Airplane flight sure takes its toll. Between waiting in line, security checks, and overbooked flights, the stress and discomfort of flying begins long before the plane ever takes off. The flight itself, however, is where the real discomfort sets in. Small seats, crowded cabins, and long flights set us up for aches and pains both during and after the flight.
Fortunately, you can make your next flight more comfortable with a few yoga stretches. The following sequence can be done mostly while seated with a couple added poses you can do while standing.
To begin, sit up tall in your seat. Drop your chin toward your chest to stretch the back of your neck. Then, inhale and let your chin circle up toward one shoulder. Exhale your chin back down to your chest and inhale up to the other side. Do this for a few rounds of breath. Next, sit up tall and let one ear drop toward your shoulder, stretching the side of your neck and the shoulder for a few breaths. Inhale up and exhale to the other side.
Next, bend your right knee and bring the outside of your right ankle just above your left knee. This may feel like a deep stretch. If so, stay here. If not, fold forward somewhat to deepen the stretch. Stay for about 5 breaths and then switch sides.
Then, from a seated position place your left hand on the outside of your right knee. Inhale and lengthen your spine and begin to twist to the right as you exhale. You can hold onto your armrest with your right hand to support the twist. Stay in the pose for about 5 breaths. Exhale back to center and repeat on the left side. Next, sitting up tall, place your hands on your knees. Inhale and roll forward on your sit bones, opening your belly and heart, and looking up. Exhale, tuck your tail, round your back, and tuck your chin. Continue this pattern, opening the front body as your inhale, and opening the back body as you exhale.
Finally, cross your right arm over the left at the elbow. Bend your arms and wrap the right arm around the left until your hands meet. Draw your elbows down and outward to maximize the stretch in your shoulders and upper back. Stay for a few rounds of breath and then repeat on the left side.
You can also do a few stretches while standing, either while waiting in line for the restroom or during a momentary stand-up break. Hold onto the back of your chair for support, bend your right leg and hold your right foot behind you. Hold the stretch for a few breaths and then switch sides.
Next, stand up tall and raise your arms overhead. Hold your left wrist with your right hand and shift most of your weight into your left food. Keep your weight in your left foot as you reach and stretch over to the right. Stay for a few rounds of breath. Inhale back to center and switch sides.
If you do these postures about once per hour during your flight, you will feel less stiff and sore from your travel. Print this article out or load it on your phone or tablet so you can find some relief while in the air. Bon voyage!