The: "Travel to Feel Well" Bug
What is Wellness Tourism?
Mind. Soul. Body.
Imagine traveling to some of the greatest, most peaceful places in the world. Retreats where you can reconnect with your mind and body, meet mindful and grateful people, and practice one of the most beneficial fitness disciplines: yoga. Wellness tourism is all that and more. Traveling for wellness is all about promoting mental, spiritual, and psychological health. Nowadays, there are millions of reasons to travel, and your overall wellness should always be one. Specially when it comes to the root of the problem: stress. The growing importance of personal health and fitness has been the result of today's hectic lifestyle. People are trying to find ways and experiences to relieve the day-to-day stress. From meeting up with friends, to visiting a professional, to running, finding a hobby, all the way to traveling. Traveling can be a stress reducer, and yoga makes it even more easy to achieve. Wellness tourism offers the opportunity to organize trips around the principle of health, whether it is food or fitness, giving you the opportunity to reset your body, expand your mind, and clean your soul.
All these reasons give you a great excuse (when it actually should not have to be one) to make an appointment for your health and happiness. Why don't we prioritize it more? Why is it not at the top of our to-do list? This fast-paced routine that we have made our new normal, is actually not okay. We should all take the time to meditate, to breath, and to connect with our mind and body. If we don't take care of ourselves, no one will. Let's live longer, cherish more, and travel more often.
While it might not be as popularized as other trends associated with travel, wellness tourism was expected to grow by 7.5% as of 2017, which will account for around $808 billion dollars by 2020 in the United States alone. This increase in wellness retreats is due to the rise in popularity of yoga and meditation (Goldman, 2017). From Costa Rica, to India, and even to Bali, there is a fit for everyone. Do not wait any longer, grab your mat and go explore what this awesome traveling experience has for you!
What is Travel Yoga?
Travel Yoga, also known as yoga tourism, harbors a multitude of definitions, however there are a few that stand out the most.
Travel Yoga offers an opportunity for an individual to abandon everything and to forget about the stressful daily life he or she may live, at least for a short while. Yoga, when integrated with travel plans and experiences, can help develop time to care for one's emotional and physical wellbeing. Meanwhile nurturing a new energy and zeal for life through meditation, contact with the environment, and exercise. An individual can explore yoga tourism in a variety of different ways that include, but are not limited to:
- Spiritual journeys
- Features include: intense physical exercise, mind purification, meditation, praying
- Travel for pleasure (and yoga)
- Features include: a mix of vacation and yoga. Combine a variety of destinations with yoga and other activities in tandem with cultural visits
- Beauty and yoga
- Features include: spa treatments, yoga exercises, body purification to improve physical appearance
Travel Yoga also helps with personal growth and it is one of the main goals of these wellness experiences. This growth can be achieved by exploring yourself as an individual, or traveling in groups and exploring different cultures. Some people refer to travel yoga as the "mind body vacation". It is about taking time for you, exploring places, and discovering yourself. Ultimately, yoga is a great way to restore balance in your life.
Many yogis follow particular teachers around the world, mostly because they share their beliefs and practices. Having the opportunity to take more than one class with such inspirational teachers, makes the trip worthwhile. These special connections, and one-on-one time, are what make this community pure. Being able to share experiences, practices, and inspirations, make travelers able to feel at home wherever they go.
"Yoga means addition -
addition of energy,
strength and beauty
to body, mind, and soul"
- Amit Ray
What has made travel yoga so popular? And why has it continued to become more and more popular?
Credit: Flow Yoga Center
It’s a great way to meet people! Yoga studios, back patios overlooking scenic beaches, you name it! Yoga is one sure-fire way to engage with locals and different cultures in a relaxing and soul-restoring environment.
Specialized yoga retreats. Some of the most inspiring and enjoyable yoga retreats are in some of the most secluded locations in the world, and yoga tourism allows travelers to access these locations with minimal stress. Nature, on-point location, and yoga. What else can you ask for?
Breath. Introducing yoga into one’s travel plans allows for travelers to take a short break to re-energize and rejuvenate. Sometimes travel, especially on business, can be a burden, and this is one way to keep the mind at ease. Yoga can additionally stimulate mindfulness and encourage living in the moment. Why explore a foreign destination if you are unable to enjoy it to the fullest? Take your time, relax, and most importantly, always breath.
"Inhale the future,
exhale the past"
It is everywhere. Yoga has presented itself across the globe in numerous different forms and has opened up multiple opportunities to explore unique areas of the world in different ways. Whether it is the Caribbean, the Pacific, the United States, or Asia - the extensive opportunities to find a retreat that fits you and your needs is not an excuse at all.
Confidence. Yoga has helped people across the globe build confidence, lose weight, and relieve stress. It is one of the best ways to maintain both a physical and mental strength, and physical therapists continue to recommend it as the best way to reach one’s true potential. Why not access this everywhere you go? Boom. Yoga tourism.
So, how did we get here?
It goes back to almost 4,000 years ago (quite a few!) in India. Where yoga was part of a four path plan that helped find unity with God. However, it is definitely not what we know nowadays, but it did integrate some of the main concepts that are still used today: mental discipline, unconditional love, and loss of ego. Yoga is a channel to achieve this results with the ultimate goal of quieting the mind and cleansing the soul.
