This is a guest post by upcoming Bali yoga retreat leader Jane Holland.
I love traveling. It’s my most favorite thing. Ever since I can remember I have wanted to
see the world. Blame the wanderlust on my parents, I think it’s in my genes. But traveling
doesn’t come without it’s challenges. Particularly if you are anything like me and need to
regularly reach, stretch and move your body. Sitting on a plane for 3 or 8 or 15 hours can
seriously curb your chi, press your prana and mooch your mojo. Often by the time you arrive
at your destination, you feel like you’ve been folded like an origami swan (but perhaps
without quite so much style…)
For those of you who are nodding your heads- try these 3 poses when you hit the ground…
After you’ve stretched up your arms overhead, find a spot on the floor and let your
legs out straight. Shake them about a little, then simply fold forward over your legs,
allowing your spine to round. Stay here for 5 minutes. If you have tightness in your
hamstrings, lower back or sciatica, you might like to sit on a cushion or place a rolled
up towel/blanket under your knees. Come out very gently and very slowly curling
back up your spine. Sit for a moment or bend your knees and windscreen wiper them
side to side, then lay down on your back for 1 minute to integrate and ‘rebound’.
Benefits? Great for calming and soothing a weary traveling whilst replenishing
energy. This pose will decompress the spine and help open up into the hamstrings
and help connect to your new place by grounding your lower body to the earth.
If you can get up from the floor after pose 1- roll over onto your hands and knees and
just move around for a while here. Be intuitive, circle your hips, rock side to side-
whatever you feel you need to do to loosen up. Then step one foot forward and find a
deep lunge. I love this pose, it gets right into the hip joint and can be great for
sciatica. It also opens up the chest, spine and hip flexors if you stay upright. As
always, listen to your own body and don’t push yourself. You are not trying to go as
deep as you can, remember you will be here a little while so let gravity and time do
the work for you… You can place a blanket under the back knee, slide the right knee
out to the side a little, or even hug a bolster or pillow for support. Stay for 3 minutes
in this one, then step back into a delicious downward facing dog. Rock out your hips
side to side. Then lower onto your belly for one minute to integrate before coming to
hands and knees again and repeating on the opposite side.
Benefits? Deep opening and stimulation of hips and spine, affecting the Spleen-
Stomach channels into the body (so the earth element for grounding to your new
place), and enhancing endurance and balance.
A slightly more vigorous opening for the hips and a lovely little compression for the
spine, swan pose targets the glutes and hip flexor and is beautifully stimulating and
energizing. Moving into this pose from your belly ‘rebound’, come onto hands and
knees again before sliding your right knee forward between the hands, leaning to the
right buttock and just feel into your right knee. It is important to be supported here. If
there is a strong sensation in the knee, bring your foot closer to the groin, if it is ok,
maybe move the foot further forward. Now play. Be curious in your body and move it
around, until you feel a stimulation in your right buttocks and hips. Remembering you
are not looking for an intense sensation that you are unable to endure. Place a support
under your right buttock if there is a big space, or wherever you feel like you are
‘hanging’ and then release in the posture and give yourself over to gravity. Spend 3
minutes here. Slide out VERY gently and take some big breaths in through your nose
and out your mouth (sound, sign, scream- whatever comes…). Take a downward
dog if you feel it, or relax onto your belly or back to spend a minute watching the
sensations within you. Repeat on the other side.
Benefits? Stimulating for spine (if remaining upright) and energizing and opening into
hips to release tightness from hours of sitting. You will thank me after….