What an incredible gift it is to be able to visit faraway places all over the world. In just a few hours, we can find ourselves immersed in new surroundings. Traveling allows us to learn much about how connected we are to one another despite our differences.
However, outside of opening our eyes to new ways of life, the ability to travel globally has also increased vata imbalance. If you’ve ever come home from a trip feeling spacey or depleted, that is excess vata at play.
Why travel increases vata dosha
The ancient Ayurvedic texts don’t say much about travel. When the original documents were written, people didn’t move around as much as we do now. The invention of high-speed travel in cars, airplanes, and trains has changed many things about how we see the world, including how we can apply Ayurveda.
What we know from the texts is that vata dosha is mobile by nature. Using the framework of “like increases like,” anything that moves will increase vata. Even if you are sitting still in an airplane, you are moving at hundreds of miles per hour. This passive movement will have an effect on the doshas.
Additionally, the dryness of air travel, also present in climate-controlled cars and trains, increases the dryness of vata. Add to that the change in regular schedules and different food and you could end up feeling more depleted at the end of your vacation than when you began.
But you don’t need to fear vata imbalance during travel, you just need to plan to tend to it throughout your trip and after. Simple practices, such as sticking to your dinacharya, daily abhyanga, neti/nasya, especially on days of travel, will make a big difference.
A recipe for balanced travel
One of the most important ways to feel your best during travel is to eat grounding, nourishing food. Choose a place to stay where you can cook your meals (bring a two or three-quart pressure cooker, a rice cooker, a knife, spices, ghee, and a few grains and legumes), and on full days of travel, bring your food with you instead of relying on airplane food or restaurants.
Think of your travel meal as a part of your packing routine. Build in time to cook just as you would make time for packing.
This month’s recipe is for travel kitchadi. This is a slightly thicker version (to adhere to regulations about flying with liquids and to account for rice cooker method) with simpler and fewer spices. It cooks in about 20 minutes and is easily packed in a Thermos. Packed with a handful of dates and nuts for breakfast, and you have the recipe for a relaxing and vata-calming time away.
Simple Ayurvedic Recipe: Travel kitchadi in a rice cooker
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. brown mustard seeds
1/16 tsp. asafoetida
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. mineral salt
2 Tbsp. ghee
1/2 cup basmati rice
1/3 cup split mung beans
3 cups water
1 ¼ cups augmenting vegetable (such as carrots, squash, pumpkin or sweet potato), chopped into very small pieces
¾ cup extractive vegetable (such as collards, broccoli, cabbage or kale), finely chopped
Rice cooker method:
Add all ingredients except for the extractive vegetables into a rice cooker. Press start. When the cooking cycle is complete, stir in the extractive vegetables. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or until softened.
Store in a thermos or container and find a quiet place during your journey to enjoy your home (away from home) cooked food.