Yoga for Long Travel

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BY JUSTINE THORNER

Travel can take a toll on the body. Long flights, road trips, or train rides force us to cramp our bodies into a small seat for numerous hours.  Practicing a few gentle yoga poses before traveling can help lengthen the muscles of our bodies before we take off. The same goes for after we arrive.

Poses to Do Before Traveling

Find an area at the airport or train station that provides enough space for you to stretch your limbs comfortably – if you are going on a road trip, you can do these poses at home before you leave  Try not to feel weird about practicing in a public place, remember you are doing this for the benefit of your health, so own your practice.

These poses will create length in the spine, and open the hips and groin. It will be nice to have some length and openness before getting into your seat. Hold each pose for approximately five breaths (1 minute):

Downward Facing Dog / Adho Mukha Svanasana

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Standing Forward Fold / Uttanasna with feet hip distance apart
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Seated Forward Fold / Pashimottanasana
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Seated Spinal Twist
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The above poses help create length in the spine, creating space for the vertebrae. They also help release any tension in the low back, and lengthen and stretch the muscles of the lower back.

The following poses help open the hips and inner groin. The hips become very tight while sitting for long hours. Hip opening poses also help us release stress, which could be built up from preparing for your trip.

Ankle to knee
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Bound Angle / Baddha Konasana
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Wide legged forward fold / Upavistha Konasana

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Poses to Do After Your Flight

You can do these poses when you arrive at your destination. After flying, we want to re-lengthen the spine, create more openness in our hips (which are most likely very tight from sitting in a confined space), and help fight jet lag or the tiredness traveling typically creates.

Hold each of these poses for five breaths (1 minute). These poses will create a sense of grounding, help fight off any bloating you experience in your stomach and feet and recirculate energy throughout the body.

Downward Facing Dog / Adho Mukha Svanasana
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Upward Facing Dog/Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
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Standing Forward Fold / Pashimottonasana (seated forward fold)
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*Repeat Forward Fold / Uttanasana  with hands clasped up and over the head, *after 3 breaths, switch the clasp of the hands

 

Lying on back, knees into the chest

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The above poses lengthen the spine, and stretch the lower back. These poses will feel very different when done after your fight/train/car ride from all the crunching that was just done in the spine. Give your body a few minutes to adjust and to re-lengthen.

Continue with Tree pose, which helps us feel grounded after spending hours in the air.

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Stretch deeply in Pigeon to open the hips once again.
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Bring your legs up to a wall. Hold this pose for 3-5 minutes.  This poses increasing circulation and allows blood to flow in the reverse way, towards the heart and head. This pose will help any swollen feet/ankles from flying and will also ease the onset of jetlag.

Happy Traveling yogi’s – J

*For more information on each pose, what they look like, and how to get into them, I suggest using the Yoga Journal Pose Index.

 

Justine Thorner Headshot 1 150x150 Yoga for Long TravelABOUT THE WRITER

Justine Thorner is a yoga instructor and board certified health coach. She is able to integrate yoga with her understanding of and passion for nutrition and holistic health to help her clients live their happiest, healthiest & most fulfilling lives. Justine loves sharing her knowledge with the world. Check out her website & facebook page for healthy tips & inspiration, and stay connected with her on twitter.

Feature photo by leoprieto

Yoga pose illustrations via freretstreetyoga
Pigeon pose via gaiam

 

 

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Comments

  1. Nisha Gohel says:

    Thanks Justine for sharing this content

  2. Hey Justine, such a nice post. Yoga exercises helps us to stable autonomic nervous system equilibrium, pulse rate decreases,respiratory rate decreases, blood pressure decreases (of special significance for hypo reactors), galvanic skin response (GSR) increases EEG – alpha waves increase (theta, delta, and beta waves also increase during various stages of meditation), EMG activity decreases,cardiovascular efficiency increases

  3. Great tips! A yoga mat is a great travel companion (especially during lengthy delays when it serves as a bed!).

  4. ha, very true Sarah! :)

  5. This is exactly what I need after a long flight/car/train ride! Typically I try to stretch out a little bit, but having this list of poses is also quite handy. I’d also suggest trying some of these workouts that you can do right from your hotel room as well.

    • Monica – these poses are great to do right from the hotel room, especially as soon as you arrive! Glad you liked the article!

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