I recently had a student make a comment about not being able to practice yoga because she was going to be traveling for work and there weren’t any studios near the remote location. “What an awesome opportunity!” I told her. She looked a little irritated and confused, until we talked a little further about her concerns and how she could use the trip as an opportunity to be her own yoga teacher.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the ritual act of yoga — the event of driving to the studio, the tradition of changing out of our work clothes and into our yoga gear — that we forget one does not necessitate the other. Yoga can happen anywhere and everywhere. There’s no right or wrong place or outfit or practice structure. There are an infinite number of places to get your OM on, because you carry your yoga with you.
There are plenty of times when I travel that I may not have the luxury of cargo space for my yoga mat. But, depending on where and when I’m going, a mat isn’t always a necessity. If you’re going somewhere that has a nice spot outdoors where you can practice, you don’t even need a mat. Allow the earth to be your foundation and support your practice. There’s no yoga mat as skid-free as the beach, for instance. However, if a mat still makes or breaks whether or not you practice, there are plenty of options like travel mats and yoga paws.
20 Minute Quickie Yoga Practice
Now that the mat situation is out of the way, let’s let go of the need to be taught in a structured class setting. Whether or not you’re a seasoned yogi, even 5 minutes of gentle stretching and a few downward dogs followed by 5 minutes of meditation will help you face the day with a calm, centered sense of being. A lengthy practice isn’t beneficial if the focused attention isn’t there. Here is a quick 20 minute morning yoga practice routine that you can use anywhere you go:
- Centering (2 minutes) – begin in a comfortable cross-legged position, and just begin to connect with the breath. Don’t forget to set an intention for your practice like “letting go of the need for the perfect practice and just embrace the process.”
- Gentle warm-up (3 minutes) – warm up the body with some gentle neck stretches, shoulder rolls, cat/cow, and gentle twists
- 3 Sun Salutations (~ 3 minutes) – Surya Namaskar C is a great one if you’re pressed for time. Here’s a link to a Sun Salutation Chart that you can print and take with you as a cheat sheet
- Tree pose (2 minutes) – Once you’ve taken your time to set up & get into your tree pose, hold for 5 breaths each side
- Bridge pose (3 minutes) – Lying on your back with your arms by your sides, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the mat. Feet are hip width and parallel, and close enough to graze your fingertips. Press up into two or three bridges in a gentle flow before holding one for 5 breaths.
- Knee down twists (2 minutes) – To release your back after a backbend, keep your knees bent and gently let the knees fall side to side like windshield wipers. Then allow both knees to fall to the left for 5 or 10 breaths and then switch sides and repeat.
- Savasana (5 minutes) – Before making your way into savasana, make any final adjustments you need to get comfortable. You may choose to hug the knees into the chest or take Happy Baby Pose. Finally, extend both legs flat on the mat or floor or ground, and let the arms fall by the sides slightly away from the body, palms up. Close the eyes, and reconnect with the breath as you did in centering. Allow yourself to let go and receive your practice for 5 minutes before gently bringing your awareness back to the room, and making your way to a seated position to close the practice.
Asana is excellent preparation for meditation. To round out your practice, you may choose to spend 5 minutes allowing your mind to further settle into stillness by meditating. Set your iPhone for five minutes (with the gentlest alarm sound you can find so you’re not worried about the time. If the thought of spending five minutes in silence seems silly or even daunting, here’s a guided meditation to help focus awareness for a restless mind. Be sure to come out of meditation slowly and ease-fully even if you don’t think you went too deep. This allows your nervous system to gently come back to a wakened state.
Oh the places you’ll yoga
I’ll practice yoga just about anywhere — literally. I’ve practiced in a parking lot with no mat, in a park on the grass, on the beach, on a deck, in a hotel room, in my office, in the clinic room at the doctor, in my living room, in my bedroom, in my car (meditation), on a dock by a lake, on a farm (you get where I’m headed). The point is, disconnecting your yoga practice from a particular location or association, frees you to experience your yoga from the inside out. See if you can make a personal game out of it. Where will you challenge yourself to practice yoga tomorrow?
Your yoga practice can become as much a part of you as breathing if you allow it.
- Your Charmed Yogi
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