Have you ever passed through the airport and seen a fitness freak in the corner doing a headstand? I agree, doing a headstand or any yoga posture in the corner of the airport is a bit weird but the question to be asked is – Does that “fitness freak” feel better after a 13-hour flight than you do? Without doubt, yes.
The entire process of travelling whether it is by air, rail or road is stressful to the body and the mind – and it doesn’t help that there is usual a demanding client waiting for you at the end of the journey.
In all modes of transportation your body is forced into a seated position, with varying degrees of comfort (usually dictated by the size and behaviour of the person sitting next to you) for extended periods of time. Your muscles are denied the opportunity to stretch and they become tight. In extreme cases, the immobility of the legs can cause the blood to flow slowly and even clot, causing pain and swelling (deep vein thrombosis).
The solution is simple – yoga. Try the following stretches (without disturbing your neighbour if you can):
1.Modified tadasana: Sit with your back straight, interlace your fingers and raise you hands above you head. Open your palm towards the ceiling. Feel the stretch right from your fingers to your tailbone. Take five deep breathes and gently lower your hands. This will release the stress in the neck and shoulders whilst lengthening the spine, thus releasing tension in the lower back.
2.Modified ardha padmasana: If you can make a little space for yourself, try this version of the half lotus pose. Sit with your back straight; keep the left leg on the ground with the ankle directly under the knee. Place both your hands on the right knee and lift it towards your chest. Stay here for a few breaths, allowing the hamstring and quads to stretch. If you feel any pain in the knee, then stop here and release the leg to the ground. If you are comfortable, then place the right ankle on the upper part of the left leg. Slowly lower the right knee as far as you can and focus on your hips- you should feel the stretch of your hip flexors. Hold for a few breaths and repeat on the other side.
Much of the stress that our bodies feel whilst we travel, originates from stress in the mind. We are worried about flight delays, an annoying colleague, a demanding boss, an irrational client, a family that misses you… the list goes on. All these chaotic thoughts use up energy and manifest themselves as tension in our muscles. Take time during your travels to allow the mind to be still.
3.Modified Yoga Nidra: Sit comfortably with your back as straight as possible. Focus on your breath. Feel the chest expand as you inhale and allow the body to relax as you exhale. If thoughts come into your mind then acknowledge them but let them go, telling yourself that you will deal with them later. Try this for at least five minutes and you will feel less stress in the body and the mind.
These simple tips are not going to make the client waiting for you any less demanding, but will hopefully make you look and feel more energised and focussed when you do walk into that big meeting.