Stretch it out between long haul flights with
5 yoga poses for airport stopovers
Random flight times, passing through a variety of time zones and not knowing whether you’re eating breakfast at dinner time or the other way round! Long haul flying can be trying at the best of times and even more so if you add in a stopover in some far-flung airport on route to your final destination.
There are of course some basic measures that should be taken to ensure as comfortable a journey as possible; such as wearing loose comfortable clothing and drinking plenty of water. However, this doesn’t stop the general stiffness that can accumulate in the body from hours of sitting in cramped impersonal spaces, as well as the mental tension and fatigue.
These 5 yoga poses for airport stopovers can be performed discreetly just about anywhere and will really help to release tension where it’s most prone to build up, along the back of the body, neck and shoulders.
Myofascial foot release:
This one can be done whilst still on the plane with the help of a small beach ball from your rackets set being packed in your hand luggage.
There is a muscle train that starts in the heel of your foot runs all the way up the back of your body and up and over your head. Therefore by releasing tension in the feet you’ll actually be working with the whole back body and could potentially be helping prevent an achy back or pain in the neck! This exercise is also great for helping prevent DVT.
Simply roll the ball about on the soul of your foot, holding it where it feels good for more sustained periods of time. In eastern medicine there are many acupressure points in the feet, so view the long flight as an opportunity to give yourself some DIY reflexology that you might not otherwise find the time to do.
Gentle standing hip opener
This pose is a gentle hip opener in the elevated leg, stretching the muscle that’s prone to get pinched by the sciatic nerve when seated for long periods, your piriformis muscle. It will also bring a bit of life into the standing leg after hours of it being dormant and open up your lower back.
Simple cross one leg over the other and then crouch down on the standing leg, using a trolley or wall to stabilise you. Push down on your bent knee if you’d like to intensify the hip opener.
Find a nice corner to place yourself in and indulge in a gentle bit of dangling for as many minutes as possible.
Keep a slight bend in your knees and grab opposite elbows to use the weight of your upper body to slowly pull you down further into this pose, releasing the whole back of your body from the heels to the head. You can lightly shake your head yes and no here to further release any tension in your neck.
Supported Downward facing dog
It’s time to make use of your trolley again! This time to help you to get a beautiful stretch all the way across the back of the body and of your intercostal muscles between the ribs, which have been slouched down upon and compressed on the plane.
Holding onto your trolley; begin to walk your feet back so that your torso ends up parallel to the floor and you’re making an upside L shape with your body. Bring your ears in line with your biceps and keep on pushing back with your hips until you feel a nice openness across your spine and between your ribs.
When we’re cooped up in small spaces for extended periods of time we often accumulate tension in our neck and shoulders. This pose is particularly good for stretching out the tired and achy muscles in your upper back. And if you drop your chin down whilst practising it, it will also give the back of your neck a nice stretch out.
Above all else when travelling long haul try and cultivate patience and presence. Whether you’re heading to a new destination or on route home, the fact of the matter is that such journeys can be representative of life itself: sometimes challenging and tiring, with lots of moments when nothing in particular is happening interspersed with flurries of action and anticipation; where everyone you cross paths with is on their own personal journey, some elements of their journeys may have even crossed with yours, some may join yours in the future, some with destinations that you’ll never know, but all just trying to make our way in life the best we can.
So take in your surroundings and listen to the melting pot of languages around you. Smile at the person next to you with warmth, or even start up a conversation! Some of the most interesting chats I’ve had have been in transit. And finally sit back wherever you may be, take a few mindful breaths and try to relax. Remember that life after all, is a journey, not just a final destination!
For a deeply relaxing Yin Yoga stretch-out when you arrive to your destination click here.