Sadhana is your set of spiritual practices and disciplines that create oneness within yourself. For a lot of people, Sadhana is a daily routine that includes the same mediation, breathing, and yoga exercises. For me, I have come to embrace sadhana in a different way. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said “change is the only constant in life” and I have opened my heart and mind to full acceptance of this in my yoga practice. As my body changes, my practice will change. Sometimes our daily routine outside of our sadhana will change and I think it is good to be prepared for this.
I recently traveled to Italy, Spain, and Demark with my husband for our honeymoon. We were away for 3 weeks! As a yoga practitioner with a couple of old injuries that create problematic spots in my body, I had my concerns. For example, what if I have a sciatic nerve flare up, I stay at the hotel resting and I miss out on all the incredible adventures? Experiencing pain in the body is frustrating and can be a real drag at home so I could only imagine how it could negatively affect my experience overseas in a city that is different from my own. Just the idea of this inspired me to think of a solution for the potential problem at hand. My husband put a lot of time and effort into planning the honeymoon of our dreams and so I became determined to create a plan for self-care, a sadhana that would invite stability into my daily routine during a time of constant change and unknown possibilities. I would be ready for anything so that I could enjoy this trip with as little or no physical discomfort.
I sat down one day to do a little self-analysis. I made a list of all the worst-case scenarios I have already encountered and what techniques I used at home for relief. I then decided to put together a Yoga Emergency Kit for my trip. This kit includes all of my favorite travel-friendly yoga tools.
The following list is what I’d like to think of as the essential list:
- Two small rubber massage balls – Pictured are Yoga Tune Up balls which are easy to pack because they come with their own storage sack. Personally, I like something softer; so I buy inflatable balls at the 99 Cents Store. I included a travel size air pump so that I could deflate the balls for efficient packing; then inflate them when I want to use them at our hotel room. These are for self-massaging on any part of the body. I use the balls to massage my upper back by starting from the base of my neck and going down to the bottom of my rib cage. This gets in-between the shoulder blades to relax stiffness in my neck. I also massage my S.I. joint, which is located at the back of the pelvis, and my outer hips. Massaging this area really helps me keep my sciatica symptoms at a minimum. This self-massage is done while lying down on my back on the floor of our hotel room and positioning the balls between the floor and targeted areas on my back.
- One 8-foot yoga strap – This is a classic yoga prop that many are familiar with when taking public yoga classes. I use the strap to safely release hamstrings and lower back by doing Supta Padagustasana A, B and C. I also use the strap the Iyengar way for Downward Facing Dog pose by looping the strap around the handles of a door.
- Essential oils – Lemon, Orange, Peppermint, and Lavender. Lemon and Orange are great for digestion (constipation, upset stomach). In my experience, when the gut is unhappy, the rest of the body suffers. I found that many of my aches and pains surface when I am not properly digesting and eliminating. Peppermint is used to soothe sore feet and muscles. I apply a couple drops straight onto the soles of my feet for instant relief. For sore muscles, I mix one drop with a small amount of coconut oil and then rub my shoulders and low back. The cool sensation is so relaxing. One drop under the tongue freshens your breath and also aids in digestion. One drop in a handkerchief clears your nasal passages if you have a stuffy nose. The oil lasts a very long time when you apply it to cloth or a tissue, so you can keep this handkerchief on you all day long for instant sinus relief. Lavender helps you to rest and relax so that you can get a good night sleep. Rub a drop between the palms, breathe deeply and notice how it shifts your energetic state. Bonus use – It also subsides the itch you get from mosquito bites!
- Meditation App for your electronic device. Having guided meditations or a meditation timer at your fingertips really helps to make meditation easy and accessible.
- Earplugs – These are wonderful for pranayama and meditation practice while on the go. I found that if I have earplugs in and I am meditating on the sound of my breath, the external distractions are reduced so I am able to better concentrate on the soothing sound of air passing through my body. This technique is inspired by the Shanmuki mudra, which is done by using the fingertips to close off the senses (ears, eyes, lips, nose). I find earplugs are more relaxing because I can let my arms relax by my sides.
- Journal/sketch pad – Creating art is therapy. The more you can relax your brain through creative exercises, the happier and more relaxed your nervous system will be. Making a conscious effort towards relaxing the nervous system has helped me to reduce inflammation in my body.
- Mala beads – This ancient counting tool has helped people to meditate for thousands of years. I use mine for chanting and counting my prayers. Like journaling and sketching, using the mala counting system helps to relax my mind and body.
I had great success with this homemade emergency yoga kit! Feel free to use my list and add some items of your own! It is empowering to be able to apply the health and wellness techniques I have learned over the years while being outside of my comfort zone. I appreciate my yoga and meditation practice so much more now that I have put my knowledge to the test. As I become more conscious of how and what I invite into my life, I can make better choices that honor the constant ebbs and flow of nature and of life. Instead of resisting change, I find that I can flow with it by fully trusting in my own powers of self-healing.
“Man is made or unmade by himself. In the armory of thought, he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself. He also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace.” – William James