Indie Excellence award-winning author, yoga teacher and world traveler, Elaine Masters, RYT, has pioneered stress relief systems for drivers and fliers. As a professional actress, award-winning radio drama winner and international scuba diver, she coaches travelers on how to get where they’re going and back feeling great. Police officers, sales people and busy parents worldwide are using The Drivetime Yoga techniques. Elaine recently taught Flytime yoga at 30,000 feet on an Air Pacific flight to Fiji.
Cheapflights: What’s your routine when you travel?
Elaine Masters: It’s tempting and sometimes necessary to scramble around and work up to the minute that I depart. I’ve found the one thing I have to do is get a bit extra cardio exercise or strenuous yoga in the few days before departure. I also try to get some extra sleep. Not exercising means that sitting long will be all that more uncomfortable and not getting enough rest means that the inevitable challenges and thinking on your feet, so to speak, will be all the more stressful and ineffective. It’s easier to surrender to the trip and not come home with a stranger’s cold when I stay rested and get some exercise. I’m no Jock-ette, even walking briskly for 30 minutes, or 30 minutes of yoga makes all the difference.
CF: What is your travel pet peeve?
EM: I’m very impatient, so delays or long lines make my teeth grind, until I just relax about it and open up – taking in the circumstances, finding something or someone to study, or connect with.
CF: What is your favorite kind of trip?
EM: Tropical, exotic warm waters for diving have become a passion over the past few years. I’m getting set to do my 60th dive in La Paz and hoping to swim with whale sharks and manta rays. Of course, I love doing so with my dive buddy sweetheart!
CF: Best destination you have ever been to?
EM: I loved Thailand and poking around off the beaten track. I’d go back in an instant. The culture and temples draw me in for their beauty and depth. One of my favorite experiences – being something of a foodie – was the best breakfast ever; a surprisingly delicious and delicate fish soup sipped at a bamboo cafe perched on massive boulders overlooking turquoise water on the island of Koh Tao.
CF: Where in the world offers the best value for the money?
EM: It’s been awhile since I’ve been there but I’d have to say Sri Lanka.
CF: Where would you pay to stay? Is there anywhere you think offers great value and a great deal?
In Sri Lanka, and I was there a long while ago just before the Tamil uprising began, I was able to rent rooms in homes. I’d get off the train and walk down the street asking about lodging, as I rarely had reservations. As soon as the locals realized that I spoke English, they beset me with questions and offers of lodging. One couple gave my partner and me their bedroom and served us dinner – the most exquisite curries and bread fruit in their front yard garden. There were incredible Indian and Muslim influences, festivals and temples depending on which village you were visiting. The fabrics, silver work and gemstones were great bargains, which I took little advantage of as I wanted to travel light and not worry about more than my pack, journal and camera.
CF: What is the best airport you have flown from?
EM: One airport stands out – Chicago O’Hare. There’s a passage way between terminals that has an art and light installation that I always love to walk through. It’s very calming and uplifting. The main terminal is fun to explore as well with sweeping rooflines and interesting pockets of stores and restaurants.
CF: Is there a tip you can share to make the experience of flying a great one?
EM: Hard to pick just one. I’d have to say, do little stretches and breathe deeply whenever you think of it. That will help you avoid flight fatigue due to the lower oxygen levels on commercial flights. The stretches will help you feel fresher, and avoid cramped muscles and deep vein thrombosis. I’ve had fun doing spinal twists or shoulder stretches that a whole row of strangers joined in on – great icebreaker!
CF: How did you get into travel yoga?
EM: My parents taught me that you can travel well into your 80s and I plan to better their record. To guarantee that and because I don’t like pain, I’ve had to work muscles where I chronically hold tension – my shoulders, back and hips. It really began after I moved to Southern California; the traffic gridlock hit me hard. I’d been practicing yoga for about 10 years and realized how much better I felt when I incorporated small stretches and breath work into my commute. One thing led to another with research, writing, teaching and collaborating with a physical therapist and ergonomic consultant. Now helping others find the same relief, whether stuck in traffic or on the tarmac, has become my mission.
CF: Have you thought about travel health before this?
EM: Not specifically, but looking back I realize that I’ve always been stretching no matter where I was. In college I remember sitting on the carpet instead of a desk in class, because it meant I could better work my back and legs. That was in acting school, mind you, so it wasn’t so unusual to do things differently.
CF: If you had to sit in the middle seat on a plane, who would be your chosen seatmates?
EM: I’ve always dreaded this kind of question. My impulse is to dodge it but here’s a somewhat mundane and sublime answer. On my right next to the window would be Maharishi Mahesh Yogi right after he sprang to prominence with the Beatles. I think of him as just delighted with the world and so profound. I remember his giggle. His darshan, the deep silence radiating from him would be such a blessing. On the other side, so she has plenty of leg room, is a woman I’d love to just visit with. I admire her for not being afraid to change, her unorthodox background and career choices, her international travel and humanitarianism, and as a fellow mother, her passion for children – Angelina Jolie!
CF: Who would you least want to sit with?
EM: Least would be Carl Rove. I don’t do well with manipulative, self-centered, power craving, pseudo-intellectuals. Basically, same for my ex!
CF: If there was one travel nightmare trip, where would it be to and what would it involve?
EM: I so admire traveling journalists, soldiers and doctors who fly into war zones or catastrophes. It would be very difficult for me to maintain equilibrium by flying into Iraq or Haiti or the Sudan. I can only imagine the levels of human suffering, the feelings of impotence and fear that could dog freedom of movement, as well as expression often, especially as a woman. I believe in doing what you can do, following one’s passion and destiny. That is not mine and while I would summon up my resolve, and have in a few fires or earthquakes that I’ve been in, or as a mom when there have been life and death situations to deal with, that kind of travel would be a nightmare for me.
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