Konichiwa! Hello from Tokyo.
I love to travel and I have had the good fortune of traveling a lot. I spent half of my 20’s road tripping around US and backpacking through Southeast Asia and India and I’ve been going strong ever since. I also lived in Thailand and Brazil (and now New York which also feels like a foreign country at times!). As much as my soul thrives when I am out experiencing new places, cultures, and cuisines, I know my body craves a healthy routine and can suffer from straying too far from my regular daily habits. More than once I have arrived home from a trip feeling worn out, 5 pounds heavier and achy from neglecting my yoga practice. I know that being “on the road” (or on a plane, in a train, on a boat) and out of a regular routine can take a serious toll on our health, energy level, skin, and weight. This is why so many people say they need a vacation to recover from their vacations! And it is also why so many people are inspired to start a diet or work out program the minute they get home and unpack their bags. But what if traveling didn’t mean abandoning the healthy lifestyle you love?
For years I have watched as my clients took time off from their yoga practice and healthy habits to travel. They usually returned home feeling out of sorts – bloated, exhausted and a little anxious. Of course it is natural – and even healthy to a certain extent – to take time “off” from our routines…. But for a lot of people, traveling (even for a weekend away) can take us off track from the bigger intentions and goals we say we want.
I believe it is possible to travel and maintain a healthy routine without feeling deprived. It starts with our mindset. Rather than throwing out all good habits as soon as we leave home, we can modify some of our most useful habits and take them on the road with us. I don’t like categorize my life into days “on” and days “off” – I see it all as time and what I choose to do with it. The same holds true with my food and exercise routine. Rather than being “on” or “off” of a certain plan, I try to embrace healthy living as a lifestyle – no matter where I am. To me this means making the best choices possible the majority of the time but never forcing myself to adhere to a strict or rigid set of rules.
This is what I really try to embody and teach in all my yoga lifestyle coaching programs. When we approach healthy eating and yoga practice as something with a lot of rules and restrictions, we often feel a childish inner rebel come out when we travel and are away from our kitchens or yoga mats. We feel a desire to break all the so-called “rules” and overindulge ourselves.
I love to travel. I know many of you do too. I also value my energy integrity and vibrant health. I don’t want to compromise them in the name of a good time every time I leave home. Sometimes it happens – but more often than not, I am able to adapt my healthy routines to accommodate my travel plans and still leave enough space and freedom to never feel deprived. Of course I want to experiment and indulge in local delights when I am in a new place! That is half the fun! I also want to return home feeling as good as when I left. I believe it is possible. You can have your cake and eat it too.
One of the main principles I live by is the 80-20 rule. This means that I eat super clean, nutrient dense, pure, healthy, life-giving food 80% of the time. Then I leave a little allowance of 20% of the time for dessert, a glass of wine, a piece of pizza. (I live in NY after all. It would be criminal to never eat pizza). Now the truth be told, my regular diet is often closer to 90-10%…But 80-20 for most people, and certainly while traveling, is a great start! It encourages us to make healthy choices the majority of the time but with a small window for indulgence so we never feel deprived. This is key. Being overly rigid with your diet is a number one cause of “falling off the wagon” and making poor choices that totally sabotage your big goals: high energy, vibrant health, radiant beauty.
Some of the other ways I take my healthy habits on the road and keep myself honest:
Travel yoga mat. I like the Manduka travel mat because it folds up like a thin t-shirt, but there are several good brands available. Now while I probably won’t be hitting the mat for a full 90-minute practice while traveling, it is essential that I move my body every day. I start the morning with some sun salutations and whatever other poses feel good in my body that morning. I include a lot of hip openers, thigh stretches, and some standing poses to help open the channels of my lower body so I feel more grounded and at home – away from home.
Probiotics. I swear by them. They are essential for gut health and digestion which often get compromised when traveling and eating foods you don’t normally eat. I fully accept that I will make more relaxed choices around what I eat when I am away from home – so a big dose of probiotics helps me stay healthy inside and avoid the unpleasant bloating and other symptoms of traveler’s belly.
Triphala tablets. Triphala is an Ayurvedic herb that detoxifies the GI tract and keeps things running smoothly if you know what I mean. A gem for anyone who gets a little backed up when away from home. It also supports proper digestion, circulation and respiratory function. Don’t leave home without it.
Athletic Greens. Have you heard of them? They are a green food supplement and a major game changer. I recently started taking athletic greens every day – whether traveling or at home. As you may know, I am obsessed with green juice. But while finding green juice in New York is as easy as buying water; that obviously isn’t the case everywhere! Athletic Greens is a green food powder form that you mix with water. It is relatively inexpensive (about 1/3 the price of fresh green juice), practical, and actually tastes really good! These greens are key for me when traveling to make sure I am getting plenty of phytonutrients and have high energy even if I am not eating the way I normally eat at home.
If you are curious about Athletic Greens there is a special promotion running this month – click here to learn more.
Nasya Oil. After 14 hours on a plane my sinuses were dried out and irritated. I love the oil by Shaktiveda and I snort it on a regular basis. I will write more on why yogis snort oil in another post… But know this, oil in the nostrils helps clear your pathways, unblock mucas, reduce allergies, and opens subtle channels to receive prana to have more clarity and higher awareness. So get some nasya oil and start sniffing.
I hope these tips help you when you are out on your own adventures! I would love to hear what practices you keep in place to stay healthy while traveling. Please post in the comments below.