If plane rides leave you stiff and swollen, there are simple stretches that can help alleviate tension and promote relaxation as you fly the friendly skies.
Flying? Planning on flying? Many say it’s the journey that counts not the destination. However, if the journey involves propelling your body through the air far above the earth’s crust and leaves you so stiff and swollen that you can’t make it out of your seat to get to the bathroom down the aisle, it might be time to break out your in-flight Richard Simmons. According to Charlotte Dodson at travel.cnn.com, simple stretches can help alleviate tension and promote relaxation when flying. These easy yoga-inspired moves can help get you to your landing pad in a better frame of mind and body-and, hopefully, feeling a little less jet lag. In your seat:
1) Neck Release
Inhale. Slowly exhale while lowering your right ear toward your right shoulder. Breathe gently into the stretch created along the top of the shoulder and side of the neck. Roll your chin down toward the chest, across and up the other side. Repeat on the opposite side.
2) Seated Spinal Twist (a variation of Ardha Matsyendrasana)
This stretch works to loosen the shoulders, hips and back. Cross the right leg over the left and place the left hand on the outside of the right knee. Place your right hand on the armrest behind you. Keeping both sides of your butt on the seat, twist as far as you can to the right. Hold for 1 minute-switch sides and repeat.
3) Eagle Arms (Garudasana)
This stretch is named after the mythological Hindu “king of the birds,” known as “Garuda” and helps to open up the space between the shoulder blades. Extend your arms in front of your body and drop your left arm under your right. Then, bend your elbows, raising your forearms so they are perpendicular to the floor. Wrap your arms and hands, and press your palms together as close as they can go. Lift your elbows and reach your fingertips toward the ceiling. Breathe and hold.
4) Hands Under Armpits (Padadhirasana )
This pose helps to calm the mind and alleviate common emotions when flying like stress and anxiety. Cross your arms in front of your chest and place your hands under opposite armpits with your thumbs pointing upward. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Continue for 5 to 10 minutes. Out of your seat: If you can find a spot at the back of the plane, out of the way, some of these standing stretches can do wonders.
5) Quad stretch
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and relax your shoulders. Bend your left leg and grasp your foot behind you, bringing your heel to your butt. Feel the stretch through the front of your left thigh. Hold and switch. Keep your balance by staring at a spot on the floor or wall, or reach out and touch the wall for support.
6) Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana I)
This pose stretches the hips and strengthens the butt and thighs. Start by standing with your feet 3 to 4 feet apart, and turn your right foot to 90 degrees. Bend your extended knee to 90 degrees, keeping your knee over your ankle, making a lunge. Inhale and draw your arms over your head in an H position, with your palms facing each other. Keep the shoulders relaxed and your chest lifted. Stay here or bring the palms together and carefully arch your back, looking towards the ceiling. Hold for 3-6 breaths.
7) Chair Pose
Another yoga standard, you can start this pose by standing with your feet together or hip width apart and inhaling your arms forward so that they are parallel to the floor with the palms facing down. Next, exhale while bending your knees. Sit back as if you were going to sit on the edge of a chair, bringing your weight to your heels. Relax your shoulders down and back and reach over your head, looking towards your fingertips with your palms facing each other. Breathe and hold for 3-6 breaths.
Remember to always drink enough fluids when flying, and don’t be afraid to take your legs for the occasional stroll down the aisle in addition to stretching-every bit helps. Bon voyage!