It’s competition season, and you’re probably jetting or driving toward your next gold medal! But that cramped feeling of sinking into the airplane, car or bus seat can be frustrating. These simple “travel yoga” poses will help you lengthen your spine and energize your body, so that you’ll be better prepared to jeté to center stage when you arrive at your destination.
Exercise #1: Spinal Flexion and Contraction
Why this is good for you: Spinal flexion brings flexibility to your spine and strengthens surrounding muscles. It also promotes blood flow to your head, which is especially beneficial when flying.
Sit forward on your chair, feet hip-distance apart and knees directly over ankles with your thighs parallel to the floor. Inhaling, open your chest by pushing your shoulders down and back, and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lift up the heart.
1. Abdomen can come forward.
2. Lower back arches slightly.
Why this is good for you: The exercise elongates your spine and increases the fluid between the vertebras, cushioning the spine.
On the exhalation following the spinal flexion, round the spine and allow the shoulders to come forward as you drop your chin toward your chest.
1. Pull navel in toward spine.
2. Press lower back to the back of the chair.
3. Imagine the spine is making the
Exercise #2: Neck Stretch
Why this is good for you: The stretch alleviates tension by lengthening your neck and creating space between your vertebras in the cervical spine.
Start by sitting tall with the crown of your head reaching up, lengthening the neck. Breathe in and, with your exhale, drop the right ear toward your right shoulder. Take a few deep breaths to relax into the stretch, head dropping a little more with each exhale.
For a deeper stretch, place your right hand on the left side of your head and, very gently, pull the neck away from the left shoulder. Keep the left shoulder down. Repeat on opposite side.
Keep pushing shoulders down.
Exercise #3: Wrist and Arm Stretch
Why this is good for you: Many everyday actions rely on the wrist, so stretching can help make them less susceptible to strain or injury.
Sitting in your chair, extend your arms straight in front of you, palms out with wrists flexed so that fingertips reach toward the ground. Feel the stretch along your forearm and fingers.
Continue this sequence by bringing the fingertips back in toward you, rolling over pinky fingers first, until the top side of each hand pushes against the other in front of your chest. Keep the arms parallel to the chest and fingertips pointing down as you feel the stretch along the outside of your wrists. Roll back into starting position and slowly repeat 10 times.
Remember proper posture. Sit up straight.
Photos by Matt Karas
Abby Gold is a student at New York University and was a Dance Spirit intern.
Megan Walsh is a certified yoga teacher.