I travel a lot, running yoga retreats around the world, and that lull time between connecting flights is one of the times I appreciate my practice the most. Unfortunately, it's not the social norm to roll out a yoga mat in the departures terminal, but I slip into some semi-incognito yoga poses anyway. Yes, my companions pretend they don't know me, but I always get the last laugh when I'm floating off the aircraft minus that full-body fatigue travelers know all too well.
1. Cow Face Pose
Amazing for the hips! Take the right leg over the top of the left, stacking the knees and taking the feet beside the hips. Push against the feet and lift the bottom off the ground to get into position. Option to sit on your aeroplane reading material and elevate the buttocks if necessary. Swap sides.
2. Side stretch
Sitting cross-legged, inhale, take both arms overhead and exhale, take one hand to the earth beside the hip and stretch over, ground down through both sit bones evenly and then stretch to the other side. Look up to the elbow crease, if it feels safe for the neck, and twist the arm slightly so the pinky finger becomes closer to the ground. Change the cross of the legs and repeat.
3. Forward Fold
Amazing for the low back and to stretch out the legs. Sit up nice and tall, draw up on the knee caps and as you exhale, hinge from the hips and reach for the feet. It's ok if you can't reach them. Inhale, sit tall again and exhale, repeat hinging forward and reaching for the toes. Do this a few times and then eventually just relax and flop forward over the legs, relax the neck and let the chin move towards the chest as much as possible. Hold for 1-5 mins, releasing tension in the whole posterior line of the body.
Take the feet about shoulder width apart and squat down, it's ok if the heels don't make it to the ground. Take the elbows onto the inside of the knees and bring the hands into prayer position to push the knees apart. Let the tailbone sink towards the earth and extend your crown upwards. Your back, hips, and digestion will thank you after that stodgy plane food.
5. Forward Bend
One of my all-time faves. Bend the knees slightly and fold forward, hold the ankles and gently pull the crown to the ground using your biceps.
6. Reverse Prayer
All that hunching forward will be reversed with this one. Take the hands behind the back and connect the base of the palms up to the fingertips. If you can't connect the whole hand, hold the elbows instead. Look Casual.
I hope these poses enhance your travel experience, and if you happen to see me in the departures lounge mid yoga, come and join me!