On the road again. The process of traveling can be physically and mentally draining, taking a toll on your exhausted body. When your regular routine is thrown off, exercise often falls to the backburner. Practicing yoga is a great way for jet-setters of all physical abilities to feel refreshed and energized while on the go.
Alysha Greig, Seattle-based yoga instructor and avid world traveler, recommends restorative yoga poses while traveling. “For travel, your body needs to rest and stretch rather than be too challenged. I generally focus on yoga poses that will get blood flowing to the brain and focus on breathing to calm the body down after a long travel day.”
Here is Alysha’s ideal yoga travel routine for restoring and rejuvenating the body:
- Balancing one leg stretch: Put weight into one foot, bend opposite knee and pull foot toward backside for a quad stretch.
- Walk: Take advantage of leg space while you can by walking around the airport before boarding. Do some lunges or forward bends if you want added intensity.
- Meditate: Sit cross-legged (sukkhasana) on the ground and breathe deeply. Airports are a great place to practice quieting the mind in the midst of chaos. Just focus on your breath—don’t overcomplicate it!
On airplane/sitting in car:
- Eagle arms: Position one elbow over the other and bring palms together. Lift elbows up to align with shoulders and pull thumbs away from forehead for a stretch through the neck and upper back. Play with tilting fingertips side to side.
- Wrist stretch: Extend one arm forward and pull fingers back. Pull one finger at a time to feel a different stretch and sensation, which is great for businesspeople type while traveling. Flip your wrist to face the fingers up then down.
- Ankle/feet stretch: Take off your shoes. Curl toes and plant on the ground, bringing the foot forward for a few breaths. Rest your weight in the toes and now curl them back. Use your fist to massage the foot’s arch.
- Neck stretch: Place hands on the back of your head and gently pull down to tuck chin to chest. Lift chin to look back for a neck stretch—this is a good one if you’re using a neck pillow.
- Seated spinal twist: Put one hand on the outside of the opposite leg, and the other hand on back of chair for a twist position. Sit tall for an inhale, then exhale into a twist and turn head back. This position is good for digestion and to wake up your spine.
At hotel room:
- Start with Forward Fold. Bend knees and bring belly to thighs. Position your weight forward to the toes rather than back to the heels, and allow gravity to pull your head down, igniting blood flow to the brain. Position hands wherever is most comfortable. Keep knees bent to release lower back.
- Plant hands and step feet back into Downward Facing Dog. Push hips and chest back towards thighs, feeling energy in your palms.
- Lift one leg keeping the foot flexed for 3 Leg Dog. Raise leg higher for a more intense hamstring stretch.
- Exhale and bring knee forward. Drop your back knee to the ground into Low Lunge. Drop hips down and pull chest forward, relaxing the shoulders. Tuck back toes to keep knee safe.
- Side Bend in Low Lunge. Stretch arms up and lead side to side. This is energizing and restorative.
- Twist in Low Lunge. Place your opposite hand or elbow to the outside of the bent knee, bringing palms together.
- Straighten front leg and pull chest toward toes into Half Splits. Keep back long and flat. Feel the stretch through back of the leg.
- Back into Down Dog.
- Optional Chaturanga/Vinyasa for more challenge and energy flow
- Chair Pose standing (tadasana)
*Do this flow three or so times. If you want more challenge, incorporate more Chaturangas (Plank, Up Dog, Down Dog, repeat).
Winding down/before bed:
- Pigeon pose: bend one knee and stretch the other leg back. For sensitive knees, lay on your back with leg bent and the opposite ankle rested below the knee. Pull your thigh to belly keeping the top foot flexed. Hold for a minute or two and do on both legs.
- Legs up wall: This is the most restorative yoga pose for travelers. Lay on your back and stretch legs up the wall. Arms can go overhead or on your belly to focus on breathing. This pose is calming, circulating blood flow to the brain and resting feet that have been working all day. It’s a great pose for travelers with insomnia or who have crossed time zones to calm the body for a good night’s sleep.