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Written by Felicia M. Tomasko, RN & Michael Curran   

Ayurvedic Suggestions To Put A Spring In Your Step Wherever Your Wanderlust Takes You

MOVEMENT, EXCITEMENT, new places and new experiences: If we enjoy the unexpected and the adventure, we may love to travel, to reconnect with people or discover new frontiers. Whether we dread packing a suitcase or can’t wait to get out the door, the very attributes that make travel what it is, from an Ayurvedic perspective, increase the qualities of the vata dosha (energies of the elements air and space).

Whether we’re traveling across the world or across the street, it affects us. Change, sleeping in a different bed, flying through the air at high speeds, careening over highways, reading maps and GPS and timetables, dodging billboards and overhead television screens, sitting in front of kicking children and trying to remember the toothbrush, and negotiate time zones and climate changes all amplify the innate internal movement of the body. They are events that can add up to throw us out of our natural state of balance, even if we’ve been counting down to the anticipated trip for days, weeks, months or more.

According to the principles of Ayurveda, we can use elements with the opposite qualities to calm and soothe and cultivate balance. It is a continuous journey as we adjust and readjust. Balance is a dynamic state and travel by its very nature, throws yet another component of change into the already capricious process of maintaining balance.

If we think about elemental qualities of movement involved in travel, they produce what may initially seem like disparate symptoms but which are actually connected by an excess of the vata dosha, comprised of the aforementioned elements of air and space. We may feel dried out, even if we don’t have to deal with the air pressure changes of an airplane or the climate variance of a trip to the desert. Along with this comes another common complaint from traveling: a disturbance in our natural patterns of regularity. Many people suffer from constipation, even during short trips. Additionally, we may feel more sensitive to stimulation or more easily fatigued.

So overall, we want to warm, soothe, calm and ground. One of my favorite vata-calming standbys is a hot water bottle. Its portable, doesn’t need batteries, and even the hotel room coffee maker can be used to make it functional and ready for a soothing nighttime cuddle. Just make sure not to put it directly on skin because it can leave a burn. Sipping on a cup of hot water with lemon, lime, ginger, honey, agave or a bag of herbal tea soothes the rough edges and keeps things moving internally. Whenever you arrive at your destination, get outside, walk around, feel a sense of the blood, prana (life-force) and qi (vital energy) circulating through your body. Take your shoes off and feel the grass, stones, sand or water beneath your feet and between your toes. Soak in a hot bath to immerse your entire body in wet warmth. Change your watch, cell phone time or computer clock to get in synch with the time zone and movement of the sun that you find yourself in. Think in terms of the present moment.

Practice, while we may be tempted to leave it behind while we’re on the road, can be a great ally for maintaining balance. Just one pose, like a twist to wring road tension out of the spine, or time to meditate or tune into the breath, can make an impact on relieving tension and reducing fatigue and oversensitivity. Carve out moments between events, family gatherings, obligations, tours, photographs or a band’s set on stage to feel your feet, drop in and breathe, reminding yourself of your internal stability and connection with the Earth. Throughout all of our movements, it is our connection and reconnection with the Earth that maintains our balance, keeps us in rhythm and helps us feel whole, even amidst the joys and frustrations, peaks and valleys, Kodak or Facebook moments and the images we’d rather delete.

Top 5 Ayurvedic Carry-Ons: By Michael Curran

Leaving on a jet plane is the most vataaggravating activity we do in the modern world. Be sure to pack these items in an Ayurvedic survival kit to save you from such vata-aggravated conditions as dehydration, constipation, headaches, anxiety or jet lag.

Tea Bags: Instead of soda or alcohol, give yourself a treat by packing your favorite travel mug with some nerve-soothing herbal tea bags such as chamomile, mint, clove, lemongrass, tulsi, rooibos, lavender or orange peel. Ask the flight attendant to fill the mug with hot water, and then put your seat back and enjoy your warm, steamy vacation in a cup, even if you are on a business trip.

Sesame oil: Carry a (travel-sized) three ounce bottle of pure sesame oil and a pair of socks. After the plane takes off, rub the oil on your feet (you may want to take the oil to the restroom if your seatmates look askance) and enjoy the calming effect massaging your feet has on your entire nervous system.

Soothing, vata-pacifying, kapha-rich foods: Just because the airlines love to hand out peanuts and pretzels doesn’t mean they’re good for you! Avoid dry, salty or dehydrated food, and instead pack some fresh figs, bananas and your favorite unsalted nuts. If you enjoy bread, pack your own sandwich with whole wheat bread and egg salad or better yet – fresh vegetables, avocado and mayonnaise. If you feel ambitious, you can even bring a mug, thermos or ToGo Ware filled with Ayurvedic kitcheree (mung bean and rice).

Book with large print: Your eyes are especially susceptible to vata aggravation, so reduce any potential strain by choosing a book with fairly large print.

Triphala: Pack this staple Ayurvedic herbal blend for prevention and treatment of constipation. You can take a dose the night before your flight if you know you are prone to the vata condition of constipation.

Happy trails!

Michael Curran, AMP, is the director of NEW SPA Ayurvedic in Ventura, where he performs panchakarma treatments and health consultations. For information about the six-week Energy and Vitality through Ayurveda program that he and LA YOGA editor Felicia Tomasko are hosting beginning on June 8, visit:


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