By Whitnee Jenkins
Looking for the perfect fusion of mind and body wellness that is also travel friendly? Oh, and kid friendly? Well, that’s yoga, my friends, and here are all the travel yoga tips and poses you need to take yoga with you on your next family vacation.
Yoga is perfect for travel because you really don’t need anything extra to practice while away from home. You don’t need weights, a treadmill, or extra shoes. While I do have a fantastic travel mat, you technically don’t even need a yoga mat! I do however recommend putting down a towel if you practice on a hotel room floor. Because, well, eww! But really, all you need is yourself, so yoga can go with you anywhere.
Yoga has many benefits for physical and mental health. I could write a whole article on just that, but for the sake of your time, here are a few of my favorites:
- builds muscle strength
- increases flexibility
- improves balance
- lengthens and strengthens the spine
- relieves tension
- helps you focus
- cultivates a calm mind
- and connects body and mind through the breath.
These things are a real bonus for us traveling moms, especially when our bodies and minds need some TLC after a long vacation day!
With all that being said, vacation is still vacation, so a yoga practice should definitely take on a different form. I very rarely do longer than a 15-minute flow and usually there are three little boys hanging around while I practice. You may be thinking that you don’t have the time or the energy to practice yoga while on vacation, but I assure you it’s not as hard as it seems. Even just ten minutes of yoga will leave you with more energy for a day full of playing and a calm, clear mind to face whatever may come your way.
Yoga doesn’t have to be complicated. One of the best parts about traveling with kids is the spontaneity each day can bring. And your yoga practice can be spontaneous as well.
I’ve developed 10 Yoga Poses for all you travel mommas. Poses you can do with limited space, time, and privacy. We all know these things are scarce while traveling with kids on a family vacation. Do these poses in the morning for increased energy and focus for the day, in the evening to wind down and prepare for bed, or anywhere in between. It’s your ticket to a healthy vacation—both mentally and physically.
1 | Easy Pose – Sukhasana
2 | Puppy Pose – Uttana Shishonsana
4 | Warrior 2 – Virabhadrasana II
Warrior 2 cultivates strength and length all at the same time. You will build strength in your quads, hips, and glutes while lengthening your spine, lifting your chest and reaching through your arms to your fingertips. No wonder it has warrior in its name! It will leave you ready to take on life like a true warrior, wonder woman. Keep your front knee lined up with your ankle and your tail bone reaching toward the floor for true warrior status.
5 | Plank Pose – Phalakasana
Plank pose is the ultimate core shredder. Not only does it target your belly, but you also strengthen your arms, shoulders, and tone your pelvic floor muscles. A beginner’s best friend, plank pose is a great starting point for more advanced arm balances. Hug the belly button towards your spine to really challenge your core. And don’t forget to breath! It’s really common to hold your breath in this pose, but staying connected to your breath will help you stay soft and calm amidst the struggle.
6 | Cobra Pose – Bhujangasana
Stretch and open your abdominal muscles with cobra pose. It feels amazing to roll those shoulders back, open the heart, and expand your ab muscles, especially if you are a notorious sloucher… Gently engage your buttocks, press the tops of your feet into the mat, and lift your chest to the sky. Your spine will thank you!
7 | Child’s Pose – Balasana
Child’s pose is one of the best resting poses out there. Get re-centered and reconnect to your breath while you widen your sacrum. Feel that low back tension melt away! Let your shoulders fall away from your ears and reach your tail bone towards your heels for maximum tension relief.
8 | Bound Angle Pose – Baddha Konasana
So many of us hold tension in our hips. Especially if we have been on our feet all day, say, adventuring in new places. Bound angle pose will stretch into those outer hip muscles and open up your inner thighs as well. To go deeper, really keep your spine long and your back flat and you take your chest towards the floor. Rounding over your feet will stretch your spine, not your hips.
9 | Bridge Pose – Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
You’re going to need lots of energy to sustain you on those long vacations days. Bridge pose will start you off on the right foot. Engage your lower body and open your front side to relieve fatigue and bring some much-needed life back into your body. Just don’t turn your head side to side once you are in the pose. Your neck will be much happier.
10 | Standing Forward Bend – Uttanasana
And last but definitely not least, standing forward bend. This pose brings much needed opening to the back of your legs and your sacrum, all while you hang upside down and reap the benefits of the inversion. Grab opposite elbows and let gravity do its thing to really get the most out of this pose. You can thank me later.
BONUS: More Travel Yoga Tips
Now that you have your poses ready, read on for more travel yoga tips for making the most of your practice while on vacation.
Go As Fast or Slow as YOU Need
We all have different needs and those can change on any given day. I recommend taking 3 – 5 breaths in each pose, but it’s your practice. If you need more meditative movement that day, by all means, stay in them longer! If you have a jam-packed day of family fun, go quicker and call it good! That’s one of the beauties of a yoga practice. It can be tailored to individual needs.
Wake Up Early
For some much-needed time to yourself, I recommend getting up a little earlier than the rest of your family to practice in the peace and quiet. It can be very invigorating to practice in the early morning hours. But, if you don’t mind adding in a little playful and crazy, you can do this when your kids are awake and get them involved. I have all boys and they love trying to see who can do each pose best or hold each pose the longest, and my five-year-old thinks mommy doing yoga is a jungle gym! All these poses are family yoga poses.
Throw Your Expectations Out the Window
Honestly, just being a mom in general requires this mantra, but on vacation especially, letting go of any expectations can make your day, and your sanity, go a lot better. Have time? Do some yoga! Don’t have time? Don’t do yoga! Kids are everywhere? I don’t know what to tell you on that one, they never go away… Laughter is usually best.
These are my favorite yoga pants for travel. All black for that classic look, but a little detail to add style. Wear them for yoga, airplane travel, or out and about with your family. They are so comfy and so versatile, you will want to wear them every day. And bonus, the core support technology really hides that unwanted belly flab! No unwanted belly flab? I hate you.
I have added a link to each yoga pose for a more detailed description of how to get into each pose. If you are really getting into the details, here is one of my favorite yoga books. It goes over yoga philosophy, the benefits of each pose to your health, and dives deep into the proper execution and alignment. It was the first book on yoga I ever read and is still one of my must reads for anyone looking to deepen their practice.
For even more travel yoga tips and poses that you can do in even smaller surroundings (i.e. campers, tents, back of your car, etc…), check out this other article I wrote. Now get out there, get traveling with your kids, and do some yoga! Next stop, your healthiest vacation yet. Happy travels!
Freelance WriterWhitnee is a dancer, yogi, artist, and writer. She has often been described as having “creative ADD.” She is on a mission to live life mindfully, practice self love, and be authentic. You can find more of her work at www.whitneeelaine.com.