Tips For Traveling Yogis; Airport Yoga!

As summer approaches, vacations and traveling become a reality. Many people love to travel; some prefer to travel on the ground, while others may prefer traveling by air or sea. However you choose to take your vacation, chances are your body may not enjoy all the traveling as much as your mind! Here are some tips for alleviating stress on your mind AND body during times of travel through the great big sky and the wild world of airports!

Traveling Yogi Essentials to Pack: Some of my favorite items to travel with.

^ Wearing comfortable clothes with layers! I love layering, it makes it so much easy to adjust to the consistently changing elements in airplanes and throughout the airport. I always make sure to bring a scarf, that can double as a pillow or head cover!

^ Wear shoes that you can easily slip on and off while you go through security (also a good idea to be able to walk or run quickly, if need be!)

^ Water bottle! Did you know that you can bring your empty water bottle through security and then refill it at a water fountain on the other side? Some airports even have water bottle filling stations!

^ Healthy snacks-  Airport food is expensive and not always the best quality. Fortunately, you are still able to pack food in your carry-on! I like to pack a sandwich so that I know I’ll have at least something substantial that I can eat if I am short on time. Other good snack ideas include nuts, dried fruit, fruit, cut veggies, hummus cups, and homemade granola bars.

^ An eye mask or pillow- perfect for shutting out any unwanted lights from fellow flyers. BONUS: a cool eye mask, to reduce eye puffiness!

^ A Turkish Towel makes a great cover-up on airplanes- you could also place it on the floor in the airport to do light stretching on.

^ Mindful tunes: Create multiple playlists to get you through your travels!

^ Journal or Diary: log all of your adventures, how you’re feeling, what you do, foods you eat, allow yourself to reread these entries later on and relive the magic!

^ Camera, not only on your phone but a real camera! Develop some of your favorite photos and add them to your journal.

^ A good book- I know many people that do extended traveling, and once they have read a book, they will take it to a local bookstore or coffee shop and trade it for a new one! That way you are spreading the love, and reducing your baggage, by not holding onto something that you no longer need!

^ Essential Oils, Mmmmm…  I love essential oils! So many great uses!  My favorite for traveling is to blend calming and grounding oils and rub them on my low back and the bottoms of my feet.  Peppermint is also nice to have on hand to help alleviate nausea or upset stomach that may occur on your travels.

^ Favorite Tote-  Of course, you have to have your favorite tote to keep all your essentials together!  I like something with a few pockets or zippers to compartmentalize my belongings, also bags that are easy to throw over your shoulder or on your back, so your hands and arms are free!

In the Airport: Ways to discretely (or not) practice yoga in the airport!

I’m not the type of person that likes to draw attention to myself, even though I don’t really care what others may think, I still like to be discreet!  Some airports around the world now have yoga studios available for travelers, if you happen to have a layover in one of these awesome airports, you can enjoy a full practice in there! Otherwise, here are a few poses that I have found you can practice while you wait for your flight.

Paschimottanasana: Seated forward fold
Paschimottanasana: Seated Forward Fold, great to release tension through your low back caused by excess sitting and walking through traveling through airports and on flights.

Paschimottanasana: Find a comfortable seat with your legs extended out in front of you. (Your knees may be slightly bent) Take a deep inhale and lengthen up through your spine, as you exhale, begin to slowly hinge forward at your hips, keeping your back straight. Your hands may rest at your knees, shins, ankles, or feet. Allow your inhales to extend your head forward and your exhales to fold you deeper, it may feel good to allow your upper back to slightly round, finding a release in your shoulders. Continue to breathe in and out through your nose. To come out of this pose, slowly draw your hands up your legs as you inhale to sit up tall.

Seated Side Twist
MarichyasanaSeated Side Twist- Travel can cause stress on your body and you may feel fatigued, this gentle twist can give you a little boost of energy, while also firing up your digestion, which may get sluggish due to irregular activity.

Marichyasana: From your seated position, draw your right knee in and cross your leg over your left extended leg. Keeping your knee hugged in with your left arm, slowly draw your right arm to rest behind you and gaze over your right shoulder. Inhale to lengthen up, exhale to twist from your navel up. Option to stay here, or begin to “hook” your left elbow to the outside of your right thigh.  Breathe here for 5-8 breaths. To come out of this pose, gaze forward, and slowly bring both hands to the outside of your left leg to take a mini-counter-twist. Come back through center, and uncross your leg.  It may feel good to extend both legs out and windshield wiper them side to side. Extend both legs out in front of you and repeat on the other side, staying with your breath and not pushing too hard! Be gentle with yourself!

