Ayurveda on the Road
Grounding Vata When You’re on the Move
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, elimination, respiration, heart rate, and the flow of thoughts and emotions. These essential functions have a natural, regular cycle. So, excess movement such as long car rides, train rides or airplane travel can cause an imbalance of Vata dosha – throwing off these cycles and resulting in stress.
Travel Reservations Require Vata-Balancing Preparations!
Car trips, train rides and plane rides propel the body through space at high speeds. They agitate the elements of air and space in the body and mind (Vata dosha), along with the mobile, light and dry qualities of Vata. It’s no wonder that, at the end of a long travel day, one often feels a little spacey and out of sorts. Being away from our familiar home, out of our own comfort zone, can unsettle us. When traveling, many folks, especially those who are Vata predominant, feel anxious, experience irregular digestion, become constipated, and have trouble sleeping. That is Vata, out of balance.
But there’s no need to cancel your vacation. Stopping movement isn’t the answer. The key is knowing how to stay grounded by keeping Vata in balance when you’re traveling. Plan for some turbulence and unanticipated twists and turns. Making some simple preparations prior to hitting the road will help your body and mind function smoothly.
Before a long road trip, we make sure the car is serviced and prepared for the drive. Likewise, Ayurveda recommends preparing the body. If your predominant doshas are Vata and Pitta, invest a little time and energy into nurturing Vata before a trip. There’ll be less stress and more delight. For example, on the morning of travel, try doing an abhyanga massage with a Vata-pacifying oil like Moisturizing Herbal Massage Oil. (Here’s how to do 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 oneself before stepping out into the world of traffic jams and airport security lines.
Ayurvedic Travel Survival Kit for Vata Dosha
By taking care of Vata, you will have more energy, calm, ease and joy on the road. Here are some items to include in your carry-on when traveling by plane or driving on a long road trip:
- Rest, rest and more rest.
- When you reach your destination, honor the time change. Go to bed at the hours of your destination, preferably before 10 p.m.
- Sunlight to reset your body’s rhythms. Take a walk in the early-morning, rising sun. This is a fantastic tool to reset your biological clock to a new time zone.
- Stay hydrated. Vata loves being hydrated. Start drinking more liquids several days before your trip. Your skin and lips will love you for this. The air on planes and the air-conditioning in your car is very drying, so drinking lots of fluids is a sure way to help Vata.
- Abhyanga in the morning is a great way to balance Vata dosha and start your day right.
- Gentle yoga asanas are known for balancing the physiology and helping to maintain a healthy back during the rigors of travel.
- Meditation helps calm the mind and bring the body back into balance.
- Always bring a soft and warm sweater or sweatshirt for traveling by plane or train, because you can’t control the temperature.
- Eat less on the day(s) you are traveling.
- A rose water mister is a refreshing addition on the road.
Seven essentials for the road – your travel kit
- Organic Vata Tea – The Ayurvedic herbs in this tea will help your mind settle down and your body relax – they are specifically formulated to balance Vata. Whether at work, at home, or on the road, sweet soothing Organic Vata Tea can help you stay calm and alert.
- Vata Aroma Oil – This serene selection of essential oils includes Geranium Rose, Sweet Orange and Fennel. Just the thing when you need to slow down and take it easy, or when the weather outside is cold and dry.
- Worry Free Aroma Oil – This therapeutic aroma oil blend calms Vata dosha. It includes oils of Patchouli, Lemon and Jasmine, which help the mind and body unwind to create a personal oasis of calm.
- Veda 2240 – Veda 2240 is one of our most powerful Vata-pacifying products (balancing the subdosha, Vyana Vata). A predisposition to Vata-related issues, along with diet, routine, stress and weather can all contribute to a buildup of Vata and/or toxins in the joints and muscles. The herbs in Veda 2240 calm Vata dosha and support a healthy inflammatory response.
- Worry Free – This combination of herbs helps you step up to the challenge of modern life. It simultaneously calms the nervous system (soothing to Vata dosha) while supporting mental acuity. It helps you cope with situations that used to cause a meltdown. It changes the automatic and immediate emotional reaction you have to stress. For those who tend to worry at the start of a trip, this is a great product to use on the days before and during travel.
