Balancing Vata while Traveling
Updated: Jul 1, 2021
I'm taking a much-needed break and hopping on a plane to Seattle tomorrow for a few days.
I planned this trip with the intention to envelop myself in a cooler, more lush, and moist climate to escape Southern California's intense heat and the bone-dry environment. Ironically, the Northwest has been experiencing an unprecedented heatwave and no rain. Climate change is truly rearing its big ugly head. (insert sad face emoji here)
Regardless, I am ecstatic to exercise my wanderlust. I am an adventurer at heart. Exploring is in my blood and bones. It’s this spirit that pulled me to SoCal so far from all whom I love in New England.
But having a dominant Vata constitution, traveling can be very imbalancing for me. Vata is any mobile energy ~ it makes things move. Vata is composed of the elements air and space, so it has the qualities dry, rough, light, and scattered. Any time you travel, you introduce more Vata into your system and symptoms can manifest in the body and the mind.
Things like tummy issues (i.e. gas, bloating, constipation), dizziness, palpitations, dehydration, anxiety, scattered mind, feeling ungrounded, and fatigue are some ways excess Vata will present itself.
Having some supportive self-care tools while you travel is helpful for all but it's a MUST for Vata types. Here are some of my tools:
Herbal Tea - herbal tea is such an easy way to provide me with the ability to adjust my energetic status whether I need to soothe my nerves, aid my tummy or moisten my tissues. I take loads of teabags! Even though I love to concoct my own tea recipes, store-bought tea bags are really perfect for travel.
A Scarf - it gets so drafty and cool on the plane, and Vata doesn’t like to be cold, so I always pack a scarf with me to make myself cozy. (tip: I put a few dabs of Lavender essential oil on the scarf before I pack it to further help soothe my nerves.
Vata Churna - Not knowing what spices I will have available to me while I'm traveling, it’s really helpful to have a spice mix at the ready. Spices, like teas, are medicine in Ayurveda. They provide several benefits like supporting digestion and circulation, stimulating liver function, and calming the nerves. I bring a couple of different blends with me to cater to any meal: Cinnamon, Ginger, Cardamom for sweet, and then Cumin, Coriander, Fennel, Ginger, Turmeric for savory.
Triphala - this revered formula in Ayurveda is highly efficacious. It is considered the great "microbiome balancer" composed of 3 distinct fruits that make this remedy balancing to all doshas. Triphala promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria, enhances digestion and nutrient absorption, eases constipation, and supports stronger immunity. It also strengthens the brain-gut axis which supports the brain and balanced emotions. For those that tend towards constipation during travel, and for all those rich and adventurous meals, Triphala is here for the rescue.
Oil - oil, oil, oil - if you know me, you know I love oil! I typically pack a small travel bottle of oil in my carry-on, but I often pick up a big jar of organic Coconut (in hot weather) or Sesame Oil (in cool weather) once I land. It lessens my load and I don’t have to worry about a massive spill in my suitcase. But this is a must! I really coat myself well when I travel because oil offers the opposite qualities of Vata dosha, and opposites are medicine in Ayurveda. Its moist, smooth quality lubricates the dry Vata body and it deeply grounds your mind by offering soothing protection to the nerve endings.
In fact, once you get to your destination, coating your body with warm oil, then having a warm bath is the perfect remedy for jet lag. Steep a cup of relaxing tea (like Kava, Chamomile, or Tulsi), and call it a night! This routine will greatly support the re-alignment of your circadian rhythms.
In addition to all of this, having some semblance of a routine is critical while traveling. Although this could be quite challenging during this time, it is one of the most powerful ways to calm Vata. Vata is changeable, spontaneous and is so easily affected by the energy around it. When we do things routinely, we offer the nervous system an opportunity to relax and get into a rhythm.
Having some routine practices, like waking and sleeping at the same time every day, or eating meals at the same time every day, is potent medicine for Vata. If those practices are not always attainable, at least find some time and space for yourself in the morning or evening to pay attention to your breath and quiet the mind. I promise you, balancing Vata will surely help you find more enjoyment during your travels.