I absolutely love to travel. My goal in life is to one day be able to take Samudra Yoga to every country on this beautiful planet. Traveling is one of the few things you can buy that actually makes you richer. But, traveling can be exhausting and hard on our bodies. Sitting in a cramped airplane seat for several hours; running through the airport dragging heavy luggage; flying into different times zones; and eating overly priced, overly salted airport food can and will take a toll on our bodies. What’s worse, recuperating from a flight can take time away from your trip! I’m guilty of it… sneaking in a quick nap at the hotel and waking up at 10 pm - wide awake - ready to go on an adventure only to realize you’ve now wasted the entire first day of your trip and likely the next morning as you zombie crawl from place to place after being up all night.
Don’t let the stress of traveling take away from the adventure! And you can probably guess what I’m going to recommend to help with this… dun dun DUNNNNN… YOGA!...and a couple other things
So here are my tried and true tips for beating that flight fatigue and so you can hop off that plane ready for adventure!
- Stay hydrated!
I can’t stress this one enough, especially since dehydration increases during flight- you have the high altitudes and low humidity to thank for that. Dehydration can cause fatigue, hunger cravings (especially for sugar), headaches, and muscle cramps (to name a few) and all of these symptoms will put a huge damper on your vacation!
I always pack an empty water bottle in my carry on when traveling. I fill it up at a water fountain after going through security, because no one should have to pay $8 for a bottle of water! So grab yourself a travel bottle and stay hydrated! Trust me your body will thank you!
- Pack healthy snacks!
I’m one of those people that need to eat every couple of hours or death is imminent. OK I may be exaggerating a little, but you get the idea. Unless you have a lengthy layover chances are you could go several hours without being able to eat and with the airlines getting stingy with their inflight amenities it can be difficult to grab some grub on the go. Save yourself from the over-priced, processed, high sodium snacks at the airport kiosk by packing some healthy snacks in your carry on. Keep in mind when traveling to other countries you will have to surrender fruits and other foods with seeds, so only pack what you need for the flight or items that you can take with you. My go-to travel snacks are protein bars, dried fruit (dried mango is life), and nuts. These snacks fill me up without dragging me down.
- Do some yoga!
I rarely go on a trip without my trusty travel mat. Airports are now offering yoga rooms in some of the terminals, but you don’t need to roll out your mat to gain the benefits of the practice. Here are a few poses that you can do while waiting to board your flight.
Uttanasana - Forward Fold
Traveling is exhausting and when your travels plan get a kink in them, it can be very stressful. Uttanasana will wake you up and calm you down all at the same time. This pose is said to calm the brain and relieve stress, fatigue, anxiety, headaches, and insomnia. Physically the pose activates the hamstrings, calves, and hips; strengthens the thighs and knees; improves digestion; and stimulates the liver and kidneys.
Stand in samastithi with your feet hip width and parallel (distance of two fists between the feet), or in tadasana with your feet together. Inhale, lengthening the spine. Exhale, bend the knees slightly, draw the belly in and up, and extend forward from the hips (not the waist). Your fingers will rest on the ground at the sides of your feet, elbows point back. If your fingers don’t touch the ground, bend the knees until they do. Shift your weight into the toes so your hips stack over the ankles. If you would like to go deeper into the pose, begin to lengthen the sit bones up to the sky. Once you find comfort in the pose, grab opposite elbows and relax the head and shoulders. Always maintain a slight microbend in the knees to prevent over extension, and keep the quads and core engaged. Forced stretching leads to injury, so just relax and let gravity and your body weight do the work here. Take a few deep breaths in this pose before releasing.
There are two ways to release out of this pose depending on the placement of your feet. If your feet are hip width, bend the knees slightly and slowly unfurl the spine to standing. If your feet are together bend the knees, engage the core, and sweep the torso up maintaining a straight spine.
Samastithi Dandayamana Ardha Chandrasana - Standing Half Moon
How good does it feel to extend your arms overhead and lengthen through your entire body when you wake up in the morning. Well why save that feeling just for when you wake up! Wake up the body and give your muscles a nice stretch with these half moon poses.