- Worry Free Tea – This tea helps balance and calm your mind, emotions, brain and nerves.
- Organic Pitta Tea – A delicious combination of fragrant Rose Petals and refreshing spices, Organic Pitta Tea is the perfect answer when travel problems make you feel intense or frustrated. Taken warm or cool, it helps cool down your mind, body and emotions.
Other items you may enjoy while traveling
- Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus). If you tend toward occasional constipation when you travel, this is a great herbal product to try. If you are feeling sluggish, dull or occasionally constipated, chances are that toxins are building up in your body. Toxins accumulate when your digestion — and elimination — are out of balance, which can lead to skin breakouts, menstrual cramps, fatigue, feelings of sadness and many other health issues. Triphala, available in Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus), is the every-night, overnight detox and digestion balancer, supporting assimilation, balanced agni and ojas.
- For overall energy: Organic Premium Amla Berry from Maharishi Ayurveda. Gram for gram, Amla has 20 times the Vitamin C content of an orange. Good nutrition requires a balance of the six Ayurvedic tastes — sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Amla is one of just a handful of herbs that contain five of the six taste categories — all except salty. Such balanced nutrition means that Amla helps balance all three of the basic operating principles (doshas) of mind and body — Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Amla produces total health benefits. It helps strengthen the mind, eyes, heart, skin, and digestion; boosts cellular regeneration; and promotes a positive nitrogen balance for improved growth of muscle tissue.
- For digestion: Aci-Balance from Maharishi Ayurveda. Eating out while traveling? This is a digestion-supporting (agni-balancing) herbal formulation. Occasional acid indigestion is a sign of a Pitta imbalance, according to Ayurveda. Too many hot, spicy foods can spark excess digestive fire and too much stomach acid. Over time, this can push digestion out of balance and lead to a variety of health problems.
- For sleep: Deep Rest from Maharishi Ayurveda — The herbs in this formula support sleeping deeply through the night and waking up feeling refreshed. Specifically, the formula is for those who have difficulty staying asleep and wake up in the middle of the night. It also helps those who have difficulty falling asleep and those who awaken early, after less than six hours of sleep. Sleeping soundly is considered a vital tool for balance in Ayurveda, because it both refreshes the nervous system and purifies (detoxes) the entire body nightly.
- 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.
- For emotions: Stress Free Emotions supports natural resistance to travel-induced emotional stress and fatigue. Do you get angry at situations out of your control while traveling? The herbs promote self-confidence, positive thinking and feelings of fulfillment by balancing the subdosha of Pitta that governs emotional health (Sadhaka Pitta).
- For immunity: Bio-Immune from Maharishi Ayurveda. Travel can be draining. The herbs and minerals in Bio-Immune help eliminate digestive impurities and toxins that can affect natural immunity. The herbs also promote a healthy resistance to stress. It takes over six months to prepare these herbs for use. Bio-Immune, in combination with Organic Premium Amla Berry and Organic Digest Tone, is a powerhouse for supporting immunity.
- Slumber Time Aroma – Sleep can be disturbed by travel. Ayurveda considers sleep an essential resource for creating balance, because it both purifies and balances mind and body, lifts your spirits, and raises your sense of harmony and well-being naturally.
- Slumber Time Tea – The soothing Ayurvedic herbs and spices in Slumber Time Tea help relax the mind-body connection for a better quality of sleep.
- Organic lavender oil can help calm anxiety. Rub a little lavender oil on your wrists, temples, and sternum. Also, lavender oil supports sound sleep; it’s perfect for catching a quick catnap on the plane or in the car.
- Ginger tea. Drink warm ginger tea during the trip. Cold carbonated beverages upset Vata, and meals on the road tend to stress the digestive system. Ginger supports agni (digestion).
- Cotton scarf. Wearing a light scarf when flying does wonders to buffer you from Vata-aggravating, air-conditioned environments.
- Organic Sesame Oil or Moisturizing Herbal Massage Oil. 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 canals. Reapply as needed throughout the flight. It’s called “karnapura,” a type of ear oleation (Ayurvedic oil massage) that calms Vata dosha.
(Photo of Chicago airport by Nicola since 1972, Flickr Creative Commons. The image is used under the terms of Flickr's Creative Commons rules: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en. This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of MAPI products.)
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention 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. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.