We have both been travelling again recently and it got us thinking about the effects of travel on our bodies and what we can do to offset these impacts. Here are our 8 Top Tips to help you travel, Ayurvedically.
What happens to us? As we whizz through the air, our bodies are suddenly moving much faster than nature intended, which increases the vata dosha energy, the dosha that drives all our movement and our communication. Vata is the Sanskrit for wind, which means it is airy, quick, cold, dry and light. So when vata is out of balance in the body, it can lead to dry skin, dehydration, insomnia and irregular digestion and jet-lag to name a few... Sound familiar?
So, what can we do to keep grounded and balanced and avoid these discomforts when we are away from home?
WHILE YOU ARE TRAVELLING:
1) Drink water: I am fed up of constantly being told this, but it really is so true. It is much harder to keep hydrated when you are on the go. Airport shops are full of plastic bottles and we don’t get given much on the planes anymore, so best to bring your own reusable bottle (I love my stainless steel Swell bottle I was given last year) and either refill from a water fountain or ask a coffee shop for some (ideally) warm water, which is loads better for your digestion.
Spice it up: if you are craving some taste and flavour, how about infusing your warm water with Ayurvedic herbs or spices. Adding these speeds up absorption of water by the body, plus you get a more interesting flavour and the added benefits of nature. Opt for the warming, grounding spices to counter-balance the dry, cold energy of vata. Our favourite is ginger, for its digestive qualities, but cinnamon and cardamom are great alternatives.
2) Pack snacks. This one takes some organisation, but there are snack recipes out there that are super quick and simple to make. I whizzed up some Almond date energy balls to take with me this week and they are not only delicious, but healthy and easy to eat on-the-go and are small enough to pack away in your handbag. Try it out:
- 1 cup raw almonds
- ½ teaspoon powdered ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- pinch of Himalayan pink salt
- 7 or 8 medjool dates, pitted
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
Directions: Add almonds, ginger, cardamom, and salt to a food processor and process until well ground, but not to a paste. Remove contents to a bowl and set aside. Add dates, oconut oil and honey to the food processor and pulse until dates break up. Then process steadily until all ingredients are well combined. Add back to the processor all but about 1/8 cup of the almond mixture and pulse until nicely combined. Roll walnut-sized pieces of the mixture into smooth balls. Then roll the balls in the reserved almond mixture. (Recipe inspired by Vedicook)
3) Massage: have you ever had that puffy face feeling after flying? Try ‘palming" your cheeks while on the move. Lean forward and rest your face in your hands for a few minutes -the pressure on skin is meant to help reduce puffiness. And how about sore sinuses? I often suffer from sinus and ear pain while flying, especially if I have recently had a cold. Trying pressing gently either side of your nostrils, around one fingertip width in (above your teeth), under the eyes (inside to out) and massage the base of the ears in a slow circular motions
WHEN YOU ARRIVE
4) Routine: this is a hard one, especially if you have crossed time zones and if you are on a business trip where time isn’t you own, but trying to reset your body clock to local time as soon as possible is so important for stability and balance.
- Did you know that sunshine helps? Get outside into the sunshine, which will help stimulate the sadhaka pitta in the brain, which keeps you alert.
- And try not to nap: this is often incredibly hard to do, especially if you are headed straight to the beach and are comfortable on a sunbed, but it just prolongs jet lag so best avoided if you can.
- Do some Exercise: my hotel last week had a yoga mat in the room and suggested local running routes to follow, which is great but even a walk will help
5) More Massage: pack a small bottle (remember those tedious liquid travel restrictions) to take with you, picking an oil known for warming and grounding properties: we love this sesame one and this almond one, but our outright fave is still our own Lime Vetiver Dry Silk Body Oil. Warm the bottle gently under the tap, or pour into in your hands and run together and then massage all over your skin, including the sole of the feet. Either follow with a warm bath or leave to soak in overnight. I always find the latter so amazing - its helps me get to sleep and I wake up with wonderfully soft skin.
6) Breathing. It sounds an odd one to put on the list. We breathe automatically right? Yes, but after all those hours cramped up in small seats with a LOT of other people, you probably haven’t taken in a big deep lungful of the fresh stuff for the while. So head outside, preferably away from traffic and pollution and run through some quick breathing exercises.
7) Sleep: in the past I have used sleeping tablets to knock me out, but I really hate the chemical taste in my mouth that I often get into the next day. Ayurveda recommends taking tagar, or Indian valerian, which is similar to melatonin.
8) Take herbal supplements to strengthen your agni (digestive fire), improve circulation, and relax the mind. As well as the grounding properties of ginger and cinnamon we mentioned earlier, here a 2 more herbs that Ayurveda recommends
- Triphala: regulates the bowels and prevents constipation
- Ashwaganda: classified as an "adaptogen," meaning that it can help your body manage stress.
Try some or all of these out on your next trip - hopefully you’ll feel the benefits and restore balance!