I just returned from teaching an intensive 200-hour teacher training in Bali. It was an enriching experience, but the fifteen-hour time difference led to severe jetlag upon returning home. I’m so grateful for my yoga practice to help relieve the tension from a twenty-hour flight with long layovers. Below are some poses I recommend to help the body feel normal again, during and after traveling. Breathe deeply in and out through the nose during all of the poses.
1. Simple Two-Knee Twist
Purpose: Wrings out internal organs for detoxification, relieves low back pain.
Lie on your back with knees hugged to the chest. Place your arms out to the sides, pressing firmly through the shoulders. As you exhale, lower the knees to the right. Keep your head centered or gaze left. If the left shoulder lifts then move the knees away from the shoulder. Hold for one to two minutes. Engage the abdominals to bring knees to center. Switch sides.
2. Downward Facing Dog
Purpose: Stretches the back and hamstring muscles.
Start on your hands and knees, then walk the knees back about a foot. Lift your hips into the air and press the chest and thighs back. If the back rounds, then bend the knees while still lifting the hips high into the air (pictured). Hold for thirty to sixty seconds.
3. Lizard Pose
Purpose: Stretches the psoas and groin muscles.
From downward facing dog step the right foot forward between the hands. Lower the left knee down and back as far as possible. Press the left hip and glute forward and down. Place the hands or elbows to the ground on the inside of the right foot. Hold for two minutes and then switch sides.
4. Pigeon Pose
Purpose: Stretches the glutes and psoas muscles.
From downward facing dog bring the right knee behind the right wrist. Place the right foot in front of the left hip. Extend the left leg straight back behind the left hip. Keep the hips even and allow them to relax toward the floor. Lower onto the elbows and let the head rest on the backs of the hands. If lowering to the elbows is too deep, then stay propped up.
5. Feet Up the Wall
Purpose: Stretches hamstrings, drains stagnant fluid from the feet and ankles, and improves circulation.
Sit sideways with your hips touching a wall and swing your legs up the wall, lying flat on your back. The arms can rest alongside the body or overhead. Hold five to ten minutes. (And if you only have ten minutes to do yoga, then this is the pose to do!)
Here are a few additional tips to help the body adjust to the change in time zones and altitude while flying:
- Get up and walk around the plane every two hours to keep the circulation flowing and avoid blood clots.
- Skip the soda and alcohol during the flight as they are both dehydrating.
- Drink plenty of water on the flight. Try to drink at least eight to twelve ounces of water for every hour in the air.
- Adjust to the new time right away. Stay awake during the day and go to bed at a reasonable time.
- Exercise in fresh air if possible when you land. A long walk can help eliminate fatigue.
Where have you been this vacation season and how did you keep yourself healthy on your long flights and drives? Post your experiences to the comments below. Safe travels!
Photos 1&5 courtesy of Shutterstock.
All other photos courtesy of Brandon Hofer.