I recently took a trip to the UK for my dear old Grandad’s 100th birthday. I always love my time in England, but I never look forward to the plane ride over. From Vancouver, it is 9 hours on the plane plus another hour in the car. At 5’9, my knees press against the seat in front of me, my broad shoulders poke into the isle where the flight attendants bash them with their carts if I’m not careful, and my feet swell up to (what feels like) twice their normal size, so needless to say, it was not a comfy flight. When I finally arrived at our destination I was desperate to re-calibrate.
Yoga is the perfect remedy for the sluggish and cramped up body that accompanies jet-lag. With a simple sequence of twists to relieve stiffness in the spine, lunges to counteract all that sitting and inversions to send circulate the blood, I felt like new again. And it allowed me a restful sleep to follow.
Here’s a sequence to try next time you step off a long haul flight:
1. Start on hands and knees for some Cat/Cow poses to move energy through the spine and relive stiffness in shoulders and hips.
2. Move into Downward Facing Dog (adho mukha svanasana) and then take 3-5 Sun Salutations (surya namaskara A).
3. Lift your right leg in your Downward Dog, then swing the foot forwards towards your right thumb. Drop to your left knee and reach your arms overhead for Low Crescent Lunge(anjaneyasana). Pause here for 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the 2nd side.
4. From your Downward Dog reach our right foot forward between your hands and pivot your left foot to the floor setting up for Warrior II (virbahdrasana II). Pause and breath.
5. Take your right elbow to your knee and your left arm overhead for Extended Side Angle Pose (parsvakonasana).
6. Straighten the front leg without locking the knee for Triangle Pose (trikonasana).
7. Repeat steps 4-6 on the left side.
8. Come onto your back for Happy Baby (knees next to the rib cage, hands to lower legs or soles of the feet).
9. Take a shoulder stand (sarvangasana) or if bedtime is near, take yourself to a wall and place your legs up the wall to invert the legs in a more restorative pose. Hold as long as you like. I recommend 10-15 breaths.
10. Come to your back and take a supine twist, taking your knees on your chest and draw both knees to one side while looking over the opposite shoulder. Take 5 deep breaths. Repeat the same thing on the second side.
11. Finally, take a 5-10 minute long savasana. Lying on your back, close your eyes and let the full weight of your body drop into the floor. Follow your breath with your awareness.
This entire sequence should take you 10-15 minutes and will make you feel lengthened, energized and light. All you need is a very small portion of space in a room. You don’t need a mat if you don’t have one, carpet works just fine (I’ve done it many times before!), or hardwood is better.
So go ahead, take that trip you’ve been craving, just don’t forget to pack your yoga pants!
Happy travels. Namaste.
PS. Thought you might like to know my Grandad says the secret to a long life is everything in moderation and to not stress about things you cannot control. “You win some, you lose some. It’s not a tragedy if you lose.” A true yogi at heart. Awww Grandad, you’re the best!
- Jacci Collins is a yoga instructor, dancer and blogger living in Vancouver, BC. A lifelong student of yoga, she strives to find balance in the body and mind with humor and grace. Join her at www.jaccicollinsyoga.com, facebook, and twitter.