Call it the late winter blues, a response to stagnation, trauma recovery… Call it what you will… I am up for adventure!
From kayaking under the stars alongside Orcas, hiking the Himalayas to the source of the Ganges, to one day seeing the disappearing Bengal tigers, I am dreaming, and I am believing. After all, this is our one wild and precious life – how are we going to live it?
Adventure begins tomorrow when I fly to India for the International Yoga Festival 2017, followed by an Organic Retreat at Dr Vandana Shiva’s paradigm-shifting Navdanya farm, and then a few more weeks to see if we can get a girls’ school up and running at Parmarth Niketan‘s Ganga Shala near Rishikesh.
Over the years I’ve picked up tips for travel from friends and from Ayurveda. I am particularly grateful to Renu Gulati for the Ayurvedic protocols and to Randy Spicocchi for the globe-trotting entrepreneur’s tips.
Travelling stirs our Vata, which we all have, though some more than others. Being the air and space element, movement, expansion, change, being airborne and lifted up into space, meeting new people, opening to new experiences – all characteristics of modern travel – is said to vitiate Vata.
Luckily Ayurveda’s favorite way of calming Vata is with oil massage. Right after taking off, do these three simple things. It will make all the difference to how well you fly and how quickly you recover from the flight once landed.
a. Remove your shoes, massage your feet with oil, and cover with cotton socks. Leave socks on for the duration of the flight, and reapply oil as needed.
b. Oil your ears. Yes, your ears. Inside. Dab your pinkie in oil and insert gently into your ear. Pull on your ear lobe to encourage its inward flow. Repeat on the other side.
c. Oil your nose. If you haven’t already, you might want to head to the restroom for this one. Dab a clean pinkie into the oil again, and insert gently into a nostril. Close the alternate nostril and breathe deeply through the just oiled nostril. Repeat on the other side.
You can use sesame oil, or coconut oil or even a botanically medicated oil, like Nasya.
- Ginger Lemon Tea
Ginger is excellent for Vata. It reduces nausea, improves digestion, encourges healthy circulation and helps with neurological balance. Lemon is great for hydration, the dehydration of travel being another symptom of Vata. Pack tea bags in your carry-on and ask the steward for lots of hot water.
- Legs Up
You’d think it would be your neck that would most need support. Or that a pillow would signal to your body comfort and rest. Turns out it’s lifting the legs that lets your body know it is time to relax. Plus, of course, it helps with circulation. Book a seat with extra legroom. Once the Captain gives the okay, put your carry-on in front of you and rest your legs on top. Try to get your legs up to hip height. Right away you will notice a difference in how you feel and how you sleep.
Bonus: Put one of the plane pillows under the small of your back for support, and request a second for your head. A pillow does still signal comfort, and holding it gives your arms a place to rest too.
Walk whenever you can. Walk the airport, walk the aisle of the plane. You can also do Yoga in the airports, and I always do Yoga on the plane. There’s usually just enough room at the back of the plane to do some yoga poses – leg lifts, arms stretched overhead, swings side to side, forward folds. Once I was looked at as weird, nowadays people seem to enjoy it – and it’s a great conversation starter.
Triphala is a gentle Ayurvedic herbal formula that reduces the doshas so often stirred by long-distance travel. Not only will it help keep you balanced, whole, grounded and strong, it helps with elimination, a common issue for travellers.
- Pack your own food
Someone once told me that airline food is prepared months in advance. Which sounds organized, and efficient – but it doesn’t sound like real food! Real food doesn’t last three to six months, unless it is dried in which case it needs to be cooked, or canned and I don’t think we are talking about grandma’s stewed tomatoes or country pickles.
Not only is airline food really just filler, it is usually high in sodium. So if you want your shoes to fit, your belly to digest, and your immune to stay strong, take control of your meals by packing easy, fresh and light.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Rose Petal Truffles – Ideal for Vata-balancing Ojas, and easy to pack.
Beans and Greens – With immune-boosting digestive spices, this is warm and hearty, while being light and easy to digest.
Coconut Rice Dumplings – Easy to make, easy to carry, easy to love.
Kichari Balls – Make your patties small like a golf ball and pack yogurt dip in a small jar for a wholesome, body-loving treat.
Chocolate Chip Cookies – Because even cookies are healthier than dead filler. Besides, these are full of healthy goodness and they pack easily.
Of course, fresh fruit and vegetables are the easiest and freshest.
It’s tempting to watch all the movies, or complete unfinished projects, or chat with your travel companion, but sleep is the most essential friend you’ve got on a long-distance journey. If you think you will need it, pack sleep aids – herbal supplements like Calms Forte or this Ayurvedic tablet or Melatonin, as well as ear buds and an eye pillow.Consider bringing epsom salts for a restorative bath when you arrive. Pick what works and pack it. Sleep is non-negotiable.
I will be taking a group to India – Rishikesh, Navdanya, Ganges Retreat, with Ayurveda + Yoga – this time next year. Would you like to come?
What helps you travel well? And what adventure are you ready to take?
I wish you experiences rich with awe. May you always be nourished by this mighty, majestic, beautiful world of ours. Namaste!