Pranayama in Practice: Traveler’s Guide

Taking your yoga practice on the road can be a struggle. Finding mat space in cramped hostels, while allowing room for others is nearly impossible. Trying to find a small patch of land in a crowded city is hard enough. However, where there is a will, there is a way. Balconies. Balconies are a god-send. I always try to book places that have some sort of courtyard, balcony, or rooftop that will serve as my yoga haven. But the easiest way, I’ve found, to add balance into the hectic traveler lifestyle is through the practice of pranayama, or breath control exercises.


Being on the road can be stressful, especially if that stress is not properly managed. With language barriers, lack of communication, countless transportation and money issues, unforeseen happenings, it all adds up. Stress management is crucial if you want to have a fun and productive trip! When flights are delayed, mountainside roads are just a tad too narrow, or your bank decides to freeze your card, what do you do?




The lungs are a magical bridge between your parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. It is the only organ in your body that functions on both voluntary and involuntary actions.Say what? You breath whether you are thinking about it or not, so why not use it for your own benefit? If you can control your breath, you can control your mind and your nervous systems. Controlling your nervous systems will sure help with those traffic jam jidders, noisy hostel dorm mates, and any other dilemma you may encounter. So, let’s discuss some techniques to use for the traveler on the go:


Nadi Shodana

Otherwise known as Alternative Nostril Breathing, Nadi Shodana is used for balancing the mind and purifying the body. This is one of my favorite methods to bring control back into your realm. The purpose of this technique blew my mind the first time I heard it. My teacher told us that the left nostril is connected to the right hemisphere of the brain and the right nostril to the left hemisphere. Whatever nostril you breath out more, is directly related to your type of thinking. The left brain hemisphere performs tasks related to logic, science and math, and controls the right side of the body. The right brain hemisphere performs tasks related to creativity and the arts, and controls the left side of the body. When one of those sides is off balance, extremes of each hemisphere may result and can get in the way of a backpackers “chill vibes”.


Approximately every 4-6 hours your dominant nostril changes. Go ahead, test it out. Place your hand below your nose and breath out. What nostril are you dominantly breathing out of? The left? The right? Well, the Nadi Shodana can give you some control of what brain hemisphere you are activating! Cool, right?


Check out this video to do the technique yourself!


Feeling sluggish after lugging your bag across continents and oceans? Need a quick energizer to cope with lazy co-travelers or worse, are your showers freezing cold? Well, Bhastika technique is for you fine people! This vitalizing breathing method improves blood circulation, thus heating up your core and waking you up! Bhastika combines rapid inhale and exhalation with quick bodily movement. It is fun and kind of like a dance. Turn on some music and get the day started!


Check out this video to do the technique yourself!



The constant packing and unpacking, taking clown-like cars full to the brim across rocky terrain, losing sight of your travel companions in unfamiliar lands. Just talking about it gives me anxiety! Bhramari, aka Humming Bee Breathe is pretty simple. Can you guess how to do it?


You use your inhales and exhales to make a humming sound, breathing only through your nose. The vibrations created by the humming increase your psychic sensitivity and awareness! So you can find your friends in crowds that much easier! To go further and relieve that excess stress and anxiety by trying it with your eyes closed and ears plugged. The practice will return your concentration and bring you a sense of peace amongst the chaos. Doesn’t that sound nice?


Check out this video to do the technique yourself!


Now that you have all the techniques you’ll need to have a great and serene trip. Buy that ticket, book that cruise. Get out there and breath!


Safe Travels!



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