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summer travel...a few asanas for happy trails


It’s fun and inspiring to be a yogi tourist, and always interesting to practice in a different environment.  Practice options abound:  visit a studio at your final destination (many offer free trial classes), join a community practice in the park, practice in your hotel room or by the pool in your hotel’s gym.  Just pack your mat — or invest in a small, lightweight travel mat or yoga socks and gloves — and commit to practice on the go.  Your body, after hours in the car or plane, will appreciate the effort.

If you need asana inspiration while on the road, BrettLarkinYoga, MyYogaworks and Yoga Journal are great online resources.  Or pack chattra blogger Jillian Bobowicz’s Yoga Sequencing Deck of 100 playing card-sized asana cards for sequencing your own series.  And here are a few asanas to add to your travel list.  These poses will help your body cope with the stress —and joy— of traveling.  Happy trails.

Ardha Mukha Svanasana /Puppy Dog Pose

Benefits:  Puppy dog is a great pose to stretch the hamstrings, lengthen the back, and loosen stiff shoulders.

To set up for puppy dog, face a wall (or tree!).  Place your hands on the wall at hip height, shoulder width apart.  Stand with your feet hip width apart and parallel to each other.  Step back about 3 feet:  you want your feet far enough away from the wall so that you can keep your torso parallel to the floor, with legs perpendicular to the floor.  Root down through all four corners of the feet.  Press firmly through the palms.  Draw your pelvis away from the wall.  Engage your triceps and biceps. Firm the quadriceps to straighten your legs. 

Surya Namaskar A / Modified, Half Sun Salute

Benefits:  Half sun salutes are a great way to warm the body, increase circulation, energize the system, and to reduce fatigue caused by traveling. 

Begin standing with your feet hip width apart and parallel to each other.  Place your palms together at the heart center.  On an inhale, sweep the arms out to your sides, around and up, keeping your arms straight and palms facing towards each other.  Find length in the torso.  Exhale and hinge from the hips, folding through a flat back into a full forward fold with your knees bent; rest your belly on the thighs.  Inhale and rise halfway to a flat back, exhale and fold again, placing your belly onto your thighs.  Inhale and rise with a flat back all the way to standing, sweeping your arms out around and up; bring your palms together through your heart center.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana / Bridge Pose

Benefits: Bridge pose releases tension in the back, stretches the front of the legs, and opens the chest.

Lay down on your back and place your feet hip width distance apart on the floor so your knees are stacked over your ankles and your feet are parallel to each other.  Rotate your arms in the shoulder so your palms are flat on the floor; or if your shoulders are warm and mobile, you tuck your shoulders in toward your midline and interlace your hands with extended arms beneath your back.  On an inhale, lift your pelvis off the floor. Root down through the shoulders and the arms, and lift up through the chest.  On an exhale, slowly lower down; if you have interlaced your hands behind your back, release the arms by your side.  Take your feet wide, and let your knees fall toward each other to touch. 

Viparita Karani / Savasana at the Wall

Benefits:  Viparita Karani helps reduce any swelling in the feet and legs, and reverses the effect of gravity on the body.  This pose is great if you have been sitting or standing for an extended period of time.

Sit on the floor close to a wall, with the side of one hip touching the wall.  Pivot around and take the legs up the wall.  Relax the legs and feet and release the arms out by your sides either at a forty five degree angle, or in “T” position.  Release the tops of the shoulders gently towards the floor. Relax your facial muscles, especially the jaw and eyebrow region.  To come out of the pose, gently bring your legs down to one side and curl into a ball.  When you are ready, push up with your top arm bringing your head and neck up last. 


About blog author Meryl

Meryl Cohen is an avid yoga practitioner and crossfitter.  She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.  She trains service dogs, especially for people with PTSD and anxiety disorders, and teaches riding lessons on her two horses.  Meryl recently completed her 200 hour YogaWorks teacher training and plans to teach athletes, the general yoga population, as well as under-served populations including prison inmates, war veterans, and LGBT youth.

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