Introduction to yoga for the Travelling Body

Travelling long distances in a short time means you are sitting for periods longer than you possibly would in daily life;

For example, prolonged car, bus, train, and particularly airplane travel.  However, this practice can equally apply to long periods of sitting in front of your computer (tax time!) or recovering from illness and sitting in front of TV

Characteristically the posture is:

Arms forward – down if you are a passenger and held up if you are driving, fingers generally curled.

Legs tend to be down, bent at hips and behind knees and inactive if you are a passenger.  Feet will be relaxed and toes slightly pointing, meaning the Achilles tendon can shorten and stay that way.  Lack of movement in these positions can lead to swelling of fingers and ankles and is a big contributor to deep vein thrombosis.

Lower back is held in a rounded position in poorly designed seats.

Shoulder and neck strain is a probability from rapidly hoisting bags, sitting in a poorly designed seat with head forward of shoulders, and the general stress of getting away.

Hip flexors tighten into sitting position, pulling on the pelvis when you stand.  Achilles is tight and pulls on calf and plantar fascia as you suddenly stand and take weight.

Sitting for long periods causes a collapse of the ribs down into the hips and constricts the ribcage and diaphragm making breathing necessarily shallow.  Add to this the slightly lower oxygen levels in pressurised planes and you’ll arrive feeling fuzzy-headed and the jet-lag will be worse.

Prolonged sitting, becoming slightly dehydrated and changes in diet and meal times contributes to constipation…. not what you want on your trip and well worth preventing before it sets in!

Luckily yoga is portable. Even in the back of the plane, stopped after a long drive or in the most modest lodging, you’ll find space to do a few body-saving postures with a bit of inventiveness.  Use the wall and ledges as support.  Use the closed car door with the window down as a ledge, or the roof of the car to balance.  Use chairs, cushions, folded bedspreads, books as props.

Sometimes you don’t wish to lie on the floor.  Use a spare towel or blanket, or chose seated and standing postures e.g. Use Gill’s Walking Meditation.

Concentrate on

  • dynamic poses that
  • lengthen the body from the hips.
  • wake up core and pelvic floor muscles
  • counter pose the shortened backs of legs and front of groin
  • counter pose the shortened front of shoulders and curled arms and fingers and release the shoulders.
  • Lower abdominal squeezes, movement and twists, right side first then left side to wake up the digestive system
  • Rest poses that allow you to open the upper back and breathe deeply
  • Inversion and deep breathing for clearing away the mental cobwebs

By performing just a few simple moves, you give yourself a multitude of benefits: it will stretch you out, massage your internal organs, improve circulation and relieve anxiety.