About to take flight for the holidays?
The ability to travel long distances at high speed is a gift, however it can cause imbalance in our system if we donʻt take action to counter the movement.
Although Ayurveda preceded the airplane by a few thousand years, its healing principles can certainly be applied to recovering from air travel. We simply need to consider the elements, the qualities and the doshas.
Think about sitting on an airplane - what are the qualities of the experience? Dryness, mobility and lightness. What are the primary elements involved? Air and ether. We have just described vata dosha. Using the Ayurvedic principle of like increases like, we can therefore say that air travel is going to increase vata dosha because it has all of the same qualities.
So in order to minimize the doshic impact of air travel we can implement some remedial measures from Ayurveda. Because opposite qualities bring balance, eating a warm, cooked and grounding meal rather than cold and dry food is a great move. We also recommend practicing mudras before, during and after your journey.
Our hands hold energetic points that relate to the elements:
Index Finger: Air
Middle Finger: Fire
Ring Finger: Water
Pinky Finger: Earth
So when a mudra is held for a sustained period of time, the hand gesture will stimulate the flow of elements within the body. Mudras therefore make a simple and effective way to improve the flow of energy and counteract the vata-provoking nature of air travel. A long day of travel on an airplane is a great opportunity to engage a mudra and meditation practice and arrive feeling more balanced. We also suggest practicing mudras before and after a journey (and any time, really!).
Here are four mudras to counterbalance the effects of travel:
1. Varuna mudra (mudra of water)
Practice throughout your journey and afterwards.
Space and earth
Tip of little finger touches the tip of thumb, with the other three fingers extended out.
Balances water content in the body and prevents diseases due to lack of hydration.
Practice five minutes or longer.
Promotes clarity in the blood by balancing water in the body.
Prevents the pain of gastroenteritis and muscle shrinkage.
2. Vyana vayu mudra (mudra of the heart)
Practice during travel, particularly if you have any fear of flying, and then daily to adjust to a new environment.
Water, air, fire, space
The tips of the middle finger and ring finger touch the tip of thumb, while the index finger touches the crease at the base of thumb and pinky finger extends out.
Supports the heart, particularly when it is in distress; reduces the gas content in the body.
Practice it as often as possible. Heart or blood pressure difficulties practice 15 minutes twice daily for best results.
Strengthens the heart and calms palpitation.
Removes gastric disturbance.
3. Apana mudra (mudra of digestion)
Practice during travel and especially at night after arrival until you feel grounded and you are eliminating regularly.
Space, fire and water
The tips of middle finger and ring finger touch the tip of the thumb while the other two fingers are extended.
Regulates the downward movement of energy and bodily excretions.
Practice daily for 45 minutes, and longer time for more benefit.
Helps regulate diabetes.
Eliminates constipation and hemorrhoids.
4. Prana mudra (mudra of life)
Practice during travel, and particularly when you have just landed and the plane is taxiing in. Also practice after arrival at your destination and before having a meal or meetings to calm vata.
space and water
Touch tip of ring finger and pinky finger to the tip of the thumb, keeping the middle and index fingers extended.
Improves the power of living; weakness becomes strength. Enjoyment of lifeʻs activity will come when practiced regularly.
Practice it any time; best for 5 minutes or more.
Improves the eyesight.