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How to maintain your yoga routine while traveling
Nancy Trejos, USA TODAY
October 24. 2012 – Roseann Day can’t go without yoga, especially when she’s traveling. That’s when she says she needs it most, what with cramped seats on airplanes and luggage to haul.
“Yoga’s a wonderful exercise that doesn’t require any special equipment yet helps with strength and flexibility,” she says.
If she can’t find the time to take a class, the Massachusetts-based information technology consultant will do yoga in her hotel room in the morning.
Now, more than ever, yoga enthusiasts have plenty of options for maintaining their routines on the road, yoga instructors and hospitality industry experts say. A number of hotels offer classes or in-room equipment. And if they don’t, yoga instructors say, there are many ways to practice the craft even on a plane, in a hotel room or outdoors at a park or beach.
“Yoga is one of the most feasible ways to exercise while on the road — limited amount of equipment: You lay down a towel if you don’t have a mat. (It) can be practiced indoors or outdoors,” says Marshall Sanders, a registered yoga teacher at VIDA Fitness and EPIC Yoga in Washington, D.C. “And you don’t have to worry about bringing multiple pairs of shoes because you practice barefoot.”
Interest in yoga has grown over the years. A 2012 study by Yoga Journal, a national yoga publication, indicated that 20.4 million Americans practice yoga, up from 15.8 million in 2008. And they spend $2 billion a year on yoga retreats, up from $630,000 in 2008.
In an Omni Hotels and Resorts survey last year, 26% of respondents said they wished their hotel would help them find nearby yoga or spinning studios.
Equipment to go
Many hotels are doing better than that by offering classes or equipment.
Kimpton Hotel guests can request a yoga bag at the front desk that contains mats, straps and exercise bands.
In Washington, the Mandarin Oriental offers yoga mats and videos upon request. The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, a Marriott property, has Saturday-morning yoga classes in its Urban Garden when weather permits. In Boston, the Liberty Hotel offers “Yoga in the Yard” with instructors from the Equinox gym.
Omni Amelia Island Plantation in Northeast Florida has a yoga treehouse, where guests can practice yoga while overlooking the water.
Hilton Worldwide is testing a dedicated “Yoga Room.” The guestroom, available at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner in Virginia and the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, has a designated space to practice yoga, a full-length mirror to check poses and yoga accessories.
“It’s yet another way to empower our guests and motivate them to maintain their healthy lifestyle on the road,” says Jodi Sullivan, senior director of global fitness for Hilton Worldwide. “We’re seeing more and more travelers, individuals, guests, consumers realizing the importance of yoga as far as breathing, meditation, stretching.”
Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of NYU’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management, says hotels are trying to appeal to both younger and older guests.
“Yoga cuts across all age groups and many demographics, so it’s kind of universal,” he says. “Yoga and other types of exercise and fitness and health are all good messages for hotels because people feel stressed traveling.”
Start your trip off right
Yoga instructors recommend practicing some moves as soon as you arrive at the airport.
San Francisco International Airport recently opened a dedicated yoga room. Other airports have fitness centers on-site that offer day passes.
But there’s much you can do even while sitting in your seat at the gate or on the plane. Try an Eagle Arm pose while sitting, says Gabrielle Benoit, a yoga and pilates instructor and founder of Core Club LA in Los Angeles. All that is required is positioning your right arm under your left arm, then vice versa.
“If you are stuck on an airplane or in the airport, there are many different yoga poses you can practice in a chair to keep the blood flowing and get a little workout in as well,” Benoit says.
If you arrive at your destination and discover that your hotel doesn’t offer yoga amenities, there are other ways to get in your workout.
Many travel mats are now lighter than the ones you typically get at a studio.
If you can’t remember all your poses, online classes are available at such websites as YogaGlo.com. Pay an $18 monthly fee, and you can get instruction anywhere you go. Some websites allow you to download classes onto your iPod. Many instructors offer free instruction in YouTube videos.
If you prefer the physical company of an instructor and classmates, there are plenty of studios that let people drop in for about $15 to $20.
Sanders recommends calling the studio ahead. “Confirm the style, time and request feedback on the instructor and find out if a reservation is necessary,” he says.
Fresh air is refreshing
For a cheaper alternative, take your mat to a local park or a towel to the beach and practice while getting some fresh air, he says.
Sara DiVello, a registered teacher with classes in Boston, recommends travelers develop a routine for the road. Ask your favorite instructor for a private lesson, and have him or her customize a travel routine, she says.
DiVello says traveling yogis shouldn’t push themselves too hard when on the road.
“You don’t have to do a full 90 or even 60 minutes,” she says. “If you’re crunched on time, you can do an abbreviated practice.”
The best strategy, Sanders says, is to practice your routine first thing in the morning.
“Travel schedules tend to throw us off our routines, so doing your practice first thing in the morning will ground you (and) help reinvigorate normal body functions,” he says.