yoga at 30,000 feet



yoga- airplane-travel

When Beverly Hills ambassador Andrea Marcum arrived in Bali after 22 hours of flying, she found herself feeling swollen, with ankles like an elephant. Knowing there had to be a better way, she made use of her yoga wisdom to create a journey with more bending and less bloating.

pre-boarding practices

1) hold the fries. Skip the heavy meals, alcohol, caffeine and carbonated beverages 24 hours before you leave. These dehydrate you and increase the unfortunate effects of a pressurized cabin when you’re in the air.

2) skip the moving sidewalk (or just skip). Take a 10-minute walk around the airport to help your in-flight circulation. Getting your heart beating faster transports oxygen rich blood to your muscles and improves cellular respiration. This kick start will help keep things moving while you've got your seatbelt fastened securely.

yoga at 30,000ft

1) stretch your spine. In your seat, interlace your hands under your thigh and ease your knee and forehead towards each other (not one to do during beverage and meal service.) As your back rounds, feel the space being created between those poor vertebrae that are feeling compressed from sitting in one position for the duration of your flight. Hold for a few breaths and then switch sides.

2) twist and shout (but don’t actually shout). Sit tall in your seat with great yoga posture. Holding the armrests, twist cautiously to one side for five breaths and then to the other. Enjoy the release in your spine and the fact that you and your neighbour are getting along so well as you turn in their direction.

refresh at your hotel

1) walk it off. Even if you feel exhausted or jet lagged, try to take that 10 minute walk again to get your metabolism and circulation going. Hey, what a great opportunity to check out your new surroundings! For meals, opt for salads and green veggies to help move toxins and fluids through you. Green tea is a natural diuretic and will help decrease water retention and swelling.

2) the anti-elephant-ankle pose. Lie on your back and elevate your legs up a wall for 10 minutes in Viparita Karani. Blood can pool and create pressure in our leg veins and fluid collects in the soft tissue. This happens as a result of being seated upright with our feet on the ground for so long. A gentle inversion makes it easier for our heart to pump oxygenated blood through these lower limbs and throughout our newly landed bodies.

3) soak your bones. Draw a warm bath with Epsom salts, or sprinkle some lavender or sandalwood oil in the water to wash away the airplane fumes.

Infusing your trip with mindful movement, a friendly spirit, good sense and good scents can make a world of difference when you travel. Whether you’re taking off for business or for pleasure, may these tips help you transcend times zones and sweeten your stay.

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14 Comments »


So useful! I’ve been doing a lot of cross country traveling, and I always feel 12 kinds of gross when I finally land. I’m often that weirdo doing downward dog in the airport, but I don’t care! Anything to stretch out the cramped and crabby muscles. Somehow I don’t think the flight crew would be too amused if I did some vinyasas in the aisle of the plane, but it’s always tempting. Guess I’ll stick to the yoga in your seat suggestions :) Thanks!

Comment by Beth — September 15, 2011 @ 10:42 am


Great timing for these tips. I am flying to Italy from Dallas on Sunday and I plan to incorporate some stretching into my two hour flight.

Comment by Stephanie — September 15, 2011 @ 10:56 am


Beth, don’t fear being the weirdo. That’s the best way to trend towards a new “normal”. You see, now you and I are two already.

Comment by R — September 15, 2011 @ 12:15 pm


These are great tips. I wish it was acceptable to do sun salutations in the aisles of the plane but since it’s not these sound like good alternatives!

Comment by Amy — September 15, 2011 @ 1:04 pm


Thanks for the ever delightful and helpful flying tips.

Comment by Dom — September 15, 2011 @ 1:37 pm


Wish I had read this before my last 11 hour flight. I had elephant ankles for a day and didn’t know what to make of them. Thanks for the suggestions!

Comment by Susan — September 15, 2011 @ 4:30 pm


Thanks Andrea, I will try this on Sunday when I leave for N.Y.

Comment by Rachelle — September 15, 2011 @ 6:15 pm


Thanks for the great tips!! Awesome read!

Comment by Renee Pietrangelo — September 16, 2011 @ 4:43 pm


Greetings from 30k up! (Gotta love in-flight wi-fi!) Besides all of the above, I’ll also be flushing out all of the plane grossness with my neti-pot. I never travel without it!

Great tips!

Comment by Kat — September 17, 2011 @ 7:41 pm


Superb..!
These tips are very useful.
The most interesting thing there is that Yoga help there too.

Comment by Yoga New York City — September 18, 2011 @ 10:27 pm


@Kat That’s so cool! I have yet to experience on board wi-fi! Any success with our yoga tips?

Comment by Allessia — September 19, 2011 @ 1:07 pm


How fun to think you up in the air reading this @Kat! And yes @Yoga New York City the limitless nature of yoga never ceases to amaze me. Isn’t this fun @Allessia!!

Comment by Andrea Marcum — September 21, 2011 @ 11:44 am


This is an excellent resource, I’m glad I found it. I fly long haul about 8 times a year, and having taken up yoga in January past, its great that I can use yoga in this way. I will certainly put the advice on offer here to great use! Thank you

Comment by Benefits of Meditation — October 4, 2011 @ 5:42 am


This is AWESOME. i blow up during flights. I drink about a half gallon of water just on a 3 hour flight alone.

Comment by The Get In Shape Girl — October 13, 2011 @ 6:27 pm


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