Travel increases Vata dosha – the Ayurvedic type ruled by the elements of air and space. (For more information on Ayurveda and to learn your own dosha, take the quiz here.) This is especially true when flying, although all forms of travel can increase vata. Too much vata and you may feel anxious and scatterbrained. Physically you may feel fatigued and dehydrated. A couple of years ago after over 19 hours of travel time on my way to Thailand I thought I had lost my wallet as we were trying to catch a cab to leave the airport. I managed to cancel my credit cards before finding my wallet in a random compartment in my backpack- and I have no memory of putting it there. Unbalanced vata at work!
If you’re not already vata-dominent you might be able to handle travel a bit better than others, but it’s still a good idea to balance vata dosha. Here are some tips to keep you calm and grounded on your next trip.
- Stay hydrated – Vata is dry, and it’s easy to become dehydrated on an airplane. Drink lots of water before, during, and after your trip.
- Ginger tea – Pack some ginger tea drink on the plane. It will keep you warm, hydrated, and grounded. Or you can even find vata-pacifying tea (I love Pukka tea!).
- Eat warm, grounding, spiced foods before and after your trip – Finding good food is difficult in an airport and next to impossible on an airplane. You might not be able to pack hot foods, but try bringing homemade trail mix with lots of cashews and other nuts, or other snacks that have healthy fats to help balance vata.
- Oil massage -Abhyanga is ayurvedic oil massage that calms the nervous system.. Massage yourself with sesame oil (or I really like this vata oil) daily, focusing on the soles of the feet. You can also put a bit of oil in dry nostrils and ears (really!), especially while on a plane.
- Dress in layers – Vata is cold, and I’m always freezing on airplanes. Stay warm on the plane, even if you’re traveling somewhere warm. I have a Turkish bath towel that I like to use as a shawl on the plane and as a towel where I’m going (which usually involves hostels, so I need to bring a towel with me anyway).
- Keep a regular schedule – This can be a hard one on vacation, but keeping a fairly regular schedule – waking, eating, sleeping – can do a lot to keep scattered vata in balance.
- Yoga – Channel your inner yogi and practice some grounding yoga postures (mountain pose, down dog, forward fold, warrior I & II, child’s pose, etc.). Pranayama, or breath work, can be beneficial as well. Try Nadi Shodhana pranayama, which is very calming. The video below gives a great overview:
Tomorrow I’m off to Costa Rica for 10 days and I’m trying something new- I bought a small blender just for travel. I usually try to fly without checking luggage, but if you aren’t flying or don’t mind checking a bag, bringing a blender with you is a great idea. You can use them even if you don’t have a kitchen where you’re staying. Just buy some fruit and greens, and you can even pack some hemp seeds, protein powder, or whatever else you put in your smoothies (or explore the local farmers markets and health food stores). Throw in a nut milk sack and you could even make juice! Some people actually bring their Vitamix or Blendtec with them, but there’s no way I’m going to lug mine around an airport with me. The jury’s still out on if this is the best small blender – I haven’t used it yet and the reviews are mixed – but it sounds like this will work as long as you’re not using it daily for months on end, and it was very inexpensive.