Flying equals back pain and a stiff neck almost without fail—between the physical stress of sitting in the same position for hours on end and the mental tension (looking at you, nervous flyers), you don’t stand a chance. We turned to the entrepreneurial yogis behind Mindfresh, who’ve made it their mission to bring yoga to the workplace, for a solution. They shared a yoga sequence that’ll help you unwind, decompress and stay loose on your long-haul flight—and it’s totally doable in the confines of your coach seat.
Interlace your fingers and flip your palms away from you. Draw your shoulders back into their sockets. Raise your arms up alongside your ears and relax your shoulders. Breathe deeply through your nose. Press your seat down and simultaneously reach your palms up to make your spine as long as you can.
Keeping your fingers interlaced and your palms facing up, take a deep inhale through your nose and, as you exhale, lean over to the left. Try to keep the right side of your seat rooted down into the chair. As you inhale, come back to the center. Exhale and lean over to the right. Try to keep the left side of the seat from lifting off the chair. Go back and forth between left and right three times. Lean on each exhale and come back to center on each inhale.
Press your seat down and twist to the right. Gaze past your right shoulder and take five deep breaths. Twists give the internal organs a little squeeze, which helps to detoxify them. Twisting also rotates the spine, which is important after sitting for hours at a time. Press your seat down and twist to the left. Gaze past your left shoulder and take five deep breaths. We always twist right first, and then left, because it follows the pattern of the digestive system.
Place the elbows on the top of seat in front of you (being mindful of your neighbor’s head!), shoulder-distance apart. Allow the palms to press together as your head falls through the upper arms and your chin draws into your chest. The idea here is to open up the shoulders and chest, while also giving the backs of the arms a little stretch.
Sitting up tall, tilt your head over to the right. You can reach your right hand over your head and gently press the left side of your head, near your ear, to deepen the stretch. Take several breaths here, focusing your attention on the left side of your neck and shoulders. Tilt your head over to the left side, taking the left hand to the right side of the head. Most of us carry a lot of our anxiety in our shoulders. Breathing deeply while you stretch helps loosen the physical muscles and the mental tension at the same time.