Vacations are great, but the travel can be hard on your body. You’ll learn a set of three poses to refresh your body and help reset your internal clock after a long trip.
Downward Facing Dog
Begin with adhomukha svanasana (downward facing dog) pose. Place your hands on the seat of a chair whose back is against a wall (for stability). Step back until your feet are farther from your hands than your hips. Straighten your legs completely as you draw your side body and shoulder blades toward your buttocks. Hold for 30 seconds, then step forward and come up. If you are stiff, repeat with the chair. If you are more flexible, repeat with your hands on the floor, pressing the hands firmly down and extending your spine back towards the legs. Raise the heels as necessary to straighten the legs. Hold for 30 seconds and walk feet in and come up.
This pose helps to calm the brain and gently stimulate the nervous system, in addition to stretching the back and legs. It also helps relieve headaches, rests and rejuvenates the heart, and boosts circulation, which will help relieve swollen legs and ankles after long flights.
After lengthening your back, you are ready for marichyasana (sage spinal twist.) Sit on a folded blanket or pillows with your legs straight. Bend your right knee and bring your heel close to your buttock. Place your elbow on the outside of your knee. Inhale and sit tall, then on your exhalation twist towards your right. Avoid turning your head at first and concentrate on turning from your pelvis and abdomen. Roll both shoulders back. Hold 30 seconds breathing normally, then release on an exhalation and repeat to the left.
This spinal twist relieves lower backache and hip tightness. It aids sluggish digestion, which is common after flying, and increases circulation to the internal abdominal organs. The pose alleviates indigestion, and helps prevent or relieve sciatica.
Reclining Bound Angle
Supta baddha konasana (reclining bound angle) is a restorative pose to help you open your chest, abdomen, and pelvic area. Use a folded blanket (or two) or stacked pillows to place under your back. Place a folded towel above them to support your head. Sitting, place the place the soles of your feet together, then lie back on the blankets, relaxing your knees open. If you feel a strong stretch at the groin, place rolled towels or pillows under your knees. Rest your hands at your sides, palms up to the ceiling. Close your eyes and relax, concentrating on the rhythm of your breath. Remain in the pose for at least 3-5 minutes, longer if you are comfortable.
Bound angle pose helps the body oxygenate by opening the lungs and encouraging deeper breathing. It regulates blood pressure and increases circulation in the abdominal area, relieving any digestion woes. The pose is calming, and conducive to meditation.
Be sure to drink plenty of fluids to help you rehydrate and spend time in the sun to encourage your inner clock to reset. Refreshed, you are ready to enjoy your vacation!
Rebecca Taggart is a San Francisco-based yoga instructor.