I am so very grateful for my ashtanga yoga practice for making me a more independent yogi. Because it has become a deeply ingrained routine, it is easier for me to continue my practice uninterrupted when I travel. There is so much to learn about oneself, one’s habits and inclinations when we take our practice with us. Of course it is an adventure balancing on new terrain or stretching under fresh circumstances, sometimes in the company of diverse teachers and fellow practitioners. It can be a challenge to squeeze a mat into places yoga may never have gone before and to find time to practice within the chaos of an unpredictable schedule without disturbing others. But, as always, the rewards tend to be self-reinforcing.
I encourage all yoga practitioners to experiment with taking your practice with you wherever you travel. A yoga mat is easy enough to pack, but the usual trappings are unnecessary. I remember David Swenson saying he and his brother practiced yoga on bed sheets in a park. It is a testament to the practice that we can find yoga communities almost anywhere in the US and many places abroad. But, we can also find value in practicing alone, alongside the bed in the hotel room or on the lawn of our host’s home.
Make travel yoga a challenge and an adventure. Just as with going on retreat, “leaving behind one’s homeland” offers a unique opportunity to deepen a practice. Maintaining our devotion under uncertain circumstance takes dedication and becomes an exercise in cognitive flexibility, patience, and acceptance. The fruits of this become like precious gifts we take with us to nourish and sustain our practice when we return home.
The most important pieces of equipment you need for doing yoga are your body and your mind. – Rodney Yee, Yoga: The Poetry of the Body