If you’re a jet-setter you might also be a jet-lagger. Yeah? You know, like when you get home from your flight and it’s hard to get back into routine? You might have a headache, lethargy, feel extra sleepy or cloudy in the mind. And it might be hard to wake up and stick to your normal routine. You know, jet-lag! Jet-lag happens because we are traveling SO fast up in the air and space (vata!) where it’s cold (vata!). And we’re crossing time zones (vata!), ungrounded (vata!), and dehydrated (vata!) from the puny 1.5 oz glasses of water the airlines provide. All these things added up will increase one of the doshas. Can you guess which one? I’m not seeing any hands…ok give up?! It’s vata! Vata, the energy of movement made up of the elements air and space severely increases when we fly. And as we know like increases like according to Ayurveda, so with all that movement, cold, dryness and change, vata goes through the roof.
I got back from India a little over a week ago and prepared myself for the crazy long flights back and forth. I didn’t feel any effect of jet-lag going there. And except for one day of feeling wiped, I really didn’t feel that jet-lagged when I came back either. The secret is to pacify vata before and during your travel day(s) by warming and grounding the body. Here are a few simple things you can do:
Thing 1. The night before your flight, fill ears with warm sesame oil. This will not only help avoid jet-lag, but if you have any ear problems (popping or pressure) while flying, this will significantly reduce if not completely stop those affects as well. One of the places where vata lives is in the ears so we want to protect that space, ground it, and keep it warm. Lay on your left side and fill the right ear with warm oil – fill it but don’t spill it (wah wah wah). Lay there for 10-20 minutes. Then cover with a towel because oil might drizzle out. Switch sides and repeat. After this you can sleep.
Thing 2. Oil massage before your shower the next morning. Take that same warm sesame oil and give yourself a full body massage with all strokes toward the heart and clockwise around the joints. If that’s too much, then just do your feet. Let it sit for 10 minutes and shower off. This lubricates and warms the entire body through the skin, which is another place where vata lives. I like to think of it as a resistance shield to all things chilly.
Thing 3. Have warm ginger tea in the morning. Ginger is heating, so a nice cup of ginger tea will keep the insides warm. Feel free to take some with you and ask for several puny glasses of warm water on the plane.
Thing 4. You can take ghee in a glass of warm water (optional). Ghee is very lubricating and will help coat the insides of our body with oil. It sort of covers up and fills in delicate holes and spots where vata could get trapped. It’s sort of like an inner resistance shield to all things chilly, dry, and spacey. If you can stomach it (it’s really not that bad, it’s like drinking butter) melt 1 tblsp in a glass of warm water and chug. Chase it with a little more warm water.
Thing 5. Drink warm water on the plane. Cold water is counterintuitive to balancing vata, so ask for warm water. Or, let the puny glass of water sit for a spell because it won’t take that long to reach room temp.
Thing 5. Do So Hum on the plane to calm any anxiety.
With over 24 hours of flying and 3 stop-overs on my way to India, I did all of the above and didn’t have any problem with jet-lag. On the way home we had 5 flights (five! I did not plan the trip. Did I mention, five!?!) and only on the very last one did my ears start to crackle. Usually on only two flights my ears are a clogged disaster. So! Don’t be afraid to take some well sealed oil with you on the plane or in your luggage for when you land. It will be your best friend! You can use and repeat these things on the way home too. Enjoy your travels and stay healthy. It’s more fun to be a jet-setter than a jet-lagger!!