Keeping up a yoga practice while traveling

I wanted to keep up my yoga practice as much as possible while traveling. Firstly in order to stay strong and flexible for my teacher training, second (and most important!) because I love it and I was excited to have time to go to class rather than squeezing online classes in around work.

In reality I’ve been hit and miss depending on where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing but I managed to fit something in most weeks. Here are the things that helped:

Don’t worry about not having the right equipment

I knew that I didn’t want to carry a yoga mat with me. They’re heavy and take up a tonne of space! I find I can practice on most surfaces effectively with a bit of improvisation. Carpet works well, for harder surfaces like wood or tile I just use the pillows and blankets from my bed or my own clothes to pad my knees and other parts of the body that have a hard time with the floor. Yes it’s easier to grip with a mat but I found practicing on slippier surfaces helped me to engage my core. Just be careful not to fall over!

I like up work with props and found that my pyjama bottoms or a scarf worked perfectly instead of a strap. For a block I’d grab whatever I could find in the room eg chunky doorstops or books, or even my 1.5l water bottle where I knew I wouldn’t put a lot of weight on it.

Make the most of local studios

These weren’t always available but when they were I made sure to take advantage of intro offers and practice as much as I could fit in. They will almost definitely be a fraction of the cost back home. The best I found were:

– Buena Onda, Buenos Aires: run by US expats, the classes happen on beautiful studios around central. These English speaking classes ranked among the best Vinyasa Flow classes I’ve been to and there was a really friendly vibe in the classes. From memory it was about $10 per class including mat hire.

– Pure, Granada, Nicaragua: Pure has a great range of classes and a pretty good gym. The yoga classes cost about $8 a time,  a bit less if you have your own mat. They also run various workshops and the staff are superfriendly. Classes are in English and seemed to be mostly intermediate vinyasa flow.

I stopped at others along the way and Cusco in Peru was another hotspot (I can’t remember the name of the place but Google turns it up at the top of the list). A couple of times I walked into a class that was fully on spanish but don’t worry too much about this. It’s a little awkward for he meditative/closed eye bits but if you put yourself at the back of the class it’s surprising how little you need to understand the verbal cues.

Yogaglo/other online subscription services

I pay about £12 a month for yogaglo and there are hundreds of excellent classes on there. When I had a private room/my dorm was empty and there as decent wifi I’d stick a class on and practice. This was hit and miss given the up and down wifi out here but in Peru and Central America I usually found the signal good enough.

Learn Ashtanga primary series (or other self practice)

I found that if I tried to put together my own sequences I’d do the postures I liked and give up after 20 minutes or less! Having the predefined Ashtanga sequence meant I was more likely to see the practice through to the end and get a rounded set of poses.

Use open spaces in hostels/outdoors and don’t be self conscious

This is something that I haven’t 100% cracked but every hostel I’ve been in has space to practice. I was spoiled with my first in Buenos Aires which had a huge roof terrace but every place I’ve stayed has had a corridor, patio or other space for practice. Where I haven’t used it, it’s been my self consciousness that held me back. I’m pretty sure people either wouldn’t care or would be interested so my advice here is don’t worry, just go for it! And if you’re really struggling book a private room for a night. In most of South and Central America this won’t break the budget for one night.

And finally, don’t worry if you miss a few days or even weeks

Relax, you’re travelling and yoga should be enjoyable not a source of stress. There were times I took a couple of weeks off or only managed 5 sun salutations every so often. My body didn’t forget how to do it and everything came back quickly when I reached the teacher training. Sure, some things were tighter, some were more open but it was fun exploring those changes and seeing what new things opened up to me during the course of the training.

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