Let’s be honest – traveling can take a toll on our bodies. Not just the wear and tear of lugging suitcases or scaling mountains, but also the havoc it can wreak on our systems as we cross new time zones, change routines, digest new foods and experience new weather patterns.
Yoga is a great way to show your body a little TLC after a long day (week, month) of pushing your limits. It’s free and as long as you have space to stand up and lie down in your hostel or hotel room, there’s room to do yoga. What’s not to love?
For help, I turned to Kerry Maiorca co-owner and manager of Bloom Yoga Studio in Chicago.
“If you’ve already had some experience with yoga—practicing the postures and the deep breathing—it will automatically bring you back to a feeling of comfort because it’s very familiar to your body and your mind,” says Kerry. “If you haven’t, just the experience of being more comfortable in your body can make you more comfortable mentally when you’re in a high-alert state from being in a new environment. Whether you need to unwind after a long day of sightseeing or want a gentle way to wake up, the nice thing about yoga is that you can customize it to fit your needs.”
Here are some examples:
- Cat & cow:
Start on all fours with a flat back.
Draw in the belly button and round the back and shoulders, dropping the head.
Slowly release and arch your back and shoulders, lifting the head. This will help release tension in the back
- Child’s pose:
Sitting on your knees, slowly drop your chest and extend your arms forward, letting your legs stretch sideways. Try to extend so that your forehead is resting on the floor. You should feel this in your hips.
Step into a lunge, pointing your front foot forward and your back foot sideways. Keep your gaze in front of you, keep the core strong and stretch out the arms. Take care not to pitch your weight too far forward so that the knee is in front of your foot. You should feel your quads firing in this exercise.
- Wide-leg forward bend
Straddle the legs in a wide stance and bend forward at the waist. Try to place your palms on the floor and keep the back flat. You should feel this in your hamstrings and calves.
- Extended side angle:
Lunge in the same way as you did for Warrior pose, bend your arm and rest it on your leg. (Same arm, same leg idea here: left leg is in front so rest your left arm on top). Rotate your torso towards the ceiling and extend the other arm up above your head. Again, be sure to align your knee directly above your foot. You will feel your quads firing and a stretch extending from your hip to your shoulder.
Lie flat on your belly. Put your hands flat on the ground in alignment with your ribs and press up to create small arch in the back. Try not to grip the buttocks on this pose. You should feel the stretch in your lower back.
Lie flat on your back, bend your knees and keep your feet and arms flat on the ground. Push your hips and torso up.
This will help release the lower back.
- Crouch pose
Kerry says this is a good one to do on your bed. Great for the lower back. Simply lie flat on your back and gently hug your knees. Clasp your hands just below the knees.
- Downward dog
Great all-purpose pose, ideal for stretching out after a long day of physical activity. Start in a squat and place your hands in front of you. Push your bottom up and walk your hands forward to create a ‘V’ with your body, dropping the head. This is an intense stretch for the calves and hamstrings and releases the lower back.
- Shoulder stretch
Press your palms together with your fingers spread apart and place your forearms against the wall. Back your feet away from the wall until you’ve flattened your back and gently relax into the pose.
- Relaxation pose
Lie on your back, feet shoulder width apart and your palms facing the ceiling. Use this pose to practice lots of deep breathing, especially at the end of a long day before you go to sleep.