No matter how excited you are to travel, some part of you is probably dreading the flight.
One of the most unpleasant factors of air travel is sitting in a cramped seat for hours on end. A stiff neck, cramping, and sore muscles affect everyone, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to prevent them.
Doing yoga before your flight is a great way to prepare your body for the hours ahead. The following is a simple routine you can follow that will loosen up and stretch out the parts of your body that get hit the hardest during a long flight. This routine was put together by Lauren Rotondella, a certified yoga and pilates instructor based in New Jersey.
This pose will not only loosen your neck limber before the flight, but can also be done right in your seat.
Cup your hand over one ear with your opposite hand and gently bring your nose toward the shoulder. Maintain the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Walk your dog
Downward Facing Dog is a great pose for stretching your calves, and well-stretched calves decrease your risk of back pain during travel.
To get the best stretch, start in a basic downward dog and pedal your heels, bringing one foot up and then the other.
Wearing shoes for the entirety of a long-haul flight will cause your feet to feel stiff and cramped.
Stretch them out by tucking your toes under and sitting back on your heels for a full foot stretch.
Thread the needle
This is a great pose to improve your neck and shoulder flexibility, which will decrease your risk of neck pain while building shoulder fitness.
From all fours, bring one shoulder and ear to the mat while sliding the arm on that side under your supporting arm, then repeat on the other side.
If you’re stuck in a small seat for hours, the groin and hips will stiffen up, but by practicing butterfly pose, you can loosen them up beforehand.
Sitting up tall, bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to drop toward the floor into a diamond shape. To try a more intense version of this stretch, try to bring your heels closer to your hips.
When you sit in the same position, your hipflexor muscles will be in a constant state of contraction, which causes low back pain and tightness. Loosen these muscles before your flight with these low lunges.
Bend your right knee, keeping your right ankle directly beneath it, and place the left knee onto the mat and untuck your toes. Sink your pelvis forward as you place your palms on the front knee for balance, then switch.
Ankle over knee
One of the many problems of sitting for long hours is the pressure it puts on your sciatic nerve, the longest and widest nerve in your body (it extends from your lower back into your legs). The best thing you can do to alleviate sciatic nerve pressure before a flight is to stretch your glutes out with this pose.
Lying on your back with bent knees, cross your right ankle over your left knee and interlace your palms behind the left thigh, then gently draw your knees toward your chest, keeping your feet flexed. Repeat on the other side.