5 Yoga Poses for Long Flights

If you’ve done any bit of travelling, you have noticed how your body reacts to the stiff mould the airplane seat creates. Some passengers fall asleep before the plane even leaves the ground while sitting upright might cause some to remain restless. This restlessness can make us irritable mentally as well as physically. Luckily, yoga is the perfect tool, even in these “tight” situations.

When our flight attendant friend, Sasha Snow, was asked about yoga and her busy schedule in the sky, she said, “There’s something to be said for holding stretches for long periods after a day of non-stop rushing. Definitely helps get me back in the present moment.”

We’ve put together a list of five poses that have helped distress our mind and body while we excitedly anticipate our destination. We asked one of our Yoga Instructors from our Nicaragua Surf Trip, Sally Rubin, to demonstrate them clearly, so you can start benefiting from them on your next trip. These would be especially helpful for those of you who are travelling long distances, like to our Bali Surf Trip destination!

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#1 Seated Pigeon Pose.

Yoga for Long Flights

There are many variations for Pigeon Pose that can enhance benefits at different levels. In this particular variation, you can be in a seated position in an airport, on an airplane or any tight position you might find yourself in.

While seated, hook the outside of your right ankle on top of the left knee, keeping your foot flexed. On an exhale, gently press downward on the inside of your right knee to feel the stretch on the outer hip. You can stay upright or begin to lean forward over your legs slowly. You may also add a twist to this pose by pressing your right forearm into the sole of your right foot. Again, on an exhale, press into the foot and spin to the left. Switch sides.

#2 Seated Spinal Twist.

Yoga for Long Flights

Similar to Seated Pigeon Pose, the Seated Spinal Twist is one you’ve probably done without even thinking about yoga! This pose takes the hip opener out and simply focuses on the twist throughout your spine. You can do this pose virtually anywhere at any time. There are many different variations for this pose, but in airplane seats, we recommend a basic, yet effective, version. This will aid in digestion, bloating and stimulating blood flow to your vital organs. It will also help enhance your energy levels!

While seated, simply take your left hand to the outside of your right knee. Keeping both of your hips evenly placed on the seat, take an exhale and twist your mid-back to the right side, shoulders becoming parallel with your legs. Twist your neck to look over your right shoulder. Switch sides.

#3 Eagle Arms.

Yoga for Long Flights

This arm modification is often practiced with either full Eagle pose or Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose). Both full asanas have differing leg variations, with the same arm variation.

This pose will help stretch shoulders, armpits and triceps and can remedy insomnia and asthma as it opens the back up for better breathing. Be sure to restrict your body as needed if you have serious neck or shoulder problems.

#4 Neck Rolls.

Yoga for Long Flights

Neck rolls are another basic practice that we’ve all done without an association to yoga. In this particular case, it’s best to avoid force on your neck after it’s been tense from carrying backpacks and from when you accidentally fall asleep with your head dangling forward. We’ve all been there.

While sitting, let your head fall to the right side using its own weight and gravity. Slow your breathing and feel the left side begin to release. Switch sides. You can also stretch the back of your neck by doing the same practice while your head hangs forward.

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#5 Legs Up the Wall.

Yoga for Long Flights

This pose seems almost impossible for the in-flight portion of your travels, but it can do wonders on your swollen feet, ankles and legs after long flights. If you’re waiting for a long period of time at baggage claim or when you arrive at your destination, take a few minutes to counter the swelling by putting your feet up the wall. It also calms the mind and relieves stress – a common feeling while travelling.

Sit sideways to the wall, pressing the side of your right hip to the wall. Lay your back to the ground and slide your feet up the wall. This method ensures your closeness to the wall to form an L-shape. You can lay your arms to your side or place one on your heart and one on your lower belly. This can bring awareness to your breathing. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply.

All photos featuring one of our yoga instructors in Nicaragua, Sally Rubin, 500hr ERYT + 200 hr Yoga Teacher Trainer. You can read more about her and see her schedule here!

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