When we travel, no matter how excited we are about our trip, when we finally arrive at our destination or return back home we can feel tired and exhausted.
Travelling comes with its own share of ups and its downs. There are thrilling adventures, exciting hikes, amazing food, kind people, and breath-taking views, but there are also stiff backs from long flights, tight legs from walking and hiking, a stiff neck from adventure sports and an overworked digestive system from indulging in yummy food.
If you’ll be spending time traveling on a plane, train, or automobile this holiday season, or otherwise for work, the following sequence will bring you much-needed relief after hours spent sitting.
This body-opening yoga routine will help you alleviate aches and stiffness after hours or days of holiday travel. Try to practice each pose for 5-6 breaths, and remember to do only what feels good for you. After going through this sequence, you’ll feel a new sense of freedom and comfort in the body. Perform the routine as often as you need throughout your travels, or after your travels when you get back home. If you’re doing this sequence during your holiday travel, I recommend trying it first thing in the morning before your morning walk or family breakfast! Continue this routine for at least a week when you get back at home, and it will help you recover from the travel hangover. Once that layer of fatigue is remedied, you will then start experiencing the amazing and rejuvenating impact your holiday travel had on your body and mind.
1. Begin with some gentle joint rolls and stretches - This is a great way to start off your practice. Gently move all the joints of your body, starting with the neck, shoulders, wrists, back, hips, knees and ankles, in any way that feels good to release tension and stiffness. Synchronize the movements with your breath to maximize the benefits. Remembering all the pleasant memories of your travel, smile as you stretch effortlessly, like a smooth, flowing dance.
2. All Direction Back Stretch - Click here to learn my favorite set of stretches for the back. It wonderfully and magically relieves an achy and stiff back. It is a game changer.
3. Marjariasana (Cat Pose) – The slow yet dynamic movements of this pose, tuned with breath begin to warm up the body, stretch and strengthen your lower back. After sitting in a cramped airplane seat for 10 hours, your back is craving this, and will thank you.
4. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog) – This pose will get your blood pumping and circulating throughout your body. It’s an excellent way to stretch out your hamstrings, shoulders, calves and side bodies. It will relieve aches and tiredness after walking and exploring a new city all day long and refresh your body and mind.
5. Vakrasana (Simple Spinal Twist) – You can’t go wrong with this simple twist! After a holiday of indulging, your liver and kidneys need some extra care. When you twist your body, you are cleansing your system by releasing toxins and awakening your spine.
6. Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose) – After hours of sitting during travel, Pigeon may be little tough pose to practice. It completely releases the tension from your hips and spine and gets you ready for another day of travel.
7. Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) – Traveling can wear your back out! With this amazing pose, you’re quite literally bending your back into the opposite direction you’ve been sitting in for a few hours time. This will instantly relieve that achy back and open up your heart and lungs to fill with fresh air. It can be energizing, restorative and rejuvenating all at the same time.
8. Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand) – This inversion will get the blood flowing and moving all around the body. It will also boost your metabolism and allow your mind to clear.
9. Supta Natrajasana (Dancing Shiva Pose) - Release all the tension that you have accumulated in your spine with this simple but very effective twist. Make sure you are gently breathing in and out and relaxing into the pose.
10. Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutation) - Adding just a couple of rounds of slow paced sun salutations to your routine will invigorate your body and refresh your mind and spirit. During your travel, if you are having a date with a stunning sunrise on a hill-top or a mesmerizing sunset at the beach, do a few rounds of this famous sequence, including the associated mantras if you’d like,, and make your date a lifetime memory.
11. Savasana (Corpse Pose) – Lastly, end each practice session with Savasana. Even if you don’t have time to go through each of these poses, make time to lie on the hard floor and breathe. It is so peacefully restorative to lay horizontally and allow the ground to absorb your weight after a stressful day of navigating a new region or a country. After being up in the sky all day, sometimes all you need is to feel a little bit grounded.
12. Nadi Shodhan Pranayam (Alternate nostril breathing) - Finally, do a few rounds of alternate nostril breathing or just simple deep breathing to calm and center your mind. If you have your meditation practice, plan on doing it as much as your schedule allows.
GI detox with lukewarm water - This simple technique is a great way to cleanse the overindulged digestive system over the holiday travels or even work travels. Drink 2-3 glasses of lukewarm water first thing in the morning after brushing your teeth. This will help loosen the toxins and digestive waste sitting in your tract and make it clean. You can repeat this every 2-3 days if you wish.
Practicing yoga before and after long days of travel will totally transform the way your body reacts to jet lag, physical discomfort, and stress that comes with it.
Try these poses during or after the holidays. Get onto your mat and experience the magic yourself!
By Sejal Shah, E-YRT 500 Yoga Teacher, Art of Living Teacher, Mind-Body Wellness Writer, Yogi, Meditator, Homeopath