In Flight Yoga

The most likely health complaint you will have after a short haul flight will be simple aches, pains, and cramps. Not exactly, life threatening but best avoided if possible. However on longer haul flights your health can suffer when you are trapped in a seated position for seemingly hours on end.

in flight yoga

One of the best solutions for these complaints is to move around the cabin whenever practical. I always advise my clients to get up and move around every 45 – 60 minutes.  You can follow this practice too if you have a desk bound job.

When you are unable to move around, try to do exercises whilst sat in your seat, curling and un-curling your toes, and constantly changing the position of your legs and simply stretching your back and arms. Move your legs in a walk motion to aid against deep vein thrombosis.


Combating Deep Vein Thrombosis


A more serious health problem on flights is deep vein thrombosis. Not being able to move your legs around properly for long periods of time can cause problems with circulation and the results can be serious such as blood clots forming. Crossing your ankles should definitely be avoided!

Chances of Clotting

New research from the World Health Organization shows that about 1 in 4,500 travelers will develop a clot. And the clots are caused by passengers not moving around enough.

This report shows that travelers who take long flights — more than four hours in length — face a two- to three-fold increase in the risk of developing a blood clot.

However the risk is still extremely slim, and in reality the number of clots is still quite small. Nevertheless, clots can be dangerous.

When most people think of blood clots, they think of clots in arteries, like an artery to heart or brain that would cause either a heart attack or stroke, however what we’re talking about here, is different. These blood clots form deep inside the legs, so they’re called “deep vein thromboses,” or DVT’s for short.

Immobility, after surgery or a long plane flight or car ride increases the risk of developing a clot. They can become serious when the blood from these veins feed back up to the lungs.

If these clots dislodge, they travel to the lungs.  This is termed a pulmonary embolism, which is potentially fatal.  About 20 to 25 percent of patients suffer sudden death.

Women who are taking birth control pills or hormone therapy and are severely overweight face a 30-fold increased risk.

Compression stockings

However, travelers who know they’re at a higher risk can wear compression stockings. These special stockings compress from the bottom of the leg to encourage blood flow.

According to a recent study by the Flight Safety Foundation, blood clotting during long flights is a medical problem that can strike even the relatively young and physically fit, due to cramped conditions in which the densely spaced seating and narrow aisles make it difficult to move around. The circulation tends to slow down when the body is immobile.


Your In Flight Yoga Routine


The following sequence improves circulation and can help prevent this problem.It will keep the blood moving in the veins and lowers the predisposition for the blood to clot. While it may not resolve all your travel-related problems, it can make a real difference in the way you feel on your first days abroad.

Your Yoga in Flight routine can be done with the seat belt loosely fastened in the confined space of an economy-class seat without infringing on the adjacent passenger’s space.


With the feet flat on the floor, lift and tap the heels on the floor, lift and tap the toes, and then alternately roll the feet from heel to toe.

Lengthen your legs and raise the feet slightly off the floor in front of you. Flex and point the feet, spreading the toes wide apart as you flex. Turn the toes outward, flex and point again.

Make circular movements around the ankles in each direction.

Six times on either side.

Legs and Knees

Take hold of your right knee with both hands and bring it in towards the chest. Inhale and squeeze the knee as close as possible to the chest while lifting the sternum; exhale and release. Next, raise the bent right leg a foot or more off the floor. Circle the knee in both directions, rotating the leg from the hip socket. Repeat, using the opposite leg.

Six times on either side.

Upper Body

Bracing your hands or forearms on the arm rests, raise and lower the buttocks. This relieves pressure on the spinal disks. Then, with the buttocks raised off the seat, circle the hips in both directions. Lower the buttocks onto the seat and move the rib cage from side to side

Six times on either side.

Seated Twist

For this spine-stretching pose, sit up tall and take hold of the sides of your seat, twisting the torso to the right and the left, and holding for 10-20 seconds on each side. This works the chest, shoulders, and spine.  Twisting is also beneficial to travellers who get constipated when they travel.

Arm Raise & Twist

Raise the arms overhead, clasp the hands together, and turn the palms upwards.  Drop the head backward and arch the back. Holding the outward finger lock, press the palms forward as far as space allows and then down toward the floor.

Again six times on either side 

Raising the arms overhead again, stretch the arms and torso from side to side, bending from the waist and keeping the torso in a straight plane.  Make sure that you keep the head in a neutral position.

Six times on either side.

Hands and Arms

Lean back and extend the arms in front of you at shoulder level with palms down. Perform the following moves 4 to 6 times: clench the fingers into a fist and release, spreading the fingers wide as you release; rotate the wrists in both directions.

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1 Comment
  • Hilda Boutroux
    Posted at 21:38h, 01 August Reply

    Hi – cheers for a great write up. I’m coming into my 15th week of pregnancy. Am at an increased risk of DVT?

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