Are you having a layover between flights? Is your back feeling stiff and your legs heavy? Are you anxious? Is your stomach bloated? Do you need a rest break? Do you have an extra 15-30 minutes before your flight?
If you are lucky enough to be at one of the five USA airports that offers a yoga room, take advantage of it! San Francisco, Dallas-Forth, Burlington, Albuquerque, and Morrisville International Airports now offer yoga rooms that provide a quiet, relaxing space equipped with yoga mats and other props for your use. If you are stuck in an airport without a yoga room you can still try to find a quiet corner to stretch and relax for a few minutes.
Below are a few poses that will release your back, lengthen your spine, relieve heaviness in your legs, aid your digestion, calm your nervous system, and rejuvenate you before the next leg of your trip.
This pose sequence will gently warm up your spine.
Lower yourself to sit on the mat and transition onto your hands and knees. Your hands should be under your shoulders with your fingers spread out wide. Your knees are right under your hips. Inhale a deep, delicious breath as you bring your head down and arch your back into flexion (cat), and pause:
Exhale slowly as you move your head up to look towards the ceiling while you drop your belly towards the floor, arching your back into extension (cow):
Enjoy the stretch. Inhale as you reverse the movement of your entire spine into flexion (cat). Flow between these two poses enjoying your breath and the movement of your spine between flexion and extension. Repeat for 8 breaths.
Downward Facing Dog/Child’s Pose
This sequence will elongate and release tension in your neck and back. It stretches your hands and your legs, improves mobility of you digestive system, and calms the nervous system.
From hands and knees curl your toes under and push your hips up and back, transitioning into Downward Facing Dog:
Relax your head. Make it heavy, moving it gently from side to side. Spread your fingers and push down through your entire hand. You can slowly pedal your feet to stretch your calf muscles. Now press your heels down and enjoy the stretch of your shoulders, your back, posterior muscles of your legs, and your calves. Take five deep breaths. Lower yourself back to hands and knees. Shift your hips all the way back to sit on your heels. Make a space between your knees to allow your body to lower down into a wide legged Child’s Pose with your arms stretched out in front of you:
Relax your spine by letting it drop into more extension. Breathe slowly. Take five long, nurturing breaths. With each breath sink deeper between your knees.
Alternate between Downward Dog and Child’s Pose three times.
Bridge Pose calms the mind and opens the chest, heart, and shoulders. It stretches your spine, back of the neck, thighs, and hip flexors.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet placed on the mat under your knees. Your arms are resting next to your body. Gently, breathing in, elevate your pelvis up into Bridge Pose:
Open your heart, shoulders, and your hips. Hold for 3 breaths. Lower down slowly one vertebra at the time. Pause. Repeat 3 times.
Legs Up the Wall Pose
Legs Up the Wall Pose has been called the most therapeutic pose in yoga. It is a restorative pose that rejuvenates your lower back and legs, eases tension and helps to boost circulation. Begin by sitting on the ground with one side of your body against the wall. Gently turn your body and let your legs come up along the wall. Allow space for your pelvis to rest comfortably on the mat and lower your back down to the ground. Rest with your feet up on the wall above your pelvis. Open your chest with arms elongated away from your body in a T-position:
Close your eyes and breathe deeply, enjoying the delightful relaxation. Stay in this pose for 5-10 minutes.
When you are done, slowly turn to your side. Lower your legs and take a few slow breaths lying on your side before standing up slowly. Get reoriented to your surroundings. You are still in the airport. You are now ready to travel to your next destination!
Magdalena Oledzka is a pediatric physical therapist and is the section manager at the CA Technologies Rehabilitation Center at the Lerner’s Children’s Pavilion, Hospital for Special Surgery. She is NDT trained in the management and treatment of children with cerebral palsy and other neuromotor disorders. Magdalena has been practicing yoga for 12 years and has taken a 7 day basic course on ‘Yoga for the Special Child’ with Sonia Sumar.