Figure 4: Seated Pigeon
Figure 4: Seated Pigeon- Also known as a “painless pigeon,” this passive hip opener is one of my favorites, whether traveling or not!

Figure 4: From a seated position with your legs extended, slowly bend your left knee and cross your right ankle over the fleshy part above your knee. Supporting yourself with your hands behind you, inhale to lengthen up through your back lifting through the crown of your head. Begin to energetically press your right knee away from your body, while keeping your right foot engaged to protect your joints. To come out of this pose, take a deep inhale, slowly begin to uncross your right ankle, and place your foot back on the ground. With both feet grounded, start to gently windshield wiper your knees side to side. Bring both knees to point up towards the ceiling, and come to the opposite side. By releasing your hips while in the airport, you may find more comfort as you are seated during your flight.

Baddha Konasana: Bound Angle Pose stimulates your heart and improves circulation.
Baddha Konasana: Bound Angle Pose stimulates your heart and improves circulation.

Baddha Konasana: From a seated position with your legs extended, begin to bend your knees, allowing your feet to rest on the ground. Slowly, let your knees splay out to the side bringing the soles of your feet together, and sit up tall. Option to stay here, or take a deep inhale to lengthen up through your spine and begin to hinge forward at your hips. Continue to breathe and gently allow your knees to get heavy and reach towards the ground (even if they don’t touch!) It may feel good to keep a straight back or it may feel good to allow rounding through your upper back as you exhale. To come out of this pose, take an inhale as you sit back up. Use your hands to draw your knees back into one another, perhaps you windshield wiper your knees side to side. This pose is good for stretching your groin, thighs, and knees; while also relieving mild depression, anxiety, or fatigued caused while you travel.

Navasana: Boat Pose
Navasana: Boat Pose strengthens the spine, abdominals, and hip flexors.  Also helps reduce tension and stimulates digestion.

Navasana: From seated with your knees bent, reach your hands for behind your knees. Press your chest forward as you lengthen up through your spine and the crown of your head. Begin to lift up onto your toes. Option one, continue to breathe here. Option two, slowly lift your feet up off the ground- knees can stay bent, or perhaps you straighten out through your legs. Continuing to allow your breath to lengthen up through your chest and spine. Maybe you extend your arms out in front of you, keeping your belly engaged and hugging in towards the center. Feet staying active and spreading through your fingers. Take a deep inhale, and slowly lower all the way down onto your back. Reaching over your head, take a full body stretch, and then hug your knees into your chest.

Viparita Karani
Viparita Karani: Legs-Up-The-Wall relieves mild backache and calms the mind

Viparita Karani: Bring your body as close to a wall (or pillar) as possible, and slide your legs up the wall. Allow your arms to come down by your side, or cactus your arms out. Simply relax, and allow gravity to do the work! This restorative inversion may help to relieve anxiety, digestive problems, headache, high and low blood pressure, insomnia, migraine, mild depression, and more! I feel this pose is a great relief before, during, and after I travel. Legs-Up-The-Wall, allows a reverse of the blood flow to the lower extremities, bringing fresh, oxygenated blood to the feet and legs. While we travel on planes, we spend a lot of time with our knees bent and our feet may become swollen- this could also help benefit that discomfort! Stay in this position as long as you’d like, you may even set an alarm so you don’t miss your connecting flight!

Waiting in Line or On the Plane:

^ Practicing yoga is both physical and mental. When we travel, sometimes our patience is tested- this is when your practice comes to light. While waiting in the many lines all the way from ticketing, through security, using the restroom, lines for coffee and food, boarding and un-boarding the plane, and traffic leaving the airport, I’ll invite you to take this time to: breathe, watch your thoughts (without judgment), breathe, and let it all go.

^ While sitting on the plane you could practice:

  • Seated cat/cow
  • Circling through your neck and shoulders
  • Pranayama: controlled breathing
  • Meditation: allowing yourself to come into a “witnessing state of being” and simply observe your breath and your thoughts.

All in all, traveling can take a toll on your body, even if you are traveling to an amazing place to visit awesome people!  I invite you to take any or all of these tips, and I hope you may find your day(s) in the air and through the airport a little less stressful :) I am NOT a doctor, nor a travel agent: please practice ahimsa, and do what works best for YOUR body, if you find any discomfort or pain, please stop immediately and see a doctor.

What are your favorite ways to practice yoga when you travel? Show us on Instagram by using #villageyogatravels and tagging us @villageyoga

Happy Traveling, Yogis!


written by: Charlee Ulmer