5 Stretches You Can Do on a Plane

15 July 2015

Call it airplane yoga if you wish. As a yoga instructor, allow me to suggest some of my favourite "flight-sanas".

Seated upward and side morning stretches

Slide your sitting bones close to the edge of your seat, and begin with taking a deep inhale, bringing both arms above your head, reaching out to the sky above the plane, creating a slight arching curve of your lower back. Keep it for three breaths. On the next inhale, bring the right arm down to touch your right knee. Inhale and reach higher with the left arm, exhale to bend the upper body to the right, keeping a respectful space between you and your neighbor. Exhale and repeat to the left side.

Seated cat and cow

Slide your sitting bones close to the edge of your seat, rest your palms lightly on your knees. Inhale and open the chest forward and upwards, curve the back and look slightly up if that feels comfortable for your neck. Exhale and slowly start rounding the spine into the other direction until your head drops, and you are looking at the belly button. Repeat this round at least five times.

Standing forward bend

Stand up take a big inhale, opening the chest, bending the knees slightly, and grabbing a stable point near you with one hand or two, to support the stability of the standing pose on a moving plane. Exhale and slowly bend forward by dropping the head first and rounding the spine vertebrae by vertebrae. When you reach your maximum forward bend, keep it for at least five relaxed breaths. On the next inhale, stabilizing your feet on the ground, come back to standing in the same manner you have entered the pose, head comes up last.

Tree pose, optional half lotus legs

Standing up tall on the inhale, on the exhale, lift your right bent leg, catch your ankle with the right hand, and place the sole of the foot to the left inner thigh, and drive the knee out to the right. Breathing naturally, keep your hands on the waist, and touch the palms together in front of your heart. If you have difficulty standing on one leg, support yourself by placing one hand onto the back of a seat. Keep it for at least five breaths, on an exhale, release the leg and repeat to the left side.

Mindful walking

Easy strolling around the isle while guiding every small step mindfully, rolling on the sole, starting at the back edge of the heel, feeling each centimeter touching then leaving the ground, finishing off by the tip of the big toe. You can also exaggerate each little movement of the feet and legs. At the same time, consciously feel your improving blood circulation in the full length of your legs. Breathe normally while enjoying your walk.

These simple yoga postures will free you from the heaviness of the body during and after your trip. They can be practiced by anyone without drawing the attention of others. When landed safely, the most convenient way to continue cultivating the lightness of the body is by connecting to Yoogaia.

Mariann Vella

First touched by the hands of yoga in 2007 back in Budapest, she has been influenced by various teachers across different countries and cultures. She did her first 200-hour teacher training in Rishikesh, India at Himalayan Yoga Academy and an intensive teacher training with Patrick Creelman at Pure Yoga Hong Kong. She likes to balance the physical effort and the more subtle work of getting in closer with who we really are.