Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure—the journey can sometimes feel a little rough. Sitting for hours can make you achy, and any stress from potential flight delays or traffic jams can make you feel even less like your prime self. The next best thing to having a masseuse on call? Whipping out a few yoga poses wherever you might be. “Sitting can stiffen muscles and joints, creating discomfort, and yoga helps unwind all of that,” says San Francisco-based yoga instructor Diana Oppenheim. “Yoga can also help keep you calm and at ease, and travel is always more fun when you can go with the flow.”
Oppenheim suggests performing these five poses whenever you start to feel stiff, or once every hour if your location allows. Pick and choose depending on your needs. You can do them almost anywhere, whether you’re rambling down a country road or flying 30,000 feet in the air.
Centers your mind and releases your lower back, which can become tense after hours of sitting.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and fold forward. Bend your knees as much as you need, so your belly easily rests on your thighs. Hold your elbows, and let the weight of your head and arms gently stretch your spine. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
Stretches your glutes and the external rotator muscles of the hip, which can all get tight during long periods of sitting.
While seated (in a car, train, or plane), place your right ankle on your left knee. Keep your right foot flexed to help protect the right knee. Shift forward slightly, so that your weight is on the front edge of your sit bones, and keep your back long and chest lifted. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, and repeat on the other side.
Travel (and sitting) can lead to slouching and sore upper-back and shoulder muscles. (Lugging bags around can do the same.) This stretch helps those muscles release.
While seated, raise your right arm up, and from your shoulder, turn your palm to face behind you. Bend your elbow so your hand travels down the back of your neck, drawing your elbow straight up toward the ceiling. Next, grab your right elbow with your left hand to gently further the stretch. Breathe deeply into your upper chest and shoulder area for 30 to 60 seconds before switching sides.
Helps stretch your psoas (the deep muscle that runs from your spine to your hips), hips, abs, and even your shoulders, by opening the front side of your body to help counteract the effects of sitting.
Stand and step your right leg 3 to 4 feet forward, and turn your left foot out about 45 degrees. Pull your abs in toward your spine, and bend your right knee to 90 degrees. Lift both arms up overhead. Be sure to keep your back leg muscles engaged, to help evenly distribute your weight. Breathe for 5 counts and repeat on the opposite side.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.