Higher Ground on the Road
Few things are better than sharing the gift of yoga with those from afar, both giving and receiving the many lessons that this ancient practice has to offer. Though Higher Ground hasn’t done any official touring yet, in 2009, I left my home in New York City and took my personal love of yoga with me, teaching in both Asia and Europe. If you’re planning a trip and want to pack your practice, here are a few of my favorite travel tips:
Tip #1: Consider ditching your regular yoga mat. This is really trip-specific, but yoga mats are generally bulky and might just put you over the weight limit for some budget airlines (especially in Europe). If you bring yours, make sure you have adequate room. Otherwise, think about investing in a travel mat or even a sturdy yoga blanket.
Tip #2: Keep up with your practice. True, even without a mat or blanket. Long flights and ground transportation are hard on your body, especially shoulders, neck, back and hips. Higher Ground provides “travel techniques” for clients – a personalized set of postures, great for traveling – but there are some poses that bring comfort to just about everyone. In general, trip takers benefit significantly from twisting (stretches aching spines and aids in digestion), inverting (releases tension from the trunk and extremities), heart opening (alleviates tight torsos and facilitates deep breathing) and hip opening (stretches tense pelvis, upper thigh and seat).
Tip #3: Drink a lot of water. Not really yoga-specific, but a dehydrated yogi is an unhappy yogi.
Tip #4: Research local studios before you go. Yoga is getting more popular by the day, and most major cities have at least a few studios to choose from; some international studios even have English-speaking classes. If you’re open to broadening your skill repertoire and experiencing new styles and teachers, given them a try! Here are a few domestic and international yoga studios, gleaned from experience and/or referrals (some personal faves are marked with an asterisk (*)):
- YogaWorks, Santa Monica, California, USA
- Power Yoga studio, Santa Monica, California, USA
- Little Yoga Studio, San Diego, California, USA
- Ginseng Yoga, San Diego, California, USA
- CorePower Yoga, San Diego, California, USA
- YogaWorks, Los Angeles, California, USA
- Golden Bridge (Kundalini), Los Angeles, California, USA
- Studio Serenity, Washington, DC, USA
- Flow Yoga, Washington, DC, USA
- Down Dog Yoga, Washington, DC, USA
- Circle Yoga/Budding Yogis, Washington, DC, USA
- Tranquil Space, Washington, DC, USA
- Sonic Yoga, New York, New York, USA*
- Jivamukti Yoga, New York, New York, USA*
- Om Yoga, New York, New York, USA
- Golden Bridge (Kundalini), New York, New York, USA
- Laughing Lotus, New York, New York, USA
- The Yoga Room, Astoria, New York, USA
- Maya Yoga Studio, Maui, Hawaii, USA
- The Studio, Maui, Hawaii, USA
- Feathered Pipe Ranch, Missouri, USA
- Yoga Source, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
- yogaErie, Erie, Pennsylvania, USA
- Eight Limbs Yoga studios, Seattle, Washington, USA
- Bikram Yoga College of India, Sydney, Australia
- Rasa, Paris, France*
- Yoga Barn, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
- Yoga Elements, Bangkok, Thailand
- Absolute Yoga, Bangkok, Thailand
- Iyengar Yoga Studio, Bangkok, Thailand
- Prana Yoga Bangkok, Thailand
Tip #5: Think about staying at an ashram or retreat. Shacking up at an ashram –communities that promote peace, goodwill and discipline – is not your average hotel-based holiday. An ashram, however, can provide some respite from the usual run-and-go pattern of travel, promoting reflection, solitude and meditation. A retreat, on the other hand, is likely to be a bit more luxurious (I’ve done both, and love both). Many offer yoga classes at least twice a day, as well as calm accommodations and healthy food. If either sound interesting to you, spend some time looking into them to find a good fit.
- Mount Madonna Ashram, Santa Cruz, CA, USA
- Ananda Ashram, Monroe, NY, USA
- Sivananda, Rishikesh, India
- Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh, India
- 7 Centers, Sedona, AZ, USA
- Esalen, Big Sur, CA, USA
- Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Berkshires, MA, USA
- Casa Grande Mountain Retreat, Utuado, PR, USA
For yoga-specific trip planning, try Kate LaCroix at Global Soul Adventures.
Tip #6: Use your e-teachers. If you can’t take a studio class (or set up an e-session with your teacher), other on-the-go options include Yoga Journal’s website and the Yogamazing podcast on iTunes.
Good luck, om shanti and happy travels!