Take Your Yoga Practice With You
As a Canadian living in Australia long distance travel has become a part of my life. The prevailing attitude in North American is that 7 hours is an incredibly long flight, and I must say that until I moved to Sydney I felt the same way. That was, until I made the trek back to my parents house on the East Coast of Canada, and racked up a 22 hours in the air – one way.
This sort of long distant travel is a whole new can of worms, and such, it required quite a bit of planning and preparation to ensure that I arrived as coherent and functional as possible. My arsenal of tricks was packed with herbal teas, moisture masques, guided meditations, enough H20 to drown a small bird – and of course, yoga.
Now, I know I’m not the only one who does these long-haul trips, as I could hear the familiar cadence of the beloved Aussie accent at most of the major airports I visited. So what I want to share with you today – is a little practice that you can do anywhere, that will help relive some of the tension and stiffness that comes with being immobile while 30 000 feet in the air. You don’t need a mat – I practiced this sequence quite a few times while in the airport, waiting to board my plane. Just find a quiet corner, and keep your bags within eyesight.
1. Passive Forward Bend:
+ Start by sitting down on the floor, and straighten your legs fully
+ Keep your legs together and slow allow your spine to round forward over your legs, let your head relax fully
+ Stay for 5-10 deep slow breaths
+ Round your spine back up, one vertebrae at a time
* Tip : Don’t pull on your feet, start with this as a very passive and relaxed state – especially if you just got off of a long flight
2. Seated Spinal Twist
+ Sitting on the ground, legs straight, cross your right leg over your left so that your right foot is on the floor on the outside of your left thigh.
+ Place your right hand behind your back on your fingertips
+ Cross your left arm over your body, and press it into the outside of your right knee
+ Stay for 5 – 10 deep slow breaths
+ To come out, untwist and switch sides
*Tip : Move with your breath, as you inhale lengthen your spine, as you exhale deepen the twist
3. Seated Cat / Cow
+ Sitting down, cross your legs at the shins
+ Place your hands face down on your knees
+ As you inhale, arch your spine forward, relax your belly, lift your chest and look up
+ As you exhale, round your spine, draw your belly in, and bring your chin to your chest
+ Repeat 10 times in each direction
*Tip : You can do the same thing on all fours, but this variation will draw less attention to you because your bum won’t be in the air!
4. Deep Low Lunge
+ Come onto all fours and step your right foot beside your right thumb
+ Step your right foot to the right about 2 -3 inches, and place your right palm on the inside of your right foot – so both hands are under your shoulders
+ Slide your left knee back until you feel a stretch in the top of your left thigh
+ To deepen the stretch, you can walk your hands forward and come down onto your elbows
+ Stay for 10 breaths, and repeat on the other side
*Tip : Some people get a better stretch if they lift their upper body, and place their hands on the front thigh – experiment and see what works best for you.
5. Ragdoll & A Shoulder Stretch
+ Stand up, and separate your feet to hip width apart
+ Bend your knees softly, and allow your upper body to round forward until your belly and thighs touch
+ Grab ahold of opposite elbows, and relax your upper body completely
+ After 5 breaths, reach your hands behind your back and interlace your fingers
+ On an inhale straighten your arms and look forward, and on an exhale fold forward again – keeping your fingers interlaced
+ Stay for another 5 breaths.
+ Release the pose, and slowly roll back up to standing
*Tip : If you have a sensitive lower back, make sure you keep a bend in your knees at all times.
Yoga is the perfect counterpart to long distance travel. Not only does it help to relieve stiff and sore muscles, but it can help to reduce jet lag, and calm any travel anxiety that you might be experiencing. The biggest tip that I can give you is to let go of worrying about what other people think. When you are on the road, you may need to practice in some very public places – and that’s ok.
The best thing you can do is to stay grounded, keep your eyes focused and thank yourself for taking care of YOU!