It’s at this time of year when the winter blues kick in that sees so many Australian’s seek out the sunshine in some far, exotic destination. Ditching the beanies for the beach is all well and good but considering how far Australia we have to deal with the long-haul flight first before our tootsies touch the sand.
Recently someone tweeted a request for a few easy poses to do when traveling. So I’ve compiled a list of pre, during and post flight tips if you are flying the coop in search for some Vitamin D to prepare your body and mind  for the long-haul.
By performing a few simple, easy exercises in-flight you will stretch out your body, massage your internal organs, improve circulation and relieve anxiety and stress. Staying calm and comfortable during your flight will lead you to a more relaxed state of being post-flight. Which means arriving at your destination, energised and ready to go.
If you have an afternoon or late night flight then it’s a good idea to fit in a yoga class beforehand. If you plan properly you, hopefully, will have enough time. I highly recommend this. Simply stretching, strengthening and opening up the body prepares your nervous system for the stress of travelling, helps calm and destress you but also warms the body up for the ridiculous number of hours confined into a tiny space and uncomfortable seat.
Once you are on the plane it’s important to move and stretch. Deep-vein thrombosis is more common than we realise (I’ve suffered from it before) and maintain circulation within the body will prevent this but also make it alot easier to recover once you reach your destination.

Here are a few easy exercises you can do in your seat, within the aisles.

1) Walk – simple and we all know how to do it. Get up every hour and move those legs by gently pacing up and down the aisles. 

2) Neck rolls – sitting upright in your chair simple roll the neck gently from left to right, up and down and in 180 degree movements – sliding the chin to one shoulder and then back to the other.

3) Eagle arms – a deep upper back and shoulder stretch. Cross your right arm over your left and, bring the palms to touch and then lower the shoulders away from the ears. Move the hands away from your face and hold for 10 breaths. Switch sides, cross your left over your right and continue. 

4) Shoulder stretch – slide to the edge of your seat and clasp your hands behind you. Draw the hands away from the body to stretch and release deeply into the shoulders. Hold for 10 breaths. And then as you exhale dropping the chin to the chest and then inhaling raising the chin up to the ceiling – keep alternating like this on the breath for 5 – 10 rounds.

5) Cat/Cow stretch – staying at the front edge of your seat bring your hands to your knees. Inhale, look up to the ceiling and puff the chest up. As you exhale round the spine and draw the belly in, look down to your navel. Repeat this at least 10 times.

6) Tricep stretch – rest your forehead and elbows onto the seat in front of you. Press your palms together and then slide your hands down the centre of your back, along your spine. Lean the chest forward but ground back into your sit bones – hold for 10 breaths

7) Seated twists – keep the knees square. Gently twist to the right, take the left hand to your right knee and the right hand behind you. Use your breath, exhaling to twist deeper by looking over your right shoulder. Repeat on the other side

8) Hip rotation – take your right foot and rest it on your left knee and the left foot planted firmly to the floor. Keep the spine straight and with each deep exhale, gently press down onto the right thigh to release the groin and hip. Repeat 5- 10 breaths. Finally, to finish, hold onto your right shin and squeeze the knee into your chest. Repeat on the other side. 

9) Thigh stretch – come to standing either by your seat or at the back of the plane. With your right hand resting on the chair seat or a wall, take hold of your left foot and slowly draw the heel towards your buttock. Hold for 10 breaths, releasing into the quad. Repeat on the other side

10) Forward bend – step the feet out hip width apart, or wider. Inhale, hands to the waist and exhale, fold forward. You can bend the knees softly if needed. This is easier to perform with your buttocks resting to a wall (try near the toilets) to support you

11) Downward facing dog – for those wanting to go a little deeper and who don’t care what people think – find a slightly bigger space near the exit/bathrooms. Come down onto all fours. Spread the fingers and press the palms down – hands are shoulder width apart. Inhale to raise the hips and begin straightening the legs (slightly bent is fine too!) Make sure the feet are hip widths apart, or wider. Hold for 10 breaths or more for a deep front and body stretch.

A variation  – take the hands to the wall and step back. Bring the chest parallel to the floor and create a right angle with the body and legs

12) Seated meditation – sitting upright, with feet firmly planted to the ground. Bring the palms, open, onto the lap, or on top of each other. Close your eyes and focus in on the sound, quality and texture of your breath. Gently breath into the belly, then the rib cage and then the chest. Slowly exhale from the chest, the rib cage and finally releasing the belly back towards the spine. Soften the face, the jaw and eyebrow centre but ensure the spine is lengthening and upright. Practise for 5 – 20 minutes.

Post – flight

  • As soon as you can get outside in the sunshine for a gentle stroll.
  • Also, performing a few gentle salutes will help rebalance you and energise you.
  • Those with a regular and advanced practice can invert – handstand, headstand and shoulderstand are great for the nervous system and fantastic ways to reenergise.
  • Otherwise simply holding downward facing dog will have a similar effect as your head is below your heart.
  • Practising legs up the wall is also a gentle version that helps to restore the nervous system and reduce stress

If you are on your way soon, print this out and take it with you. It’ll make the world of difference and really minimise that tight, cramped feeling within the body. But also take the anxiety and stress out of the experience, leaving you with a little more clarity and health!

Signing off with an exhale.

Pause. Listen. Live.



3 Comments to “11 INFLIGHT YOGA POSES”

  1. Claire OMG I love this! Thank you!! I worked as a hostie for a while a few years ago and people (passengers and crew alike) need to know this xx

  2. Hi Claire,
    loved the travel trips (recently came back from Bhutan). i think Salabasana would be good for jet lag as it takes the prana from the upper body.
    Mary Abraham

  3. Thanks Jess… I'm sure those hosties need this more than anyone else.

    Mary – I agree. Good point. Perhaps a good one to do when your off the plane.


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