On the Road by Rama (Ruth) Brooke

Rama Brooke

Rama Brooke

I use the 20/20/20 (20 minutes each) protocol for Ujjayi Pranayama, asana (poses) and meditation while traveling, although lately I’ve been placing more emphasis on the breathing practice. Travel depletes prana (energy). The extra Ujjayi helps to support the other two practices as well as my adjustment to the slightly “off kilter” routine of a busy travel schedule. I fit an additional 20 minutes of Ujjayi in the afternoon or before dinner, whenever possible. I also do it before falling asleep at night.  I don’t rely on this as part of my daily practice because I don’t know how long I’m actually doing it, but I find it helps me to drift “inward” and tune out any exterior noise or stimulus.

On a recent family travel vacation, we were packed into small hotel rooms with little opportunity or floor space for my usual asana and meditation practice. For my daily practice I relied on Ujjayi Pranayama and a series of “bed” poses beginning with Alternate Leg, Alternate Leg – Diagonal or Supta Janushirshasana, and then to JP with a variation, which I learned in ATT 411:  Deeper Yoga, which I love because it gets the lumbar spine too.

I woke up early and didn’t want to disturb anyone else in the room.  I did Ujjayi sometimes for an hour or more until others began to wake up and then I would finish with the poses before getting up to shower. In the afternoons, we would return to the hotel before dinner so I did another 20 minutes or more of breathing practice. I also did the bed poses again before falling asleep at night. I was amazed at how well this practice served me during the two weeks away from home. I had more energy than ever before on such a trip, and my body stayed open and healthy. I attribute this mostly to the consistent practices I do at home, especially meditation, which sustain me wherever I am. I also attribute it to the long Ujjayi sessions during the trip that allowed me to tap into and maintain my pranic (energy) reservoir.

This travel vacation was a “once in a lifetime” type of experience — one to cherish.  My more common travel experience is often by plane, which makes packing blankets and blocks an inconvenience, but I do usually stay in a hotel or somewhere that has floor space and furniture to substitute for props. My favorite travel asana prop is the firm seat cushion from a couch or a large overstuffed chair. One or two of these make a great base for poses such as Kurmasana, Baddha Konasana, Seated Side Stretch or even Virasana Seated Side Stretch (turn the cushion, if it’s rectangular, to sit on the short end, and use throw cushions or bed pillows to prop knees).

Without blocks, I do Dhanurasana Leg for a Lunge substitute, lying on a platform of the same firm couch or chair seat cushion(s). When time allows, I add some standing poses or the Standing Vinyasa. Jathara Parivrttanasana with deeper variations is a great way to end the session and add in a little more ribcage or lower spinal opening.

For meditation, I like to sit on the floor, when possible, in Sukhasana. I will use the same cushion props to create my Sukhasana seat. If sitting on the floor isn’t an option, I will sit in a straight (desk) chair, using a pillow to support the upright position of my spine, and place my feet on the firm seat cushion (I have short legs) on the floor.  This is how I “do more yoga!”

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