Yoga for Travel - Let's add a little flexibility to your journey!
I am getting ready to jump on a plane and wing my way to Italy for Soulfit Adventures annual yoga and cycling retreat, and as much as I am excited about getting to Italy, I am not really looking forward to the flight! Really who does? Some of you would be aware that I am based on the east coast of Australia and the journey from Sydney to Rome takes a minimum of twenty-three hours flying time (and that doesn’t include the two and a bit hours it takes to get to the airport, time allowed for delays, time in transit etc.) No it’s not pretty or comfortable!
I’ve been transformed by practicing airport yoga and post-flight yoga, it makes my whole travelling experience much more comfortable. In order to avoid days and weeks of travel stress and recovery, I always make a point of finding the time for a good yoga practice the day of travel, a few poses at airports in between flights, and especially a juicy practice post flights. Between wedging yourself into a cramped seat, sitting for hours, and the stress that comes with airport security or exploring a new destination, travel can wreak havoc on your body — not to mention your mind! That's where yoga can help (and no, you don't need to be able to stand on your head!).
Don’t let travel take its toll on your body and end up as stiff as a board after being crammed into a seat for hours upon end flying. Time spent in the airport is enough to challenge even the most patient person, yoga will help soothe your body and mind to prepare for any new stress you may encounter as you travel. Whether your plane’s been delayed, or you’re stuck in an airport for a long layover, instead of duty free shopping why not get down and do a few yoga poses. Yoga rooms in major airports are becoming more common nowadays, but even if the airport your in doesn’t have one, there’s no reason why you can’t bust out a few moves on the floor at gate lounge or any other space and you don't need a yoga mat. I always travel with a wrap or a Turkish towel in my hand luggage. Not only do they keep me warm on the plane, they are ideal to roll out on the airport floor. Think of the airport as a giant yoga room!
By performing just a few poses, you will give yourself a multitude of benefits: it will stretch you out, massage your internal organs, improve circulation and relieve flight or holiday anxiety.
I want to give you a few simple poses that you can easily do anywhere. They will help you to feel remarkably better during and after flights. Sometimes, just changing your attitude can take you to a new place in your body and mind.
The following yoga poses are some of my personal favourites and ones I always practice when I am travelling. They help relieve an achy lower back, tight shoulders, open up the hips, and even provide a restorative way you can travel leaving you to feel fresh, calm and energized while you’re on the go. They’ll bring blood flow back to your head, legs, and all those body parts that fell asleep along the way.
And the best part: you can perform yoga anywhere your travels take you—a hotel room or even in your hotel bed, the airport terminal, or at the boarding gate.
Downward Facing Dog
The great all-rounder and easy to drop down into anywhere, anytime - opens the backs of the legs, elongates the spine, stretches and opens the chest and shoulders and strengthen the arms whilst you are at it (keep knees bent if you have tight hamstrings just like moi in the photo!).
A great pose to do mid flight as it doesn't require a lot of space. Gently stretches for the lower spine, loosens the hamstrings and warms up the quadriceps. And, I often do it in the shower in the morning after getting out of bed as it helps relieve my cranky lower back!).
The baby of the back bending poses, which stretches the chest and lungs, shoulders and abdomen, whilst strengthening the spine, stimulating the abdominal organs and helping relieve stress - perfect when travelling! If you drop your head as shown in this photo, it's also a great stretch to the neck.
A step up from Sphinx pose. Same benefits with a deeper stretch.
Half Pigeon pose is an excellent stretch for the hips and also stretches the glutes and the lower back. As such, it's the perfect pose before, during and after traveling.
Another fantastic pose which is a deep opening in the sacral-lumbar arch and also stretches hips flexors and quadriceps. Can be done with one leg extended if both knees bent is too much. Not for everyone though and if you feel any sharp or burning pain here, you must come out. Honor your body and listen to what it is telling you!
Frog pose is an intense hip opener with many benefits including stretching the inner thighs, groins, and hips, opens the chest and shoulders, relieves stress and anxiety. I love to do this in my bed after a flight - the mattress adds extra padding for extra comfort!
Another great all-rounder. Supine twist encourages movement and mobility in your spine and vertebrae. Massages, stretches, and tones your internal organs, improves your digestion. Stretches your chest, shoulders, lower back, hips, middle spine and your upper back. Alleviates pain or stiffness in your lower back, spine and hips. Basically the bomb when travelling!