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Taking Ayurveda on the Road: Grounding Vata When You Are on the Move

by vpk® Maharishi Ayurveda & Kellen Brugman on July 19, 2012

Travel stimulates new ideas, creativity, and personal growth. A change of routine and surroundings brings a sense of freshness to our life and relationships.

However, a change of routine also causes irregularity in the body and mind. Due to Vata’s inherent mobile quality, travel tends to aggravate the Vata dosha. Made up of the air and space elements, Vata governs all movement in the body. It’s responsible for movement of the muscles, respiration, heart rate, and the flow of thoughts and emotions. These functions have a natural, regular cycle. So, excess movement such as long car rides and airplane travel can upset these functions, causing stress.

Travel Reservations Require Vata Preservations

Car trips and plane rides propel the body through space at high speeds. They increase the elements of air and space in the body and mind, as well as Vata’s mobile, light, dry, and subtle qualities. It’s no wonder that, at the end of a long travel day, one may feel spacey and out of sorts. Being away from home, out of our own comfort space, can cause feelings of ungroundedness. Many folks, especially those who are Vata predominant, feel anxious, experience irregular digestion, become constipated, and have trouble sleeping when they travel.

But not to fear or cancel your vacation! You don’t need to ground all movement; only know how to stay grounded when you move. Anyone who has traveled knows to expect some turbulence and unanticipated twists and turns. Making some simple preparations before you hit the road ensures that your body and mind will function smoothly.

Before a long road trip, we make sure the car is serviced and prepared for the drive. Likewise, it’s important to prepare the body. My predominant doshas are Vata and Pitta. I have learned if I invest a little time and energy into nurturing Vata before a trip, I will experience less stress and more delight. So, on the morning of travel, I do an abhyanga massage with a Vata-pacifying oil like Moisturizing Herbal Massage Oil for Vata. Refer to this link for how to administer abhyanga. Abhyanga hydrates the skin and calms the nervous system. The air in planes and cars is very dry and often cool. According to ayurveda, the first two stages of Vata disturbance are caused by excess cold and dry qualities. The oily and warm qualities of abhyanga support both the body and mind during travel. And, it feels great to nurture myself before I step out into the world of traffic jams and airport security lines.

Ayurvedic Travel Survival Kit for Vata Dosha

Tasty snacks and road tunes are vital on any trip. Equally important is packing items to keep Vata balanced. A little time spent preparing an Ayurvedic Travel Survival Kit will help avoid things like bloating, constipation, and poor sleep. By taking care of Vata, you will have more energy and feel calmer. You will experience more ease and joy on your holiday. These items are always in my carry-on when I travel by plane or drive a long road trip.

  1. Organic Sesame Oil or Moisturizing Herbal Massage Oil for Vata. For airplane travel, carry on a one-ounce bottle of chosen oil. Before boarding, put a dab of oil on the fingers and massage the outer ears, as well as behind the ears. Use the little fingers to gently lubricate the ear canal. This prevents the ears from drying out and will support the ears as they adjust to changes in air pressure. Reapply as needed throughout the flight.
  2. Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus). Sightseeing and vacation activities like hiking, swimming, and paddle boarding are more enjoyable when the digestive and elimination systems are properly working. This herbal blend contains Triphala and Cabbage Rose, which support normal elimination. Take 1 tablet the morning of travel, then 1-2 tablets at bedtime.
  3. Blissful Sleep tablets. Normal sleep cycles can become disturbed when traveling. Some folks have a hard time falling asleep in new places. Unfamiliar noises in a city or campground can make falling asleep difficult. For times like these, take Blissful Sleep tablets. A day of sightseeing or spending time with relatives is more enjoyable when you've enjoyed a restful sleep.
  4. Lavender oil helps calm anxiety. Recently, when my flight was delayed two hours due to a severe thunderstorm, I rubbed lavender oil on my wrists, temples, and sternum. This, along with a few deep breaths, helped me rest in the calm of the storm. Also, lavender oil can support sound sleep; it’s perfect for catching a quick catnap on the plane or in the car.
  5. Oatmeal. Avoid eating the dry snacks given out on the plane. They increase the dry quality in the colon, the main site of Vata. On my recent trip to Detroit (a 13 hour trek consisting of a taxi, bus and two plane rides), I packed a small container of ground oats. Before leaving home I put a teaspoon of ghee and sprinkled cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg on this homemade version of instant oatmeal. Hot water is available on the plane and in airport restaurants. Oatmeal is soothing and ghee is a natural demulcent, encouraging natural elimination. I also packed a banana and an almond butter, jelly and fresh diced ginger sandwich for extra nourishment.
  6. Ginger tea. Drink warm ginger tea during the trip. Cold carbonated beverages upset Vata. I always travel with several bags of ginger tea. Ginger promotes healthy digestion. Road trip meals tend to stress the digestive system, so ginger tea is a perfect remedy.
  7. Cotton scarf. I wear a light scarf when flying. It’s like a little security blanket and does wonders to make me feel warm and cozy in air-conditioned environments.

Other useful Ayurvedic travel survival tools:


These articles provide a great resource from The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians on the knowledge, practices, products, and applications of Maharishi Ayurveda.

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these newsletters is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, prevention or cure of any disease. If you have any serious, acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area.