Travel is back in a big way this summer – especially air travel. Trying by airplane can be a frustrating, stressful experience. I thought it would be interesting to approach travel from an Ayurvedic approach for a balanced mind and body. Traveling by air can be really unbalancing to the body, as our bodies weren’t really meant to be traveling at high speeds, at high altitudes, across time zones! From an Ayurvedic perspective, flying by air is vata aggravating. The energy of Vata embodies the elements of ether and air (or movement), and the gunas (qualities) of cold, dry, mobile, light – sound like being in an airplane to you? The way vata dosha out of balance manifests in your mind and body is through dry skin and sinuses, anxiety, spaciness, insomnia, constipation and generally feeling ungrounded. So let’s talk about some vata balancing tips specifically for air travel…
You already know how dehydrating it can be to travel by air, yes? Drink lots of water (more than you normally would) and try to avoid beverages that can actually be drying to the body like coffee and alcohol. I will go a step further with my hydration by actually bringing a very small container of Himalayan salt and lime wedges and add them to my water bottle at the airport for an Ayurvedic hydration beverage.
Tackle Jet Lag
Like I previously mentioned, traveling through time zones is very ungrounding to your body. It is said that for every one hour time zone, your body needs one day to recover! To help, make sure you get out in the sunlight during daytime hours. Reset your clock to local time before you even get off the plane. Resist the urge to nap. Do the yoga pose “legs up the wall” at night. If you are somewhere this is appropriate, walk on the ground with bare feet (this is great to do a the beach!).
Triphala is an Ayurvedic herbal blend that helps regulate the bowels – which can get slowed down with travel. I always take this when I travel. In addition to getting things moving, triphala contains amalaki, a fruit that has 10 times the amount of Vitamin C as an orange! Take 1/2 tsp of triphala powder with hot water at night right before bed (wait a few hours to take it after eating).
To balance vata while traveling, you want to focus on warm, grounding foods and avoid raw, cold, dry foods that are typical travel fare (chips, cookies, raw salads, dry fruits). Think soups or steamed veggies and rice or oatmeal for breakfast. I’m lucky that I can find these easily at my local airport. Or, you might need to prepare ahead for this and bring your food. Like, I might typically prep some roasted sweet potatoes, quinoa and steamed greens and bring in a plastic container. I personally like to keep my diet really simple on travel days.
Practice abhyanga, Ayurvedic self oil massage. In the evening, massage your body with sesame oil or another oil of your choice. Banyan Botanicals makes great travel packs of massage oil that are great for this. For detailed instructions on how to do a self-massage, check out this post.