Yoga Poses for Travelers

It's easy to get off-balance when you're traveling. Spending hours on your feet in long airport lines only to cram yourself into tiny airplane, bus, or car seats is exhausting! Sitting in one place for too long can make your blood circulation sluggish. Your metabolism slows down and digestion lags. The recycled air in airplanes, buses, and cars dehydrates you. Needless to say, travel can be physically and mentally taxing.

It's more fun to feel vibrant, alert, and flexible when you're exploring a new city or spending time with family! Adding some yoga to your post-travel routine will help bring you back into alignment, as well as calm your mind and boost your energy. Read on to learn a few yoga poses that will ease your cramped hips, rejuvenate your tired legs, and calm your over-stimulated brain. You can do the poses in order, or skip around and just do the ones that feel best. Remember to breathe smoothly and never force any pose. Relaxation is the goal!

Restorative Inversion: Legs Up the Wall

Ancient yoga texts claim that Legs Up the Wall — Viparita Karani (VIP-uh-REE-tuh kah-RAH-nee) — will destroy old age. Many modern teachers agree to its benefits, including relief from anxiety, headaches, insomnia, mild depression, and much more. It stretches the back of the legs, calms the mind, and relieves fatigue and cramping in the legs and feet.

  1. Set a bolster or pillow on the floor against the wall.
  2. Sit sideways against the wall with your lower back against the bolster.
  3. Gently bring your legs up onto the wall. Use your hands for balance as you shift your weight as you lie down.
  4. Rest your shoulders and head on the floor. Your lower back should now be fully supported by the bolster.
  5. Hold for 5-10 minutes, breathing with awareness.
  6. To release, slowly push yourself away from the wall and slide your legs to the side.

Spine Opener: Bridge Pose

A chest and neck opening pose, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (SAY-too BAHN-duh shar-vahn-GAHS-uh-nuh), helps to reduce stress and anxiety. It calms the mind and is known to be therapeutic for individuals with high blood pressure. Do not perform this pose if you have a neck injury.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
  2. Press your feet and arms into the floor as you lift your hips toward the ceiling.
  3. Keep your thighs and feet parallel — do not roll to the outer edges of your feet or let your knees drop together. Roll your shoulders back and underneath your body. Clasp your hands and extend your arms along the floor beneath your pelvis.
  4. Hold for up to one minute, then exhale and release by slowly rolling the spine along the floor, vertebra by vertebra.


Hot Tip: Support Your Sacrum


If you're having trouble keeping your hips lifted, place a block or bolster under the sacrum — the spot at your lower back directly above your tailbone — to support your pelvis. This is also a good modification if you'd like to make the pose restorative, rather than active.



Spinal Stretch: Easy Pose with Twist

Sometimes called "Simple Cross-Legged Pose with a Twist," Parivrtta Sukhasana (PAH-ruh-VREE-tah soo-KAHS-uh-nuh) stretches the back, knees, and ankles. Sitting upright so your spine is properly aligned reduces stress and anxiety. Twisting stimulates and detoxifies your abdominal organs, while boosting energy.

  1. Sit on the edge of a firm blanket, crossing your legs in front of you at the shins. If your hips are very tight, you can sit on a bolster or block.
  2. Balance your weight evenly across your sit bones. Align your head, neck, and spine. Lengthen your spine, but soften your neck. Relax your feet and thighs.
  3. Place your right hand on the floor behind you. Bring your left hand to the outside of your right knee, gently twisting to the right. Inhale to lengthen your spine, and exhale to twist deeper. Gaze over your right shoulder.
  4. Hold for ten breaths.
  5. Come back to center. Change the cross of your legs and twist to the opposite side.
  6. To release, come back to center.

Restorative Stretch: Easy Pose with Forward Fold

Sometimes called "Simple Cross-Legged Forward Fold," Adho Mukha Sukhasana (AH-doh MOO-kah soo-KAHS-uh-nuh) stretches the back, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. Folding forward calms the mind, and reduces anxiety and fatigue.

  1. Sit on the edge of a firm blanket, crossing your legs in front of you at the shins. If your hips are very tight, you can sit on a bolster or block.
  2. Balance your weight evenly across your sit bones. Align your head, neck, and spine. Lengthen your spine, but soften your neck. Relax your feet and thighs.
  3. Reach your arms up overhead, lengthening your spine.
  4. On an exhalation, slowly bow forward with your arms still extended. Rest your arms, hands, and forehead on the mat. If your forehead does not touch the mat, bend your elbows, stack your hands, and rest your forehead on your hands. You can also rest your forehead on a pillow or bolster.
  5. Hold for up to five minutes.
  6. To release, use your hands to walk yourself back to an upright, seated position. Change the cross of your legs, and repeat the pose.

Full-body Stretch: Seated Forward Fold

Traditional yoga texts say Paschimottanasana (PAH-shee-moh-tun-AHS-uh-nuh) can cure disease. Modern yoga teachers agree this calming forward bend, literally translated as "Intense West Stretch," helps to relieve stress and reduce fatigue. It stretches the spine, shoulders, and hamstrings, and is reputed to be therapeutic for high blood pressure and infertility. Do not perform this pose if you have a back injury.

  1. Sit on the edge of a firm blanket with your legs extended in front of you. Beginners should bend the knees throughout the pose, eventually straightening the legs as flexibility increases.
  2. Inhale as you reach your arms out to the side, and then up overhead, lengthening your spine.
  3. Exhaling, bend forward from the hip joints. Do not bend at the waist. Lengthen the front of your torso. Imagine your torso coming to rest on your thighs, instead of tipping your nose toward your knees.
  4. Hold onto your shins, ankles, or feet — wherever your flexibility permits. You can also wrap a yoga strap or towel around the soles of your feet, holding it firmly with both hands. Keep the front of your torso long; do not round your back. Let your belly touch your legs first, and then your chest. Your head and nose should be the last to touch your legs.
  5. With each inhalation, lengthen the front torso. With each exhalation, fold a bit deeper.
  6. Hold for up to one minute. To release the pose, draw your tailbone towards the floor as you inhale and lift the torso.

Happy Travels

Incorporating yoga into your travels can help you enjoy the journey instead of stressing out. Be sure not to push yourself too hard in the poses. Take it easy, remember to breathe, and have fun on your trip!