Balancing is hard. Nailing bound Ardha Chandrasana is no joke, but it’s not just about how grounded and stable we are during asana practice. These balancing poses prepare us for the rest of our lives, when balancing sometimes seems even more difficult. And that’s the point—take it from The Bhagavad Gita:
Yoga is a harmony… A harmony in eating and resting, in sleeping and keeping awake: a perfection in whatever one does. This is the Yoga that gives peace from all pain. When the mind of the Yogi is in harmony and finds rest in the Spirit within, all restless desires gone.
Between work, home life, friendship obligations, volunteer passions, and all of the other stuff we do, it’s tough to find time for our practice. But if you’re anything like me, you may find that the hardest time of all to make it to your mat isn’t in your daily life at all… it’s during vacation. Because we lead such rajasic (active, and energetic) existences, when it’s time to check out, we often fall into a trap of “work hard, play hard.” Depending on your preferences, vacations may seem like a fun food and adventure fest… or one low-key, no obligation beach sesh. Either way, we don’t make time for the thing that holds us all together: Our yoga.
Trust us: We totally get it. We’re tempted to put on our party hats at Wanderlust events. Spending time with friends old and new is always an excuse for revelry, and it’s hard not to feel festive after the mainstage concerts (DJ Drez always BRINGS IT).
But what if vacation didn’t have to be a pendulum swing back and forth between going too hard and feeling weighed down by lethargic tamas? Could we possibly find balance, and in that… our yoga? I decided to test this theory in one of the most impossible scenarios I could concoct: A tequila-themed vacation at the Patrón Hacienda, in Mexico. As in, the place where Patrón tequila is made. I’d be spending three days in a tequila wonderland, but I was determined to put my practice first. Could I do it?
Please note: We understand that not everyone finds thrills in alcohol—and in fact, for some, yoga is part of the healing journey from addiction and harmful relationships with alcohol and/or partying. We see and honor you. We hope you’ll still find value in the following lessons about balance.
Don’t Try to Do It All
The first lesson that I took from my experience was that if I wanted to prioritize my practice, I couldn’t partake in every single activity on the trip. And that turned out to be okay.
While the rest of my friends were socializing at the bar before dinner, I slipped away into the courtyard to do a short meditation. Sure, I was missing some of the action, but I gained so much more. It just required being okay with a little FOMO. This may mean you’ll miss a “had to be there” moment, but it also means you were there and present with yourself. And that is so, so good.
Go to Bed Early(ish)
Are you a party pooper if you skip last-call and snuggle up in bed before you hit that wall? No way. I learned on my trip that I was much more likely to do my asana and pranayama practice first thing in the morning—before the distractions (read: tequila tastings) started. But being up early meant I had to go to bed a little bit earlier than my friends. And you know what? I actually loved that. Instead of falling face-first onto my bed, I had time and energy for my nighttime rituals, and I woke feeling refreshed in the morning. Plus, there was something truly satisfying about having completed my entire practice and my first cup of coffee before anyone else was even awake.
Ask Others to Join In
If committing to your practice makes you feel like an outsider, then invite your crew to take part. If you’re traveling with other yogis, take turns leading asana practice. If your vacation buddies aren’t yogis, offer to share the experience with them by leading a few rounds of breathwork or a short guided meditation.
After all: Yoga is a deeply personal journey, but we cannot do it on our own. Tap into that universal oneness and share in the experience.
Let Go of the Expectation It Look or Feel a Certain Way
Yoga is not curated. Yoga does not fit into the parameters we often create for our own lives. Yoga IS life, and life, like prana, flows naturally. When we are busy and hectic, our practice leans toward restorative. When we feel sad and slow, our practice may need to be more energizing. When we are on vacation… we need to observe our inner world and let it happen naturally.
Yoga is not curated. Yoga does not fit into the parameters we often create for our own lives.
Your vacation yoga may look a lot different than your “IRL” yoga. That’s not just okay—that’s a beautiful thing. What can that experience teach you?
Rochelle Bilow is a yoga teacher and writer based in upstate New York, where she works as the studio manager at Vyana Yoga. Connect with her on social @RochelleBilow for all things yoga and ayurveda—and all the corgi pictures you can handle.