By popular request, we are rerunning our blog on Ayurveda Travel Tips from last year. And we’re adding a few extra tips to help you make your holiday travels more health promoting.
Traveling during the fall and winter holidays has its particular challenges. Traveling at any time of the year tends to disturb Vata dosha. The principle quality of Vata is movement. Plane, train and car travel can excite Vata and cause it to move out of place. Because late fall/early winter is a time when Vata predominates in our environment and physiologies, we need to be extra alert during these months about maintaining balance. Otherwise the qualities of instability, dryness, and roughness increase, leading to constipation, insomnia, anxiety, dry skin, moodiness and fatigue. To stay in the peak of mental and physical health while traveling, try these suggestions:
Get plenty of rest. Make sure you are well rested before you start your trip. This may mean packing a few days before your trip so you do not stay up too late the night before your departure. Take naps during your travels and practice the Transcendental Meditation technique.Remember, rest is the number one approach for pacifying Vata.
Try not to rush. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport and check in. If you are driving, don’t speed. Your physiology doesn’t need any extra pressure. Don’t start out your trip feeling frazzled.
Drink plenty of warm fluids (more than usual). Bring along a thermos of Vata tea in your car or ask your flight attendant for hot water and then add your own tea bag. The oxygen used in your plane cabin can be extremely dehydrating, leading to dry skin, fatigue, constipation, and poor concentration. Start drinking extra water a few days before you travel and continue through your travels. Avoid caffeinated drinks, which are diuretic in nature and will promote dehydration, as well as additional stimulation. Sugary drinks and alcohol should also be avoided.
Avoid cold drinks and cold food. The extra liquid you are drinking should be either room temperature or hot.
Avoid eating large quantities of food while you are in the air or traveling in the car. Don’t eat the airplane food. This is especially important when you are crossing time zones. It is better to eat your meal at the normal time after you arrive. If you are driving, bring a thermos of soup to enjoy along the way.
Sunlight helps reduce jet lag. If you arrive at your destination during the daylight hours, 20 minutes exposure to sunshine can help reset your body to local time. Adopt the local time as soon as you arrive. This is the day to resist the urge to nap. Set a clock so that you get up at the time you would rise at home.
Avoid Vata-aggravating foods such as salads, dried fruit and potato chips. Opt for warm, soothing foods. Oil is your friend at this time of the year and during your travels. At the same time, try to avoid junk foods, fried foods and heavy meats. Fresh fruit and cooked, easy-to-digest foods will help counter the constipation that often comes with traveling.
Bring along some Ayurvedic sesame oil so that you can give yourself an oil massage when you arrive at your destination. The warm oil (you can warm it by floating the bottle in hot water in your sink) and tactile stimulation will go a long way toward soothing Vata dosha. If you don’t have time for a full-body massage, try a quick foot massage. (Be sure to wrap the bottle of oil carefully so that it cannot leak into your luggage. Double bagging is recommended.) I usually take at least enough oil for a massage the first night and day.
Take Triphala with you. This Ayurvedic herbal remedy supports healthy functioning of the bowels (see blog on Triphala).
Schedule some Ayurveda treatments when you return home. Nasya can help with dryness in the nasal and sinus passages and can help address the Vata-aggravating influence of traveling, as well as protecting from airborne allergens and pollutants.
Abhyanga (Ayurveda massage), Shirodhara (oil streamed across the forehead) and Swedana (herbalized steam therapy) are helpful treatments to help balance Vata after travel— and throughout the winter.
Panchakarma treatments are the most significant Ayurvedic approach to both pacifying Vata and drawing out and eliminating impurities that have accumulated during your travels. If you indulge in foods you do not usually eat while you are away, the home-preparation diet and detoxification treatments of Panchakarma will get you back on a healthy routine for the rest of the winter. Not only will this it will help you transition into spring with fewer allergies and colds, it can help you shed any extra pounds you’ve gained during the holidays.
For more information on scheduling Ayurveda massages and treatments, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website: