There’s nothing comfortable or comforting about hurtling through the air squashed, strapped down, confined to a tiny seat, 40,000 feet high in the sky! It’s likely to be challenging at times even for the most fit and calm high flyers.

Aches and pains that you never felt before may start to surface including numb bums, leg cramps, pins and needles and swollen feet! The effects of dehydration, from lack of humidity in the cabin air combined with low air pressure and recycled air only, add to the discomfort.

We all know that staying hydrated is important and that moving around is helpful for avoiding DVT. It’s also better not to sit with legs crossed or to stay in the same position for too long. However, it may not feel so easy to perform stretches while confined to your airplane seat or with limited space standing waiting for the loo!

The circulation tends to slow down when we are in the same position for a long time. Therefore practicing some gentle movements encourages circulation and can help reduce the risk of blood clotting (and DVT).

Here are some exercises for you to try in the sky:

• Take off your shoes and sit with the spine nice and tall, eyes closed, face relaxed. Take some slow, deep, even breaths. Visualize breathing in through the left nostril and out through the right and then in thought the right and out through the left. Repeat this pattern for two minutes or so. Visualising alternate nostril breathing will help you to feel more calm and balanced.

• With the feet flat on the floor, alternate lifting one heel and then the other off the floor as you stretch through the toes 5 times each side. Stretch one leg away from you with the foot slightly off the floor and flex the foot and then change legs and repeat 5 times. Repeat this exercise pointing the toes as the leg lifts (both legs). Lift one foot off the floor and circle the ankle 5 times and then change direction circling it 5 times the other way. Repeat with the other leg.

• Try bringing both knees up towards the chest and hugging them in toward you with your heels on the edge of your seat. Stay here breathing deeply as long as it feels comfortable and then release.

• Bring your right hand to the outside of your left thigh and turn to look over your left shoulder. Stay 5 breaths and slowly release. Change sides.

• Interlace the fingers and press the palms up towards the ceiling and stay here for 5 breaths and then bend the elbows and place the hands behind the head and open the elbows out towards the sides, leaning your head back into your hands. Hold for 5 breaths. Release the arms down and press your head back against your seat as you sit tall. Feel the spine lengthening and the neck softening.

• Get up from your seat and either stand in the aisle or outside the loo (!) lifting up onto the balls of the feet and then lowering, 5-10 times. If space permits, bend the knees and gently sway the arms from side to side turning to look over the shoulder. Clasp the hands behind the back and draw the upper arms back toward each other lifting the arms away and raising the collar bones. Stay for 5 – 10 breaths.

• Come back to your seat and close your eyes, reclining your seat if possible and focus on softening all the muscles of the face and body. Deepen the breath and bring your awareness to the movement of the breath in the body. Stay for 5-10 minutes.

• After practicing this routine once, twice or possibly more times if your flight is longer, you will arrive at your destination feeling happier and more comfortable in both mind and body.

Bon voyage!

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