Yoga while traveling: practicing yoga in Italy and the San Francisco airport

The hubby and I spent an amazing two weeks in Italy. Beautiful sites, amazing coffee and food. I was not able to get in any running (not of fan of running on cobblestones, hills or winding streets). But I was able to get in lots of yoga and useage of my Manduka’s eKO SuperLite Travel Mat. Here’s how I fit in yoga while traveling:

  • Airports: I have not worked up the gumption to practice in the waiting areas, so I was very excited to use San Francisco’s airport yoga room. It made a 4-hour layover a calmer experience. The room decor is peaceful, quiet and warmly lit. My only complaint is that there is little air circulation, you will build up a sweat faster than normal. I compensated by practicing a gentler/slower flow so I didn’t have to spend the next 12-hour flight smelling 😉

 

  • Hotels/Airbnb: Most of our hotel rooms were super tiny while our Airbnb apartment rentals were spacious. However the hotel rooms provided even flooring and good wall space for inversion practice. Although the Airbnb rentals were big they tended to have the beautiful but slightly awkward stone flooring – Try practicing downward facing dog when your left foot is a few inches higher than your right because of stone size/placement.
  • Yoga studios: The internet makes finding a local yoga studio really easy. I searched for Ashtanga based studios because I would be familiar with the sequence and use of Sanskrit poses. We practiced at Florence’s ‘It’s all yoga Firenze‘. Although the teacher did some translating, Sanskrit created a common language among the English and Italian speakers.

 

  •  Outdoors: While in Assisi we went for a walk around Eremo delle Carceri (where St. Francis would go to commune with nature & God). It was secluded and peaceful. I found a spot and practiced a few poses, then meditated.

 

 How do you fit in your yoga practice while traveling?

Finding the best yoga mat: a review on different brands and uses

Over the last year I’ve purchased 3 yoga mats for travel, yoga studio and home practice. All have their positives and negative….in the end, I only love one of the mats. Here’s my review below…..

RYM Jade Yoga Mat

Jade Yoga’s Harmony Professional Yoga Mat

Best overall (5/5 stars)
Jade Yoga’s Harmony Professional Yoga Mat
  • Thickness: 3/16″,  Length: 68″, Weight: ~ 4 lbs.
  • Price: $69.95
  • Open cell 100% natural rubber, 99% latex free
  • It was love at first asana! Other mats take a while to wear in, this one was non slip from day one. Plus I like the amount of cushion and support it provides. At first I shied away because of the price, but after using my friend’s mat during a yttp meeting I felt it was definitely worth it. The “compression set resistance and cushioning” makes for a noticeable difference. Now, when it comes time to buy another mat, it’ll be a Jade Yoga mat.
  • One slight negative – It doesn’t roll up well for a few months. I can’t roll it tight enough to fit my yoga mat bags.
Gaiam's Tree Of Life Print Yoga Mat

Gaiam’s Tree Of Life Print Yoga Mat

Best yoga for those on a budget (3.75/5 stars)

Gaiam, Tree Of Life Print Yoga Mat
  • Thickness: 3 mm (about 7/64″),  Length: 68″
  • Price: $21.98
  • Latex free, rubber and polyester/nylon blend
  • This mat is great for it’s price range, good cushioning and ok grip. Bonus points for being my prettiest mat. However my feet slip if I hold poses like downward dog for too long (and I don’t sweat much).
Travel mat takes awhile to become non slip but for the size/weight it’s worth it (3.5 stars)
Manduka’s eKO SuperLite® Travel Mat
  • Thickness: 1/16″,  Length: 68″, Weight: 2 lbs.
  • Price: $40
  • Closed cell non-Amazon harvested natural tree rubber, 99% latex free
  • Last year I was traveling every single month (weddings, husband’s residency interviews, work) but wanted to keep up my practice. Manduka’s was the lightest mat I found that had good reviews and was foldable. In terms of portability it’s great – in my picture below you’ll notice that folded up it’s about the same size as my mac and thinner than my book. However months later I am still slipping around on the mat. Given the $40 price tag, I don’t think it’s worth it. I’d be interested in hearing others experiences with other travel options like yoga paws etc. ***updated March 2015 -> after dozens of uses and cleanings the mat now has some grip***
RYM eKO SuperLite Travel Mat

Manduka’s eKO SuperLite Travel Mat