Yoga on the Go Admit it. Nobody likes being stuck in the middle of a five-seat row for 10 hours. Or being crammed between a wall and an unusually large passenger for 16 hours. Planes aren’t known for offering passengers very many comfortable positions, and those get old fast. Most travelers chalk up surviving a tedious flight to sheer force of will. But traveling doesn’t have to be this way. Brittany Andrews, owner of the Yoga Underground studio in Provo, Utah, and yoga instructors Michelle Barnum and Alissa McNaughton share some simple exercises with Stowaway readers that not only help make traveling bearable but also help both mind and body relax on the go. In Your Seat Breathe. One of the simplest ways to relax in a stressful situation is to become conscious of your breath. Yoga focuses on breathing because your breath helps you clear your mind and focus on your body. “It helps circulation. It helps energy levels. Breath is just everything,” says McNaughton. “In very tense situations, I have slowed down my breath, focused on it, and gone inside rather than lashing outward.” Try lengthening your breaths. Start by counting to four on each inhale and exhale, and then increase the length of your breaths until you get to seven or eight counts on each one. As you do the rest of these exercises, remember to focus on your breath. It will make the stretches much more effective. Open hips and chest. This is one of Barnum’s favorite stretches to do from a sitting position. As you sit, put one ankle on the opposite knee. Sit up straight, put your hands on your knees, and push your chest forward, bending at the hips like a hinge instead of rounding your shoulders or your back. Your shoulder blades will come closer together behind you.
Out of Your Seat Fold forward. Forward folds are simple and effective for loosening the neck and lower back. Think back to elementary school PE, where all you had to do to prove your flexibility was touch your toes. While standing, bend over and grab your toes, or grab your elbows, or let your arms hang down. Or while bending over, interlace your fingers behind you and straighten your arms; then let them fall toward your head. You can also shake your head yes and no to loosen your neck. Open chest. You’d be surprised what the smallest stretch can do. “Chest openers are important because they’re really invigorating,” says Barnum. “They’ll breathe life back into you.” Stand with your feet parallel to each other, hip-distance apart. Bring your fists to your lower back. On inhales push your chest toward the ceiling, and on exhales arch your back. Stretch legs and hips. Lunges are the most active exercises to do on a plane; they’ll also require the biggest devil-may-care attitude toward your plane-mates. While lunging, you can stay in place, move up and down the aisles, or if your plane—and self-confidence—is big enough, move around the center grouping of seats. For variety, you can keep the back heel up, with your weight on the balls of your foot, or you can plant it down, getting a more intense hip stretch. You can put your arms straight up or interlace your fingers above or behind you. If you feel self-conscious, just adopt this philosophy shared by Andrews: “I knew when others were watching that they were probably just really jealous that they hadn’t thought of it.” Don’t be afraid to get out of your seat and enjoy your flight. —Kathryn Brinton Word count: 592, 736 w/ sidebar Sidebar: Yoga on the Go Courtesy
Doing yoga on the plane isn’t an excuse to be out of your seat the whole flight. You should be able to do these exercises in about 10 minutes. Here are a few tips on how to be courteous while doing yoga on the plane.
Be aware of those around you. Don’t invade the personal space of other travelers, and stay out of the way of flight attendants.
If the fasten seatbelt light is on, don’t get up to do yoga. Period.
If you choose to do yoga in the bathroom for privacy’s sake, don’t take a lot of time. Others probably need that space more than you do.
Be aware of what you’re wearing. “If you’re wearing a dress or a skirt,” says Barnum, “please don’t do these things.”