snow road

Each winter swirling winds, thunderstorms and clogging drifts of snow have stranded travelers on roads and in airports. When Mother Nature acts so fiercely, we can only witness and adjust even when stranded by winter weather. It’s a not-so-gentle reminder of our partnership with the natural world.

Travel is inherently challenging, but it doesn’t have to be debilitating. Whether you’re  stranded in airports or sitting in traffic, you still have choices. When you feel powerless, suffering increases. Pause a moment. Take a few relaxing breaths in the midst of the frustration and find a way to let go. The situation just is what it is. Breathe it out and open to new perspectives. The mind can’t hold two thoughts at the same time, so use conscious breathing to escape its negative downward spiral.

  • Sit up a bit straighter, inhaling deeply in through your nose.
  • Let the breath drop in as if it had weight and notice how it comes in cool.
  • Feel the push against your diaphragm and lower belly.
  • Exhale slowly and fully, noticing how the breath leaves the body warm.
  • Repeat the cycle to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase energy and mental clarity.

Be helpful. Opening to what and who is around you, also helps. Helping others will  help relieve your own angst. We are all in this together and there are numerous stories of good Samaritans playing music, sharing peanut butter sandwiches, even juggling in boarding lounges. It could be worse. Last fall in China, the roads into Beijing were gridlocked for days. Creative entrepreneurs started a mini-economy selling food and water to stranded drivers. The flood waters in Australia or Sri Lanka are turning lives upside down.

Take care of yourself. Lift your sagging spirits by stretching and taking care of yourself. Torpor and resignation are no friends of a happy traveler. How are you sitting right now? Slumping spines need care to weather long, sedentary delays. Too often we sit hunched over our ribs. Our shoulders pull forward. Our necks extend. We breathe shallowly, which cuts off energy, and affects circulation, digestion and elimination.

Stretch it out. Change that scenario by simply sitting up straight for a few minutes.

  • Then lift your ribs up, pull your shoulders back and raise your chin towards the ceiling.
  • Breathe in fully, slowly and exhale fully for a few slow cycles.
  • Arch forward and then back a few times, pushing your spine into the seat and then shifting your ribs up and forward.

At the airport or a stoplight: Lift your arms, clasp your hands together and pull up, leaning to the right, then left and back.

  • In the car, you can push your palms against the car roof, crawling your fingers back to get a great shoulder stretch.
  • Lower your hands then roll your shoulders in big circles forward and back.
  • Yawn!
  • Once you come back to simply sitting, notice the sensation of energy and vitality pulsing through you.

Walk out the tension: Take a brisk walk  for at least ten minutes every two hours. Explore the unexpected place you find yourself in. Many airports have rotating displays, new restaurants, meditation rooms. Chair massage and even exercise circuits are other options.

Open to the adventure. You may be stranded by winter weather and conditions beyond your control but use what control you do have. Take care of yourself for what may be a brief or long delay. Either way you’ll feel better for managing the time and end your journey happier for the effort.

Copyright 2011, Elaine Masters, RYT, speaker and travel wellness coach. www.Drivetime Yoga.com