I spend several weeks a year chasing waves around the world. Traveling throws your body totally out of sync. It limits your access to healthy foods, sends you into different time zones that alter your hormonal balance, disrupts your sleep, and stiffens your muscles and joints. Rather than responding to that strain with high-intensity workouts that raise cortisol levels, I rely on a stretching and breath-work routine. It counters all the sitting and subsequent hip tightness, and also resets the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates the body’s response to stress. Begin with a breath pattern and then progress through the different stretches. Hold each position for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat the stretching sequence twice. Consider it a cheaper, healthier way to survive your journey than a drink at the hotel bar.
To boost energy: Sit up straight with your legs crossed. Inhale deeply through your nose, forcing your diaphragm down. Then exhale rigorously from your mouth. Complete three to five sets of 30 breaths.
To create calm: Lie down flat on your back. Inhale slowly through your nose for seven seconds, pause at the top for seven seconds, and then exhale gently through your nose for another seven seconds. Keep your jaw relaxed and repeat for three to five minutes total.
Lie flat on your back with your arms by your sides. Bend both knees and place your feet on the floor hip width apart. Press your feet into the floor, inhale, and raise your hips. Your spine should roll off the floor slightly so that most of your weight is pressed into your arms and shoulders. Engage your glutes and legs to lift your hips higher. To release, exhale slowly and roll your spine back down to the floor.
Begin by lying flat on your back. Inhale and lift your hips and legs off the floor, holding your legs straight in the air with most of your weight resting on your shoulders. (Use your hands to support the lower back as it raises.) Then, keeping your legs as straight as possible, bend from your hips to slowly lower your toes toward the floor behind your head. Hold here, keeping your torso as straight as possible and maintaining a comfortable, strain-free curve in your neck. To release, exhale and slowly unroll, lower your feet, and return to your starting position.
Start in downward-facing dog, your hands and feet on the ground so that your body forms an upside-down V. Swing your right knee forward to the ground between your hands, placing your right ankle near your left wrist, and fold the leg so that your shin is touching the ground. Extend your left leg to the ground so that your kneecap and the top of your foot can rest on the floor. Sink into your hips. Press through your fingertips, lift your torso away from your right thigh, and try to square your body—if needed, tuck a folded towel under the right hip. After holding, release the pose and switch sides.
Lie on your stomach with your hands by your torso, palms up. As you exhale, bend your knees, bringing your heels as close as you can to your glutes. Reach back and gently grab your ankles, keeping your knees no wider than hip-width apart. Then inhale and lift your heels away from your glutes and your thighs away from the floor, pushing against your hands and keeping your shoulder blades gliding down your spine. Once you’ve held the pose, exhale and gently release.