Traveling can be great fun, but it can also be a strain on your body and mind. Rushing for flights, changing time zones, sitting for extended periods, poor food, and new environments disrupt our daily routines and rhythms. Also, being on the go we find ourselves choosing convenient fast food options and throwing our regular balanced diet out the window.
Being on the move and out of our usual routine while traveling naturally increases Vata, the Dosha with the qualities of mobility, coldness, dryness, roughness and instability. As these qualities are naturally increased in your mind and body, this can result in sleep disturbances such as insomnia, jet lag, constipation, dry skin, anxiety, bloating, gas, fear, worry, low moods and fatigue.
Here are five tips to keep your mind and body in balance while on the go.
1. Practice yoga asanas mid flight.
Keep your circulation pumping to prevent body aches and stiffness. Keep moving on the plane, get up and go for a walk every hour. Some easy postures for flying are:
- Gently touch your toes, then reach up towards the sky a few times.
- Hug your arms around yourself, trying to touch your shoulder blades with your fingertips. Once in that position, stretch your neck by pressing your ears towards your shoulders both left and right.
- Holding the armrest, gently twist shoulders and head towards the back of your seat.
- Hug your knees to your chest while sitting.
2. Stay hydrated.
The oxygen used in the aircraft cabin is extremely dehydrating to the body. This can cause dry skin, fatigue, constipation and poor concentration. So drink plenty of water a few days prior to flying and during the flight.
Avoid further dehydration by avoiding the complimentary tea, coffee and alcohol, as these are diuretic in nature. Drink warm water or spiced tea, such as ginger. This helps to keep the fluid levels up but also keeps that Vata in check.
Apply oil during traveling; oil is the best way to calm Vata. Carry a little 100ml container of oil to massage your face, ears, belly, arms and feet. Apply a little oil to your nostrils and ear canals to prevent drying; this also acts as a barrier for any bugs that may be floating in the air. Black sesame and almond oil are best.
3. Never eat airplane food!
Airplane food (if you can even call it food) is devoid of vitality and nutrients. Combined with impaired digestive function due to the irregular nature and movement of travel, this makes it hard on the body to digest, assimilate and absorb the food, causing toxic build up (called Ama in Ayurvedic medicine).
Try to eat a main meal 1 – 2 hours before traveling and pack something light to eat on the flight such as sweet, juicy fruits. Fruits are ideal, as they're high in fiber and water content.
4. Take the herbal supplement Triphala.
People often become constipated when traveling due to the increased Vata, impaired digestive function and disruption of routine. Taking two Triphala capsules at bedtime gently aids bowel movements and tones the colon. Triphala also contains Amalaki, a fruit that contains loads of vitamin C! This will help support the immune system to help fight off any bugs you may pick up on the flight.
5. Have a regular routine.
The more you can keep a routine similar to yours at home, the easier the change will be on your body. When crossing time zones, set your watch to the destination time zone as soon as you get on the plane. Eat your meal when it's 12-12.30 p.m. destination time, and start preparing for sleep around 10 p.m. This supports the circadian rhythm (body clock) and will alleviate the effects of jet lag.
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