Yoga & travel: A calmer side to exploration & adventure
If you read my blog regularly, you could be forgiven for thinking that I have boundless supplies of energy, choosing every holiday (and weekend in fact) to be one filled with action, adventure… and plenty of exertion! And whilst I do prefer to spend my free time hiking, climbing, diving, backpacking, exploring, running and all manner of other (often sweat inducing) pursuits, I also need my downtime as much as the next person! The way that I manage this at home is by taking one weekend at least every six weeks to do absolutely nothing except eat and sleep, and while travelling, to choose a spot (waterside preferably) where I can pause and recoup my energy levels… The other thing that I have found helps immensely is practicing yoga.
I’ve always enjoyed pilates and yoga as part of my training regime, finding that it adds a whole new level of strength and gives a much better shape through toning and posture. It’s only since moving to Dubai however that I have really been bitten by the bug. There are now a huge number of yoga and pilates studios in Dubai, with more opening everyday, so there are no shortage of options for expats or tourists visiting the city. Personally, I always enjoyed the sessions at Zen Yoga, and I am looking to try Exhale and bikram yoga specialists Rawr Yoga in the near future, both coming highly recommended. Adding a whole new dimension to the experience however, and a benefit of living in the UAE, is being able to take the practice outside. I have taken part in a number of outdoor yoga events and classes, from full moon sessions on the beach at Madinat Jumeirah by Talise spa, to weekly classes run on the beach at Riva, Palm Jumeirah, by Ignite fitness & wellness, and personal sessions with a great instructor in Safa Park. Each of these has been fantastic, affording you the opportunity to take in the sounds of birds, waves, rustling trees and feel the breeze and warmth on your skin as you contort your body. For those living in Dubai, I would definitely suggest taking part in these events every so often, just to take the time to feel grateful for what we have here and really appreciate the benefits of living in Dubai, and for tourists, it’s a great way to appreciate a calmer side to the city!
Whether you’re tourists to Dubai, or elsewhere in the world, yoga can be extremely beneficial to travellers. Taking the time to breathe in everything around you and take stock, is for me a great way to pause (even amid the most hectic city or hectic travel schedule) and immerse my senses in a place, letting my mind absorb and process all the new mental photographs and experiences that I have received, really appreciate them, and store them away before moving on to the next experience. The practice itself keeps me limber when I’m doing something physically active and helps me stretch out and loosen up after long trekking trips or long hours spent on planes, trains or buses. In addition, the calming effects of meditation and the practice of controlling your breathing has helped me stay calm in all manner of stressful situations!
Having practiced yoga (albeit, on and off) for some time now, I am capable and comfortable doing a few moves on my own, and will often practice a few poses on my own in the morning if the mood takes me while travelling (particularly nice if you’re on the beach), but I have also joined yoga classes – I couldn’t very well travel to India and Nepal without indulging in such a traditional activity – and again, would highly recommend the experience. We visited a lovely swami in Pokara, Nepal, after trekking the Annapurna Circuit, and he helped us no end with our aches and pains through a full day combination of yoga classes, meditation and massage, and whilst relaxing on the beaches of Varkala, India, on a different trip, we also indulged in morning sessions of yoga, held on platforms up in the trees. Right now, we are actually beachside again in Goa and have managed to book a day of yoga and Ayurvedic massage tomorrow as part of the hen weekend celebrations (the bride-to-be often being one of my yoga partners in Dubai). I can’t wait and will be sure to feedback how we find it, but for now… Namaste…