Traveling can be both a blessing and a curse. While exploring new destinations is exciting, long periods cramped on a plane or train can leave you aching. Worse, according to medical transportation service REVA, remaining sedentary for long hours during flight can increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a type of blood clot that can have serious consequences and even prevent you from flying.
One of the best ways to prevent these issues is to move as much as possible while on the road. Yoga is an excellent way to give your mind and body a break while traveling.
1. Tree Pose
You’ve stashed comfort objects like headphones and your favorite fuzzy sweater in your carry-on for your long trek. Now you’re waiting in line after line at check-in and security while your legs grow leaden from so much standing.
It’s time to strike a pose — tree pose. This posture improves your circulation by gently elevating your heart rate and engaging your core strength to keep you upright while balanced on one leg. It also takes the pressure off one leg at a time and provides needed knee and hip relief if yours are a little creaky.
Best of all? You don’t have to have perfect balance. Use that suitcase next to you to help you remain steady.
2. Sun Salutations
Most mere mortals could learn a thing or two from top athletes regarding how to stay in shape. For example, many snowboarders warm up with a few sun salutations to stimulate blood flow and elevate their heart rates before hitting the slopes. This vinyasa flow lubricates your joints, making movement safer.
While it’s great to throw in a few of these moves while in transit to prevent DVT, you might feel iffy about touching a floor crossed by countless shoes. Your solution? Take a few pairs of latex gloves with you. They help keep you safe when sharing close quarters with strangers and can keep your paws off questionable surfaces.
You made it to your hotel room. Now, it’s time to relax. You might be exhausted after your long day traveling — making this the perfect time for gentle yin or restorative poses in bed.
One such move is the caterpillar, also known as a seated forward fold or paschimottanasana. Sit on your bed with your legs extended in front of you. Reach up tall, then gently collapse into the pose. You can use a strap or a towel to deepen the stretch or let the weight of your upper body do the work.
Sitting on a plane or train can gripe your back, especially if you tend to hunch. Reverse the Quasimodo effect with sphinx pose.
Lie on your bed, belly down. Align your elbows under your shoulders to create a slight backbend and breathe. This pose might be plenty deep after hours of being sedentary, but you can extend your arms to lift into seal if you need more intensity.
People tend to store stress in their hips, and travel can leave you frazzled. This posture helps loosen that tension. Sit upright on the floor or your bed, stacking one leg on the other with one foot resting atop the opposite knee. If doing so feels too intense, take an easy sukhasana seated coss-leg position. Extend your arms skyward, then reach forward, feeling your hip joint become more loosey-goosey.
6. Supine Pigeon
Here’s another gentle hip opener that’s an alternative to firelog — lie on your back with your knees bent at 90-degrees. Cross one ankle over the opposite knee, creating a figure 4, and pull back until you feel a stretch in your hips and glutes.
7. Supine Twist
You need to stretch your spine to stay flexible and comfortable. To perform this pose, lie on your back with one leg extended and the opposite bent to 90-degrees. Cross the bent leg over your body as you open the same arm in the opposite direction, taking your drishti (or gazing point) toward your extended fingertips. Repeat on each side.
8. Legs Up on Wall
A long day on your feet can leave them swollen. Relieve edema with legs up the wall. Begin by lying on your back, then extend your legs up to a 90-degree angle. Play with this pose to find the best stretch for your body. You can point and flex your toes, support yourself behind your calves or use your actual hotel room wall for support.
Combating Travel Stiffness
Stay safer on the road with these yoga poses to combat stiffness while traveling. You’ll feel better and have more energy to explore your destination.