Yoga For Travel

A few days ago, I wrote about how yoga can help curb holiday stress. However, I left out what is probably the most common and potent cause of seasonal strife – air travel.

What with security concerns, new baggage fees, cancelled flights and disgruntled employees, flying isn’t what it used to be. It’s up to us as consumers to ensure that our holiday travel is at least bearable, if not enjoyable. Luckily, we may get some help with this – both a popular airline and a few airport parking outfits are using yoga to soothe the savage beast of the modern day air traveler.

If you live in Baltimore, your holiday season park-n-ride experience might be a bit different this year. Airport Fast Park has hired yoga teachers to conduct yoga “classes” on their airport shuttles during the busy holiday travel rush. Granted, the trip from the parking lot to the airport is only a few minutes long, but passengers will be treated to deep breathing and stretching exercises (all seated, of course – this does all happen on a moving bus). By the time you actually reach the airport, you will hopefully be in a state of Zen that makes the ensuing craziness a bit less daunting. Around the country, similar programs are being used by a number of airport shuttle services. I’m not sure what benefits the shuttle companies get from doing this service, but good karma is certainly one of them. Plus, I’m sure it doesn’t hurt to have happier, more relaxed passengers on their buses during what is sure to be a tough time for customer service departments.

If you’re lucky enough to be traveling on Jet Blue, you can take this yoga-inspired journey even farther. Working with national fitness chain Crunch Fitness, the airline designed “Airplane Yoga” cards that sit calmly beside the usual vomit bags and safety cards in the seat pocket in front of you. Illustrations and easy instructions show you how to do several easy yoga stretches that can ease tension and keep your blood flowing on those long, uncomfortable flights.

But what about those of us who can’t fly Jet Blue or take advantage of yoga-conscious park-n-rides? We can take matters into our own hands. Megan McCarver, on her website, cites a passage from Buddha in the Palm of Your Hand by Osel Tendzin:

“Having a proper attitude towards journey is essential. If we make a journey properly, than everything we encounter is considered part of it. We are fully involved in the process of journeying rather than being fixated on our destination. We are not looking for quick solutions, but are willing to be open, precise, and thorough in relating to ourselves as well as all the facets of our environment – the weather, the scenery, the landmarks, and the obstacles or sidetracks along the way…Beyond that, we must understand that chaos and confusion are perpetuated because we do not have the training to see things as they are.”

Of course, this can be hard to keep in mind when struggling through long lines and frustrating waits. You can try some simple yoga stretches and poses to help you stay calm and relaxed – side stretches, mountain pose, neck rolls, and alternate nostril breathing – or take the time to do a short yoga session before and after airline travel.

There’s no avoiding the stress of airline travel during the holidays, but with a yoga-inspired mindset, you’ll be able to navigate through each challenge with grace and strength. Namaste and happy (or at least not miserable) travels!

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