Yoga Ritual: 5 Yoga Poses for Travel
Yoga is a well-known practice to rejuvenate, reconnect, and reclaim all aspects of Self. When traveling, it's easy to feel off-center and out-of-balance with your practice of what you've got going. And even if you don't have some sort of routine of physical activity or meditation at home, a quick and mindful practice on the go can help to heal from the hitches that come with travel. Especially when transiting from place to place, being at the airport and sitting in a plane for an extended time can make you feel stiff and stale. These postures will help and leave you feeling focused and ready for the ventures ahead!
1. Sun Salutations (A or B)
Sun Salutations are a great way to start the day, as it brings heat to the body, warming up all of the major muscle groups. It is a simple flow composed of seven postures - the Salutations are the foundation of Vinyasa Yoga. A meditation of moving the body with the breath, it helps to bring healthy blood flow, clarity, and boosts the nervous, digestive, respiratory, and muscular system. Also, if you do this salutation in a much slower pace with deeper breathing, it would be a great way to end the day as well (sometimes referred to as moon salutation).
2. Rag Doll
I know when I sit on the plane for extended hours, by lower back starts to really nag at me. This will really help to create space in the lower back, with the weight of your head and gravity helping to elongate and decompress the spine. You can even do this one on the plane in line for the restroom, or even modify it to do seated. It also helps to clear out sinuses, and because it is an inversion brings fresh blood flow to the brain and face. Makes you looking rejuvenated helping to get rid of the pale and stale plane look! I incorporate this into all of my classes and many people feel the benefits immediately.
3. Legs Up the Wall
Such an amazing one, this is!! It is exactly as it sounds: lay down with the legs up the wall. You can do it anywhere, especially before boarding the plane, alongside a wall with open-space. Sometimes you may not even need a wall, and can use your backpack or suitcase as an alternative! This helps drain tension from the legs and feet, and by reversing the effects of gravity on your legs and feet, you can really help to move any stuck or stagnant fluids, regulating blood flow. This is a beautiful resting posture, allowing you to tap into your “rest and digest” nervous response which helps to relax the mind and calm the nervous system. So this one is a relief before or after flights, and also after a long day of walking around, venturing out! Fall in love!
4. One-legged Pigeon (Half Pigeon or Sleeping Pigeon)
This is another go-to for many people, not only in times for busy travel but for overall release in our day-to-day. The muscles that make up the hip flexors (the iliacus and psoas major) are big muscles that tend to be tight; often, we don't allow the hips to explore the full range of motion as they are held in one position. Whether we are on our feet all day standing or walking, or sitting for extended periods of time. It is also said that the hips are where the energy and emotions are held and possibly 'trapped', so loosening the hips helps to release some stuff for us emotionally and mentally. Not only is this hip-opener a great release for us emotionally, it also has significant health benefits such as improving circulation of blood flow to hips and pelvis, circulation to internal organs (such as liver, intestines, pancreas), and easing back pain.
In all of my yoga classes, I throw in varieties of twists for our practice. They are so good, especially whilst traveling - with the time difference, irregular sleep-patterns, etc. - our bodies tend to get out of sync, out of tune with our natural flow. Twists are a healing benefit within our yoga practice, to unwind and reverse all of these tensions brought on by travel and unrest.
First thing, twists massage the internal organs; great compression of the digestive system, which stimulates a healthy digestive flow. Oftentimes when eating foreign foods or just going days with weird sleeping patterns, it takes a toll on our tummies, thus digestive functions. In a twist, the added weight on your organs (from compressing) slows circulation; once you release, there is fresh blood flow to the internal organs. So this fresh flow of blood brings with it fresh oxygen and fresh nutrients to all of these digestive organs.
Twists are also super yummy especially during travel because of spinal rotation involved: this helps to keep the spine mobile and strong. So sitting on planes, in trains, cars, or even standing up for hours can lead to stiffness of the back, decreased range of motion, discomfort, or even back pain for some. So with twists thrown into our routine, it will increase strength and flexibility in the muscles and other tissues surrounding the spine.
Lastly, twists are all the spine! The spine has everything to do with the nervous system, with a lot of the nerve endings at the lower back. There is so much held tension in and around the (whole) spine, opening the chest, shoulders, and back as well. So as we twist, we release much of this held tension, helping us to ease up, relax, and unwind. Especially for those with high anxiety or stress, twists are super healing.
** These postures are not only a go-to whilst traveling, but some common stretches we can incorporate in our day to day for a healthy, comfortable body. I hope these helped! Enjoy your practice, honor where you are within it all. Feel free to leave a comment! xx