Without a doubt sitting on a long flight or multiple flights in one day messes with my digestion, my skin, and my overall mood. I feel bloated, sluggish, hungrier than usual, and have this overwhelming feeling of “heaviness.” Seriously, I feel like my pants magically do not fit, my skin welcomes a few new breakouts, my back is stiff, and all I want to do is move my body. Relatable?! My body, especially legs, become so sore after traveling and I feel so tight; which can be frustrating when you always want to feel like yourself if you are traveling for work or vacation. Sometimes I find it hard to shake off that feeling and it takes me a day or two to become accustomed to my new location.
I know everyone always says to drink plenty of water when flying, try not to eat on flights, and constantly walk up and down the aisle - but honestly I am always stuck in the middle seat and the more water I drink the more I have to get up but the person next to me is always sleeping.
Normally if I am traveling; I often times do not have time to take a yoga classes or squeeze in a workout; which is why I try and walk as much as I can or do a few yoga poses in the hotel room while I am there (or even on the plane (if possible!)).
The other weekend my boyfriend and I took a spontaneous trip to FLA. We woke up super early Saturday flew down, arrived by 9:30 AM and came home late Sunday evening. It threw my body for a loop; waking up that early and rushing out the door adds stress to my body. When we landed; I felt miserable and annoyed by it since we only had a short time to spend there; plus I didn’t want to complain since I felt so lucky we were able to do this. I was so tired, bloated, hungry, and my body hurt. I wish that I had taken some time to do a little stretching or yoga when we landed simply to relax my body, help with inflammation, and relief the tension in my stomach and body. Next week I am traveling again (back to FLA yay!) and I want to make sure I am prepared so I can hopefully prevent and manage this feeling!
When we travel we tend to hold a lot of tension in our hips, our low back, neck, and even shoulders! There are so many little tricks and ideas that you can do when you are sitting on the plane in your seat AND after you land; poses and stretches that will take just about 10 minutes of your time. Which isn’t long at all in the grand scheme of things!
Below I am going to share with you different poses and stretches that you can do before, after, and during the flight or while you wait for your connecting flight. No equipment needed! Sometimes, when I do just a few of these poses it motivates me a bit more to walk, do a mini run if I can, and have a more peaceful trip.
Once you get over the idea that everyone might be looking at you on the plane while you are doing this; you’ll feel more conformable and WAY better when you get off the flight.
ON THE PLANE:
Neck Rolls (moving your head side to side; ear to tops of shoulders)
Shoulder Lifts (moving your shoulders to your ears and back down again)
Seated Cat/Cow (Hands on your thighs/knees) as you inhale press your chest through your shoulders & as your exhale hug your belly in/tuck your chin to chest)
Modified Wide Leg Straddle (If you have room! Extend one leg out, roll the ankle / switch legs)
Arms Over Head (A half Mountain Pose; stretch your arms high and lengthen your spine)
Hug Knees Into Chest (Helps with low back, stretching abdominals, allowing circulation to internal organs)
Ankle Rolls: (Just as it implies, help with circulation, reduce swelling)
Seated Side Bends; (Stretch your arms above your hand and stretch to the right and the left. Helps to counteract hunching and bad posture from sitting)
EAGLE ARMS: Ideal for opening the shoulders and stretch the upper back. Cross your right arm under your left, crossing at elbows and again at the wrists (or bring your palms to opposite shoulders for a more gentle stretch, then switch sides.
OFF THE PLANE:
1. SUPTA BADDHA POSE (BUTTERFLY POSE). In a seated position, bring the soles of your feet to touch. Lengthen your spin, arms down by your side or on your thighs. After your legs have been crunched together all flight, your hips become tight. This opens your hips, stretches your inner thighs and sitting up tall helps to lengthen and stretch your back. Stay here for a minute or two either sitting upright or folding forward if your sitting bones do not lift up.
2. LEGS UP THE WALL. This is my favorite pose to allow circulation travel back through my body as well as help calm my mind. When we sit for longer periods of time our lower half / ankles can swell, this pose helps relief that. Simply lay down on your back, move up as close as you can to the wall, and allow your legs to float above you resting on the wall space. (You can even do this in bed against your bed frame if you have trouble sleeping!).
3. SUPPORTED BRIDGE POSE: Helps to open your chest, your heart, and back. Sitting for a few hours on a plane can cause for some funky seating and a compromised back. For this pose you may need to grab a pillow or a few books to place underneath your tailbone. As you lay on your back begin to tuck your feet a little closer to your tailbone and then lift your low back and shoulders away from the floor. Press your feet into the ground firmly and breath.
4. CRESCENT LUNGE: Standing with your feet together, take a big step forward (right or left first), in a staggered stance. Bend your front knee (knee stacked over ankle), hips square to the front, extend arms toward ceiling. Hold for a few breathes and switch sides. This will help stretch your quads and hip flexors. To modify, you can place your back knee down on the floor and place your hands on top of your front thigh.
5. SUPINE PIGEON (Laying down or on your back; figure four). Modified version is to lay down on your back, feet flat on the floor, cross your left food over your right quad. Lift your right leg off the floor and grab the back of your right thigh and gently pull towards your chest. Hold and breath then switch sides. This will help stretch your outer hip muscles as well as your glute muscles.
6. LOCUST POSE: Help stretch / lengthen your spine as well as your hamstrings. Lie face down with your arms long by your sides, palms down, and fingertips reaching towards your feet. As you inhale, lift your forehead, chest, legs, and arms slightly away from the ground. Gaze slightly down maintaining a long neck with your spine. I usually hold for 3-5 breathes and then repeat 2-3x.
7. . SUPINE TWIST;
Not only does it feel amazing on my cramping stomach, but also helps with improving tension in my low back. After sitting on a plane our backs can feel pinched and almost as if it needs to be cracked. Lay down on your back, hug your knees into your chest, extend your left leg long and cross your right knee over your body towards the left. Repeat on left leg. You can also take a modified version and simply send both of your knees towards the right and then towards the left. Relax your shoulders into the ground and your arms long towards the side.
8. SUN A; a simple sun A can be completely energizing for your body and stretch just about everything! Sometimes I like to do this in the morning to wake up or in the afternoon if I am hitting a wall. If you are new to yoga or need a refresher, this is a great visual to look at:
SUN A SEQUENCE I typically do this sequence 2-3x; adding or taking anything away.
After you land, check in to where you are staying just take about 10 minutes to do a few of these poses. Not only will it help relieve any tension in your body but will help calm down your stressed mind and help you feel a bit more grounded. I always feel a bit better after moving for a few minutes and the best part about these poses is you do not need any equipment, can do them in your hotel room, at the airport, or the hotel gym!
Last week I wrote on a different topic; 8 yoga moves to do when it is is the time of the month! When I was traveling that weekend with my boyfriend, that was happening + sitting for long periods of time; so it was not the most ideal situation!