Friday, June 28, 2013

The Experts Weigh In: Hittin' the Road Yogi-Style!

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My clients often ask me for guidance around maintaining a healthy lifestyle while traveling. It is one of my favorite topics to talk about because there is an abundance of not-so-well-known ways we can prepare ourselves to flourish in a changing environment. These tips can help us all enjoy a smoother, healthier, more carefree vacation - which is exactly the reason we like to get away in the first place.

Are you feeling me?

While traveling allows us to get away and explore fascinating new destinations, our bodies often lose their natural rhythm in a changing environment. Ever wonder why airplane travel is associated with dry skin and sinuses, ear pressure and anxiety? Clearly, our bodies are reacting to changes in air, height and space. Even travel by car, bus, train and boat shake up our natural balance and we may notice changes in our energy, immunity and digestion. Time zone and temperature changes may confuse our bodies, especially our digestive systems, which may take a beating. Ayurveda, yoga's sister science (the science of life), explains that the key to keeping in balance is to sync up with the world around us. Here is a great article on just that!

In Ayurveda, there are three main doshas, or constitutions - Vata, Pitta and Kapha. They are determined at conception and relate to your inherited physical and emotional traits. To find out your constitution, take this simple quiz.

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The Vata dosha, comprised of air and space elements, is particularly sensitive to changes in routine and space, and is prone to experience irregularities in the body and mind. While traveling, out of balance Vata can experience dry sinuses, coughs and sore throats, as well as constipation. Sesame oil rubbed on the inner nostrils during air travel is an excellent way to keep moisturized to prevent upper respiratory infections. To bring Vata back into balance, it is important to pack warming herbal teas with grounding spices such as cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon, along with Triphala, a natural digestive herbal supplement that serves as a mild laxative. A cozy scarf helps Vata to stay warm and comfortable in a cooler settings, which can be unsettling for this "prone to feeling cold" dosha.

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The Pitta dosha, comprised of fire and water elements, is in balance at home and in stable environments, and therefore can easily be disrupted when unplanned detours arise. Out of balance Pitta is prone to indigestion, impatience, excessive sweating and stubbornness. The company Traditional Medicinals makes a beautiful Easy Now herbal tea with cooling herbs to help alleviate feelings of irritability, anxiety, impatience and frustration. Lavender oil, which helps calm anxiety, can be rubbed on the temples, inner wrists and sternum. Oh, sweet relief, Pitta!

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The Kapha dosha, characterized by water and earth elements, provides lubrication to the joints as well as mucous to protect the sensitive tissues of the sinuses, lungs and stomach. While traveling, out of balance Kapha is prone to experience upper respiratory infections, allergies and constipation. To keep excess mucous at bay, daily Ayurvedic rituals such as tongue scraping, gargling warm saltwater and oil pulling with coconut oil are essential. Sipping on warm water with lemon and Smooth Move senna-leaf tea while traveling promote circulation and serve as a gentle laxative (safe to sip daily to promote smooth elimination).

All the doshas will benefit from the following Travel Kit, designed to restore inner harmony and move out toxins that may disrupt the body's natural balance in a changing environment.

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1. HERBAL TEA - Traditional Medicinal's Smooth Move and Easy Now are my go-to choices for digestive stimulation and stress relief. I am also a big fan of Joyful Belly's Travel Tonic Tea to ease travel-related anxiety and indigestion. It contains Dashamoola Powder, Triphala, Trikatu, Ashwagandha, Cardamom and Licorice Root.

2. TRIPHALA - Triphala is a completely balanced energetic formula perfect for all three doshas. When taken regularly, it gently promotes the elimination of toxins that are residing deep in the tissues. Triphala has anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties, making it an excellent supplement to take daily, especially when on the road. Triphala comes in capsule or powder form. My personal favorite is Triphala for intestinal and colon health formulated by Organic India, which comes in capsule form. My clients have also had great success with Triphala in powdered form from Banyan Botanicals.

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3. TONGUE SCRAPER - Good morning, bright eyes! It's time to scrape your tongue! Tongue scraping dislodges "ama", which is the Ayurvedic term used to describe the undigested food, mucous and toxins that have accumulated overnight. Tongue scraping has been part of the Ayurvedic routine for maintaining oral health for thousands of years. I suggest using a stainless steel tongue scraper like this one. Follow up this routine with a saltwater gargle and coconut oil pulling.

4. HIMALAYAN SEA SALT - Gargle each morning in warm water after tongue scraping to expel mucous and soothe a sore throat. Gargling with Himalayan sea salt, in particular, draws out pathogens and kills bacteria and germs. Gargling activates enzymes in the saliva, which pull mucous out of the mouth and sinuses. Using sea salt in a neti pot is also a fabulous way to clear out the sinuses, whether you are traveling in a dry environment, recovering from air flight or just using it daily at home to maintain upper respiratory health.

5. COCONUT OR SESAME OIL - I bring coconut oil in a mini-Mason Jar for oil pulling each morning. Never heard of oil pulling? It is an Ayurvedic detoxification ritual that when done daily, expels toxins from teh body through mucous. Swishing the oil in your mouth from 5-20 minutes each morning attracts and expels bacteria, toxins and parasites that reside in your mouth and lymphatic system, while also pulling mucous from your throat and loosening up your sinuses. Just remember to spit the oil out afterwards, preferably into the garbage to prevent clogging up your sink drain! Don't swallow the oil or you will be ingesting all the toxins you are trying to expel. Rinse your mouth with warm water after oil pulling.

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6. BODY BRUSH - Dry brushing is immunity's best friend. A daily self-massage with a body brush before a shower stimulates the lymphatic system and boosts immune function. Already have a crammed suitcase? Not to worry! Buy a mini-brush like the Bodecare Mini Travel Body Brush and toss it in your weekend tote for a whole body, mini-acupressure workout. Remember to always stroke towards your heart in small, circular motions. Shower afterwards so you can wash off all the dead skin you just sloughed off!

7. LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL - The scent of lavender essential oil is extremely pacifying. During air travel, in long lines or before bed, a few drops on my inner wrists, temples and sternum provides tremendous relief. The lovely smell of lavender on my wrists as I sip a cup of tea is complete and utter bliss!

8. COZY SCARF - I've learned the hard way that many places are more than generous with their air conditioning (something the Vata in me is not a fan of, but my Pitta boyfriend loves!). Hey, opposites attract! Yet, when I forget to pack a scarf and am left shivering and uncomfortable, I have the potential to wreck havoc on a carefree dinner date. Vatas, always come prepared!

When you finally arrive at your destination, take time to relax, settle in, prepare a warm cup of soothing herbal tea and do a few grounding yoga poses (such as standing balances, forward folds or spinal twists). Finding a quiet place for meditation and pranayama (breathing exercises) can help you find your inner calm and allow you to set the stage for a blissful vacation. Bon voyage!

In love and green juice, 

Fern Langham is a yoga instructor, cleanse specialist and blogger for Purée Artisan Juice. As a crusader for Ayurvedic nutrition and holistic wellness, Fern's intention is to guide you to tap into your radiant potential. After years of struggline with chronic digestive issues, food allergies and an autoimmune thyroid condition, she is finally glowing. Her passion is to help you find your glow too! For more Ayurveda, yoga, nutrition and holistic health inspiration, check out Yoga with Fern or connect with Fern on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr.

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