Planning a trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was wonderful to anticipate, but the thought of the long flight, nearly 9 hours in a sedentary position, really concerned me particularly how sitting so long would affect the circulation in hips and legs. In preparation for the trip I started to think about ways to relieve the tension from confinement on the long flight. I turned to Yoga as a solution and offer here some suggestions that anyone can adapt for air travel, and if you’re locked at the computer for hours on end in a sedentary job these exercises are easy to do at your desk. Edgar Cayce the renowned American psychic in his readings on health often stressed, “We should do everything in our power to maintain good circulation through exercise.”
BEFORE YOU GO It’s important to prep your body before and after a long flight: drink lots of water, bring a bottle of water to spritz your face and a facial moisturizer, travel light and Ladies avoid restrictive bras, wear loose comfortable clothing instead and slip on shoes, bring a neck pillow to brace your head and a very light blanket to put around your shoulders should the air conditioning be too cold. It is important to start your regime early: before and during the flight eat lightly and avoid salt, alcohol and caffeine. In the airplane cabin don’t cross your legs, it impedes circulation and get up as often as possible and walk about the cabin. If you find a free space stretch, bend over and touch your toes. Sedentary Yoga will help you to maintain good circulation and increase your chances of feeling less stressed and looking ‘band box’ fresh when you arrive.
SEDENTARY YOGA Don’t worry about your seat companion's questionable look. Just say, “Excuse me but in case you’re wondering I’m doing some simple yoga exercises to improve circulation.” With that explained proceed to prep your body for in-flight yoga by getting into the silence in your mind. Close your eyes and visualize the calming color of the blue sky. Start off by centering yourself in the upright seat, feet flat on the floor close your eyes and focus on breathing in an out slowly and meditatively for a few minutes. If you feel uncomfortable about doing in-flight yoga in your seat go to the rest room when it is not busy and do these exercises in privacy.
ROLL AWAY TENSION I always like to begin with Cayce’s head and neck roll exercises which relieve tension and improve circulation to the brain, eyes, face and neck. Do this in slow motion by moving the head to the right shoulder, briefly pause there, then continue around the neck to the left shoulder. You may hear some cracking sounds which is a normal reaction of the body releasing the head and neck from uptight anxiety. Now reverse the head roll starting at the left shoulder. Do this exercise six times in each direction (or more if you desire). Cayce said that the head-and-neck rolls are particularly valuable to relieve muscle tension for people engaged in desk work, typing, piano and other activities (such as sedentary in-flight situations) that strain head, neck, eyes, shoulders, and arms.
SHOULDERING THE PROBLEM Okay, your exercise regime has just taken flight but you need to follow up with the shoulder roll. Children love to do this exercise because it looks so funny but it has tension releasing benefits worthwhile for any adult. In your seat inhale and roll your shoulders up to your ears, hold briefly and then exhale and roll your shoulders down. Again you may hear cracking sounds which only means that tension is being released. Repeat this exercise several times then with arms dangling roll your shoulders forward several times and reverse the action backwards. Hear yourself saying, “Oh, what a relief.” Quite frankly I think the airlines should engage every passenger in yoga in-flight exercises.
ANKLES AWAY It may be a tad difficult to do ankle exercises sitting in your seat but it can be done. Like the head-and-neck rolls start with the right leg and circle the ankle to the right several times and then repeat this action in the opposite direction. This simple exercise on each leg will reve up circulation. Then ever so slightly do the leg lift sitting in your seat. Lift your right leg up briefly hold this position, point toes toward the floor, repeat several times and do the same with the left leg. Now are you ready to walk about the cabin?
WALKING IN THE SKY Remember you’re on a long flight so get out of your seat and walk around the cabin or up and down the aisle. If you can find a space at the back of the airplane do some waist twists to the right and to the left, back and forth, to loosen up the spine. Bend over and touch your toes or dangle at whatever point you feel most comfortable. Rise up and now try to squat and do some knee bends. Embarrassed about such a public display? Want some privacy? When there is a lull in the restroom lineup go inside and do your twists, turns and bends there.
SITTING IN ONE SPOT FOR MORE THAN SIX HOURS WITHOUT RELIEF IS ONE OF THE MAIN CAUSES OF FATIGUE, HEART ATTACKS AND CIRCULATION PROBLEMS. DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHAT ANYONE MAY THINK. WHETHER YOU’RE IN THE SKY OR AT THE OFFICE OR HOME WORK STATION GET UP, GET MOVING, SHAKE AND ROLL YOURSELF INTO GOOD HEALTH!!!