Traveling by plane? Use these 8 Mind-body Tips for a Relaxing Flight
Flying is usually the fastest way to get to travel, but it also can generate a lot of stress. Our mind is often in an active state while the body is forced to remain inactive, spending hours seated or waiting. We’re calculating which security line will move the fastest, wondering when our luggage will arrive, and perhaps engaging in an internal dialogue with the loud cell-phone talker.
Although the ancient Vedic sages lived long before the invention of planes, the natural healing system they developed offers timeless wisdom and practical tools that can help you arrive at your destination feeling rested and relaxed:
If you are flying through several time zones, change your watch only as you pass through each zone rather than setting it forward to your destination. This helps your body adjust and avoid jet lag.
If your mind is very active or you feel anxious about flying, take a few minutes to write your thoughts in a journal or notebook. Practicing the breathing technique known as Nadi Shodhana will also help you relax. Find instructions for Nadi Shodhana here.
Flying dehydrates the body, which can leave you feeling tired and irritable, so be sure to drink a lot of water when you fly. How much? Here is a helpful formula: Take your weight (in lbs.) and divide by 2. The result is how many ounces of water to drink when you are flying. For example, a person weighing 140 lbs should drink 70 oz. of water during his or her flight.
Avoid alcohol, which is extremely dehydrating at high altitudes. Instead, bring along a soothing herbal tea and ask for hot water.
Bring an inspirational book or novel to read; avoid watching television throughout the entire flight as the stimulus can further imbalance Vata dosha, which is already easily disrupted by the act of hurtling through the air at thousands of miles per hour.
Eat relatively lightly and get up for a few minutes to stretch after your meal to aid digestion.
Practice Sitting Sun Salutations (see instructions below)
Yoga for Everybody: Sitting Sun Salutations
In yoga, the Sun Salutation is a classic series of poses that enhance strength, flexibility, and balance. Here is a modified version that you can do in your seat to relieve tension in your spine, enhance circulation, and ease sore muscles during your flight.
Sit comfortably in your chair, with your spine erect, pressing your palms together in front of your heart. Focus your awareness on your body, breathing easily.
Reach your arms up, stretching your shoulders and upper back as you inhale.
Bend forward as you exhale, letting your hands rest on the floor next to your feet, relaxing your neck, and resting your chest on your thighs.
Grasp your left knee with interlaced fingers. Straighten and arch your back as you extend your arms, inhaling.
Begin to exhale while bringing your chin down to your left knee and rolling your shoulders, upper back, and neck forward. Fully exhale as you release your leg and return your foot to the floor.
Repeat the sequence with your right leg.
Stretch both hands towards the sky, extending your spine and fully inhaling.
Return to the first pose, with hands at heart center. Feel the sensations in your body with your full attention, breathing easily.