Yoga is great for your mind and body and – best of all – you can do it wherever you are in the world.
Travel means disrupting your routine – that’s the point, and the beauty, of getting away. But if yoga is part of your regular routine at home, there are plenty of ways to keep up your practice when you’re travelling, and the benefits are not just physical.
Just ask Meghan Verbeek. She’s an Intrepid tour leader and a yoga instructor, who started yoga as a curious teenager at a local studio in Edmonton, Canada.
Her understanding of the philosophy of yoga has deepened in the years since. Through past roles with Intrepid, she’s travelled extensively in South Asia. She’s spent time in India, organising yoga tours, and learning more about the teachings of yoga as an ancient, spiritual tradition.
In her years in the travel industry, Meghan has travelled to more than 70 countries across the globe. And she practises yoga wherever she goes. It’s all about improvising, she says.
‘You don’t need a mat. I’ve used a bath towel or just practiced on a piece of grass. But there are great travel mats that fold up, instead of roll up, which are really nice. Some airports nowadays – you can Google and check – have stretching rooms or even yoga rooms, dedicated spaces, which are great.’
Alice Whitfield (or @alicebalance on Instagram) is a fitness instructor, who joined an Intrepid tour of Morocco in January. Like Meghan, she finds yoga helpful when preparing and recovering from flights.
‘I’m that weirdo on the floor at the airport doing hip mobility exercises and prepping my body to sit on a long-haul flight,’ she laughs.
Plus, Alice likes to keep some aspects of her regular routine consistent, even when she’s travelling. It helps her stay grounded and energised, she says.
‘I’m a morning person. I need to have a win, to be active, in the morning whether I’m home or away… And I have scoliosis, so maintaining strength through my back and through my neck is crucial for me. And it just feels good!’
Yoga is, of course, so much more than its postures. For Meghan, yoga during travel is about mindfulness and meditation as much as sun salutations. And it’s about seeking to integrate yoga’s ethical principles – known as its yamas and niyamas – in her daily life, too.
‘The yamas include non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing. So, you could say that choosing to travel ethically is aligned with practising yoga.’
Breathing and mindfulness techniques can be helpful in the more stressful moments of travel, Meghan says.
‘Taking that step back, observing your stress, observing yourself and your emotions without judgement. When you’re tired, when you’re hungry, when you’re lonely – just going back to that breathing, that being present and being grateful, those are handy tools.’
Yoga began in ancient India but the practice – and many variations of it – have been embraced by millions of people worldwide. Meghan has attended classes at local studios all across the globe and says it’s a great way to connect with local people.
‘I’ve done yoga at local studios in Vietnam, Nepal, Indonesia, the US, India, Morocco, Laos, Thailand… Yoga is everywhere. And though it might not be a cultural, traditional practice in every country the way that it is in India, people who practice yoga are often warm and open. it’s just a neat way to connect with local people who have a common interest.’
Want to keep your body moving as you explore? Check out Intrepid’s active adventures.