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Yoga for Travel

As travel plans for the holidays are finalized, we at Adeline Yoga want to remind you how helpful your yoga practice can be at easing stress, pain and discomfort experienced during long periods of sitting and inactivity. Yoga can also mitigate some effects of jet lag (and has the added benefit of keeping you feeling good during extended family time!). Travel time might not strike you as the most obvious time to practice, but keeping up with your practice while you’re in transit will be beneficial.  A little yoga can help you feel like your best self!

Surya Namaskar statue at New Delhi Airport in India. [Photo from Wikimedia Commons]
Many airports now have “Reflection Rooms” that function as spaces for quietness and prayer; these rooms could be a good place to practice.  Some airports – including San Francisco’s – actually do have a yoga room. If your airport has neither, tuck yourself away into a boarding gate that is not being used.  As you know, a chair can be an extremely useful prop.

When you can practice outside, do! The fresh air and sun will revive you. Light is the most important contributor to getting your biorhythms back on track. Also remember to drink lots of water! Finally, check back in soon for another piece on Ayurvedic tips for traveling.

Asana-wise, here are some of the best poses to practice while you’re traveling.

Inversions: Headstand, shoulderstand, bridge pose, and having your legs up on the wall can help increase blood flow and balance your brain.

Supta Virasana: This pose rebalances the fluid in your legs and releases your chest from all of the caving in it did while you were sitting.

Supported backbends, including Viparita Dandasana: These poses can be done over chairs in the lobbies of an airport or your hotel. They help open the chest.

Hip openers: This category includes all the standing positions; they will help release the strain of sitting. Focus especially on Virabhadrasana (Warrior) I and II.

Standing twists: twists reboot the lower level waste management systems. You could also try doing seated twists while you’re sitting in a chair or on the floor.

Adho Mukha Svanasana: Get creative — Adho Mukha Svanasana can be done with a strap tied to a door knob in your hotel.

Mr. Iyengar developed a specific set of poses adapted to the constraints of travel. Some of them are a little funny to imagine doing, particularly in Economy class!

Virasana – on the seat on the plane

Supta Virasana – on bolster

Adho Mukha Virasana – blankets or bolster under abdomen. Rest head, arms, etc. Notice the effects: the groins soften, and the ribcage relaxes. Can be done on the plane placing head on the tray table.

Padmasana – on the seat on the plane

Supta Padmasana – strap around legs, or Ardha Padmasana, strap thigh to shin. 3 minutes/side.

Baddha Konasana – on the seat on the plane

Supta Baddha Konasana – over bolster, head supported. 5 minutes.

Uttanasana – 3 minutes. This is a great pose for the plane!

Adho Mukha Svanasana – Head supported for 3 minutes. This can be done on the plane if there is space.

Sirsasana – 7 min then variations:

  1. Parsva Sirsasana
  2. Baddhakonasana
  3. Upavistha Konasana
  4. Adho Mukha Virasana

Rope 1 – 8 times slowly to open shoulders and release neck

Viparita Dandasana – on chair, crown of head on bolster, legs parallel to floor, feet on wall, arms rest overhead or hold back chair legs. Place hands on abdomen if nauseated or flushed. 5 minutes.

Malasana – on chair

  1. Straddle/sit on chair, facing back of chair. Press buttocks back press chest to chair back/bar
  2. Sit on chair, facing forward. Rest crown of head on blanket or bolster. Hold back chair legs.

Rest frontal ribcage on seat of chair.

Niralamba Sarvangasana

Salamba Sarvangasana – 10 minutes, interchanging the arms

Halasana – 5 minutes, hands overhead

Sarvangasana – variations:

  1. Virasana
  2. Setubandha – one leg to touch floor then go back up. Repeat/other leg. Then both legs together. Hold, then…
  3. Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
  4. Viparita Karani (if time is not available then drop 1. and 2.)

Forward extensions with eyes wrapped

Paschimottanasana – 5 minutes with legs apart and head on a bolster

Savasana – keep eyes wrapped. Back of the chest on one pillow and bolster on the head (like a weight for the forehead).

Want a jet lag sequence for beginners? Check out this sequence from our Australian colleagues at Yoga Vastu.

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