Sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the flight just got a whole lot easier.
Practicing yoga before you travel can help prevent plane pains and alleviate airport stress.
AIRPORTS MIGHT BE MORE stressful than a daily commute through heavy traffic. Between delayed, canceled and overbooked flights, it often seems you're more likely to have a headache than a relaxing flying experience. Once you board your flight, the seats are designed to misalign your back. The scoop-shaped chairs are reclined just enough in their "upright" position that they almost force you to slouch. Plus, navigating your personal space when a stranger's arm and leg are spilling over into your tiny allotted area makes the whole experience a little too close for comfort.
But good news: There's no shame in practicing yoga in the airport. In fact, many airports even have yoga rooms. So before you board your next flight, take ten minutes to practice these five yoga poses to have a pain-free and more tranquil flight.
1. Down Dog
This pose is great to reverse the painful airplane back. Start in a pushup position with your wrists under your shoulders and your back and legs flat, like a plank. Make sure your hands point straight forward. Without moving your hands or feet, stretch your hips up and back, in an upside-down V-shape. Once you lift your hips up, look at your feet and check that they are about hip-width apart and straight. Then, bend your knees a good 4 inches, work your arms straight and get a lift in your lower back. This alignment is key. Try straightening your legs – but stop as soon as that lift in your lower back becomes compromised.
2. Side Angle
If you were to practice one standing pose, this one is the most beneficial. There is a big release in your lower and middle back when you stretch the sides of your torso laterally through this pose. Collapsing through the sides of your body or slouching is a recipe for pain. Start in Warrior II, with your front foot pointing straight forward and your knee pointing straight over your front foot. Bend your front knee until your knee is right over your ankle and your front thigh is parallel to the floor. If your right foot is forward, bring your right forearm to rest on your front thigh, and stretch your top arm alongside your ear with your palm facing down. Stamp your back foot down heavily to set your back upper thigh into its socket. Keep that form as you tuck your front hip down and under and lengthen your back.
Start in Warrior II again. This time, straighten your front leg, reach your front arm forward and touch your front hand down, just outside your outer shin. Without moving your feet, draw them toward one another, until your legs are absolutely straight. You will feel that power from your feet all the way up into your pelvis. Keep that strength and stretch back down through your feet, extend your back and reach up through your top hand. If it does not hurt your neck, look up toward your top fingertips. Make sure your shoulders do not round forward and your back does not collapse or round. If they do, get taller in your stance. This pose is wonderful to strengthen and stretch your legs, back and neck – all the trouble areas you will likely have during your flight.
4. Wide Angle Standing Forward Fold
If your legs get achy or numb during your flight, this pose is for you. Step your feet far apart, so that when you extend your arms out to the side, your ankles are right underneath your hands. Make sure your feet point straight forward and your feet are even with one another. Hinge from your hips and bring your hands on the floor in front of your feet. Keep your weight in the heels as much as the tops of your feet. You should feel your hamstrings stretch, while the front of your legs engage. As your hamstrings open, walk your hands closer to your feet. Straighten your legs, lengthen your back and bow forward.
5. Twisted Thigh Stretch
If your lower body tends to be tight, it could lead to pain all the way up into your back. This stretch will start to open your quads and release any stiffness in the lower back. Start in a lunge with your front knee over your ankle and your back foot vertical. Lower your back knee to the ground gently, and make sure your weight is shifted to the center of your thigh and not on your kneecap. If your right foot is forward, reach your right hand back for the outer side of your left foot. Once you have your foot, lengthen both sides of your torso, twist your chest open and set your top shoulder back. Draw your heel towards your outer hip, and drag your back knee forward to lift your hips up toward your heel. Point and engage your back foot by flicking your toes back against your hand. If you feel any discomfort in your knee, try padding it. If you feel your hamstring about to cramp, release the foot and come out of the pose.