Vinyasa is a Sanskrit word that roughly translates as "to place in a special way," a testament to the sequence of poses your body assumes as you go through your yoga practice. This placement in a special way also has a deeper, more profound meaning. It speaks to a special and real transformation that takes place when you link your movement with your breath in the practice of yoga. And when you invite this connection of breath and movement off the mat, your experience as a traveler can truly transform.

As you venture to new cities and towns, there is no shortage of novel sights and smells that invite your undivided attention. You turn this way as wafts of fresh-baked focaccia al pomodoros entice your senses in the white-washed hill towns of Puglia. You turn the corner to head another way as hand-dyed Moroccan fabrics invite your grazing touch. In new lands catered to the senses, your surroundings can either invigorate you or wear you down. A simple and short daily yoga practice can make all the difference. Here are a handful of reasons to practice yoga as you travel... both on and off the mat.

1. Simmer in the Details

Imagine you are walking through the meandering walls of the old city of Chiang Mai. As you weave through trinket-lined alleys, uneven cobbled pathways leading to fresh pad see ew, you marvel and try to take in everything in your path. There is a lot to see and a lot to do and you are in awe of the myriad of options before your eyes.

Yoga is an invitation to slow down, take a deep breath, and be present in the moment. Right here, right now, in the old city. Sit on a curb, bite into a steamed dumpling, and just be. This is yoga.

2. Appreciate the Bigger Picture

The red corvette at the local auto show, the first sip of vino on a sun-soaked day in the valley, or the radiant smile of the local Thai masseuse on her way to her evening shift. When you travel, there are many details of your trip that light up in your mind, some for obvious reasons and others for reasons more obscure.

Yoga weaves together the disarrayed parts to create a complete, holistic perspective. You realize the red corvette reminds you of your uncle's red pickup truck, that the vino in the valley is a testament to his indulgent approach to both work and leisure, and that the radiant smile on the bus reminds you of his usual amused expressions. When so many varied experiences fill your agenda, yoga allows you the downtime to weave all your experiences together in a way that provides you a complete and examined picture of your experience.

3. Re-charge or Relax

Yoga can be the perfect mid-afternoon pick-me-up or the much-needed calm before shut-eye. Depending on which poses you choose, your sequence can give you the energy you need to truly appreciate the rolling hills of Tuscany, or the calm you need before tucking away in a sleepy seaside town in Catalonia.

4. Connect to Your confidence

You're so busy immersing in your surroundings and taking everything in, sometimes you forget that connection with yourself is the vital source for connection with the outside world. Yoga reminds you to meet with your breath and check in with yourself. This connection is the wellspring of confidence... a confidence that serves you well in your exploration of new sights.

5. Remember Why

Yoga reminds you of why you are here, whether in Tuscany or Toledo. Whether you travel for business or for personal exploration, in allowing you to connect with your truest and most authentic self, yoga reminds you of the why behind your footsteps. It is the answer to why you show up, why you explore, and why you return.

Image credit: Shar Younan