Going on Vacation? Don't Forget to Make Time for Yoga
Stress, aches, and pains don't stop just because you're on vacation. Luckily, you can take advantage of the calming effects of yoga practically anywhere, from a secluded mountaintop to a busy beach. Yoga offers several benefits that will make your vacation even better, including these advantages:
Vacations are supposed to be relaxing, but most trips involve at least some degree of stress. When your flight is delayed, you miss your exit, or the front desk clerk can't find your reservation, anxiety and stress soar. Headaches, upset stomach, and neck and shoulder pain due to stress make it difficult to truly enjoy your new surroundings.
Luckily, yoga offers an excellent way to beat stress naturally. Sticky situations prompt your body to release cortisol, a stress hormone. Although cortisol helps you react to stressful or dangerous situations quickly, high cortisol levels interfere with relaxation. Yoga decreases cortisol levels, enabling relaxation. The combination of yoga and meditation also increases production of your body's feel-good hormones, like endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. These hormones help you feel calm, happy, and ready to tackle any vacation hiccup.
Fewer Aches and Pains
Your muscles are bound to feel tired and achy after a day of swimming, hiking, surfing, tennis, shopping, or other vacation activities. Yoga poses stretch and soothe sore muscles and increase flexibility. Practicing yoga also relieves muscle pain and tightness caused by stress. Cat-cow, downward facing dog, child's pose, and extended triangle poses offer the perfect antidote for stiff, sore neck and back muscles.
Yoga offers a proven way to ease muscle aches. Office workers who completed 10-minute yoga sessions for one-month noted significant improvements in pain, according to a research study published in the Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Study. Yoga relieved pain in their backs, necks, heads, buttocks, and hips.
A Chance to Recharge and Relax
Do you feel a little sluggish in the morning? A quick morning yoga session will revitalize you and give you the energy you need to tackle the items on your vacation to-do list. The Yoga Journal suggests the sphinx, pigeon, bridge, and camel poses for increased energy.
Need to relax and decompress after a busy day visiting museums, sight-seeing, or scuba diving? Much healthier than a cocktail, yoga helps you relax naturally. Poses that enhance relaxation include corpse, child's pose, legs-up-the-wall, garland, and seated forward bend.
Sleeping well in an unfamiliar bed can be a challenge, even if you feel exhausted. Your vacation bed could be too hard, too soft, too wide, too narrow, or the pillows might be uncomfortable. Even if the bed is perfectly comfortable, you may still toss and turn and find yourself wide awake at 3 a.m.
Yoga eases the aches and pains that can make sleep difficult. It also promotes relaxation, thanks to the release of endorphins and serotonin. Yoga also extends the length of slow-wave and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is essential for restful sleep. Unfortunately, you spend less time in slow-wave sleep as you get older. However, yoga could prevent decreases in slow-wave sleep in middle age, according to a research study conducted in India. The study appeared in Sleep and Biological Rhythms in 2006.
If you struggle to sleep well during vacations, try the corpse pose. Lie on your back on the floor or your bed. Turn your palms to the ceiling and relax your legs, keeping them a little more than hip-width apart. As you inhale and exhale slowly, you'll begin to feel sleepy and relaxed.
Increased Appreciation for the Vacation Experience
Meditation helps you focus fully on the present, rather than mentally planning your next activity or stressing about long lines at attractions. When you learn to embrace the now, you'll be able to take the time to admire and appreciate your surroundings and the people around you. When you meditate, you may notice that you're more open to new experiences and feelings.
Not sure what poses to practice during your vacation? During your yoga class, your instructor can recommend a few poses and tips. Get in touch for information about our latest series of classes.
Yoga Journal: Yoga for Energy
Sage Journals: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society: Impact of 10-Min Daily Yoga Exercises on Physical and Mental Discomfort of Home-Office Workers During COVID-19, 10/1/2021
Wiley: Sleep and Biological Rhythms: Evaluation of Sleep Architecture in Practitioners of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga and Vipassana Meditation, 9/16, 2006
WebMD: Yoga for Stress Management, 4/15/2022