Traveling does not mean you have to give up practicing.
In March 2013 I set out on a grand adventure: my wife Jane, and I are traveling the world on our bicycles. We have traveled a fair amount previously, but nothing on this scale and never by bicycle. The first leg of our trip will take us from Rome to Russia. I left behind my students and my full time job as a yoga teacher in Los Angeles to take on this journey. I know it will help me grow and learn in countless ways and that through travel I can continue to teach my students at home, as well as new students all around the globe. One of the ways I am doing this is through our trip blog. Jane and I are writing daily blogs on our website, sharing stories of the trials, the joys and the interactions that a trip like this manifests.
Still, it’s been hard to go from spending every day at the studio to having weeks between classes and studio visits.
Let The Search Begin
Finding yoga studios to practice in while traveling can be a daunting task. Some cities you will visit have no yoga at all. Some have so many it can be intimidating to even figure out which one to try. Will they speak English there? Will you be welcome? Will the customs be the same as you’re used to? Will they even do a practice you recognise as yoga?
So far I’ve managed to find several like-minded yogis to share OMs with, so here are a few tips to getting your yoga on even when you’re far away from home.
It all starts with Google (or Bing, Yahoo! or whatever search engine you like). Search for local yoga studios. It can help to first search for how to spell yoga in the local language. I get excited if there is more than one result, as this means I can be a bit more selective. If you are an iPhone or iPad user, there is an app called OM Finder which lululemon has put together for all us traveling yogis. You can search by current location or the name of a city you will soon be visiting to see what they have to offer. It uses the MindBody database, so I have found it useful in major cities, but less helpful in smaller ones.
Sometimes, however, there will be only one studio. Sometimes none. If there is one, why not give it a try? If there aren’t any, practice in your room, next to your tent, or in a public park. You can always get a subscription to YogaGlo, which will give you unlimited access to world-class teachers wherever you happen to be in the world. YogaGlo is an incredible resource and can help save the day when you desperately need to practice, can’t find a studio and don’t have the motivation to lead yourself.
If you have studios to choose from, here are some ways to narrow down the choice.
Know Your Yoga
One key to finding a studio to practice in when traveling is to know what you like.
What I like may not be what you like, what is popular in your town may not be popular in Kraków, Budapest, or Tokyo. This is why choice is a plus. Does the studio’s website feature a saffron robed guru? Chances are there is a better yoga studio for me. Is it hot yoga? I already run pretty hot, so in general I am not looking for a heated room. Is it Kundalini? I don’t look great in white, and I like to be sleeping (or drinking) at 4am when Kundalini’s like to practice.
I look for key words that relate to the type of yoga I like to practice. Tantra, Iyengar, Hatha, alignment, heart. These speak to me and my practice. You might like: 4am, kirtan, shakti, hot, vinyasa flow, or power.
Many yoga pages do not cater to tourists. Their student base, after all, is all locals, so most studio websites are in the local language. Fortunately, there is Google Translate. Just copy their web address and choose the local language, paste the link in the text field, and click the magnifying glass icon. Google will translate the whole page for you.
In big cities most studios, in my experience, offer yoga in English if you ask. However, this is not always the case. Some studios only offer classes in the local language. If you practice Ashtanga, vinyasa flow, or Bikram this may not be a big issue. If you can’t find out if they offer English on their website, send them an email and ask. They may offer to make the class bilingual for you or they may offer you a private class. Then you can decide what to do. No harm in asking.
Even if you can’t get a class in English, if you’re confident with the Sanskrit names of poses it might be a good opportunity to learn a bit of a foreign language. Before the class, try to set up your mat next to someone who looks like they know what they’re doing. Then you can use them to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing if you get lost.
Hopefully these tips will help you on your way to finding somewhere to place your mat.
Oh, and speaking of mats, I have noticed on my recent travels in Europe that hardly anyone has their own mat. So don’t worry about bringing your mat with you, the studios provide mats for the students to use. If you’re staying in hotels and want to practice in the room, however, some poses might be nicer on your own mat rather than face down in the carpet.
Doing yoga when you’re away from home is great way to meet yogis in new places, and can make your trip even more satisfying by giving you some centred time to reflect on the places you’ve been visiting.
Wherever you do it, the most important tip is to keep practicing.
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