This is Part I in our Holiday Stress Management Series. Be sure to download, save or print the Airport Yoga Infographic to take with you on your travels!
It’s tough to keep your workout routine alive during the holidays, especially when you travel. Holiday trips present a special conundrum: you’re one-hundred percent thrilled about seeing your family and catching up with old friends, but at the same time, you’re one-hundred percent miffed the whole travel thing disrupts your regular routine. You miss your gym time, your running/walking time, or whatever time you typically devote to self-care during any given non-holiday week.
Without those stress-management activities, you turn into a Grinch. It happens to the best of us, and nothing does it like an epic travel day. This season, when you find yourself stuck in an airport, staring helplessly up as the word DELAYED flashes next to your flight number, do yourself a favor. Instead of heading to the bar for a drink, eating a plate of bad fast-food, or getting all worked up about things you can’t control, try this option: do some yoga.
We even have a cover story prepared for you, because we know not everyone has the personality to just up and do yoga any old place—or in this case, plop down on the floor and do some old-fashioned seated stretching in the middle of the airport. Here’s the trick: find your gate, then find a wall socket nearby and pretend you need to charge your phone. The floor next to the socket acts as your personal, temporary yoga studio. Travelers will glance over, see you’re connected to and appropriately nursing your device via electronic umbilical, then ignore you.
The Airport Yoga Routine
Once you find your spot, you’re ready. Haul your carry-on luggage over, get your kids set up with iPads (or your phone while its charging), have a seat, and do the following series of yoga postures.
Seated Forward Bend
Sit up on your sit-bones and shimmy your rear-end back until your tailbone and upper back touch the wall. The wall is your friend. If your hamstrings are tight, let the wall support you so there’s no strain on your lower back. If you need to, reach down and manually pull your glutes back and out so your pelvis tilts ever-so-slightly forward. Aim for a 90-degree angle between your legs and your torso. Align your legs with your hips and flex your feet so they make a 90-degree angle to your shins. Then engage the muscles of your thighs and push your calves down into the floor. Your heels should pop off the ground about a half an inch. This is your first pose—just sitting there like that. Think of it like this—if you were standing up, you’d be doing a forward bend. If this feels good, then bend forward further, hinging from the hips. Lead with your chest, keeping your spine as long as possible. Allow your hands to come to rest where they want—maybe your knees, maybe your shins, maybe all the way down at your feet. If you’re flexible, go ahead and lay your torso along your thighs. If you have tight hamstrings, don’t bend: you’re fine right there. If you do bend forward, come out of the pose by using your hands to push yourself back up to the wall.
Add a Twist
Return to your starting position, back flat on the wall, legs straight out in front of you. Bend slightly forward, reach across your body with your right arm and place your right hand on the outside of your left knee. Place your left hand on the floor next to your left thigh and twist your body to the left until you’re looking back towards the wall over your left shoulder. Hold this position for a breath or two, then come back to center. Repeat on the other side.
From your starting position, bend your right knee and pull your right foot toward your body, placing the bottom of your foot against the inside of your left leg where your flexibility allows—anywhere from your knee all the way to your torso. Let the outside of your right leg fall flat on the floor while paying close attention to your knee—if you feel any pulling on the outside of your knee, stop there and support it with your hand. You’re likely to feel a stretch in your right glute and outside hip. Then, re-check your hips and spine. If you’re still sitting upright easily, try a forward bend as above. If not, stay put: that’s your pose. Hold for a breath or two, then unfold your leg and repeat on the other side.
After doing the glute/hip stretch on both sides, take a couple of breaths to check back in with your starting position: upper back against the wall, legs in front of you, hip distance apart, feet flexed to 90 degrees. For the crossover twist, bend your right knee and place your right foot flat on the floor next to the outside of your left knee. You right knee is now bent and your right leg is now crossing the mid-line of your body. Next, place your left upper arm on the outside of your right knee, place your right hand flat on the floor next to your right hip, and twist your torso toward your right thigh as you look back over your right shoulder. Keep your spine upright and long and your shoulders relaxed. Hold this twist for a breath or two. Gently untwist as you exhale and return to your start position. Uncross your leg and repeat on the other side.
Standing Forward Bend
You’re almost done. The last posture is a simple standing forward bend, and you can combine it with your cell-phone charging ruse. From your original seated posture, move to the wall socket, shift to your hands and knees, get your feet under you, then straighten your legs into a forward bend. Unplug your phone, then come out of your forward bend nice and easy.
Refreshed and Ready to Go
You now have a solid yoga routine that will open your hips, glutes, and hamstrings, strengthen and open your spine, refresh your mind, and give you an energy boost. Best of all, no one will think you’re crazy, because you’ve been hiding in that universal device-charging blind spot.
Everyone here at Skyterra wishes you happy, safe, and mindful holiday traveling. Download the infographic to your Kindle or other reader, or just print it out and slip it in your purse to have on your travels.