This might not surprise you, but I love flying! It’s not just the thought about going someplace which is new and exciting, but the actual in-flight experience as well. Being on a plane is one of the only times I’m not expected to work or be online so it’s a time when I can relax completely. If you are like most people, you probably feel the complete opposite and dread flying. I want to share some tips with you on how you can make flying more relaxing and how to not feel as stiff and tense when you get off the plane. (You can read about my tips on how to get over jet lag here.)
A lot of people have high muscle tension after flying, especially after long-haul flights, and have swollen legs and feet. Part of the reason for stiffness is dehydration and the consumption of too much sodium (airplane food is filled with tons of salt and sugar because your taste buds can’t taste flavors as well due to the altitude and pressure). However, the biggest issue is that we tend to sit in our tight seats for hours without moving.
Wearing comfortable clothing while flying makes a big difference. Joriki has the most comfortable leggings I have ever worn and they are perfect for long-haul flights. You can combine them with a light top and sweater in case it gets cold.
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While it’s not always easy to get up and stretch in the hallway and the back of the plane (after all, we wouldn’t want to pause that movie or wake up the person next to us) there are easy and useful stretches you can do in your seat. And if you do these after the flight attendants dim the cabin light, you won’t even get any awkward stares!
I’m not a yoga instructor and am not offering any physical advice. This post is aimed at providing ideas on how to stretch during a flight. Please make sure you don’t strain yourself when trying these poses.
In Flight Yoga Stretch and Breathing
To start, interlock your hands and lift your arms straight up stretching your upper body, shoulders, and chest. Focus on your breathing – inhale and exhale slowly, counting to 7 for each inhale and exhale.
In Flight Yoga Foot Point and Flex
To get the blood in your feet flowing, sit upright with your feet on the floor. Lift one leg up slightly and point your foot. Keep this position for a few seconds and then flex your foot, making sure you spread the toes wide apart. Point and flex a few times and put your leg back down. Repeat this stretch with the other leg.
In Flight Yoga Knee Hug
This might be more difficult for people who are very tall and struggle with the confined space on a plane. I also suggest removing your shoes and putting on socks if you are not wearing any out of respect for your seat neighbours.
Place both heels on the edge of your seat, hug your knees with both arms and pull them towards you. Hold this position for a few seconds while breathing slowly, then release.
In Flight Yoga Shoulder Stretch
This works best if you have a blanket you can roll up to a “blanket burrito”.
Sit up straight with both feet on the ground. Roll up your blanket and place it vertically against the backrest of your seat. Lean against the blanket so that it aligns with your spine and keep your arms at rest. Breath in and squeeze your shoulders upwards and backward. Exhale slowly and bring your shoulders down.
You can repeat this pose a few times but make sure you don’t strain yourself when squeezing your shoulders.
In Flight Yoga Spinal Twist
By far my favorite in flight yoga pose is the seated spinal twist. Sit up straight with both feet on the floor and slide forward on your seat so that you have space between your back and the backrest. Place the right hand on the seat with the fingers pointing backward. There might not always be enough space to do so, in which case you can make a fist instead. Grab the right corner of the seat cushion with your left hand, or if that’s not possible, place your left hand on the outer side of your right knee. Straighten the spine and twist to the right, looking over the right shoulder.
Do the same on the opposite side.
In Flight Yoga Forward Bend
If you’re able to get up and move to the back of the plane, there is usually a little bit of space to stretch. I like doing simple forward bends standing up or sitting down, depending on how clean the floors are on the plane. To do a forward bend, sit on the floor (or stand) with your legs straight. Exhale and bend forward from the hip joints, reaching for your toes with both your hands. Inhale and stretch further as you exhale.
I don’t do yoga nearly as often as I should, but I find that these 6 stretches help me release muscle tension during the flight.
How do you fly? Do you usually get up and walk around during your flight or do you remain in your seat?
What about these ones?