I don’t have to tell you that long-haul air travel is painful business — to ease the pain, here are yoga poses every airplane passenger should know.
In This Yoga Article You Will Discover:
- Poses For Before Your Flight
- Close Quarters Stretching
- After-Flight Yoga
Yoga has physical, mental and spiritual benefits too numerous to mention. Hey, there’s a reason it’s been practiced for more than 2,000 years, right? For those of us who hop aboard trans-ocean airplane flights, yoga is especially important. Sure, there’s the scare of deep-vein thrombosis, but a more practical worries are the sore muscles, tight joints and high stress levels associated with long distance airline travel. Here are some poses to help ease the pain:
Before You Board
Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana): In the sitting position, your hips will get tight and cramped over time. Hip Openers in particular will help counteract this. So before you plop down for a trans-Pacific haul, make sure to open up hip joints with a series of Hip Opener poses. Further, many yogis believe that hips hold anxiety and stress, and opening these joints will provide emotional benefits as well. This can be an intense pose for some (like me). Rather than describe the multiple steps in Pigeon Pose, a very effective hip opener, here is a video that demonstrates the pose well:
Standing Apanasana: From standing (Mountain Pose/Tadasana), lift your right knee to your chest. Interlock your fingers over your knee and allow your knee to move outwards from your chest. Hold, then alternate.
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana): Stand with your hands on hips. Exhale and bend forward (from hip joints). Lengthen your torso as you fold. While keeping your knees straight, bring your fingertips to the floor slightly in front of or beside your feet, or bring your palms to the backs of your ankles. If this isn’t possible, cross your forearms and hold your elbows.
During The Flight
There are many simple yoga poses you can do without even getting up from your seat. Even if you forget to open your hips before you board, I highly recommend practicing at least one of these poses every hour on the plane. You’ll find yourself energized and ready to travel when you disembark.
Shoulder Rolls, Ankle Rolls & Shrugs: Self-explanatory, and the simplest way to keep loose.
Seated Twist: With both feet flat on the floor, rest your right hand on the outside of your left leg and place your left hand behind your back. Inhale to lengthen the spine, exhale to twist to the left. Hold for a few breaths then alternate. Variation: Fold forward, place your right hand at your right foot, and reach your left arm to the sky, twisting your torso and looking upwards. Alternate.
Seated Cat/Cow: Inhale and lengthen the spine, lifting your chest upward and looking up (Cow Pose), then exhale, rounding the spine and dropping the head toward the chest (Cat Pose).
Savasana: No, I don’t mean sleeping… but if you do fall asleep, that’s fine too. I mean a sitting “corpse pose,” where you try to clear your mind, unplug from the in-flight movie, put down the book and just be. Earplugs will help.
Also, don’t forget to get up and walk around every once in a while to help circulation and ease cramping.
After You Land
The poses you practised before your flight will reap benefits once you land. If you’re quick to your accommodation, you can no doubt wait until you arrive before hitting the mat. If you’ve got a while, find a spot inside the airport and spend a few minutes (before your baggage arrives) practicing these poses. Along with the poses listed, of course, don’t forget your Downward-Facing Dog too — before, after, and (heck, why not…) during your flight! Plus, there’s also Warrior I & II (Virabhadrasana I & II) and…
Really, any yoga pose or deep stretch will parlay benefits while you travel, as the stretching and meditation of yoga practice is the absolute antithesis of airline travel — it counteracts everything stressful and uncomfortable an airplane can deliver.
Make sure to drink plenty of water (the free booze on international flights is tempting, but regretful) and keep loose. You’ve got a big adventure when you land — and you need to be ready.