Yoga Stretches You Can Literally Do On An Airplane

Yoga on airplane to relieve stress

Some yoga poses can help you with the aches and pains of long flights that you can do right at your seat. There’s a good reason why you feel sore after a long flight, in an economy seat, you have about 18 inches of space.The average waist being 38 inches, you feel cramped in one spot for the duration of your flight.

Those who fly will often say they suffer from stiff hips and lower back pain. The best way to combat this are yoga poses you can do in your cramped seat. Not only can you relieve some of the pain of sitting in one spot for so long but you can also increase circulation. You may have noticed that your legs tend to get swollen when you’re 30,000 feet in the air for hours on end. Certain yoga poses can help get the blood flowing again.


Carrying heavy luggage around, standing in long queues and sitting for hours can put a toll on your mind and your muscles. Doing some yoga stretches along the way can ease all kinds of disturbances in your mind, body, and soul. Here are some simple yoga poses as well as breathing exercises that can make the journey a little easier.

Deep Breathing Before Your Flight

Before you board your plane, do some deep breathing to alleviate any flight stress and to calm the body down. Doing this will trigger the parasympathetic nervous system which prevents you from stressing out.1

  • Breathe in deeply through your nose slowly to a count of 4.
  • Hold your breath in for 4 seconds.
  • Breathe out through your mouth for a count of 4.

Repeat this a few more times and you’ll begin to feel your body relaxing deeper and deeper.

Discreet Shoulder Stretches For The Boarding Area

You’ve probably seen yogis doing some deep, obvious stretches while waiting to board a flight. That may not be your scene so you’re looking for more discreet poses. Getting rid of shoulder tightness while opening up your chest can be really helpful for fighting against slouching shoulders during your flight. Opening up your heart wide allows you to get plenty of oxygen into your body.


It’s an acceptable stretch that most people will do in one way or another so you don’t feel intimidated about doing it in public.

To do shoulder openers, you can sit or stand.

  • Bring your hands together behind your back.
  • Stretch the arms out so they’re almost straight (leave a micro-bend in the elbows)
  • Inhale while drawing your shoulder blades together.
  • For a deeper stretch, push your hands away from the body, widen your shoulders and lift your chest skyward.
  • Hold this pose for a few breaths. Repeat 2-3 times before boarding.

Twists To Improve Circulation In The Lower Back

During your flight, do some conscious twists from time to time.

  • While sitting in your seat, put your feet on the floor.
  • Put your left hand on the outside of your right knee and twist to the right.
  • Make sure to bring your head and neck to the right as well.
  • Switch to the left side.

Shoulder Shrugs To Ease Sore Shoulders

You may have taxed your shoulders by carrying around heavy luggage. Now as you sit in your seat slouched over, your shoulders are aching. Shoulder shrugs are fantastic, they isolate muscles that are connected with pain in your neck. Use your blanket that the airline gave you to maximize this pose.

  • Turn your blanket into a roll and put it behind your back lengthwise so it sits on your spine.
  • Sit back on the blanket.
  • Inhale and lift your shoulders to your ears as you engage your core.
  • Hold your breath in while you squeeze your shoulders back.
  • As you exhale, squeeze your shoulder blades together and slowly bring your shoulders down as far as they can go.

Seated Figure Four Pigeon Pose For Circulation And Your Back

To improve your circulation and ease back pain, try this gentle pose. It helps your blood circulate to your legs and feet.

  • While sitting in your seat, consciously sit tall and engage your core.
  • Cross your right ankle over the left knee making sure your left foot is firm to the floor.
  • Flex your right foot and inhale your breath into your lower back.
  • To deepen this stretch, fold forward and twist your torso to the right.
  • Repeat on the other side.

A Hug For Your Upper Back And Stress

Yoga stretches for upper back and stress


You can give yourself a hug to relieve pain from the upper back. You can do this while standing or sitting so it’s a great pose during any part of your travels. This pose also helps when you’re feeling stressed because essentially, you’re giving yourself a loving hug.

  • Wrap your arms around yourself and squeeze.
  • Focus on touching your shoulder blades with your fingers.
  • Stretch your neck in this pose by pressing your ear to your shoulder on each side.
  • Release and switch arms so the lower arm is now the upper arm.

Neck Release Pose For Neck Pain

When you carry your luggage on one shoulder, you may strain your neck. Neck release will relieve the pain and also reduce mental stress. When you incorporate deep breathing into this gentle pose, you can relax your neck and instantly get relief.

  • As you sit upright, lean your left ear to your left shoulder.
  • If you need a deeper stretch, wrap your left arm around the right side of your head.
  • Sit in this pose and breathe deeply. You should feel your neck becoming less tense with each exhale. Close your eyes and take your time in this pose.
  • When you release the pose, move your left arm and slowly roll your head forward, bringing your chin to chest.
  • Move it to your right side and repeat.

Keeping the blood moving and your muscles stretched helps you relieve pain or discomfort from flying. It also helps pass the time. Once you’re landed, you’ll feel rejuvenated and ready to explore your new surrounding. By keeping the body from reacting to highly stressful situations or aggravations, you prevent headaches or exhaustion. Remember to breathe deeply and stretch your extremities from time to time. A Harvard study found that since the 1970’s meditation and yoga have been used to treat anxiety.2If you feel like stress is building up within you, do some deep breathing in that moment to alleviate the onset of a full-blown meltdown. Listen to what your body needs at any given moment and use these poses to help with the stresses and body aches of flying.