Back in the day, yoga was very related to religion. Nonetheless it is now all about agility, strength, and balance. When it made its way to the West between the late 1800's and early 1900's it starting evolving to the practices of breath control and gentle movements in order to find grounding and clarity. That practices are much more in line with what is now mainstream yoga. Since then it has evolved to the yoga we know now: strength, flexibility, breath control, balance, and agility.
Credit: Elizabeth Williams - Curious Mind Magazine
The incorporation of all these different aspects of yoga, brings us to the many different types there are. Rounding them up in the eight most popular types, which are:
1. Hatha Yoga - 'A good Start':
- While almost being a synonym for 'yoga', Hatha means a slow-paced yoga class with stretching and breathing exercises.
2. Kundalini Yoga - Spiritual and Rapid:
- Being practiced only recently, Kundalini incorporates a combination of poses and breathing. Some breathing techniques are used to intensify the workout.
3. Ashtanga Yoga - Structured and Challenging:
- Made up of six different sequences, Ashtanga is said to be more advanced and structured. Each sequence is focused on a different part of the body.
4. Hot and Bikram Yoga - Intense and Sweaty:
- Practiced in a room with a temperature from 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit, the poses for this style are smooth and linked to each other. The temperature helps loosen the muscles and increase flexibility.
5. Power Yoga:
- Just a word to describe a more - fitness-based - yoga, power yoga is very similar to Ashtanga. It can be practiced in a hot or a normal room.
6. Restorative Yoga:
- Involving props like blocks and bolsters, restorative yoga is all about holding poses for a long time.
7. Vinyasa Yoga:
- Said to be a 'moving meditation', Vinyasa yoga focuses on one breath, one posture. It helps you get in tune with your mind, body, and breath.
8. Yin Yoga:
- Long held, seated postures. Similar to restorative yoga, Yin involves stretches that release the connective tissue in the body.
Of course there are many other types of yoga that are also practiced, but these are the most common and mainstream around yogis. Another type that is very popular among women specifically, is Prenatal Yoga. This type of yoga is a multifaceted approach to exercise that encourages stretching, mental centering, and focused breathing. Aside from this, there are multiple benefits for a future mom-to-be:
- Reduce anxiety and stress
- Improve sleep
- Decrease lower back pain
- Decrease nausea and headaches
- Decrease shortness of breath
- Increase strength and flexibility, and endurance
TAKE A CHANCE, AND GO!
There is no denying that yoga can improve your lifestyle, your perspective in life, and overall, life as you know it. Either if it is incorporating it in your hotel room in a business trip, or taking a trip specifically for a yoga retreat, it deserves a chance to change your life. Being a stress reducer, an enhancer of positive thoughts and activities, and providing mindfulness, grounding, and clarity. It should not take you that long to pack your bags and experience it for yourself. You will thank me later.
"Yoga is invigoration in relaxation. Freedom in routine. Confidence through self-control. Energy within and energy without" - Ymber Delecto
Benefits of Yoga
Physical, Spiritual, & Psychological
So, what are the benefits?
Credit: Destination Deluxe
Yoga can benefit us in a variety of ways, especially for those who find themselves stressed in our high-intensity day-to-day lifestyles, and can assist us in developing a peace of mind both at home and on the go.
Relaxation is a key element to most travel plans, whether they be for business or vacation. Whether we are cramped into coach, or running to catch the last plane, travel can be chaotic both mentally and physically. This is where yoga comes in.
Some physical pros:
- Increased flexibility
- Increased muscle strength and tone
- Improved respiration, energy and vitality
- Cardio and circulatory health (decrease heart rate)
- Calm nervous system
Some spiritual and psychological pros:
- Anxiety reduction
- Less sleepless nights
- Stress management
- Lower levels of stress hormones
- Increased happiness
- Energy boost
- Improve mental sharpness
- Relaxed sense of self
Aside from all of the actual physical benefits travel yoga can bring, the simple act of surrounding yourself with positive people can help you in the process of healing, conquering your fears, and embracing them. The positive energy than can be absorbed while surrounded by upbeat and inspirational people helps us harness fears and converts them into energy and overall optimism.
Yogis get the chance to connect with nature and breathe fresh air, while disconnecting from technology and enabling themselves to evaluate current circumstances. Travel yoga brings us as individuals to prioritize what is important in our lives and discard what is not. Sometimes taking a step back and looking at our life from afar helps us visualize what our better options and solutions are. Living a hectic and fast-paced life in a city where nature is not as common as it should be, can lead us to take on a new perspective when reconnecting with nature. Seeing life through different eyes helps us realize and understand what really matters, and being in a secluded and environmentally focused place makes us forget about the work that is waiting for us at the end of our journey.
The trend of travel yoga within wellness tourism has continued to be on the rise and, as a result, opportunities to access these physical, spiritual, and psychological benefits are a growing presence within the tourism industry.
The opportunity to meet new people, relax, and take time for yourself should not be a burden. Practicing mindfulness, and just being yourself should be enough. Stop taking a toll on your mind and body, take a deep breath, and try out yoga tourism. What is the worst that can happen? You don't like it! But I bet it sure is more than you could ever imagine!
"Yoga is the journey of the self,
through the self,
to the self"
- The Bhagavad Gita