I know that long flights can be a pain, but here’s some tips for the savvy traveler to keep your body and mind feeling good!
When you arrive to your gate, look for a space by the outlet at the wall and plug in your phone, laptop or charge your camera battery. While you are charging up, you will have an opportunity to do a few yoga postures to calm your nerves and to prepare your body for your trip. I usually travel with a yoga mat, but rarely want to unroll in in the airport, unless the layover is really long! I always have a sarong or pareo in my backpack that I lay out and use as my personal layover space. I also try and wear slip on shoes (for less hassle in the security line), which makes it easy to kick my shoes off and have a seat.
Sitting in an airplane seat can really wreak havoc on your hips, hamstrings and back. I like to do a low-key routine to address these areas specifically. You might be surprised at how many people AREN’T looking at you while you get your guru on, but if you do feel the eyes of an onlooker, just remember that they are probably admiring what you are doing for yourself. Remember as you do your sequence to breathe deeply, keep your eyes open and luggage nearby.
Here’s a short routine for your layover:
Paschimottanasana: Seated forward bend. Sit with legs outstretched, straighten through the knees without hyper-extending. Flex your feet back towards your body then try to straighten your toes up toward the sky. Sit up straight, lengthening up through your spine and neck, then fold at the hips and reach your hands toward your feet without straining to touch them. Let your objective in this pose to lengthen the back of the legs, while extending through the crown and heels simultaneously. Take 1-3 deep breaths.
Janusirsasana: Head to knee forward bend. From Paschimotanasana, bend one knee and bring your heel towards the mid-line of your body, placing the sole of your foot against the inner thigh of the opposite leg. Extend fully through the straight leg and also the spine and neck. Maintaining the length in your body, turn your torso towards your straight leg and begin to bend at the hip. Aim your sternum towards your kneecap and bend forward until you feel resistance in the hamstrings. Take 1-3 deep breaths. Change legs and repeat on the other side.
Eka Pada Rajakapotanasana: One-legged king pigeon pose. Begin on hands and knees. Slide one knee as far forward in between your hands as you can, placing the knee near the outer edge of your sarong or mat and your heel in front of you. Level your hips, using a prop, if necessary (a wadded up sweatshirt or travel book will do), underneath the thigh of the bent leg. Lengthen through your back leg bringing the front of the thigh and kneecap squarely to the ground. To stretch the hip flexors and the front of the thigh (which naturally shorten and tighten when we sit for long periods of time), sit up straight and support yourself with your hands or fingertips. Try to bring your shoulders over your hips without overarching your low back.
Take 1-3 deep breaths then start to walk your hands forward, folding over your bent knee. Use stacked fists to support your head. Take 1-3 breaths in the resting phase of this pose. Switch legs and repeat on other side. *Note: If you’d like to add a Downward Facing Dog at this point, go ahead! Though, you may not find your sarong to have enough grip for this.
Gomukhasana: Cow Face Pose. From a seated position, bend both knees straight up and lace one leg under the other. Allow the thigh of the bottom leg to touch the floor and bring that knee toward the midline of your body. Stack the top knee on top of bottom knee and allow the soles of your feet to face up towards the ceiling. While you are settling into your hips, take the palms of your hands to the soles of your feet. Here I like to do a bit of reflexology, pressing my thumbs into various pressure points in the sole and along the arch of the foot. Stay for 1-3 breaths then switch sides and repeat. *Note, if you are familiar with the full pose you can go ahead and add the arms too.
Gentle Spinal Twist: Sit cross-legged and begin to lengthen your spine. Maintaining the length, begin to twist to the right, placing the right hand lightly to the floor behind you and your left hand on the opposite knee. Continue to find space between the vertebra of your spine as you twist. Stay for 1-3 breaths then return to center and switch sides.
Baddha Konasana: From your seated position, bring soles of the feet together and allow your knees to fall outward and towards the floor. Slide your heels away from your body just enough to create a wide diamond with the legs. Lengthen up through the spine and begin to hinge at the hips to come into a forward fold. Aim the forehead towards the feet without straining or over-stretching. Take 1-3 deep breaths.
Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, bend forward at the hip crease and allow your arms to fall forward over your head. Take a few breaths, let go of any unnecessary tension and any toxic thoughts. Begin to stand up slowly, let your blood pressure regulate and release your hands.
Now you’re ready to put on that backpack and enjoy your flight. Remember to grab your phone and charger and don’t forget to stay hydrated.