Long flights can be exhausting, in fact, even short flights can be exhausting. Travel is fantastic, however, traveling to and from that beautiful destination can take a major toll on your body. I find my whole body just aches and I’m so restless and uncomfortable on flights, especially long, multi-day ones.
Yoga has been a part of my life for quite a few years now and it has seriously been a game changer for me. Not only is it one of my main forms of exercise, but it also has helped calm my mind, and helped me be more mindful and in tune with my body.
On a long flight, your body is going through all sorts of things including bloating and swelling from not moving around that much, and from the air pressure. Plus, your circulation just goes to shit with the crammed seats, that’s why I wanted to create this post to share with you some stretching you can do before, during and after a flight to help get your moving, and your blood flowing, so your body isn’t screaming for help! I teamed up with one of my best friends, Asal Azghadi, who is a yoga teacher here in Toronto and the GTA to share her tips and poses that you can do to help keep your body happy.
Before the flight
Wide legged forward fold (Prasarita Padottanasana I)
This pose stretches and strengthens your hamstrings, calves, hips, low back and spine. So many benefits loaded into this pose and perfect for getting your blood flowing through all of these muscles pre-flight.
Forward fold (Uttanasana)
Another benefit-loaded pose, forward fold stretches your hips, hamstrings and calves, while strengthening your thighs and knees. It helps reduce pre-flight stress, and anxiety while soothing your mind and nerves.
Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Pigeon poses helps relieve back pain, and releases built up stress, trauma, fear and anxiety. Seriously though, I’ve been in a yoga class after a stressful day and getting into the pose I can almost feel my emotions ready to pore out!
Seated twists (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Flights can be incredibly shitty for digestion with the air pressure combined with being stuck in a seat for hours. This pose can help improve digestion, as well as the processing of the liver and kidneys.
Seated cow face (Gomukhasana)
This pose helps stretch the back, loosen stiffness in your shoulders, and reduces backaches. Practicing this pose pre-flight can help reduce the stress and anxiety that often comes with flying.
The eagle pose builds stronger arms, legs, knees and ankles. It helps open your shoulder joints and hips, and increases circulation to all your joints, as well as digestion. Perfect before a flight!
During the flight
High lunge (Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana)
You’re probably wondering how on earth you pull this off on a plane but that’s what the aisles are for! When you’re walking to the bathroom stretch out your legs in a high lunge or two. This pose will help stimulate your abdominal organs and is great for indigestion. I always feel so bloated on planes!
Seated twist (Sukhasana)
Another seated twist that is easy to know in your airplane seat. This pose will stretch out your spine, calm your mind and kick out flight anxiety and stress!
Thread the needle (Sucirandhrasana)
This pose in a seated position will help your external range of motion and lengthen your hip flexors. It’ll feel so damn good on the plane because you often hold a ton of tension in your hips and usually we neglect our hips when it comes to stretching!
Stretch out that neck on the plane. Y0u’re often so stiff and uncomfortable while flying and this will help loosen the tension held in your neck. Lightly pull your head to each shoulder throughout the flight!
Seated cat/cow (Upavistha Marjaryasana)
This pose often done on your hands and knees can also be done seated. This pose will help stimulate your organs and relieve lower back pain. It can also help alleviate anxiety symptoms.
Roll out those ankles to help increase circulation while on the plane. Lots of people experience ankle swelling on the plane, and rolling those babies out can help!
Keeping with the rolling trend, shoulder rolls can help alleviate stress and tension that we hold in our shoulders. It also helps improve circulation to these joints and if you haven’t been able to tell yet, improving circulation on a flight is so so so important!
Straighten one leg, hug other
Especially as someone with super long legs, a flight can be so uncomfortable. My legs get restless and so stiff. Stretches like this one on both sides can help with that stiffness and also prepare me for once I land in my destination!
Both knees in
This exercise releases tight muscles in the hips and lower back, opens the spinal joints and improves flexibility!
After the flight
Downward dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Downward dog has sooooo many great benefits. First off, it’ll calm your brain which is usually pretty groggy after a long flight. Also, it helps energize your body which you’ll likely need from the lack of sleep you’re running on!
This pose releases stress, plus it can help balance your emotions. I find landing in a new destination, especially jet lagged can be incredibly overwhelming. A few rounds of cat/cow can help calm your mind!
Stretch out those feet after sitting so uncomfortably for hours. This is a great pose to get those muscles working in your feet that you haven’t used for hours!
Butterfly (Baddha Konasana)
The butterfly pose will help stimulate your organs now that you’ve landed. It’ll help with your circulation and heart health, plus will help relieve you from mild fatigue and anxiety you may have post-flight.
Garland pose (Malasana)
Malasana is one of my favourite poses because it feels so good on your hips and groin. This pose also stretches your ankles, hamstrings, back and neck. If that isn’t enough goodness, it aids in digestion too!
What are your favourite stretches for before, during, or after a flight? Share below in the comments! P.S. go follow my friend Asal on Instagram for more yoga content!
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