So we’ve heard of all sorts of ridiculous things on a plane – snakes on a plane, sharks on a plane,.. but yoga on a plane? Although it’s a relatively new concept, a few of the major airlines are picking up on the ‘’yoga while you fly’’ movement. For example, SkyTeam, which has 20 global airlines under their umbrella (Delta, Saudia, Air France, and others), recently launched an in-flight Yoga program. Fatima da Gloria, SkyTeam’s Brand and Communications Director, had this to say about their onboard Yoga program: “for passengers using our routine while onboard, there’s no downward dog or plank involved, just very simple yoga exercises that don’t intrude on other passenger’s space. It offers our customers the chance to relax and stay fit before and during a flight and so that it is a more seamless and enjoyable travel experience.”
Living in the UAE we are no stranger to long haul flights either for work or for pleasure and we could all benefit from a little relaxation while on board. Here are a few of the benefits you can expect when it comes to airplane Yoga:
• Lowered Anxiety and Stress (in particular for nervous flyers)
• Enhanced circulation of blood throughout the body (Can help prevent condition such as DVT)
• Decreased Aches and Pains in the Neck and Lower Back
• Increased Energy Levels
Here are some simple yet great Yoga exercises you can try next time you’re flying:
Seated Ear-to-Shoulder (Neck-Release)
This is a simple pose that can be done without interrupting your neighbour. Essentially, sit upright during this pose to ensure that your spine is straight.
Start by looking straight ahead, take a deep breath and as you exhale, bring your right ear towards your right shoulder. Rest your right fore arm over the top of your head so your hand rests on your left cheek/ear . Move deeper into the stretch as you exhale, but be sure to not force your head down, just let the weight of your arm increase the stretch. Inhale and come back to centre and repeat on the left side. Repeat this pose 8 times per side.
Seated Shoulder Lift
Inhale, raise shoulders toward your ears. Exhale, completely let go. Repeat 5 times.
Seated Bharadvaja (Spinal Twist)
You may want to make sure your neighbour is OK with you moving a little into their zone for this movement. It is one of the best seated airplane Yoga movements to calm the nervous system, increase blood circulation, and decrease any lower back muscle tension. It is also known as the Ardha Matsyendrasana Yoga exercise.
To begin this pose, ensure that you’re seated upright with your feet flat on the floor. Place your left hand on your right knee and your right hand on the seat just behind your right hip. Do a deep inhale and lift your body up as much as possible and twist to your right so that your head is twisted over your right shoulder, keeping the spine neutral and the head facing forward. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Exhale and move back to centre. Take a deep inhale and repeat on the other side. Repeat 5 times per side.
Place your hands on your thighs. As you inhale, draw your chest forward and your shoulders back. Look up. Exhale, round your spine and draw your shoulders forward. Look down toward your navel. Repeat 5 times.
Close your eyes and let go of the noise and other distractions. When thoughts come to you, let them go.
For a more relaxed and stress-free flying experience, give airplane Yoga a try.