If you have plans to fly long haul, you'll probably have to contend with the unpleasant symptoms of jet lag. A few simple yoga asanas and breathing can help keep you energised and stretched - before and after the flight.
What is jeg lag?
Jet lag occurs when the body's internal clock is forced to re-adjust when flying over several time zones. Symptoms can include tiredness, stiffness and sluggish circulation caused by sitting in one position for a long time.
How can yoga help?
Yoga postures and breathing have both a rejuvenating and calming effect on body and mind, helping you to re-balance, and reducing any stress relating to the flight.
Yoga can also help to counter the effects of long hours sitting with your limbs crunched up and restricted.
Before the flight - gentle 30 minute practice
To prepare psychologically for the flight, start with five minutes of full yoga breathing. Sit on a cushion in Easy Pose (crossed legs), or just on a chair, with your back straight.
- Breathe deeply and fully, using every part of your lungs, your abdomen expanding as you breathe in, contracting (falling) as you exhale. This practice has an instantly calming and rejuvenating effect and will help centre you. Return to it at any time during the flight.
- Next, come into Downward Facing Dog (Ardho Mukha Svanasana). Press the hands firmly into the floor and spread the fingers wide and flat. Take five long, deep breaths and feel the stretch in the the spine, arms and legs. Rest in Child's Pose (Balasana) and return to Dog, repeating this sequence four or five times.
- After this, try the Tree, which is great for balancing and rooting. Stand tall on one leg, placing the other foot on the standing calf, or thigh, arms reaching to the sky. Breathe long and slow.
- Round off the practice with the queen of asanas, a Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana). Held for as little as a few seconds or as much as five minutes, it will calm you and help induce sleep for the journey.
End with at least ten minutes of total relaxation in the Corpse Pose (or Savasana).
Post flight - restorative 30 minute practice
After the flight, centre and calm yourself by practising a few minutes of yogic breathing.
- Then, still in a seated cross legged position, lightly clasp your hands and stretch your arms up to the ceiling, breathing deeply. Feel the stretch in your wrists, shoulders and arms. This can also be performed at any time in-flight, when you feel in need of a stretch.
- Follow this with seven or eight rounds of sun salutations, which will energise your body, raise your heartbeat and kick-start your circulation. Pay particular attention to your downward facing dog, at the heart of the sequence.
- Next, try a few forward bends - great for calming nerves and stretching the muscles of the spine and legs.
- Spend a few minutes in a deep seated Forward Bend (Paschimotasana) - sit on the floor, legs straight out in front of you, and pivot forward slowly, taking care to fold from the hips with a flat back. Hold your feet, or ankles, and breathe slowly and deeply, relaxing the head and neck.
- Balance the pose with a back bend - the cobra gives the cervical spine a good stretch. Lie, face down on the floor. Place your hands flat beside you, close into your shoulders, elbows pointing to the ceiling.
- On an inhale, using the strength of your back muscles rather than your arms, curl your upper body from the floor, looking gently up. Stay here for 30 seconds, or as long as is comfortable.
Finish with five or ten minutes of Savasana, relaxing completely. Drink plenty of water, to rehydrate after the flight and practice.