Long flights really do a number on our bodies. But Girls Who Travel believes that there must be a way to keep the body in good condition during a long flight so we don’t feel like zombies as soon as we step off the plane. To help, I teamed up with yogini Kerry Maiorca: co-owner and manager of Bloom Yoga Studio in Chicago.
“I think yoga’s a great, portable form of physical and mental fitness. You don’t need a lot of equipment, you don’t really need a lot of space and you don’t need any special clothes or gear to be able to do it.” Kerry equates a long flight to a long workday at a desk—you slouch, your hips pitch forward and your lower back crunches. In addition, on a plane your neck and shoulders get tense, your feet swell, and you subconsciously stop taking deep breaths on a plane because the air gets stale and stinky.
So what’s a travel sister to do? Kerry showed us how a few, simple yoga exercises in your airplane seat or hostel room can do wonders to restore your body’s natural balance and keep you in good shape for your adventures.
For in your seat
First and foremost, Kerry recommends taking a few deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Shallow breathing leads to more fatigue. Next, take off your shoes, flex and point your toes, and do circles with your ankles. This will help get the blood flowing in your lower extremities. Then, circle your shoulders forwards and backwards, inhaling as you squeeze and exhaling as you drop the shoulders.
But the hips and lower back are the major culprits in an uncomfortable flight. Try these poses in your seat to help loosen up those sore areas.
Seated cat & cow variation.
Scoot forward on your seat and sit up with your back straight:
Round your back and shoulders, drawing in your belly button and dropping your tailbone:
Slowly and gently arch your back and broaden your chest and shoulders, and repeat:
Seated Back Stretch
Simply clasp your hands and extend your arms upwards. This lengthens the trunk from the lower back all the way up to the shoulders.
Place on hand on your knee and the other on the seat behind you. Gently twist the torso and look over your shoulder. Switch sides.
Keeping on foot flat on the floor, cross one leg over the other and gently lean forward. Switch legs.
Get out of your seat!
Kerry recommends you get out of your seat and try a few poses as well. She showed us a few poses you can do, perhaps in the aisle as you’re waiting for bathroom.
Place your hands flat against the wall, put one foot a few inches from the base and the other behind you. This is a great calf stretch.
Standing hip stretch
With your hands against the wall and keeping the back flat, cross one leg over the other. For a deeper stretch, gently squat with your base leg.
Downward dog variation
Place your hands against the wall, flatten your back and stand with your legs and feet together, creating an “L” shape. You should feel the stretch through the hamstrings and calves.
Many thanks to Kerry for her terrific tips. Stay healthy, travelesses!