Travel Smart: Yoga Tips for a Comfortable Long-Haul Flight

Escaping the winter cold? Lucky me! However, this escape comes with a price, both financially and in terms of the long hours spent on a plane. A long flight can be uncomfortable, but with a few strategies, we can make it more bearable. Here are some tips to enhance your comfort during your flight:

Promote Circulation

Sitting for extended periods can hinder circulation and increase the risk of blood clots in the legs. To encourage venous return:

  • Foot Pumps: Point and flex your feet regularly. This action helps to alternately squeeze and stretch the muscles and blood vessels, preventing blood from pooling in the lower legs.
  • Leg Exercises: Tense and relax all the muscles in your legs, starting from your feet and working up to your thighs.
  • Movement Breaks: Get up and move around every few hours to keep the blood flowing.
Prevent Stiffness and Pain

Lack of movement can cause joint stiffness and discomfort. Here are some simple exercises you can do on the plane:

  • Ankle Circles: Perform 10 circles with your feet in each direction.
  • Knee Stretches: Flex and straighten your knees to keep them mobile.
  • Hip Circles: Find a space near the bathroom or kitchen, stand on one leg, and circle the other leg in each direction.
  • Spine and Shoulder Mobility: Do seated cat/cow stretches and frequent shoulder circles. For arm circles, wait until you can stand to avoid disturbing your neighbor.
  • Wrist and Finger Exercises: Give your wrists and fingers the same treatment as your feet and ankles.
  • Neck Movements: Gently move your head side to side, front to back, and ear to shoulder.
Protect Your Lower Back

Long periods of sitting can strain the lower back, especially if you have existing weaknesses. To alleviate this:

  • Twists: Stand and twist gently to each side. Seated twists: keeping the knees and hips stable turn the upper body from one side to the other.
  • Seated Cat/Cow: Perform this yoga stretch while seated to keep your spine flexible. Simply round the spine while breathing out and arch the spine while breathing in.
  • Elevate Your Sitting Bones: Sit on a rolled towel or cushion to maintain the length of your back.
Avoid Getting Sick

It’s challenging to avoid germs in a confined space. Here are two precautions:

  • Wear a Mask: Wearing a mask throughout the flight can help protect you from airborne germs.
  • Practice Nasya: Apply a small amount of black sesame oil (cold-pressed, not the cooking kind) inside your nostrils to create a barrier against germs.
  1. Manage Lack of Sleep

Lack of sleep can be stressful, but there are ways to cope:

  • Stay Calm: Don’t stress about not sleeping. If you’re on an overnight flight, get comfortable, put on some earphones and listen to soothing meditation music. You might not sleep much, but you can make it up the next night.


Upon Landing

Once you arrive, irrigate your nostril with neti and find some fresh air and take the time to do some yoga breathing exercises to help rejuvenate your body..

By following these tips, you can make your long flight more comfortable and arrive at your destination feeling better prepared to enjoy your escape from Winter. Safe travels!


By Vrndavan Dasi
Founder and Principal of Veda Yoga Teacher Training