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7 Yoga Poses You Can Do on an Airplane

These simple moves can keep you flexible when you travel.

Medically reviewed in March 2022

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Is there anything more uncomfortable than sitting in a cramped airplane on a long flight?

The good news is that you can stretch your body without even leaving your seat. These easy yoga poses can be done even in economy, and they'll help fight the stiffness that comes with sitting for hours. Do this simple sequence to stay flexible, remember to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and get up to walk around the cabin when you can.

That's especially important if you have one or more risk factors for deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), such as pregnancy, paralysis, heart disease, or smoking. Even if you're not at risk for DVT (a blood clot that typically develops in the legs), these moves will help you arrive at your destination limber, refreshed, and ready to enjoy the sights.

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Breathe Deeply

Sit up tall in your seat, with your palms resting on your thighs. Lengthen your spine through the crown of your head. Close your eyes and breathe deeply as you settle in and relax. Inhale to a count of two to four, and exhale to a count of four to six.

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Neck Stretch

Shift your buttocks toward the edge of your seat. Keep your spine upright and shoulders soft as your chin drops toward your chest (you should feel a gentle stretch along the back of your neck). Let your head feel heavy, like a bowling ball, and slowly roll your right ear down and up toward your left shoulder. Stay for five breaths, feeling a gentle stretch. Then slowly roll your head back through center and repeat on the right side. Repeat two to three times on each side as needed to release tension in your neck.

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Seated Pigeon Pose

This move will help limber up your legs and hips, and—unless you have really long legs—you should be able to do it comfortably on a plane. Sit on the edge of your seat with your spine straight, legs together and feet flat on the floor. Rest your right ankle on top of your left knee, flexing your right foot. Gently press your right hand on your right knee until you feel a stretch in your outer right hip (lean forward if you need to feel the stretch). Hold for 20 breaths, and switch sides.

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Seated Cow Pose

Sit toward the edge of your seat with your spine tall. As you inhale deeply, relax your shoulders back and tilt your hips forward, gently lengthening and arching your back into a slight backbend and gazing up toward the ceiling.

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Seated Cat Pose

As you slowly exhale from cow pose, round your back, tilting your hips back and letting your head drop toward your chest. Gaze toward your navel. Repeat the cow/cat sequence at least 10 times to help keep your spine flexible.

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Seated Spinal Twist

This simple move also helps keep your spine limber. Sit on the edge of your seat with your spine straight. Inhale deeply, and as you exhale, twist toward the right, grabbing your right armrest. Hold for several breaths, returning to center as you exhale. Repeat on the left side. This pose also helps improve digestion, which can be thrown off when you travel.

 

 

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Crescent Moon Pose

Do this pose when you can move around during a flight. Stand with your spine straight and your feet flat on the floor. Raise your arms overhead, shoulder width apart with your palms facing each other. Inhale, and then exhale over to the right. Keep your feet grounded. Hold for five breaths. Inhale back to center and repeat on the left side.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is Venous Thromboembolism? Page last reviewed: February 7, 2020.

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