Wondering what yoga on a plane is all about? Don't worry. We haven't set up a yoga room in the air yet. It would be really restrictive and not very ecological... But you probably know it if you read my presentation (I know you're curious!), I'm a globetrotter. Thus, I sometimes had to take particularly long flights...
The latest one is the one that took me to French Polynesia. I stayed almost 24 hours in a row on my seat (with a short stopover), stuck between my right and left passenger, with a tiny corridor to stretch my legs... For the Dosha Vata that I am, always wanting to go for a walk and get some fresh air, it was a horror! And what doesn't help is that I have a bad blood circulation. I can't help it, it's familial! So, I always find myself with legs swollen like poles after a plane (or car) trip, even if it's only a few hours. But fortunately, this led me to develop some tactics to counter this problem...
Are you leaving on a trip soon and a long journey awaits you too? Would you like for once to reduce all the undesirable effects of this flight through yoga? Then this is the right time! My past travels have allowed me to think about the ideal postures to relieve this kind of inconvenience. So today, I propose you some explanations on the consequences of a flight on your body but especially how to limit them.
What are the consequences of air travel on your body?
An airplane flight is never a pleasure. You are confined to a small space with hundreds of passengers. You can't extend your legs properly in front of you. And you try to make yourself small in your seat so as not to disturb your neighbors. Did you really pay for that? What a funny idea!
Moreover, in airplanes, because of the altitude, our body has difficulties to function normally. What happens to it?
- Blood circulation becomes slower.
- You dehydrate more easily.
- Your skin is drier.
- Headaches occur more easily.
- Your nose gets blocked, you sometimes feel like you can't breathe as well.
Airplane yoga now seems a necessity in the face of all this, doesn't it?
Back pain, stress, fatigue... The hazards of long trips
But there are also many consequences because of your posture. Indeed, as you keep the same position:
- Your venous return is less efficient: the blood stagnates and your ankles start to swell...
- You feel stiffer: your joints are stiffer and your muscles are stiffened.
- You have back pain: your vertebrae are compacting, you are more inclined to adopt a posture that makes your neck or lumbar vertebrae suffer.
Not to mention that you may have to carry luggage or a heavy backpack on your shoulders for several hours during this trip.
On the other hand, you may have a phobia of flying or you may simply be stressed (sometimes in a positive way) by your trip. This plays on your mind and emotions. Airplane yoga will therefore come to calm you down effectively.
On the other hand, during this type of trip, you have little room to move around. This tends not to make things any better. And if you don't fly, you may feel the same deleterious effects during a long trip by train, boat or car.
However, a few yoga postures can provide quick relief during your trip, but also help you prepare for it.
Airplane yoga: am I really going to do yoga at the airport?
You think you need to roll out your yoga mat in the middle of the seats and chain the postures between two passes by the flight attendants? Rest assured, you won't need it to practice yoga on the plane.
However, who says yoga at the airport or on the plane, says other passengers. Do you feel like taking care of yourself and your body before or during this long trip? Simple and discreet exercises are available. But the first question you should ask yourself is how the other person looks at you.
Before your flight, it may be beneficial for you to take a moment to eliminate your stress, come back to yourself and stretch your body. But large airport lobbies won't always allow you to practice freely.
That said, if you are afraid of other people's judgments, learn to value what you do and move beyond those thoughts. In reality, you are taking care of yourself! So why would anyone judge you for that? And after all, is it a big deal?
If you still don't feel like practicing yoga on an airplane in front of others, here are three solutions:
- In some airports, such as Los Angeles and Frankfurt, you can find a yoga room available for passengers.
- Otherwise, place yourself in an inconspicuous place, near an empty boarding gate or at the end of a corridor.
- Practicing at home, just before you leave, will also have beneficial effects.
Yoga and airplane: some postures before the flight
Before taking your flight, you can of course do a regular yoga session at home or at the airport. If you are lacking inspiration, you can for example opt for a few sun salutations. This will gently wake up your body and stretch all your muscles.
Tip: Prefer a session based on anchoring, because any trip tends to awaken our Dosha Vata (the air) and make us forget our roots. The postures of the mountain or the warrior are good ways to privilege your contact with the ground before your flight.
Just before entering the plane, you can choose different exercises :
- Stretching your legs: with sitting postures such as the sitting clip, the butterfly or standing, with the dog upside down.
- Stretch your upper body: with postures like the eagle or simple stretches of the bust on each side.
- Relieve your neck: place both hands intertwined at the back of the neck. Stick your chin to your chest and gently squeeze your elbows together to release pressure on your neck.
- Relax: Take a moment to refocus with a few deep breaths.
In-flight yoga postures: what to do during the flight?
You will sometimes see videos during your long-haul flight that present yoga exercises. It is helpful to take a moment during the flight to stretch your body and mobilize your limbs. These are simple exercises that you can do while sitting in your seat. They will be very effective in limiting the inconvenience of the flight. Here are a few of them to adopt:
- Turn each of your ankles in one direction and then in the other to help boost circulation.
- Grab your right leg and place your hands on your shin, keeping your back straight. Breathe deeply here. Then rest your leg on the ground and grab your left leg.
- Stretch your neck: make head movements out while breathing deeply. Nod your head (yes and no), move it to the side (maybe). Next, draw small circles with your nose and then a larger and larger circle. Or, start by drawing half circles forward (left ear to left shoulder, head forward, then right ear to right shoulder), then backward, until you make a full circle.
Other yoga exercises on the plane, during the flight
- Grab the bottom of the armrest on your right with your left hand and place your right hand on the top of your armrest or seat for a little upper body twist. Then do the same twist on the other side.
- Rotate with your shoulders: backwards, then forwards. Go slowly and breathe deeply.
- Move your arms over your head, keeping them straight. Then, interlace your hands, palms facing the sky. Inhale and exhale here. According to your desire and your place, gently stretch the right and then the left side of your body, placing your arms to the left and to the right.
- Arms always stretched out towards the sky, bend your right elbow. Place your right hand flat between your shoulder blades and help yourself with your left hand to hold your right arm gently back and down. Do the same on the other side.
Yoga on a plane: some more tips before your flight
• To avoid dehydration and headaches, drink small amounts regularly.
• Cover yourself sufficiently during the flight: temperature changes are frequent.
• Prefer a comfortable outfit: yoga leggings or jogging shoes rather than jeans.
• Pay attention to your positions, especially if you fall asleep.
• Bring a travel pillow to relieve your neck on long haul flights.
• Bring a pair of earplugs or headphones and a mask to rest easily and center yourself.
Now you know how to prepare for your next flight by practicing yoga before and during this long journey. That said, if you don't have any travel plans, these exercises can be done during your workday, especially if you work from a chair. That's it, you have all the keys to do airplane yoga !