Airport yoga is an incredible way to stay sane on your travels. Especially if you’re an avid traveler, you know all too well the stiff, cooped-up feeling that comes with being in a cramped airplane for any length of time. The struggle to stay refreshed and fight jet lag is so real, and it’s a struggle you’ll definitely want to win if you’re on your way to a yoga retreat in Costa Rica, or any international destination.
The last thing you want to do is turn up at your retreat feeling sluggish and burned out. Your goal is to arrive at your yogic destination fresh, excited, and ready to take on whatever adventure your retreat has to offer. We’ve put together some Airport yoga poses for tight spaces that will keep you limber, but also keep you from being that guy doing a barefooted downward dog in the aisle!
Airport Yoga: Poses To Do In Your Seat
Start all Airport Yoga poses with your feet flat on the floor and a nice, tall spine.
1. Neck and Shoulder Rolls
With your hands resting at your sides or on your thighs, slowly and mindfully trace circles with your head, taking care to get the ears close to your shoulders and chin close to chest. Do these movements a few times with intention and an even breath, then change directions.
After neck rolls, with an inhale, shrug your shoulders up to your ears, then exhale to lower them down your back, squeezing the shoulder blades together. These airport yoga poses will counteract the non-ergonomic shape of your seat during your journey to your yoga retreat to Costa Rica, or any long, international flight you find yourself on!
2. Seated Cat-Cow
With an inhale, slide your shoulders back, lift your heart center and gaze to the sky, and tilt your hips forward. As you exhale, round your spine, and tuck the chin and tailbone. This airport yoga pose should be done to whatever extent your space and seated position allows. Do 5-10 rounds.
3. Seated Figure 4
This pose will help keep your hips open for your yoga retreat in Costa Rica. It will also elevate your ankles to prevent swelling and soreness in the area.
Bring your left ankle to the top of your right knee. For more stretch in the lower back and more opening in the left hip, encourage your left knee down until it is parallel with the hip. For even more stretch, you can keep your spine straight and fold your torso over the bent leg until you’ve reached your edge. Repeat on the other side.
4. Wind Reliever
Our digestion tends to slow or become erratic with the stresses of travel or a drastic diet change like you may experience on your yoga retreat in Costa Rica. The wind reliever massages the digestive tract, helping you stay regular during travel and at your destination.
With your hands on your knees, inhale deeply to straighten your spine and slightly lift your feet off the floor. Exhale to tuck your chin, draw your knees toward your chest, and round your spine. Inhale to float your knees slightly away from your body and straighten the spine, then exhale to release back to your normal seated position. This pose can also be done one leg at a time for more hip opening.
5. Seated Spinal Twist
As with the wind reliever, spinal twists assist digestion, massage your organs, and allow fresh circulation into the torso whenever you’re feeling sluggish. It’s a great way to keep yourself alert as you trek to your yoga retreat in Costa Rica or anywhere in the world!
Being mindful of your seat neighbor, begin twisting to the right from your hips, using your core to initiate the twist. Gradually follow with your shoulders and head as your spine feels ready. If you need a little extra push, rest your left hand on your right knee and then push to encourage the twist to go deeper.
You can work dynamically in this twist with the breath: while fully twisted, inhale to lengthen your spine through the crown of your head, then exhale to deepen the twist. Always come out of the twist slowly, leading with your gaze and following with the hips. Repeat on the left side.
6. Eagle Arms
Raise your arms in front of you so they are parallel to your shoulders. Cross your left arm over the right, tucking your left elbow in the crook of the right one. Then, place the backs of your hands together, or intertwine your forearms so your palms touch, if this is accessible for you.
Breathe deeply as you raise and lower your elbows, or even move them side-to-side. This pose will allow deep opening between and underneath your shoulder blades. Repeat with the right arm on top. Feel free to counterpose with backward shoulder circles when you’re done with both sides.
7. Seated Savasana/Deep Breathing
This can be great for de-stressing if flying causes you anxiety, focusing your mind on what you’d like to accomplish during your yoga retreat in Costa Rica, or just cultivating inner peace in a sometimes noisy or chaotic environment.
Find a comfortable seated position and allow your breath to even out. Count your inhale to a 4 or 5, then try to match the exhale to the same count. Once your breathing is even, try just to focus on the path the air is taking in through your nostrils, up over your forehead, down your throat, and into your heart center, then back out again. Do this for as long as you need. You’ll be relaxed and blissed out in no time!
Poses To Do While Waiting For The Restroom:
Be mindful of the flight attendants and other passengers!
8. Chest Opener
Combat slouched shoulders by opening up your collarbones, clasping hands (or opposite elbows) behind your back, squeezing shoulder blades together, and lifting your gaze and heart center to the sky. Hold for a few breaths, then release.
9. Forward Fold
Inversions are amazing for staying alert and in touch with your body’s needs and can be hard to do in the cramped space of an airplane. If possible, step into the jump seat area where the flight attendants sit so you’re not in anyone’s way.
With a flat spine, gently bend your knees and bring your belly button to your thighs. From here, you can either work on straightening your legs to stretch your hamstrings or allowing your torso to be heavy on your thighs for more spinal support. Either way, keep your head and arms heavy to elongate your spine and continue to breathe. As you’re ready, slowly straighten your spine to a ½ lift, bend your knees and take your time coming back to standing.
This balancing pose can help you stay focused, open the hips, and lengthen the spine all at the same time: a great trifecta for keeping you primed for your yoga retreat in Costa Rica!
From standing, bring the sole of your left foot to either the calf or thigh of your right leg, avoiding the knee. Find a gazing point or “drishti” somewhere in front of you to help keep you focused. Square your hips, lengthen your spine through the crown of your head, and put your hands at heart center or raise them skyward for the full expression of the pose. Don’t forget to do both sides to stay balanced!
Whether you’re on your way to a yoga retreat in Costa Rica, a yoga teacher training in India, or any kind of travel destination in between, these poses can be a lifesaver. With a little bit of airport yoga, you’ll arrive feeling centered, alert and ready to take on whatever new experience awaits you!