Yoga Poses & Advice for Frequent Flyers

Former Bay Street lawyer turned yogi Laura Baron of Yoga Be, shares her top poses for stressed out travellers.

Laura Baron of Yoga Be strikes a pose. Photography courtesy Yoga Be.

Laura Baron of Yoga Be strikes a pose. Photography courtesy Yoga Be.

Opening in Toronto’s PATH this July 2014, Yoga Be is the city’s first and only downtown yoga studio. We had the opportunity to chat with founder Laura Baron, a former Bay Street lawyer turned yogi, who had shares some poses that would be perfect for frequent travellers, workaholics, and for those of you who don’t think they’d like the practice, why they should give it a try.

What would you say to someone who has never practiced yoga, why they should consider trying it? 

The benefits of yoga are truly endless! You’ll not only improve your health and fitness — with sustained practice you will feel happier, calmer, and more resilient to the challenges that life throws your way. You don’t need to be fit or flexible to practice yoga, all you need is a willingness to begin. So don’t be intimidated — we were all beginners once — even your yoga instructor had a first class! Start from where you are — you will see the benefits in your fitness, your state of mind, and your whole health.

Any of us who work at a computer could definitely benefit from the Computer Back class! Any mid-day move you can suggest for workaholics out there?

During my years on Bay street, I used a modified “desk dog” almost every day to cure the mid-day blahs at the office.  Here’s how to do it!

1. Moving aside your chair, take the edge of your desk with your hands, shoulder-width apart, and stretch your arms straight so your body, back and arms form a right angle with your legs. Keep your head and neck in-line with your arms, and your gaze towards your feet.

2. Place your feet hip-distance apart. Bend your legs as much as needed so there’s no discomfort in your hamstrings.

3. Using your grip on your desk to feel anchored through your shoulders and back, activate your core muscles by drawing your navel in towards your spine.

4. Take three deep breaths. On each inhalation, visualize drawing up and back through your hips, to create more length in your spine from the crown of your head all the way to your sit bones. On each exhalation, visualize the weight of your head bringing your back and arms into a perpendicular line with the floor.

This pose will stretch out the hamstrings (especially great for high heel-wearers), the glutes, and the entire spine. As an inversion (i.e. any pose where your head is lower than your hips), the desk dog will encourage your circulation, improving digestion and mental clarity. In other words, this is the perfect pick me up after your lunch break, to send you sailing into your afternoon and beyond!

What yoga class would you recommend for a frequent flyer?

Frequent flying can disrupt the body’s natural rhythms, causing jet lag and digestive problems, not to mention back, neck and shoulder pain. So I would recommend any class that includes a vinyasa component (where flowing sequences of movement are synchronized with the breath), to increase strength, flexibility and circulation, and a restorative component where poses are held for longer periods, activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for regulating and stimulating the body’s “rest-and-digest” functions.

What’s a good pose to do when you’re stuck in your seat on the airplane or waiting in the airport?

There has been a ton of compelling research that has come out recently about the negative health effects of sitting for prolonged periods of time. And, particularly on long distance flights, studies have indicated that sitting can increase the risk of DVT (deep vein thrombosis) originating in the legs. A great pose to do during air travel is a gentle standing backbend, which will open up the whole front body, ironing out the kinks in the hips and chest from being seated, and encouraging circulation in the legs. Here’s how to do it! Remember to only go as far as feels comfortable and safe for your body.

1. Find a stable standing position with your feet approximately hip distance apart. Take a moment to visualize your spine getting longer, lifting up from your pelvis to the crown of your head, and your shoulders relaxing down away from your ears.

2. Place the heels of your hands on your low back, with your fingertips pointing down to the ground.

3. On your next inhalation, pressing gently into your low back with your hands, and pressing gently forward with your hips, lift up through your chest and look up towards the ceiling any amount.

4. Stay here for three deep breaths. On each inhalation visualize the front side of your body getting even taller and longer.  On each exhalation imagine your chest lifting up more and your shoulders relaxing further away from your ears.

This pose is great for opening up the hip flexors, chest and shoulders, which can get scrunched from long periods of sitting during air travel.  As an extra bonus, backbends like this one are great energizers. Doing this pose will give you an instant hit of energy and focus.

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