Living abroad, being addicted to traveling, or a very demanding traveling job causes you to be in airplanes, buses and taxi’s more than you would want. And even if you don’t travel that often, we all know that feeling after a long flight: you have a lack of sleep, a stiff neck, lower back pain and you are suffering from the lack of blood flow in the legs. And on top of that, you smell, like you have spent too much time in a not well-ventilated space (which you have!).
As a yoga teacher I always feel like I should be doing some poses on the plane, but let’s get real: there is no space, it is awkward and you are disturbing your fellow travellers. So besides a few stretches when you go to the toilet, turning your head and rolling your shoulders, not much movement is happening.
Not to worry – perfect time to actually do yoga is when you get off the flight. And I hear you think: taxi is waiting to bring me straight to my client, friends and family are eager to come and pick me up, I am not at my destination yet and have to figure out my next bus ride, train or flight.
Well, doing some after travel yoga doesn’t have to take long. Couple of minutes is enough. Instead of checking your emails, take 5 minutes in your hotel room to move around, take a few extra minutes before you shower and freshen up or find a spot in the corner of the airport (most airports nowadays have a yoga space) before you continue your travels.
Below is a suggested sequence for when you do find those 5 minutes!
Pictures 1,4 & 7 create energy in the body to battle your lack of sleep.
Pictures 5, 6, 7 & 8 focus on your stiff neck after falling asleep in a crooked way
Pictures 5, 7, 8 & 9 help the lower back to loosen up after sitting for hours.
Pictures 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5 restore the blood flow in the legs, making them feel strong and energized again.
Some basis rules when you perform the poses:
- Make long, deep and controlled breathes through your nose. Focus on your breath going in and out while being in a posture. Try to make your exhale slightly longer then your inhale. Stay in a pose for at least 3 cycles of inhales and exhales.
- Let your breath initiate a movement. Inhale is a movement upwards, exhale is a movement downwards or a twist.
- Work both sides of your body. Do every posture on the right side and then switch to the left.
- While you’re in a standing pose always check your front knee. When it is bent, it makes a 90-degree angle with your ankle; however, it should never go over your ankle.
- There is NO pose in yoga where we have our shoulders close to our ears. So when you are settled in a pose, always pay attention to your shoulders. Roll them backwards and down.
If you need further instructions with the poses, see below:
Picture 1: Urdhva Hastasana
Upward Salute pose. With an inhale come up from Uttanasana. Keep your back straight while coming up. Align the movement and speed of your body with the breath. Bring your palms together over your head and on a next inhale make a small backward bend. If you want you can keep the pose for 2-3 cycles of breath.
Picture 2: Virabhadrasana II
Warrior 2 pose. Turn your back foot to a 45-degree angle. Open your hips towards the side. Roll your shoulders down and back. Look over your front hand. Stay for at least 3 cycles of breath.
Picture 3: Utthita Trikonasana
Extended triangle pose. Straighten your front leg. Have your torso similar to the Warrior 2 pose. Bring your body weight forward. Bring your arm down towards your leg. Either grab your thigh, lower part of the leg or ankle. Make sure your torso is parallel with your front leg. Stay for at least 3 cycles of breath.
Picture 4: Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Bridge pose. Lay down on your back, knees are up, feet are hip distance apart. Measure the positioning of your legs by bringing your arms next to your body; the tip of your middle finger needs to just barely touch your heel. Then interlace your fingers behind your back. Push your hips up as far as you can, roll your shoulders together. Breathe into your chest.
Picture 5: Salamba Sarvangasana
Shoulder stand. Lay down on your back. Palms are facing down on the mat. Bring your knees into your chest. With the force of your hands push your hips off the floor. Place your hands in your back. Straighten your legs upright. Walk your hands closer to your shoulders blades. Stay here; wait until you can breath properly. If gravity is pulling you down, walk your hands closer to your shoulder blades and give yourself a lift. Stay for a minimum of 10 cycles of breath.
Picture 6: Matsyasana
Fish pose. Lay down on your back. Place your hands under your hips, palms facing down. Breathe into your chest and bring it up. Place the top of your head on the mat. Make sure the weight is on your hips and not on your head. Stay for a minimum of 5 breath cycles.
Picture 7: Salabhasana
Locust pose. Start by having your whole body on the mat. Bring your arms back. On the inhale take both your arms and legs up. If this is too much to begin with, then start with only taking your chest off the mat. Second time only the legs. And third time both the chest (arms) and the legs.
Picture 8: Reclining twist
Reclining twist pose. Lay on your back. Arms are out in a cross. Bring your knees towards your chest. Make a 90-degree angle with your hips and your knees and knees and ankle. Move your legs to the right, look to the left; keep both shoulders on the mat. If you want you can place your right hand on your knees, to add extra pressure.
Picture 9: Release pose.
Release pose. Lay down on your back. Bring your knees into your chest. Place your hands over your knees. Make small clockwise circles. Make them bigger as you go. Come back to the middle and change direction. This pose helps you to release tension from your lower back, by massaging it.