yoga post cover via

Travelling is among the most stressful things that I make myself go through – by choice, of course. I started writing this blogpost in Tel Aviv at the airport. My flight was delayed and I already knew that I had to spend the night in Brussels, before I would get another connection flight to Glasgow via London. And if that wasn’t already enough on my poor soul, my laptop’s battery was down to 30% – before a 4 hour flight on which I wanted to edit a video. STRESS! $35 later I was the proud owner of a new world adapter with a USB port (always remember adapters!). At the time of boarding the battery was up on 87% – enough to get me through.

While a few ‘shits’ and ‘fucks’ may have left my mouth over those final hours in Tel Aviv, I was still surprisingly zen. That is until I almost missed my connection flight the next day, because Heathrow is a monster of an airport devouring every step you take. Breathe deeply – in out in out. Within a few seconds, my muscles relaxed, my jaw unclenched and a smile crossed my face again. Everything will be fine.

Two years ago, I would have probably started crying in desperation. I would have felt as if the entire world was against me, and whatever happened next would  have been the worst thing ever. But now, I didn’t. Wanna know why? One word: Yoga.

How yoga can make you a better traveler - kamah yoga - sophie saint-1

I used to be one of those yoga-sceptics – it’s not a workout, it’s just stretching; why do these poses have such weird names; and what about all the spiritual stuff?!? – but a wee trip to Costa Rica changed everything. I fell in love with yoga and have been practising ever since on a regular basis. If my yoga teacher stands next to me I can even do a headstand now. I realised that all my preconceptions were actually misconceptions, and that yoga was contributing to my life in a unique way. Here are ten ways how yoga made me a better traveller, heck, even a better person:

1) Letting go of preconceptions

I can’t possibly do this, is what I usually think when our yoga teacher shows us a new balance pose to try. And then I do it anyways. So often in life, I think I won’t like this or that, or won’t be able to do it, or won’t enjoy it, before even giving it a go. Now, whenever I hear about a new thing waiting for me down the road, I welcome it with open arms. A weird looking dish, a foreign combination of flavours, or a microlight flight over a massive waterfall? Bring it on! I’m sure it will be fun.

2) Feeling confident

That first time balanced my body on my arms without fearing that I’ll bang my face into the floor just inches away, I realised, I can do a lot more than I thought. If I can rely on my two hands to protect me from bruises, I can also rely on my feet to carry me up Mt Kilimanjaro. I can do this!

How yoga can make you a better traveler - kamah yoga - sophie saint-2

3) Knowing my body

My yoga teacher always says, ‘You might not be able to see whether your legs are in a 90 degree angle, but do they feel like they are?’. She constantly challenges us to get to know our bodies more, to establish a better perception of where our extremities are at any given point in time. That helps when you have to cross a road in deadly busy traffic, or squeezing into an already full train, or learning to surf. When you know your body and how to control it, you will be able to move amongst others in a more considerate way.

4) Listening to my body

In yoga, when you feel tired, or tense, or ill, or just not present, you take a step back. You don’t force yourself deeper into a pose, than you can physically and mentally take. It is OK to let go without calling it ‘giving up’. The same should count for your life and travels. Not every step back is a step backwards. We need to allow ourselves to re-evaluate situations and plans, and change our minds whenever we want. Most importantly we have to accept our own capabilities and see them as challenges, rather than failures.

How yoga can make you a better traveler - kamah yoga - sophie saint-3

5) Challenging yourself

On the other hand, yoga also taught me to challenge myself, not give up too early, because I’m scared or unconfident. Finding the balance between pushing your limits and giving in before it’s too much – that’s the hard part here. Always ask your self ‘can this be done?’ – living on €15 a day on a three month trip to Europe, trekking for three days in the hills of Chiang Mai, surviving a week on a sailboat when you’re scared of the ocean? You will never find out, unless you challenge your own worries and fears! Btw, the answer is always YES!

6) Being stronger

Suddenly carrying a heavy backpack on my shoulders isn’t such a pain anymore. Neither is climbing up two sets of stair with it because the hostel doesn’t have an elevator. My legs are stronger, and so are my arms and my back. If nothing else, intense yoga classes (like Vinyasa Flow sessions) are an amazing workout that strengthen your muscles, some of which you had no idea they existed.

7) Staying calm

Not just my body, also my mind became stronger with time. This has a lot to do with the constant struggle of challenge and giving in, but also with meditative breathing techniques and thankfulness for what I already have. My favourite type of breathing when I’m stressed, anxious or simply raging is Alternate Nostril Breathing. It’s an instant calmer, because it takes away all the focus from the end of the world, to actually not suffocating. I definitely needed this in Tel Aviv.

How yoga can make you a better traveler - kamah yoga - sophie saint-6

8) Wearing comfy clothes

You might wonder, why a Travelette is complaining about her self-inflicted burden of traveling in style. Well, I’m not really, but sometimes comfy clothes are just a necessity. On a long-haul flight for example, of when driving a car in a foreign country, or just hanging out in the hostel. Luckily yoga clothes are great for all that AND perfectly stylish if you go for the right brand. I got to try some of Kamah Yoga‘s clothes, which are super comfy, so soft (no idea Bamboo fabric could even be soft) and also nice looking. The jumpsuit and bat-jacket I’m wearing on the photos are my favourite two designs, because they’re so versatile. The top of the jumpsuit can be rolled down, so it’s just trousers, or worn as full outfit. I’ll never travel without it again!

9) Feeling grateful

Ever yoga lesson ends with saying thank yous to yourself, your body and your yoga teacher. We appreciate the fact that we are present in the room, we can move the way we can, and that we have a place to do so. How often do I say thank you about these kind of things outside the context of the yoga studio? Not enough… Yoga practice made me definitely more humble though, and if you let me go on about Kamah for a little longer, I can tell you how yoga and being grateful works out in reality. Kamah supports a Tibetan orphanage in India with a donation for each sold item, which enables the children to learn about their traditional faith and culture which is banned in their home country. They also give donations to a women’s house in Munich, where the label is based. And they provide free yoga clothes to the social organisation YuMiG, which practices yoga and meditation in German prisons.

10) Meditating yourself to sleep

And finally, have to ever tried to go to sleep when the hostel’s kitchen was turned into a dance floor next doors? I’m sure you’ve tried, but how often have you succeeded? Lying down in shavasana and visualising my breath flowing in and out of my body makes me incredibly sleepy. I’ve fallen asleep during meditation more than I’d like to admit, but actually this really helps, because noisy dorms or scary noises outside my tent don’t bother me so much anymore. I can meditate myself to sleep within minutes.

How yoga can make you a better traveler - kamah yoga - sophie saint-4

Do you do yoga yourself? What do you think makes a good traveler – let us know in the comments!

 

Did you enjoy this post? Never miss an awesome read, monthly give-aways and much more by joining our newsletter!