People assume backpacking, or travelling in general, is all just fun and games. While that’s true to an extent, it can also result in an aching body from the endless sightseeing and/ or a fatigued mind from overstimulation. The perfect solution to maintaining a healthy body and mind while travelling is, without a doubt, yoga.
The ancient art can be practised literally anywhere and by any age group or body type. Which makes sense considering yoga supposedly consists of 8.3 million asanas (poses). Below is a yoga flow that’s dorm-friendly and easy to follow without attracting stares from others.
Supta matsyendrasana (supine spinal twist)
Benefits: Travelling entails doing online research about your destination and will inevitably mean extra time spent on social media. This can result in neck pains from constantly staring at your phone’s screen. Luckily, this pose will help open tight shoulders while also reducing neck pains.
How to: Lying on your back, bring both knees as close to the chest as possible, then bring the left hand on the outer right knee before pushing both knees onto the left side of the mattress. If possible, ensure the knees are touching the mattress. Twist the head to the right, attempting to bring the right ear onto the mattress while the right hand remains outstretched. Switch sides.
Shashankasana (rabbit pose)
Benefits: If you’re feeling emotionally unbalanced from travelling, then this pose will help according to yogic texts. It also stretches the postural muscles, so if you’ve been carrying a heavy backpack or handbag around, definitely perform this pose.
How to: From spinal twist, stretch the body intuitively then naturally roll over into prone position before sliding the hands to the sides of the chest. From here, pull the body up and back so that the chest is over the knees and the upper thighs are atop the lower legs.
Paschimottanasana (seated forward fold)
Benefits: If you’re prone to getting cramps while menstruating, this pose will help relieve some of that pain. It’s also known to soothe symptoms of stress like headaches or anxiety, so if you’re worried about your travel plans, relax in this pose for a while.
How to: From rabbit, slide the hands to the sides of the knees and then lift the forehead up off the mattress. Then, drop the outer thigh of choice onto the mattress and straighten both legs. Straighten the spine and raise your arms upwards before letting them fall forwards in an attempt to touch the toes.
Even the most seasoned woman traveller knows that holidaying while on your period can be a pain – literally and figuratively:
Parivrtta janu sirsasana (revolving head to knee pose)
Benefits: This pose improves digestion, so if indulging in foreign foods has left you feeling queasy, definitely attempt this. It’s also good for general back pain, which sitting for prolonged periods in buses, or any type of public transport, can create. It also works to stretch the hamstrings and shoulders.
How to: From seated forward fold, slide the hands over the upper thighs and then bring the right foot to press against the inside of the left upper thigh. Slide the left leg outwards and then grip the left toe with the left hand before raising the right hand and bending it to touch the left toes. Switch sides.
Uttanasana (standing forward bend)
Benefits: Increases blood circulation within the upper body which enhances health. Because of this, the pineal and adrenal gland are stimulated, thus also boosting the immune system. If you’re feeling exhausted from travelling or a little under the weather, make this pose is your go-to!
How to: In your own way, come to a standing position. Raise your hands above your head (optional) and then fall forward in an attempt to touch the toes. Ensure the knees are as straight as possible throughout the attempt.
Dwikonasana (double angle pose)
Benefits: A variation of the standing forward bend, not only does this pose stretch the hamstrings and glutes, it also opens the chest. Think of it as the perfect relief from walking from one tourist spot to another as it’ll relieve tension in the arms, shoulders, upper and lower back, hamstrings, and neck.
How to: Once you’ve come back to standing position from your forward bend, bring the hands together behind the lower back and interlace the fingers. Keep your arms straightened as you slowly bend forward again. Keep the chin tucked and your upper body loose as you hang in this pose for a while. Ease your way back up. Once you’re done with these asanas, you’re ready to go about the rest of your day or you can relax a little more by doing a vinyasa (flow) into savasana (corpse pose) where you can unwind for a little while longer.