Photo Credit: Lem Lattimer
You love the jetset life, the thrills of an ever-changing environment and new experiences. Still, even the most seasoned traveler can use tips on how to stay zen and cool when you’re on the go. That’s why we went to yoga instructor Christine Chen, a San Francisco native who now calls New York home, for her recommendations on how to pack that peace with you as you globe trot. She’s a master at teaching people how to transform discomfort and chaos, whether at home, in the office, during a commute, on an airplane or even on a date, into bits of happiness, health and focus. Her new book Happy-Go-Yoga: Simple Poses to Relieve Pain, Reduce Stress, and Add Joy, which was released March 10 by Grand Central Publishing, takes traditional poses and translates them into moments that can fit any situation or current surrounding.
Also, mark your calendar for April 19. Chen will be at the Athleta store on Fillmore Street in San Francisco to teach a yoga class and sign copies of her new book. Without further ado, she shares with Haute Living readers five tips for how to take your zen with you travel.
1. Move Mindfully When You’re Sitting Around
If a stop and go schedule leaves you mentally weary and a little tight in your neck, shoulders, and back, try Pray to the Seat Pocket, a pose to open up your upper body so relaxing, calming breath can flow. Do this while you’re trapped on the plane – so you can be ready and refreshed to go-go-go again once you land.
- Put your hands in prayer position and have both feet on the floor.
- Rest your elbows on the seat in front of you and put your prayer hands behind your neck.
- Inhale as much as you can so you feel like you’re expanding your rib cage with your breath alone (you’ll feel a stretch if you’re breathing deeply enough).
- Go deeper by walking your elbows up the seat, and keep breathing deeply.
2. Hang Out Instead of Pass Out
It’s tempting to order wine or a Bloody Mary to pass the time, then, pass out on the plane. Instead, give yourself a shot of sanity from this mind-numbing flight with Hang Time, a pose that invites deep calm and fresh blood flow to your brain. You’ll also give your shoulders, neck, back and legs relief.
- Find an area on the plane where you can stand about 12 inches away from the wall.
- Bend your knees, rest your rear on the wall, and fold your upper body over your legs; lift up your belly a bit to support your back.
- Hold onto your elbows with opposite hands.
- Gently nod and shake your head.
3. Find Mind-Body Balance Between Points A and B
No one loves turbulence. Whether it’s actual airplane turbulence, or just a rattled mind in transit, Smooth Landing is a breathing technique that helps you balance the dueling parts of your nervous system for a calm arrival.
- Close off your right nostril with your right thumb.
- Inhale and exhale smoothly three times, using only your left nostril.
- Switch to close off your left nostril with the fourth finger of your right hand (release your thumb).
- Inhale and exhale smoothly three times, using only your right nostril
- Repeat as needed, then breathe through both nostrils for a few moments.
4. Use Packing to Meditate and Soothe
When you pack, do you pull a bunch of things out of the closet and make piles, only to realize it won’t all fit? Practice packing the yogi way: move with care, identify what is appropriate, and act from a deliberate place. This can be a moving meditation to teach you how to be wise and present in the rest of your life, too.
- Think about what you’re going to do on your trip.
- Choose one clothing item per activity, maximum.
- Consider whether more is needed, then take the next steps to add more to your suitcase.
5. Make An Appointment to Burn Out Stress
Regardless of time zone, you live by your smart phone calendar. Set up a repeating invite to dissolve stress with No U Di’n’t, a pose and breath technique that helps you conquer frenzy and frustration (and sculpts your shoulders and arms, too, btw). Busier people need this more, but try twice daily, for a few minutes, to start.
- Hold your arms out to your sides in a T-shape, and bend your wrists so your palms face away from you.
- Leave your index finger pointing up, and make a fist with the rest of your fingers, thumb over the other fingers.
- Make an “O” shape with your lips, and inhale so that air passes over your tongue. It’ll feel cool.
- Close your lips and exhale through your nose.
- Repeat, and feel the burn in your arm muscles as your heart and mind cool off.
Illustrations by Cody Shipman