Summer is a time of going outside and traveling! The warm weather and time off from school and work leaves open time for vacations, but with the exciting travels also comes the stress of having to journey long distances by car or plane. Travel is tons of fun, but it can also be a hassle of flights, changing time zones, poor food choices and sitting in one spot for a long time. So how does Ayurveda recommend navigating this hectic lack of routine? Ayurveda starts with balancing the vata, the dosha of movement, coldness, dryness, and instability.
Vata is composed of air and ether elements. It governs all movement and mobility in the world. So when we are in go-mode during travel, it is going to increase the vata in our bodies. In the body, vata is located in the colon. When vata is imbalanced this is the first place we see problems. Being on the move and disrupting our usual routine may bring constipation, bloating, and gas along with other issues such as anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, and low mood. Luckily, there are a few things you can do when you’re traveling that will help regulate vata and keep you balanced.
The first is to stay hydrated. The oxygen used in planes is not optimal and can be extremely dehydrating on the body. This causes constipation, dry skin, and fatigue. In order to avoid these problems, it is essential to be well hydrated before and during the flight, so make sure to bring a water bottle and drink plenty of water! You can also avoid dehydration by steering clear from the complementary tea, coffee, and alcohol served on the plane. The caffeine and alcohol will only aggravate vata and cause more problems! Try drinking some warm water with lemon or bring your own herbal teas instead.
Trick number two is to keep your blood circulating by moving your body every hour or so. Sitting in the same position for hour on end can be straining for the body, so it’s important to keep moving. Try getting up and walking up and down the aisle every so often or do some gentle stretching. This will keep blood flowing and your joints lubricated. If you want to take this lubrication a step further, we recommend filling up a little 2oz bottle with oil and giving yourself a nasal and ear massage. The oil will help decrease vata by promoting heavy, oily qualities and reduce dry and rough.
If you are traveling by plane, it is important to be careful what airplane food you eat. Many of these meals include processed foods that are empty of vitality and nutrients, and will only put further stress on an already weakened digestive system. During times of stress and irregular movement, the gut won’t be able to fully absorb and assimilate the food. This can lead to a buildup of the sticky, foul toxins called Ama. Try to eat a large meal 1-2 hours before leaving and pack something nutritious and easy to digest (such as fruit) with you on your travels and be selective on what foods you do eat on the plane. Steer clear of anything cold, drying and rough, such as bread, crackers, pretzels or ice cream. Instead, opt for food that is warm, soft, and heavy in qualities. If you want to go the extra mile, you can bring a little container of Ghee with you to put in your food. Ghee is clarified butter that is frequently used in Ayurveda, and will help the digestion of airplane food. We also recommend taking the herbal supplement Triphala to avoid constipation from the increased vata. Triphala aids by gently toning the colon and helping bowl movements, plus it’s loaded with tons of vitamin C that will help boost the immune system.
Lastly, the most important thing to avoid vata imbalance during travel is to have a regular routine. By sticking with a routine that is similar to that at home, it will help you adjust to the new time zone and supports the circadian rhythm, alleviating jet lag. By taking care of your body and staying hydrated, being mindful of what you eat, stretching, and sticking to a regular routine, the easier travel will be on your body. We hope this helps you on your journeys, happy travels! Resources: Wallace, Teagan. “Ayurvedic Tips To Stay Balanced While Traveling”. MindBodyGreen.com. July 19th, 2013. Web.