Wake up your chakras with guest host Adam Bolton, Co-Founder of Men’s Retreats and a long-time friend of Out Adventures. The dapper yogi discusses the importance of yoga within the gay community before dishing his best wellness travel tips for today’s LGBT jetsetter.
For a downloadable version of Season 2 Episode 7, click here.
In today’s episode our hosts discussed four ways to look at wellness travel: Tune Ups, Retreats, Active Wellness and Staying Well. The group also took a deep dive into the question, ‘What benefits will gay men get from a strong yoga practice?’.
The first way to look at Wellness Travel is what our hosts call a ‘Tune Up’ vacation.
Essentially, this mixed-bag style combines all the elements of a regular vacation (visiting the sights, enjoying the beaches, fine dining etc.) but incorporating daily yoga and meditation sessions into your trip.
Main benefits of Tune Ups:
- Experience a culture or destination fully;
- Enjoy a structured yoga or fitness program during your vacation;
- Balance the luxury of travel with the restorative benefits of wellness.
In contrast to a ‘Tune Up’, a Retreat is an extended trip dedicated entirely to a structured yoga practice (or fitness practice). Retreats vary drastically, from restorative yoga and meditation to more physically demanding practices that challenge your mind and body.
As Adam explains in the podcast, a Retreat offers travellers a chance to ‘Dig a Well’. In other words, it’s the opportunity to create a better foundation for good wellness practices. While weekly or biweekly yoga classes are great at maintaining your practice, a Retreat provides the safe space and the time to improving your practice.
Main benefits of Retreats:
- Significant focus on a structured yoga or fitness practice;
- Travel with a community of like-minded gay men;
- Disconnect from devices such as cellphones and computers;
- Return from your vacation restored and balanced.
Active adventures are also an important way of looking at wellness travel. From hiking the Himalayas to cycling Chilean wine country, these tours challenge your body, excite you imagination and introduce you to a community of like-minded adventurers.
If you assume active adventures aren’t meditative or restorative, it’s worth noting traditional Tibetan Vipassanā emphasizes movement meditation. In other words, meditation or self-reflection that takes place while trudging up the Andean mountains or across Patagonian plains.
Pilgrimages mentioned on the podcast:
Our last category isn’t so much a “style” of travel as it is some helpful tips to incorporate wellness into any international journey.
On jet lag:
- Light or lack-thereof is key to conquering jet lag. Wear an eye mask such as Nitehood and shut your hotel’s blackout blinds to adjust your system seamlessly.
- Try skipping in-flight meals that don’t make sense for the time zone you are arriving in. For example, if its 6am in the destination you’re en route to, a roast beef dinner is probably a bad idea.
Body work during flights:
- Try bringing a small yoga ball or tennis ball into airport terminals. You can put pressure on the ball to relieve stress and loosen knots in your muscles before and after a lengthy flight.
- Yoga Nidra or ‘body scans’ train your mind to switch to a feeling state rather than a thinking state. Download a Yoga Nidra App to walk you through the process while sprawling out on your next long-haul.
Other wellness tips:
- Try to minimize the amount of alcohol you consume on a flight as it dehydrates you and effects how quickly you’ll adapt to a new environment and time zone.
- Speaking of hydration, carry your own water bottle onboard so you don’t have to keep asking flight attendants to refill the tiny plastic cups.
- If you’re short on luggage retail space, consider leaving the fitness clothes at home. Most hotels will lend travellers fitness clothes to use at the gym.
- When you arrive at your destination, pop by the hotel sauna or steam room to relax the body.
- After a work trip, always consider adding on an extra day or two to destress while taking in the destination.
Why Yoga is Great for Gay Men
At this point we’d highly recommend listing to the podcast for the full discussion on yoga and gay men. The conversation is extremely insightful and in-depth.
If you are strapped on time, however, the biggest takeaway from the discussion revolved around ‘Adaptations’. As children, gay men and women come to realize they’re different. Worse, they realize their difference is culturally unaccepted. To survive and fit in, gay youth build a series of sophisticated walls and Adaptations to appear ‘normal’ and scrape by.
Unfortunately, after years of Adaptations to fit into a society that rejects homosexuality, we’re prevented from becoming authentic beings. Yoga –especially extended yoga retreats – provide gay men the necessary tools, time and space to rewire themselves. With practice, yoga and meditation helps gay men recalibrate, heal and become their most authentic selves.
As mentioned, this was a very rich conversation about yoga and gay men and this synopsis only scrapes the surface of the conversation. We highly recommend listening to the original recording.
This was a particularly insightful episode of The Gay Travel Podcast and we’d like to thank Adam Bolton for sharing his knowledge.
If you’re interested in a structured gay yoga retreat, Men’s Retreats specializes in yoga and surfing getaways for men. If hiking and cycling are more up your alley, jump over to Out Adventures to read our entire roster of active adventures.
Listen to more episodes of the Gay Travel Podcast here.
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Image Credits from top down: Men’s Retreats X 3, Shutterstock X 2, Men’s Retreats X 2.