My name is Terri, and I write a yoga blog at FindingDrishti.com. Since Road Warriorette and I share yoga-ing, traveling and now mommy-ing in common, she asked me to write a guest post while she is snuggling and bonding with her new baby. Being a seasoned business traveler myself, I began my yoga practice around the time when my airline miles became more important to me, which is by no coincidence AT ALL.
5 Go-to Postures to Undo Plane Stiffness
Unless you have loads of upgrades to sit first class every time, you’re probably back in coach with your knees hitting the seat in front of you, your neighbor’s elbow encroaching in your space, and your body horribly slouched to find a comfortable position. By the time you get off the plane, your back and your legs feel pretty wrecked. (Same goes for super long flights and delays.)
A yoga session provides the perfect relief. It gets the blood moving and brings your body back to the length it was pre-flight. All you need are some common hotel items as makeshift props as noted and a clean surface. These are my favorite postures to do when I feel cramped and stiff after a flight.
1. Upward-facing dog. The chest-opening action of upward dog pulls your shoulder blades together on your back and creates length from your head down through your spine. The key to undoing some of the “crunch” along the vertebrae is to press into your hands and lift your knees off the ground, as pictured. Keep lengthening, pulling shoulders away from the ears, and you may even feel some nice “pops” along your spine as gravity gently pulls down your hips. Opening the chest also counterbalances slouching.
2. Supine twist. The opposing action of arm/head in one direction and leg twisting in the other while lying down is seriously yummy along the back and through the mid-section. Make sure to do both sides evenly. This twist can also help with any indigestion and bloating you may feel post-flight (and post-airport food).
3. Supported legs up the wall. This is a good one to do especially for any swelling in your feet or ankles. The safest way to get into this posture is by rolling “up” into it. Get situated with your rear against a wall (or the headboard if you prefer to lie in bed), lying with both legs out to one side. Place a pillow or rolled up bath towels next to your hips. Then, roll onto your back so your legs go up the wall, and shift the support items until they are directly under your hips and pelvis. Breathe.
4. Cobbler pose aka baddha konasana. Your hips need a break after all the sitting required for air travel, waiting in the terminal and the cab ride to your destination. Find a comfortable seated position, bottoms of the feet together and knees separated out. Place a towel under you if you need a bit more cushion. Relax your legs and hips toward the ground. Whether you sit straight up or fold forward, cobbler pose does wonders for easing open tight hips. If you want a deeper stretch, open your feet with your hands as if they were pages of a book.
5. Happy baby. As goofy as this posture looks, it’s an amazing massage for your back while also opening up your hips. The key is to pull your feet in toward your body and then rocking gently side to side.
And there you have it. These 5 postures hit all the major sore spots that tend to hurt the most from air travel: back, shoulders, hips, legs and chest. So the next time you get off the plane feeling stiff and achy, look to these postures to get your body back to a happy place.