Travel 3Preparing for a retreat, organizing your bag, incorporating chanting in the car, planning ahead to maintain balance, and packing a warm scarf can help you cultivate equilibrium on your many adventures, wherever your travels take you.

Top 10 Tips for Staying Balanced While Traveling

By Gigi Yogini

1. Pack Consciously to Lighten Your Load

When traveling, you want to feel energetically light. Dragging around heavy luggage can not only affect your energy, but it can also create imbalance for your body. Keep it simple.

2. Carry Healthy Snacks

Be prepared. Food on the road can be both expensive and unhealthy. When I travel, I love to pack almonds, carrots, Keen-wah bars, fresh fruits, and herbal tea.

3. Stretch your Spine

Traveling can involve a lot of sitting. Find space to practice simple stretches like a standing forward fold, puppy dog against a wall, or pelvic rocking while seated in a chair. Don’t be shy.

4. Stay Hydrated with a Reusable Bottle

An important travel rule to remember is to drink more water, especially when traveling by plane. Invest in a nice stainless steel water bottle so you can always refill and drink water on the go.

5. Bring Aromatherapy to Improve Your Experience

Delight your senses to create peace during travel. Experiment with some essential oils to find what work best for you. My favorites are lavender for relaxation, peppermint for rejuvenation, and tea tree oil for its antimicrobial qualities.

6. Get Your Legs Up the Wall

Upon arrival at your destination, elevate your legs to avoid swelling and to feel grounded. Especially after flying—which can have a tendency to dry you out and leave you chilled (because it can increase or aggravate the dry, cold, and airy energy of the vata dosha) — it is crucial for us to get grounded and reconnect with the earth element. Recline on your back on the floor and set your legs up a wall or on a chair.

7. Stay Committed to Your Daily Sadhana

If you have a regular daily practice (such as yoga, meditation, walking, running, or any other form of movement and mind-body activity), it is necessary to continue this while traveling. This could mean finding a local yoga studio or gym, exploring a new town by foot, or even taking a yoga class online.

8. Find Your Inner Journalist

Whether you want to remember an experience or you want to blow off some steam, your journal is the perfect place to share your thoughts without judgment.

9. Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Avoid Stress

The best way to keep your adrenals healthy is by avoiding high-stress situations. When traveling, a lot can be out of your control, especially when it comes to your schedule. Either give yourself plenty of time to get somewhere, or allow your timetable to be loose. You can’t let yourself get frazzled by the unexpected.

10. Maintain an Attitude of Gratitude

Whether for work or play, travel is an amazing gift. Recognize how lucky you are to have this opportunity. Be kind to locals, fellow travelers, and most importantly, yourself. Do what you can to enjoy and appreciate the chance to try new things.

Brigitte Kouba (aka Gigi Yogini) is a Santa Monica based private yoga instructor for busy women who want to strengthen their mind-body connection. Join her public classes at YogaWorks and Naam Yoga or watch her online classes at

Travel 1Going on Retreat?

7 Necessary Considerations before You Book

By Elise Joan

1. Location: Whether you’re looking for a sunny restful beachside oasis, an African safari, or an adventure trek through the jungle, you can find a myriad of destinations for your yoga getaway. Often, yoga teachers secure great deals for groups and pass the savings on to you, so consider finding an exotic destination or adventure that may otherwise be cost-prohibitive or involve too many logistics to visit or see on your own.

2. Yoga style: From breath-based Kundalini Yoga to rigorous asana flow, there are a wide range of yoga styles. Choose the option that best suits your retreat  expectations.

3. Energy of the teacher: Do some research on the teacher leading your retreat, and see if their energy is in line with what you’re looking for to get the most out of the experience. Are they energetic and inspiring, or regimented and strict? Is their approach traditional or more free-flowing? Obtain some insight, as the teacher sets the tone for the travel.

4. Look at what’s included: Some retreats revolve solely around yoga practice, while others include adventures or activities such as surfing, trekking, stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), or rock climbing. Before you go, know what’s included and what might come with an extra fee.

5. Food: Look for retreats that offer all-inclusive meals that are fresh, healthy, and that might even include some local flair.

6. Accommodations: From minimal to decadent, different retreats offer a variety of types of accommodation.  Whether you’ll be four to a hut, in a tent or yurt, in a dorm room or ashram, or if you’ll or sleeping solo at five-star resorts, find out details about your bunking arrangements.

7. Invite transformation: Be courageous and chose an experience that will take you right to your edge, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Allow yourself to be transformed by your journey and to reap the benefits of practicing yoga amidst beauty, tranquility, and adventure.

Elise Joan is an LA-based yoga teacher whose weekly classes are held at Equinox and Exhale. She regularly leads retreats around the world. Her most recent sojourn was to the Galapagos Islands, and she is preparing to head to Africa:

Travel 2Practicing on the Road

By Guy Gabriel

I love to chant the Gayatri Mantra quietly; it is a helpful prayer to remember and recite and it helps connect me with the forces of both Spirit and Nature. Gayatri refers to “the means by how we travel” and helps via vibrational sounds (Om being one of them) to move our soul’s journey forward towards recognition of our true self. It keeps me joyful while driving. Another favorite is Lokah Samastha Sukino Bhavantu, for which I’ve created my own rock version to sing.

Real yoga to me is uniting our body, mind, breath, and senses with our natural environment — from the fertile soil to the stars of infinite space — and understanding and reflecting on the great elements of ether, air, fire, water, and earth that make up our bodies and our living earth. We must reclaim our universal form and consciousness through deepening our connection with nature and reawakening the true self. I like to stand in mountain pose beneath great peaks such as Mount Shasta or Mount Rainier, taking in long full three-part breaths while emulating their strength and connection between earth and heaven. I always feel closer to the astral sheath when standing by these sacred summits. They beckon me to reach my own soul upward like them towards divinity and recognition of my celestial or sacred self.

With that realization of oneness, I feel an accompanying deep desire to protect it, which  automatically raises the bar of  activism. The late Corbin Harney, spiritual leader of the Western Shoshone people, had a saying that I have never forgotten: “One Air, One Water, and One Earth.” He was right. These elements sustain us, and we must keep them healthy so we remain healthy. Chief Seattle also said, “Whatever you do to the web of life, you are doing to yourself.” While on the road, I often listen to native music and reflect on the words of these great medicine men. Participating in activism protesting the Ward Valley proposed nuclear site with Corbin and the Shundahai Network years ago planted the seed in me to continue this work, My focus now is against Monsanto and GMOs and Oil and Gas Fracking; I help through groups like Food and Water Watch and others. For me, practice is synonymous with taking action, wherever I travel.

Guy Gabriel is a yoga teacher, Ayurvedic practitioner who lives, teaches, and practices in the Valley. [email protected].

Don’t Leave Home Without It

By Beth Shaw

I travel constantly – I’m usually on the road at least 10 days a month.

These things are always in my travel bag:

  1. Warm scarf for the airplane (wrapping the neck keeps away the chill).
  2. Zip lock bag with earphones, computer cables, and an airplane charger for a laptop.
  3. Vitamins and Vitamin B shots.
  4. EmergenC and green drink powder.
  5. Workout shoes.
  6. Sweater wrap.
  7. My favorite James Pearse white T-shirt.
  8. Travel Yoga mat.
  9. Ayurvedic nose oil (part of my daily practice to maintain balance).

Beth Shaw is the founder of YogaFit and the proprietor of the new YogaFit studio opening in June on South Robertson: