Travel is hard on our bodies and minds. We go through different time zones, climates, altitudes, and cultures and our system has to adapt to all of these new aspects that we are throwing at it. Just think for a second how crazy it actually is that we can go from being on a jungle river in Central America to being in 20 feet of snow on a mountain top in California in less than 24 hours. I mean that is wild!!! And we just expect our bodies and minds to adapt like it was nothing.
The time we live in is pretty amazing and our systems do pretty well with it, considering, but we definitely can still feel the negative side effects of travel. Fortunately we have applicable information from enriched sources like Ayurveda.
What is Ayurveda? It is an ancient science rooted in India that is dedicated to finding balance in life to prevent disease and to live a positive, healthy, and spiritual life.
I personally have benefited so much from Ayurveda and I actually know relatively little about it (you could spend lifetimes studying this science the knowledge is so vast). Ayurveda has taught me about what holds me back with food and lifestyle and the best way to exercise for my body type, as well as understanding my potential more clearly.
During this interview with Medha, an Ayurvedic practitioner, I learned some really helpful tips to stay grounded while traveling. Read along…
JG: So my first question for you, Medha, is what is your job and what is your experience with Ayurveda?
MG: Well, I am currently the Ayurveda Programs Coordinator/Director at the Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, North Carolina. But I have been a physical therapist and yoga teacher for many years and struggled with supporting people in the important aspect of diet and lifestyle, so I turned to Ayurveda. I wanted to work more from a body, mind, and spirit mindset and am now an Ayurvedic practitioner and massage therapist. Ayurveda applies to everything and takes everything into account. It really gives us tools to help each person differently, as health is not a one size fits all system. People may have the same constitution, but their lifestyle and environment differ, so to have a modality that looks at everything is powerful.
JG: For the many people who are new to this, what is Ayurveda?
MG: Well, Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga and has been studied for 5,000 years. Ayur= life and Veda= knowledge in sanskrit, therefore; it is the science of life. It is what is outside us: our environment and within us: our feelings, thoughts, emotions.
The 5 elements are a primary part of Ayurveda: earth, air, water, fire, and space. These elements exist in the world and within the body. When these elements are in balance we are happy and healthy. When they go out of balance we get sick, or if it is long-term imbalance disease forms. Ayurveda can help you identify the symptoms of imbalance and how to come back to balance, can help remove disease that is already present by finding the root of the problem, and can help prevent it from coming back.
The five elements also combine to create 3 doshas or constitutions:
- Earth and Water= Kapha
- Fire and Water= Pitta
- Air and Space= Vata
The time we were born, our parents DNA, and the planets all contribute to deciding our individual dosha. You are born with your doshic proportions set which define your nature and doesn’t change. All three doshas are within everyone, but we each have one primary dosha and one secondary. And everyone can go out of balance for any dosha depending on their environment, lifestyle, diet, etc…
JG: What does travel do to our body and mind from an Ayurvedic perspective?
MG: The five elements are within us. Vata represents light, dryness, moving, and cold. So when we travel (especially in airplanes) we all get vata imbalanced. This shows up in these common travel symptoms:
- dry skin, mouth, and hair
- too many thoughts
- anxiety and fear
- constipation and bloating
- hard time sleeping
- joint pain and body aches
All things that happen to many of us when we travel.
JG: How can we get back into balance while traveling? How do we balance out our vata?
MG: By giving yourself the opposite. We know vata is drying and light. So anything that will help you feel grounded and will add heat.
Ways to Balance Your Vata While Traveling:
- Oil. It is heavy, sticky, grounding. You can bring a little bottle of sesame oil (great for all doshas), olive oil for pitta, coconut oil for when in hot climates. Then once you arrive, you can give yourself a quick oil massage or rub-down 10-15 minutes before you shower and when you do shower, use limited soap, just use soap for armpits, private parts, toes, etc… and just let excess oil rinse off, leaving some of the oil to absorb into your body.
- Sesame oil ear treatment. Ears are the seat of vata, put a couple of drops of sesame or karnapurna oil (sesame oil with herbs) in your ear two nights before traveling. Two nights before put 7-8 drops in one ear then place a cotton ball in your ear. Sleep with that ear towards the sky that night. If you roll over it is fine, that is what the cotton ball is for. The next night you do the same thing in the other ear. When you get home from your trip do it again. This will help minimize vata imbalance from travel.
- Internally taking oil is great as well. Have one tablespoon of oil or ghee with your food to make it grounding and dense. You want to do this a few days before you travel, while traveling, and after you get home for a few days.
- Limit your raw food at night. Again before, during, and after your travels. Raw foods are vata: light and dry. Also avoiding other dry and crunchy foods, like crackers and chips. You want to eat warm, moist foods that are nourishing, maybe with some grains. This will help ground you.
- Black pepper. Just make sure to add black pepper to your foods, as it adds warmth to what you are eating.
Vata is also most the likely to go out of balance even when you are not traveling, so any of these remedies can be done regularly and will also help reduce the effects of aging.
- Stay warm.
- Stay calm
- Sleep on time and a lot when you can
- Do some restorative yoga and grounding postures, ones where you are sitting, lying down- especially savasana and child’s pose
JG: Great, Medha! These are awesome tips that are tangible and simple! Thank you so much!
MG: Thank you!
So there you go, some great Ayurvedic tips to help you stay grounded while flying around the world! I would recommend picking one of these and experiment with it on your next trip. Also if you want to take a little quiz to get an idea of what your dosha might be click here or visit an Ayurvedic practitioner and they can find out by taking your pulse.
If you want more information on Ayurveda or the Art of Living Retreat Center go here. They offer 15 minute free consults and powerful treatments!
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- Two Major Guidelines to Eat Healthily While Traveling
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- Finding Fulfillment While Traveling