Stand in samastithi with the feet hip width and parallel. Inhale the arms overhead and lengthen the spine. Right hand grabs the left wrist, rotate the left palm up with the thumb and index finger gently pressing (yoga mudra). On the next inhale lengthen the spine and exhale pull the body over to the right. The weight will shift to the left foot as you drive the left hip out to the left. Gaze up at the left elbow. Take a few breaths, enjoying the extension along the left side body. Exhale to center, separate the hands. Gently lift the chest and open the heart to reset the hips and spine. Repeat on the left side.
The rest of the poses are seated and focus on the spine, hips, and shoulders. You can practice these poses in between flights or even on the plane. For all of these poses sit at the front edge of your seat. Plant both feet on the floor, your legs seperated hip width; feet directly under the knees. Lengthen the spine by rooting the sit bones into the chair and extending the crown of the skull up towards the sky.
Ardha Matsyendrasana - Seated Spinal Twist
Airplane seats + a long flight = an unhappy spine. So if anyone has figured out how to make those airplane seats comfortable please share because I have yet to figure it out! Luckily, spine twists make for a happy spine, relieving some of the discomfort. Spinal twists are known to increase spinal flexibility and therefore spinal health, and can reduce back pain, which is a given on those long flights. Spinal twists are also known to detox the body of toxins and improve digestive function, as well as relieving stress and anxiety.
From your seated position, inhale lengthen and exhale twist the body to the right. Place the left hand on the outside of the right knee as you gaze over the right shoulder. Take a few breaths in this pose. Maintain the twist to the right as you shift your gaze over the left shoulder creating a double helix in the spine. Release. Inhale lengthen and exhale twist the torso to the left, placing the right hand over the left knee. Gaze over the left shoulder for a few breaths then shift the gaze over the right shoulder.
Marjaryasana/Bitilasana - Cat/Cows
Similar to twists, cat/cow warms up the spine, increasing spinal flexibility, and stimulate the muscles and organs of the core.
Sitting as described above, place the palms gently on the thighs, just above the knees. Inhale, lengthen the spine as you draw the shoulders together and extend the chest and face up to the sky. Exhale pushing the shoulder blades apart as you round the spine, drawing in the belly, and tuck the chin to the chest. Repeat this inhale/exhale cycle about 5 times.
I realize its hard to tell what the heck my spine is doing in this shirt but you get the idea, right?!
Seated Garudasana - Eagle
I don’t know what it is about airplanes, but they rock me right to sleep. While this is great for making the time go by quickly, it wrecks my neck and shoulders. Enter garudasana arms! This pose create space between the shoulders, releasing tension and tightness in the shoulders, neck, and upper back.
In your engaged seat, cross your arms in front of you with the right arm under the left arm. Bend the elbows, the fingers will point up the sky. Bring the right forearm towards you, wrapping the right forearm around the left; the palms will come together in prayer. Draw the shoulders down and create space between the shoulder blades. Inhale lift the chest and gaze up, and hold for a couple breaths. On the next exhale, lower the elbows towards the belly, keeping the belly drawn in, and gaze at the floor in front of you. Hold for a couple breaths. Switch arms and repeat.
Sitting for a long time creates tightness in the hips and lower back. Now how are you supposed to go hiking or wandering through a new city with tight hips and glutes? This pose stimulates the piriformis, alleviating tension in the hips and glutes.
From your seated position, place the right ankle on the left knee; the right knee will point to the right. Inhale the hands in prayer at the heart (atmanjali mudra) with the elbows wide. Exhale extend forward from the hips leaning the torso onto the right leg. The right elbow will rest near the right knee and the left elbow will rest near the ankle. You will feel a nice extension on the outside of the right hip into the right glute. Stay here for a few breaths and switch legs.
Don’t let traveling be a pain in the a$$. So grab your water bottle, snacks, and your travel mat and keep your body happy on your next trip! Less stress and body aches while traveling means more adventuring and relaxing!
Photos taken at Fort Lauderdale Airport by my favorite travel buddy, Jenna Soulliere, while waiting for our delayed flight to St. John!
wearing: old school, altered Volcom shorts from probably 2009, Under the Canopy Willow Open Back Tee (sorry guys this one is discontinued too), Reef Rover Sneakers (go a half size up on these, perfect sneaks for traveling!), Volcom Hat, Kisiwa and Pura Vida Bracelets (use code NikkiPaul20 for 20% off your entire order at Pura Vida!)
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