the beach whenever you need to find the spirit within.
4) Traveling is a great exercise in facing your fears
We tend to remember the good things that happen when we’re on the road but the truth is, traveling is stressful. Things don’t work as fast or as efficient as they do at home. Just like the practice of yoga, the act of travel has a way of releasing negative emotions that need to surface. Fears – of getting sick, being hit in chaotic traffic, missing a flight, etc, are probably the most common. When fears, anger, impatience, and other negative emotions arise, acknowledge them, deal with them, detach, and let them go.
5) It’s all about slowing down and going deeper
Traveling is not just about going somewhere so that you can tell yourself and others that you’ve been there. You’ll only be scratching the surface if you only check out the places you’ve read about in guidebooks or seen in movies. Go deeper in your travels by immersing yourself in the different cultures, learning how people on the other side of the world live, participating in their rituals, eating the local food, and making efforts to have one-on-one conversations with local residents, no matter how short. Slow down and stay longer in one place instead of trying to get to as many places as possible. When you open up to a place, the place warms up to you.