Airplane Arms (and Legs): How to Practice Yoga While You Travel

For many of us maintaining our yoga practice is essential to maintaining our sanity and well-being. But, sometimes, the road may call upon us to travel it … and that’s when we need to take our practice with us. Altering your yoga practice for the road can be a challenge, but like anything else, if it’s not somewhat challenging, it’s probably not any fun! Here are some suggestions to incorporate a yoga practice into your flights and layovers for all your summer getaways and beyond.

On the Plane

Walk the aisles

Ok, so this isn’t technically a yoga pose, but I promise you’ll be saved from many aches, pains and discomfort if you simply get up and move your body. Plus, the blood flow you’re promoting with simply walking will help your mind stay clear, as well. Note: do this before you start to feel the effects of sitting too long.

Standing Poses + Stretches

Stretches and poses like standing forward folds (feet together or wide stance), calf stretch, quad stretch, hamstring stretch, high knee stretch, and standing figure four focus on stretching your legs and hips and will help undo the damage caused by sitting for too long. There is usually enough space near bathrooms and unless you are in first class or plan raise some eyebrows, I would steer clear of the cockpit area! Note: If your flight is more than 4–6 hours, I suggest doing this a few times per flight.

Seated Poses + Stretches

Stretches and poses like chest stretch, side stretch, torso rotations, various neck stretches and wrist stretches will help keep the upper body from holding tension. For your sake and the sake of your neighbors, who will most likely be seated extremely close, try to freshen up a bit before doing these stretches. Note: Again, if you flight is longer than 4–6 hours, I also suggest doing these a few times per flight.

During Layovers

Traditional Yoga

Investing in a travel mat is a good idea, if you travel a lot and practice almost every day. However, if you’re not eager to invest in a decent travel-specific yoga mat, I suggest bringing a towel that you can place under you for seated poses (trust me: you do not want your face touching the floors in the airport!). I’d say settle either at your gate or near your gate, before choosing a spot to practice. From my experience, most people will probably utilize the chairs, so try tucking yourself away near the windows. And, viola, now you’re ready to give your body whatever practice it’s yearning for! Note: Learn to tune people out. If it’s your first time, I’d suggest a few Sun Salutations to get you into the groove.

Chair Yoga

If you happen to arrive at your gate with enough time to practice, but there doesn’t seem to be the physical space you need (this can happen if you travel during tourist season), then I suggest doing some chair yoga. Choose movements that you don’t necessarily have the space for on the plane (i.e. Triangle, High Plank, Child’s Pose) but your body will appreciate after or before a flight. Note: Choosing a chair with no one sitting next to you might make it less uncomfortable to practice.


Will you try to incorporate some of these stretches and poses into your next journey? As you feel more comfortable exploring your practice on the road, feel free to add any new ideas or suggestions below!

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  1. Megan Reddix

    Megan Reddix

    July 12, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    I love travel yoga! Sometimes you even get people to ask if they can join you at the airport. I never mind a little company!!

    1. Bianca Williams

      Bianca Williams

      July 14, 2016 at 6:48 pm

      Very cool, all it takes is one brave soul to start the movement!

  2. Amanda


    July 13, 2016 at 7:40 am

    Some airports now are adding yoga rooms! I’d be much more likely to bust out a full practice in that kind of space. During my layovers I walk and walk and walk the airport, and I always do a few stretches but I keep it pretty low-key. On the plane, I’m so grateful for the flexibility that allows me to tuck my legs up or sit cross-legged, just to change it up mid-flight.

    1. Bianca Williams

      Bianca Williams

      July 14, 2016 at 6:56 pm

      Yes, you’re absolutely right! A few major airports are adding yoga rooms to their spaces and it would be great if they expanded on this. I can completely understand keeping your stretches and movements low-key. I have a feeling the more we travel, the more we’ll see people adding these kinds of movements into their flights and layovers! 😉

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