Posted in yoga

Surviving Long Flights With 4 Yoga Stretches


I just flew Bangalore to Frankfurt to Chicago and then on to SFO. Ended up spending approximately eight, nine & five hours on each of the flights, not to mention the time spent sitting in a taxi to/fro the airports and also the waiting time in the airports.

Like me, if you have the privilege of flying of economy, you know how cramped it is. You would also know that you can’t do anything about it – and survive the ordeal of cramped space, stuffy & stale air and of course microwave-warmed food.

Well, it need not be that bad:-) I am making it up. You can do something about it.

While it may be not practical to expect any fresh air or good, fresh food, just accept it and move on. However, you do can reduce the cramped feeling you get by stretching yourself once in a while.

Here are a few stretches you can do. I have gleefully borrowed some of the ideas from Shri. BKS Iyengar’s yoga classes & adapted them to the ‘flight’ situation – and modifying the props that you would use.

Like I always have stated, the effectiveness of these exercises is ONLY when you bring your mind to it – and not do it mechanically. So, feel the stretch – feel the tension in your muscles, be conscious of every tendon, every muscle and if you can’t feel it – don’t worry, imagine !

1. The Shoe Stretch

I like this stretch especially because you can do it while sitting in the seat! Good especially if you have a window or a middle seat and your other co-passengers are deep asleep – and you don’t have the heart to wake them up once in a while!

Clutch your shoe near your ankle and squeeze hard for 30 seconds. Release & repeat for 3-5 times.

Move the shoe to your calves, squeeze hard for 30 seconds. Release & repeat for 3-5 times.

2. The Lap Stretch

Take your right leg and place it on your left thigh such that your ankle is resting on your thigh. Gently press down your right knee and feel the tension in your legs.

Repeat the other side.

Just be careful not to kick your co-passengers!

It also helps if you remove your socks – you would make the journey pleasant for your co-passengers by keeping the stink away from their noses:-)

3. The Feet Stretches

Stand up, spread your legs four feet (or four and half feet) apart, and feel the muscles in your body. Root down both the legs to the floor – especially the small toes – make sure that you are able to feel the floor on that side of your feet. Gently pull your knee caps and just stand!

Get your legs together and stand in Tadasana.

4. The Forward Bend

I especially like this because it brings back balance in the body and also proper blood circulation to the brain. Helps in reducing the pain in your feet due to symptoms of deep vein thrombosis. The constant sitting posture in a flight basically numbs the brain (unless you have had couple of drinks and have dozed off in which case you don’t have to do this:-)) and your reflexes are not good, you would be more tired when you land and in general jet-lagged.

Here is what you should do:

Stand in Tadasana, hinge forward on your waist and get your head as close as you can towards your knees. Don’t overdo anything, but as gently as you can. Intertwine your elbows and let them dangle over your head. Stay for 30seconds and come up. Repeat 1-2 times.

Be careful! Don’t do this forward bend after you have eaten or drunk anything. Give it atleast an hour or do it just before you smell the lovely aroma of the food inside the cabin:-)

Beat travel blues.

Yoga helps. Get your mind to it & reap the benefits.


Enterprise Sales B2B Marketing Entrepreneur Yoga & Meditation Teacher

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