Ever dread those long haul flights when you’re scrunched up in a tiny seat for 15 hours straight? Well the good news is having a stretch beforehand will stop you from getting stiff. Yoga on a plane or at the airport is also a nice relaxing activity for anxious fliers. You might be waiting in front of your gate, sitting on the flight, or at the baggage carousel – it doesn’t matter – all of these poses can be done in a seat or standing up.
Try these poses out, and arrive refreshed ready to have a great time at your travel destination! Just make sure you aren’t blocking the way of someone rushing to their flight!
This is the ideal pose if you are self-conscious about getting your yoga on in a crowded public space. Tadasana puts you in a chilled out yogic frame of mind, despite not looking very dynamic to the untrained eye.
Stand with feet directly under your hips, grounding strongly into the floor and extending the ribs and spine up to the ceiling. Let your shoulders relax and engage the tailbone so that your lower back is not arched. Open your palms to the front and feel yourself relaxing more with each exhale. Focus on balancing each inhalation and exhalation. Feel free to raise the arms to intensify the pose, making sure that the neck is lengthening away from the shoulders.
The sides of the body can stiffen in flight, especially with saturated fat-heavy plane food. Open up your sides and you will open up your lungs, which gives you a glorious sense of optimism as you arrive at your final destination.
Plant your feet a little wider than your shoulders. On an inhalation, sweep your arms out to the side and then up overhead. Turn your arms so your palms face each other. Straighten your arms completely, interlace your fingers and point your index fingers to the ceiling. Hold for five breaths, then bend to the left, and come back to centre. Exhaling, sweep your arms back down to the sides of the body. Repeat on each side as many times as feels good.
This pose is great for standing in lines, or simply practicing yoga in a space-poor setting like a busy check-in area or tiny in-flight bathroom. It opens the hips, which can feel extra tight after an extensive time sitting down. Tree pose also works on your balance, and reengages your lower body and sense of stability after hours of idleness. The focus on grounding down can even help with the jet lag that comes from feeling out of sorts all the way up there in the air.
Focus your attention into grounding one of your feet with an exhale or two. Next, draw the sole of the other one up onto the thigh or wherever feels comfortable (avoiding the knee joint). Try pressing the foot into the thigh, or place the back of the foot on the front of the thigh for a more intense feeling into the hip. Start with your hands open at your sides, then raise them up for more of a balance challenge if you have the space.
This pose releases your hamstrings and lets your spine be nice and long. It’s a super relaxing yoga move that is perfect for helping you cope with the hectic atmosphere of an airport.
Being mindful of those around you, extend your legs out in front of you until they are straight. Flex your achilles, draw your toes towards your face and straighten your spine. Take a breath in as you lengthen the spine, and fold forward on the exhale, keeping your knees bent if necessary and being mindful not to hunch your back. You may find that gravity lets you get a little deeper when you attempt this pose on a seat!
For releasing tension in the shoulders and opening the chest, a spinal twist won’t go astray. A seated twist will lengthen and create space in your sides, as well as create fire in the digestive system. Give this yoga pose a go in your seat in flight or in the waiting room – you won’t regret it.
Sit up tall on an inhale, and grab the sides of your seat on one side. Exhale as you twist your upper body towards that side. Hold for around 10 seconds, continually lengthening the spine up. Repeat on each side.
Avoid swollen ankles while you fly by keeping your joints moving. While there’s no technical yoga name for these exercises, you can use the breath mindfully and feel into your body for that magical yoga pose feeling.
Either while seated or standing on one leg, roll your ankles in alternating clockwise and counterclockwise motions. You can also point and flex the feet, which feels simple but actually activates your spine as well. If you have one available, you can use a tennis ball and roll your foot around it.
Don’t let the downward pressure of continual sitting deaden your thighs. These simple poses will not only keep energy and life-force flowing in the thighs and inner psoas muscles.
These can be done either sitting down or standing up. With a straight spine, imagine your thighs are being lifted from the middle upwards as you exhale. Inhale as you release, and repeat on the other side.
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