Uluru in the mist

This yogi travels to America

Everyone seems to understand this important bit of information except me: I am an American.

Yes, it is true. I was born in the USA seventy-two and a half years ago. But because I’ve lived in Australia for 41 years and have my Aussie citizenship, I sometimes forget that I’m American-born. Until my accent gives me away completely.

When Daniel and I were travelling around Australia last winter, we would get sprung every time. Conversations with other travellers we met along the way would go like this:

Where are you from?

The mid north coast of NSW. Mitchells Island, to be exact.

No, where are you really from?

Oh, you mean my accent. I was born in Chicago.

Well, that’s a great city. We were there two years ago and had a fabulous time…. We also visited Niagara Falls. And then we went to New York City. What a great people! So friendly!

Suddenly those 41 years that I’d invested in building my Australian identity disappeared. I was only of interest for my American experience and to hear these travellers’ American adventures.

Well, these interactions were often just short and sweet. We were unlikely to meet each other again, so no need to delve.

This is a long preamble to tell you, I’m heading off to the country of my birth in just a week. For two months this time. It’s what we Aussies do, go off to warmer climes for a winter sojourn.

The plan is to visit San Francisco and Los Angeles, then catch a flight to Tucson, Arizona.

After the fifteen hour flight to California, I will sorely need a yoga practice. I’m wondering, should pack my yoga mat?

Do you usually take your mat on your travels? And then do you end up not using it? I have done this. 

I know, I know. This is a shocking admission for a yoga teacher who often advertises her unflagging dedication to practice.

It’s not as though I won’t need to put myself on a yoga mat over the weeks that I’m travelling. There will be the inevitable visits with our relatives for several weeks. Then we’ll be caravanning around the western region of the US for three weeks.

My 70+ year-old body needs daily maintenance. Hanging about airports, flying, and road trips will wreak havoc on it. There will be other on-the-road stresses. For instance, lack of control over dietary needs as we stay with friends or eat in restaurants. In America, I’ll probably eat portions that are larger than I’m habituated to. I’ll be trying exotic dishes and eating at odd mealtimes.

Balancing biorhythms

One thing that helps me keep balanced while travelling is getting to the sanctuary of a yoga class. Classes may be of a different order that what I’m used to, but usually the ambiance is peaceful. No doubt I experience rehabilitation just by coming home to my body.

Speaking of homecomings, I designed a yoga practice for ‘Recovery From Jet Lag’ a couple of years ago. Here are a couple of hints from that sequence:

Do Simple Breathing Exercises – Get to your destination and find a quiet place to lie down. Put your legs up the wall and stay for ten minutes or so. Focus on three-part breathing or simple ujjayi. The simple act of observation of your breath has you feel grounded. 

Supported Poses – When energy goes up and down throughout the day and night with jet lag, do Supta Baddha Konasana and/or Setu Bandhasana for 5-10 minutes. Also, drink plenty of fluids to re-hydrate after flying.


Additional common sense travel suggestions

Limit the time you spend looking at a screen, be it iPhone, iPad or computer. As well, limit activities which require excessive thinking, shopping or consumption of alcohol, .

Walking on the beach or in any natural setting helps reset your body clock. Exposure to sunshine in limited amounts helps too. Regular meals, especially if you can cook them for yourself, will also contribute to feeling grounded.

Best of all, do home yoga practice, as much as you want, any time, even in the middle of the night, if needed. When space and time are limited, make the focus watching your breath and practising relaxation.

I won’t pack my mat for this trip, but I assure you that I’ll be practising often.

Hotel Yoga