They say it’s the journey not the destination that’s the most exciting part of a trip. But what if the journey was three back-to-back flights and more than 20-something hours of doing nothing but sit? It’s hardly something to write home about. Actually, long flights can be bad for your health. Recent research found that flights over eight hours long can actually double your risk of getting a blood clot during or not long after your trip. But there are steps you can take to avoid this and ensure your safe during your flight. Below are a series of yoga stretches to help you stay fit and healthy on a long flight.
1. Neck releases
Sitting for long periods of time can cause us to hold tension and stress in our neck muscles. A great way to relieve this tension is to do some neck rolls, or neck releases. To do this, simply sit upright in your chair with your hands placed on the tops of your thighs and your feet flat on the ground. Take some time to move your head from side to side, moving your ear towards your shoulder. Don’t strain too hard, you don’t want to go pulling a muscle. This exercise will get some movement and blood flow into your upper body, especially if you get a crook neck after some awkward sleeping positions.
2. Ankle rolls
It’s incredibly important to make sure the blood is flowing throughout your legs and ankles during a long flight, instead of being stationary for extended periods of time. Take a moment several times during your trip to roll your ankles in circles, first one way and then the other. If you have the room, extend your legs out in front of you, too. This is sure to increase circulation and decrease the risk of injury during the flight.
3. Seated twist
Another great way to get the blood flowing throughout your body is to do a seated twist. To do this, pop your left hand on your right knee or the armrest beside you. Just be mindful of your fellow passengers when doing this pose. Take a deep breath, then sit up straight before twisting towards the right. Be gentle with your spine, especially if it hasn’t had time to warm up properly. Look over to your right shoulder, say hello to your neighbouring passenger and make conversation before doing the same pose on the other side.
4. Mountain pose
This is a great post for stretching your whole body during a long flight. At one or several points during the flight, take some time to go for a walk through the cabin and find a space where you have some room to move. Usually, this is around the toilets or the large exit doors towards the back of the plane. Place your feet at about hip-width apart, turn on your stomach muscles and then raise your arms above your head, stretching as high as you can without raising your shoulders towards your ears. This will pump blood throughout your body and the quick stroll around the plane will be good for you, too.
If you find it difficult to sleep on a plane then take some time out to do some mindful meditation. Take five or ten minutes to sit with your hands in your lap and focus on your breathing. Close your eyes and pay attention to the breath. If thoughts and ideas come to your mind, don’t worry, that’s completely normal. Simply acknowledge those thoughts, let them go and then return to focusing on your breathing. Every time this happens, do the same thing. Meditation will likely calm down your nerves, relax the body and get you ready for the adventure that awaits when you land.