Head in the Clouds

Marc Kaplan

“This is your Captain speaking. Please make sure that seat belts are fastened and do not move about the cabin until the all clear sign is on.” How often have you heard these directions on an airline flight implying that you must be still for a safe take-off? But do we have freedom from clots and discomfort; deep-vein thrombosis while flying? Practice yoga while sitting and feel more comfortable.

A guide to yoga for airline travelers

At the airport before boarding the aircraft, it is a good idea to practice some yoga postures. When in line going toward security posts, it is especially beneficial to stand on your toes, and rock back on your heels to help alleviate the tension of going through the security sections. Don’t worry about how it looks to other people. They are in the same fix as you are, and would love to be able to practice.

Before you fly, you should be aware of certain problem areas. Dehydration is one, along with the problem of tap water on a plane. There is more of a chance for dehydration during a flight than on land, so drink at least four pints of water a day for a few days before flying. Avoiding alcohol will lessen the chances of dehydration. Fifteen percent of tap water has been known to contain bacteria, so avoid coffee and tea made from tap water on the flight.

If you are traveling on a western flight during daytime, open the shutters to get the maximum amount of daylight; and when traveling eastward at night close the shutters to eliminate as much light as possible. This will help you overcome jet lag. Some people report that eating dried cherries helps them overcome jet lag effects.

A great practice to reduce anxiety from flying before, during, and after a flight is to use breathing techniques. Start with the in-breath by placing your hand near the belly button concave of your stomach and expand your chest. Do just the reverse when exhaling, so that your belly is out and the chest in. Be aware of your breath and the rise and fall of your hands. Alternate nostril breathing using the thumb and ring finger is also useful. Even if you do not have to go to the restroom, walk down the aisle. This will give you ample opportunity to stretch your legs and get the joints moving. When returning to your seat, use the tray by placing your hands on the corners and moving it. Cross your arms on the sides of the tray and rest the side of the face in one of the hands. Do the same with the other hand in the other direction. This will relieve the tension of your neck and shoulders.

Face the back of your seat and move towards your toes and heels. You might find some new friends that way. Keep a light and smiley attitude – your mood becomes contagious.

You are about to land. Most likely air pressure has affected your ears and you are experiencing discomfort. Below the ear lobes there is soft tissue – press this pressure point and it will relieve you of that discomfort. Once you have landed use a soft tissue and blow hard into it, so you hear loud clicks and sounds that are now normal. Just in time to hear the announcement from the captain “Thank you for joining us on the flight and have a wonderful day.”

On arriving, it is a good practice to do some grounding exercises like the Mountain Pose and a chi kong exercise Horse Stance (similar to hugging a tree while crouching). Drink plenty of water for the next few days and try not to push the time zone into your schedule; rather let the adaptation occur normally.

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