Backaches, anxiety, and feelings of claustrophobia are all common symptoms associated with the stress of the packing, schlepping, waiting and hurrying involved in travel. And travel can present the risk of more serious health threats including deep vein thrombosis, the formation of blood clots in the legs due to lack of circulation and dehydration. So what’s a yogic traveler to do? Try these simple strategies and easy yoga stretches to help shield you from the effects of stress and inactivity when you travel:

1. Try to arrive at the airport well ahead of schedule so that you lower the risk of missing your flight. Then, with your extra time at the airport, you’ll be able to indulge in some “pre-flight yoga.” Find an un-crowded waiting area and stretch.jill-standing-bridge-arms

After carrying luggage, interlace your hands behind your back and raise them up for Standing Bridge Arms pose.

My favorites are basic shoulder poses to help me unwind from carrying luggage, standing one-legged balance poses to reset my core, and a variety of runner’s lunges using chairs for additional support.

While practicing, soothe your nerves with deep abdominal breathing. If you find yourself rushed or in a panic with spiking anxiety, remind yourself that the only thing you can control in this moment is your breathing. Don’t punish yourself for getting hyped up; forgive yourself (and the airlines) for losing control now and then!

2. Once on board, pull your Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls out of your carry-on so you can use them for an in flight back massage. You can start by placing them between your shoulder blades and gently wiggle your back from side to side while the balls massage across your upper back. Reset the balls in a new spot every 10 minutes or so and your kinks will be massaged out by the time you walk off the flight.

3. Choose an aisle seat so that you can walk along the aisle (carts permitting) and stretch your legs to pump blood through your whole system. During a long flight, the hamstrings, hip flexors and back muscles tend to become tense and congested from lack of movement.

4. Try to squeeze in another runner’s lunge or simple forward bend in the galleys on the way to the onboard bathroom. The airline bathroom may be small, but I have been known to do jumping jacks to stir up my blood. I’ll then carefully arrange my body into a few creative sidebending poses, like the boomerang, which is also a great lower back stretch. And of course, throughout the flight, drink plenty of water.

5. Once you’re at your destination, make it a priority to calm down your nervous system from all of the stimulation. My favorite is the deeply tranquilizing Veeparita Korani Mudra (Legs Up the Wall Pose). It is very simple and a great stress-reliever.

Lay on your back with your buttocks at the wall and prop up your pelvis with a block.

Straighten your legs upright against the wall so that they are supported by the wall.

Inhale through your nose filling from belly to throat.

Imagine your breath is like a cascading waterfall as it fills from your belly to your heart, and finally pauses at the throat.

Slowly exhale then repeat (5-10 minutes).

Resume your yoga practice the next morning, whether it’s with a yoga DVD you’ve brought along, a live class you found in your destination city, or an online yoga class or how-to video. You’ll feel much more regulated, balanced and ready for your day.

Watch our stress relief videos instantly.

Read how to breath away stress.

Read about overcoming general anxiety.

Jill Miller

Jill Miller, C-IAYT, ERYT is the co-founder of Tune Up Fitness Worldwide and creator of the self-care fitness formats Yoga Tune Up® and The Roll Model® Method. With more than 30 years of study in anatomy and movement, she is a pioneer in forging relevant links between the worlds of fitness, yoga, massage, athletics and pain management. She is known as the Teacher’s Teacher and has trained thousands of movement educators, clinicians, and manual therapists to incorporate her paradigm shifting self-care fitness programming into athletic and medical facility programs internationally. She has crafted original programs for 24 Hour Fitness, Equinox, YogaWorks, and numerous professional sports teams. She and her team of 500+ trainers help you to live better in your body with an emphasis on proprioception, mobility, breath mechanics and recovery. She has presented case studies at the Fascia Research Congress and International Association of Yoga Therapy conferences. She has the rare ability to translate complex physiological and biomechanical information into accessible, relevant moves that help her students transform pain, dysfunction and injury into robust fitness. Jill is the anatomy columnist for Yoga Journal Magazine and has been featured in Shape, Men’s Journal, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, Yoga Journal, Self, and on the Today Show and Good Morning America. Jill is regularly featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network. She is the creator of dozens of DVD’s including Treat While You Train with Kelly Starrett DPT and is the author of the internationally bestselling book The Roll Model: A Step by Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility and Live Better in your Body. Based in Los Angeles, CA, she is a wife and mother of two small children and is currently writing her second book.

