Frequent air travel may be a part of your lifestyle and business routine. However, that routine can take a serious toll on your body. Even after one flight, your body can experience a sore neck, tight hips and hip flexors, and tender low back.
One of the best things you can do for your body before a flight to prevent those body aches is to stretch. I’ve been teaching yoga for ten years now and traveling frequently for the past four. In those four years, I’ve been able to apply a lot of my knowledge about yoga, self-healing, and health to create greater resilience to travel.
Do the following seven yoga poses before a flight to feel more at ease, pain-free and energized once you land.
1. ELBOW TO KNEE
From a tabletop position, have your shoulders stacked over your wrists, and hips over your knees. Extend opposites, right arm straight out in front, and left leg straight out behind you. Keep your neck neutral. Breathe, inhale; on the exhale, draw your elbow towards your knee. Inhale, extend back out to full length.
Repeat 10 times, then switch sides and repeat.
2. STANDING SHOULDER STRETCH
From a standing position, have a soft bend in both knees. Either grabbing opposite elbows (if shoulder flexibility is limited) or interlace your hands, bend forward and allow the arms to come away from your back. Keep a relaxed neck and decompress your spine with every exhale.
The distance of your arms or hands will depend on your shoulder flexibility. Without force, just breathe and let the work of gravity open your body with ease. Hold 5-10 breaths.
3. LOW LUNGE
Step one foot forward and lower your back knee to the mat, carpet or floor. Untuck the back toes, raise the arms up overhead and extend long through your fingertips towards the ceiling. Breathing, allow the hips to drop slightly closer towards the floor with each full inhale and exhale.
Hold for 5 breaths, then switching sides.
4. SIDE INNER HIP STRETCH
Facing out wide, turn your toes slightly in, and heels outward. Bend into your right knee, keeping your left leg straight. Ground down through the outer edge of your leg food like a blade into the floor, scooping your foot in towards the centerline of your body.
Keeping your right knee stacked over your right ankle, and either place your hands to the floor beneath you for support with a straight spine or keep them in prayer at heart’s center.
Hold for 5 breaths, then switch to the other side.
5. LUNGE WITH SPINAL TWIST
Set up similarly to the low lunge (see number three) with the right leg forward, but keep the back knee off the ground in the one. Engage the back extended left leg, placing a strong line of energy from the back heel through the crown of your head.
Place the left hand to the ground, rotate open towards the right, and extend long through your right fingertips. Inhale, extending through the crown of the head, exhale twist from the core.
Hold 5 breaths, switching sides.
6. RECLINING PIGEON POSE
Coming on to your back, bend both knees, placing the feet towards the floor. Cross your right ankle over your left knee, keeping the right foot flexed. Grounding the back of your head and shoulders with ease towards the floor or mat under you, if your hips allow, bring the legs in towards your chest.
Weave the left arm through the space of your legs, creating a clasp of the hands behind the thigh. Energetically, draw your right knee out in front of you.
Breathe 5-10 repetitions, repeating on the other side.
7. LOW SQUAT
With your feet slightly wider than hip-distance — or the distance of a mat — bend into your knees and lower your hips and butt towards the floor. Depending on the flexibility of your hips and spine, come down as far as your back will allow, without bending into your spine.
In this pose, it’s ok if the heels lifted away from the floor! Keep the focus on extending the spine, breathing and finding a bit of ease in a pose that you can have a lot of fun with. The low squat is really healing for your hips and spine for flying!
Hold for 10 breaths, and laugh in the case you tip backward.
Next time, before you fly, add some stretches to your travel routine. These can be best practiced, either in your hotel room or gym, at your own home or office, in an airport yoga room, or even an empty gate at the airport.
Sara Quiriconi is bullbird's resident Travel Wellness Expert. As a leader and entrepreneur in the Travel Wellness sector, Sara Quiriconi takes wellness, travel and creativity to another level. Basing her empowering content and message on her previous struggles with mental health issues, addictions and overcoming cancer, Sara's Live Free Warrior approach is real, authentic and relatable for any Wellness Warrior.