3 Tips for Yogic Calm During Air Travel

After years of practicing yoga and meditation and perfecting your cool, zen-like demeanor, you are suddenly confronted by the ultimate test of your newfound inner peace and tranquility – air travel. Whether flying causes you to spin into a frenzy of anxiety and panic or you simply can’t stand the long lines, brusque TSA agents and cramped accommodations, the experience of air travel is sure to cause even the most tranquil yogini to snap.

As an avid traveler who is prone to flight anxiety, I began to wonder if I could take my yoga mindset on the road to experience that same calm and tranquility even while hovering thousands of feet in the air in a metal tube. Having just hopped off a somewhat turbulent flight from New York City and nervously awaiting my upcoming flight to D.C, I feel like I’ve recently come to understand what it means to take yoga out of the studio and into the world.

It’s tough to keep your cool, but it can be done. Keep calm and carry on with these 3 yoga tips that will keep you peaceful and limber during even the most trying travel experiences:

1. Your Breath Will Change Everything

My yoga teacher Melissa always reminds us to stop “wearing our shoulders as earrings.” It sounds silly, but relaxing your shoulders will drastically reduce your levels of stress and tension. Breathing does the same, only even more powerfully. Myriad studies and articles exist that extol the breath as a powerful force for calming anxiety, easing stress and creating inner peace and joy. For me, Ujjayi has become a trusted friend in times of stress; the sound of that ocean breath exhaling throughout my entire body relaxes me. Also highly recommended are Nadi Sodhana and Sama Vritti Pranayama.

2. Asana Will Soothe Your Body and Your Brain

Before you fly, try to get in your usual asana practice, perhaps sprinkling in a few more backbends and twists than usual to soothe your body prior to cramping up in a tiny seat for so many ungodly hours. If that’s not possible, squeeze in a few minutes of the pre-flight essentials:

  • Cat/Cow
  • Reverse Warrior
  • Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
  • Low/Runner’s/Crescent Lunge

On the plane:

  • Side stretches
  • Neck rolls/tilts
  • Seated cat/cow
  • Low/Runner’s/Crescent Lunge
  • Eagle arms

After your plane safely touches down:

  • Give thanks! Then slowly awaken your body with some Legs Up the Wall, Pigeon pose, Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose), Surya Namaskar and Tree pose.

3. Stay Positive, Meditate!

Cliché, but also incredibly true! For the moment you allow negativity to slip its dirty little foot in the door, it’s there to stay and it will grow like some malignant tumor of pessimism and gloom leaving you feeling even worse. There is a moment before negativity sets in when you notice yourself on a precipice – you can let go and give in to all that negativity and your day will surely live up to being as bad as you had predicted, or you can reign in that negative voice. One way to help sustain a positive and peaceful mindset is a regular meditation practice.

Do you have poses or breathing techniques that help you during traveling? Share them in the comments below!

image via flickr

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