Plane-friendly yoga practice

You’d be forgiven for thinking that yoga is something that requires a mat, lots of space and a stretchy pair of pants. A devoted yogi myself for the past five years, the interesting thing about yoga is it’s as much about your breathing and mind as much as it is about the poses themselves.

While it may seem ridiculous at first, a plane, particular on a long-haul flight, is actually the perfect opportunity to practise some yoga. Not only will it calm and relax you, so much so you may be able to get some sleep, but it will also help to combat the issues that come from being squashed into a seat for prolonged periods of time.

Here are four poses you can try on your next flight – consider the plane your studio in the sky!

Neck stretches
Sit up tall in your seat and drop your left ear to your left shoulder. Wrap your left arm around the right side of your head, gently touching your right cheek. Breathe deeply. Release the left arm back down to your side and very slowly roll your head forward, bringing your chin towards your chest or left armpit. Stay here for at least eight deep breaths before repeating on the right-hand side.

Seated Spinal Twist
Sit up straight at the front of your seat with your feet flat on the floor about hip distance apart. Take a deep breath in and place your right hand on your left knee and your left hand on the seat just behind your left hip. Slowly twist so you are looking over your left shoulder. Continue to breathe deeply, each time you exhale twisting slightly further to deepen the stretch. Take eight to 10 deep breaths and then do the same on your right side.

illustration of girl doing yoga on a plane

Seated Cat/Cow Pose
Stay sitting on the edge of your seat with your knees and ankles in line with your hips. Place your hands on your thighs and as you inhale tilt your pelvis and abdomen outward, allowing your chest to arch up and forwards. Look up as you do this, being careful to protect your neck – this is the ‘cat’ element on this pose.

On the exhale, curl your pelvis inwards, arching your spine outwards. Draw your belly button into your spine and lower your chin to towards your chest – this is the ‘cow’ part. Using your breath, repeat this sequence at least five times.

Modified Pigeon Pose
Still sitting in the same position, bring the heel of your left foot and place in on top of your left knee. Flex the foot – this protects your back. If you can’t feel anything or are looking for a stronger stretch, move the left foot closer to your body. Breathe deeply and hold for at least one minute – the longer you hold this pose for the more tension you will relieve from your hip and lower back. Repeat on your right side.

Always practice these poses with great care and be gentle – don’t force your body if it doesn’t want to go any further. If you have any medical or health conditions you should consult your doctor before trying out the above.

Do you do any stretches while flying? Why not share your tips with our members?

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Written by SJ

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