Why Travel; A Yogi's Viewpoint
Ever wondered why, when you wake up in a new place or touchdown in a previously undiscovered city, you get that butterfly feeling in your stomach? You are instantly happy. As serotonin levels rise, your heart rate increases and a permanent smile lands itself on your face as you hit the pavement with no real destination in mind just the thrill of exploring somewhere new. Or maybe it's just me?
I definitely know travelers who need a set schedule, a plan, a specific itinerary and their destinations (and outfits) mapped out for each day. This is not me. I have found that some of my favorite travel adventures have come from spontaneity and, sometimes, downright poor planning (like that time I packed a sweatshirt, no underwear and not one matching top & bottom for my tropical Bali getaway...oops). Not that I advocate that, but as a rule I like to encourage you, my fellow travelers, to leave your need for control at home. After all, you're on vacation and things never go as planned, especially in developing countries and places where timeliness and schedules aren't really held in high regard it's important to remember that you traveled to experience something new. Embrace the idea of immersing yourself into the culture you have chosen to become a part of and let go of those habits that often leave you feeling stressed and burnt out at home and I promise you will feel yourself soften into the groove of what makes some of the poorest people on this planet the happiest.
As I write this I am en route home from a 3 week trip to Indonesia. Currently I am whittling away at a 13 hour layover in the Shanghai airport having been denied a 24 hour visitation visa. My dreams of visiting the Yu Gardens, noshing street noodles, and writing from a cozy cafe while sipping a green tea latte having been crushed I decided to make the best of my time and instead have posted up at a charging station near my gate and made myself at home with duty free dark chocolate and the sweatshirt I am now grateful for packing. But hey, letting go is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and I am now thankful for the extra work hours that will allow me to be free to Netflix and chill when I get home to battle the jet lag from a 17 hour time shift. Perspective is everything.
As I dive into the memories of these past weeks I notice they all have a recurring theme... presence! Stepping outside of our usual routine is beneficial for both mind and body. The long-lasting personal benefits of visiting a foreign country far outweigh the costs and time to get there. The hustle of my routine and habits quickly melted away, replaced easily by the ebb and flow of what became the norm of Bali life. With limited service and wifi I was forced to disconnect from technology and in its place found a more meaningful connection; to myself, my experiences, and to those I shared time with. The depth of my conversations, the creative ideas that flowed, and the introspection in my quiet time truly made me realize how constantly distracted I am at home. Without the constraints of a busy schedule I woke up early, meditated & journaled and came up with endless new ideas for my business. I did yoga everyday in various forms from powerful 90 minute Ashtanga classes to Yin to devotional and gentle Hatha practices. By the end of my trip I didn't even want my phone...or a job.
Kidding, well sort of.
Presence. It seems so simple yet in the context of a busy lifestyle disconnecting can be a lot more challenging than when on vaca and responsibility is nearly zilch. We can still carry the spirit of deeper connection and the thrill of new experiences with us even as we integrate back into the fold.
And just to throw the cherry on the sundae here are 5 additional benefits of travel.
1. Travel improves brain function and sharpness. Thats right, you spend A LOT of time on autopilot. Being dropped into a new environment gets those cells fired up again. Forced to navigate a strange place and engage in a foreign language, eat different foods, and have a new sleeping schedule will shake that routine right up. Like a workout for your mind, upon return home you'll feel sharper than ever, ready to organize and take on new tasks with efficiency.
2. An opportunity to try new things. So eat that grasshopper, leap off that cliff at the waterfall and take the traditional Balinese dance class! Cultural immersions will help you relate to the local people and others who have traveled and had similar experiences. Being a well rounded individual will also help your self confidence and to pursue passions you may never knew you had. Maybe you love chocolate covered grasshoppers and discover that base jumping is your new favorite hobby. DO IT!
3. Sunshine and movement. Exploring a new city is like a free gym membership. I walked an average of 7 miles a day while in Indonesia without even trying. That paired with the sunshine, swimming, hiking and checking out local yoga studios had my natural endorphins flowing and will have you ready to explore every corner of this strange place you've found yourself in. Bonus: did you know Asia has one of the highest life expectancy and lowest obesity rates in the world. So enjoy that gelato, it's hot and you've earned it.
4. Meet new people. Probably my favorite one on this list as my passion is connection, especially being a catalyst for making those connections. Retreats and travel offer the opportunity to get to know people who are both very different from you and also the chance to make friends with those who share similar interests. Who couldn't use a new friend?!
5. Come home refreshed and renewed. We all know the burnt out feeling, even teaching yoga can get monotonous if I don't take the time to pause and reflect every once in a while. Getting away even just for a few days will rejuvenate your positivity and productivity. Breaking up the monotony of daily life will reduce stress and give you the chance to share your excitement for having gone somewhere new.
Ready to adventure? Click here to explore Heart Space Retreats.