Healthy Travel: 5 Yoga Poses To Do While In the Air

Whether your flight is a couple of hours or a long overnighter, these top 5 yoga poses will help you get through the journey.

Fight jet lag and being uncomfortable on your next flight with these yoga tips. Photo courtesy of

Fight jet lag and being uncomfortable on your next flight with these yoga tips. Photo courtesy of

Let’s face it—flying can be tough on your body. The dehydration, the small, crammed seats (even in first or business class), the inability to move freely. These are just a few reasons why once you land you can feel stiff, sore, exhausted and out of sorts. But there is help in the way of rejuvenating, body-healing yoga poses. We enlisted the help of yoga guru Ryan Leier (Global Yoga Ambassador with lululemon and Founder of One Yoga) to give us some easy-to-do yoga moves for the airplane. Here are his top tips.

“When we travel on airplanes we experience stiffness, dehydration, lethargy and spinal compression. Practising a few simple mid-flight postures and drinking lots of water will prevent jet lag, increase mental clarity and energy levels, improve circulation, and help with anxiety, making flying a much more relaxing and comfortable experience,” explains Leier.

“For all of these poses, stay alert and calm by setting your eyes on one point softly (called your Drishti) and keep a sweet flow of breath that sounds like waves coming on to shore or the hissing of a cobra (Ujjayi breathing). Take long, smooth, slow and deep inhalations and exhalations while lightly engaging your lower abdominals to stabilize your base and lift energy upwards.”

To begin, find a comfortable seated pose: either Egyptian, Vajrasana (cross-legged pose) or Sukhasana (easy pose). These poses strengthen your back and calm the mind. Some tips to make sure your seated pose is correct:

• Ground down through foundation of pose: sitting bones, legs and feet
• Organize rib cage right over pelvis
• Lift the chest up and widen the back of the body
• Relax the face, the temples, the jaw, the tongue and the contents of the brain
• Get head, neck and trunk in alignment

Pose #1: Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana or, more simply, Urdhva Hastasana (Arms Raised)

This pose is great for stretching shoulders and lower belly while relieving mild anxiety.

• Ground down through foundation of pose: your sitting bones, legs and feet
• Interlace fingers and press palms away from you
• Stabilize lower abdominals and softly draw them towards spine on exhale
• Keep front ribs softly into the body
• Extend arms fully to lengthen spine
• 3-6 breaths and switch clasp of hands

Pose #2: Modified Garunasana (Eagle Arms)

This pose stretches shoulders and upper back while also improving concentration.

• Wrap right arm under left
• Lift elbows and press wrists into each other
• Widen upper back and relax shoulders
• 3-6 breaths and switch sides

Pose #3: Parivitta Sukhasana (Spinal Twist)

This pose gives relief to the spine and improves digestion.

• Take right hand across left thigh
• Look over left shoulder
• Soften belly and twist
• Lift rib cage on each inhale, softly deepen twist on each exhale
• Take 3-6 breaths and gently switch sides

Pose #4: Paschimottanasana (Forward Bend: option to keep elbows on back of chair)

This pose relieves mild depression and stress, improves digestion, calms the brain and helps with headaches.

• Set feet hip distance or wider
• Keeping the spine long, use the inhale to lengthen the spine further and use the exhale to lift navel and fold forward
• If not enough room for torso in the seat in front of you, take elbows carefully to chair headrest in front of you
• Lengthen the spine on each inhale, lift navel and go forward on each exhale
• Relax deeply with each outgoing breath
• Hold this pose for 6-12 breaths

Pose #5: Seated pose with deep breathing pranayama once again (same as first pose)

This pose will calm the mind and help with concentration.

• Organize pelvis under rib cage
• Lift muscles along pelvic floor
• Stabilize lower abdominal region
• Lift back of skull and take chin to chest
• Keep spine alert and lifted
• Take 6-12 deep Ujjayi (same as beginning) breaths

Final Pose: Seated Savasana

Quiets the mind, reduces fatigue and relaxes body

• Take seat back as far as possible without bothering the passenger behind you
• Close and rest eyes, letting them descend into your skull
• Consciously relax from temples and forehead right down to the soles of the feet
• Allow body to breathe naturally and completely rest

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