Yoga on the Move: Airport Yoga

Posted by: on July 27, 2011

Travelling can be really tiring and taxing. Air travel is especially trying with overcrowding and stress-inducing events of making and missing connections.  Did you forget your water bottle in your carry-on?  Don’t forget your belt on the X-ray machine!

 Recently, while travelling through Atlanta, going from East to West coast, I was able to use my yoga to help through the journey.  Here are a few ideas I can share.

 First, before even leaving I ensured I had good healthy snacks to eat: Plenty of nuts and trail mix packed in convenient Ziploc bags. Apples and dried fruit travel well since they don’t get squished. My banana didn’t fare as well.  Next time, I’ll eat the banana before taking off.  Bring an empty water bottle that can be filled after going through security.  

 Three part breathing is really invaluable. You can do this anywhere and no one will notice. Breathing helps you be mindful. It activates the relaxation response, which will immediately counter-act any stressful situation.  Read: Long lines and endless waiting.  Breath through your nose and count to five; 1-2-3-4-5.  Hold the breath for a five count.  Then slowly exhale on a count of five. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.  Ahhhh, instant bliss!  When was my flight again?

 I found doing just a few yoga poses really helped with stress and kept me limber.  Where to do yoga in an airport? 

 Walking around the terminal I found there are many areas, with lots of activity to obviously stay away from.  However, I noticed several gates with little to no activity in which there was ample room to spread out.  If you want total privacy, there are commercial options, called Minute Suites, where you can work, sleep, or do your yoga. You pay by the minute, so this may or may not be the best option for you. 

 At Atlanta Hartsfield, by gate A20 a found a little alcove sandwiched between some stores that provides elevator access for handicapped people to the tarmac. This small rectangular area, (about 30 feet by 20 feet) is rarely used, so there was no traffic what so ever. The best part was that it was carpeted and removed from the hustle and bustle of the terminal.  There are quiet areas like this on each terminal in the airport.

Downward Facing Dog pose is a great stretch for sore backs and tight legs. Hold this pose for a minute and bicycle (alternate) stretch your calves. A full, modified Sun Salutation is possible, if you don’t have your yoga mat. Instead of Cobra pose, you can do Upward Facing Dog pose. Keep your shoes on if you like. As a modification, just curl your toes instead of using the tops of your feet.   

Here are a couple of suggestions from the Yoga for Small Spaces card-deck set.

      Arm Swings are a great energizer and quick pick-me-up. Stand in Mountain pose, raise your hands overhead, palms facing.  In unison, bring your arms back, down and then up in a circular motion.  Synchronize your breath to the motion to help your lungs expand.  Do this for one minute.  

     Windmill pose is excellent for stretching tightened hamstring muscles as a result of all that standing.  Stand in Mountain pose with arms outstretched to the sides parallel to the ground. Inhale. On the exhale lean forward touching your right hand to your left foot or shin. Inhale and come back up. Exhale and lean forward touching your left hand to your right foot of shin. Repeat ten times.

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