If you are a globetrotting wanderluster like myself, the lack of sleep and hours spent in airports and on airplanes may leave you more than just a little drained. Top that off with nutrient deficient airport & airline food, stale air, lack of exercise, and the giant petri dish in the sky can be a recipe for disaster. But, with a little planning ahead you can fight back.
I keep my immune system strong with food-based vitamins and minerals. When traveling I increase complex B’s, C’s and D’s. In addition, I pack valerian root or melatonin to to help adjust from jetlag and catch some shut eye in flight. On my many trips to Asia I have been introduced to the benefits of ginseng. Ginseng is also an adaptogen, which means that it aids the body’s adjustment to unusual physical and mental stress. Essential oils are my pharmaceuticals of choice in my traveling first aid kit, from lavender wipes as a natural anti-bacterial, orange to energize and lift my spirits, and peppermint to soothe a tummy ache and clear nasal passages, just to mention a few. Most importantly I try to stay hydrated and introduce an airplane yoga practice to ease aches, pains and tension when traveling! Try these simple poses the next time you’re mile high.
1. Neck release. Inhale fully through the nostrils, mouth closed. Take a few rounds of natural breathing. Exhale, gently draw your right ear to your right shoulder, look down and gently drop your chin toward your chest. Inhale lift right ear back to right shoulder and slowly come back to center. Repeat on opposite side. Both sides are one round, repeat for a few rounds.
2. Neck & Head Circles. From center, inhale fully and exhale drop chin to chest. Inhale gazing at the tip of the nose as you move your head clockwise, lead with your nose. Be careful to move very slowly, don’t miss any little bits of release and keep head in a neutral position as much as possible. meaning not too forward and not too backward. After several circles, switch to counterclockwise. When both sides are done, come back to center and take a few rounds of natural breathing.
3. Neck stretches. Inhale, look ahead. Exhale, look right. Inhale, look ahead. Exhale, look left. Repeat.
4. Shoulder lifts. Inhale, gently raise shoulders toward your ears. Exhale, completely relax shoulders. Do a few rounds.
5. Seated side bends. Inhale, bring your palms into a prayer position, exhale. Inhale, straighten arms as you reach up overhead, keeping palms together. Exhale, draw your arms & hands to the right, ears stay between biceps as you find a nice side body stretch. Inhale, come back to center and reach up. Exhale, as you repeat on the opposite side. Do as many rounds as you like just keep it even by doing both sides.
6. Back and shoulder stretch. Interlace your fingers in front of you. Inhale, reach your hands up and overhead as you rotate your palms up toward the ceiling. Exhale, bend your elbows and place interlaced hands behind your head, as your draw your right elbow to the right. Your left elbow will come behind your head. Inhale, straighten your arms and you reach your palms toward the ceiling. Repeat with the other side.
7. Seated Cat-Cow. Place your hands on your thighs. As you inhale, draw your chest forward and your shoulders back. Look up. Exhale, round your spine and draw your shoulders forward. Look down toward your navel. Repeat 5 times.
8. Seated ankle openers. From sitting, place both feet firmly into floor. Interlace hands, place around right knee or shin. With a straight spine inhale and draw knee to chest and crown of head to ceiling. Exhale rotate right ankle clockwise, inhale and then exhale counterclockwise for a few rounds. Then inhale point & exhale flex the foot for a few rounds. Repeat with the other side. If it is too much to draw knee to chest practice as in the above photo.
9. Seated hip opener. Bend left knee and place left ankle on top of right thigh. Interlace your fingers under your right thigh. Sit up straight and draw your left knee down towards the ground using the left arm and elbow for traction. Breathe deeply here for several rounds and then switch sides. If you have more open hips you may turn this into a seated forward fold. Inhale fully and exhale completely, lead from the sternum and hinge from your hips as you fold forward. Both legs are active and feet flexed with toes drawing in. Then switch sides.
10. Seated twist. Place your right hand on your left knee and your left hand directly behind you, fingertips pointing away from you. Inhale, lengthen your spine, exhale, twist to your left, drawing your left shoulder back. Look back over your left shoulder. Repeat on the other side.
11. Seated Shavasana. Find your comfortable seat. Close your eyes and connect to your natural breathing. Breathing in and out through the nostrils, nothing controlled or forced, just observe the natural breath. When you are ready, start to breath in and out more deeply by counting 5,4,3,2,1 on each inhale and exhale for 8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1. Find the rhythm and breath count that works best or you, just make sure that the exhale is slightly longer than the inhale. Let go of any noise or other distractions and just focus on the breath and the breath count. When thoughts come to you, and they will, do not entertain them, just let them go, let them dissipate with every exhale. This can also be practiced laying down if you are that lucky on a flight.
Try Airplane Yoga and let us know how it works for you.