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Kara Stafford

I love all of these tips and I will definately be putting them into my travel routine! I aslo carry a yoga strap to strap up my thighs and help keep my SI joint and hips happy. I am also thinking a slightly inflated corageous ball at the lower back would feel great! Thank you!

Kathryn Featherstone

my family will be travelling in a week – after a very long few weeks of stress I cannot wait for this holiday- however I am always so wiped out from travelling – I am going to take these suggestions and follow through – in the airport and wherever I can find a space – I am looking forward to it

alice yuan

LOVE THIS! As a frequent traveller, I am picking up new tips for my next trip~! Aisle seat does sound amazing…..lol sometimes on long flights, window seats are not very ideal having to cross over the aisle-seated person to get to the restroom. And I am VERY VERY excited to use my balls on my next long flight! WOOOO~ Miami!! 😀

nic matthews

great advice Jill. I did this on a recent flight to LA from Australia (14 hours) Also loaned my YTU balls to a lovely crew member so she could enjoy some self loving foot rolling during her break 😀

Myriam Goulet

Those are pretty good tips. Looking forward to use them in my next long flight.

Juliet

I have been traveling with my yoga tune up balls on long flights and long drives. It helps to release the tension and have a good nap before landing. Go to the back of the plane to do some runner lunges!

Angela

As a frequent flyer, I love that you are encouraging people to use their YTU Balls and Moves in the air! I love the idea of having the balls for seated back massage. On my last flight I had a water bottle wedged behind my back, a YTU Ball would have been MUCH better.

Erika Mills

This is such great advice. I am now looking forward to my back massage during my next flight! It’s way more positive to focus on self-care then on the stress of flying!

Eva Martens

Flying through airports ends up eating up lots of precious time so I love the ideas to keep mobilizing while stuck waiting. One of my Sankalpas is to appreciate the process and be less focused on the destination, while waiting this is a great opportunity to implement some of the teachings of Yoga tune-up. And doing this in a busy airport might just get others asking what you are doing, spreading the word if you will 🙂

Jolie Mosser

I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to traveling. Always look forward to my destination, but never enjoy the hustle and bustle in between. Thank you for these tips as I will fersure incorporate into my next travel plans.

Robin

I will use these tips as I travel to Italy this fall. It is a long flight so I am going to pack my YTU balls for sure! Thanks for the wonderful tips!

Tam Nguyen

I”ll be traveling in a few weeks. These are very helpful tips. Thank you.

Elyse

Read the article that linked to this. Taking the list of go to stress release techniques on our pending trip to the UK.
Thanks

Leiloni

I really liked the pose tips for in-air travel, I plan on bringing my set of balls next time I fly (or drive). I think it’s a helpful reminder to focus on relaxing/calming down the nervous system once you arrive, I know I always feel mentally over-stimulated when I travel for a long distance.

Maryday

I wish I had known to bring my YTU balls with me 2 years ago when I travelled a 22hr flight to Asia! Yikes which resulted into low back, shoulder neck pains etc. Although, I am looking forward to bringing the YTU balls this summer when I travel again to Asia and Europe. Thanks for these great tips!

Line Bernier

J’ajoute à la liste des exercices que j’effectuais avant, pendant et après le vol lors de mes voyages! Merci!

Emilie

I have traveled to and from the US with my YTU balls with me without any problem, but recently got them taken away at the customs before a flight from Lebanon to Canada. Apparently the customs officer was concerned that something illegal could be hidden inside the balls and insisted on ”opening them”… I was pretty pissed-off to have to leave them behind.
Next time I’ll take one ball in my carry-on and keep one in my luggage, just in case!