This article is part of a series on creating awareness about Yoga and the International Day of Yoga which is being celebrated on June 21, 2016.
If you regularly travel, then you’re no stranger to the stress that long hours on the road (or in the air) can put on your mental and physical well-being. Prolonged periods of time spent sitting in cramped spaces in stiff positions can disrupt the body’s natural rhythms, causing fatigue, jet lag, dehydration, digestive problems, not to mention stiffness and pain in the back, neck and legs. In an article on venous thromboembolism published in the API Journal attributes Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) – travel-induced blood clots in the veins of the calf and thigh – to frequent air travel longer than 8 hours.
The good news is that the movements in some simple yoga postures can help stretch the muscles of the neck and back and keep the blood circulating freely through your legs, relieving the discomfort of being on-the-go. Understanding the impact that frequent flying can have on its executives, many companies, from the Indian Railways to Intel, Snapdeal, Infosys and Maruti Suzuki – have introduced yoga classes for their workforce.
Here are 5 easy asanas that can all be done with zero equipment, in airplane seats or the aisle while airborne, or in airport lounges during long layovers.
Benefits: Stimulates blood flow to the brain, relieves headaches and stretches the hamstrings and lower back.
How: Place both feet firmly on the ground with hands on hips. Exhale and bend forward from the hip joints, not from the waist. As you bend, keep your knees straight and place your palms or finger tips on the floor in front of you or beside your feet, or bring your palms to the backs of your ankles. If this is not possible, cross your forearms and hold your elbows. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Benefits: Opens up the hips, chest and shoulders and gives an instant hit of energy.
HOW: Stand with your feet hip distance apart. Relax your shoulders and focus on your spine. Place the heels of your hands on your lower back, with your fingertips pointing towards the ground. Inhale and press gently into your lower back with your hands and push your hips gently forward. Lift up your chest and look upwards to the ceiling. Take 4-5 deep breaths before coming back to the starting position.
Benefits: Improves circulation to the lower back, improves digestion and alleviates stress.
HOW: Sit on the edge of your seat and place your right knee over your left knee. Keep your left hand on your right knee, and your right hand on the armrest or seat back. Inhale, stretch your spine and turn towards your right side. Breathe deeply five times before switching sides.
Benefits: Stretches the shoulders, upper back and spine.
HOW: Stand up and reach behind you with both arms outstretched. When your hands meet, interlace your fingers and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Look upwards while lift your chest. Try to lift your arms up and away from your back so that your spine curves in the opposite direction of the seat.
Benefits: Opens up the hip and glutes and eases pressure on the knees.
HOW: While sitting, place your legs together in front of you. Keeping your left foot firmly on the floor, lift your right leg, bend at the knee and place your right foot on the left thigh as close to your body as possible, supporting your right foot with your left hand. Keep your back straight, inhale deeply, and alternate between pressing the knee towards the floor and pulling it towards your chest. Repeat 10 times before switching sides.
Want to pledge to make Yoga an integral part of your daily life? Head over to International Day of Yoga portal.