chris chavez on yoga for travel
posted: July 7, 2014
It can be challenging to maintain a practice with a busy travel schedule and yet I have found that it is essential for me to get at least a few minutes in every day in order to stay mobile and feeling good. What I discovered years ago is that I can practice anywhere! It is luxury sometimes to have plenty of space to lay your mat down, so many times I have to get creative. Here’s how you can, too.
Best yoga pose for on the airplane
To offset the demands that travel makes upon the body, I have two poses that I like to do once I get on the plane and at least once per flight, if not more.
If you travel in economy class then you know that seats on planes are getting closer and closer together and leg space is a luxury of the past. Plus, regardless of how long your flight is, by the time you board you most likely walked a few miles to and through the airport, and some of that was probably speed-walking or mad-dash-running (depending on how good you were with time management). So, your hips and legs are going to need a little love.
Seated Pigeon (right side)
• Sit up tall in your chair (as best you can) and cross your right ankle over your left knee, making a number four (4) with your legs so that your ankle is just past the thigh and your foot has freedom to move in circles.
• You can put your hands on top of the seat in front of you and try to get as tall as you can (as if you were trying to look over the seat to see which film the person in front of you is watching).
• Take some deep breaths and see if you can feel the muscles in your hips expanding just through the fullness of your inhale.
• Next, keep the position and shift your hips to the back of your seat so that you have room to bow forward (you can rest your head on the seat in front of you and the arms can stay lifted or you can rest the forearms on your crossed leg).
• Lastly, flex your toes and move your ankle in circles.
Additionally, at times like this you realize that the bag you have slung over your shoulder is heavier than you thought possible when you packed it. How can a passport weigh so much? Actually it’s not your passport, it’s all that other ‘just in case’ stuff that you threw in. By the time you board your neck and shoulders will need a lot of decompressing, and you will need to evaluate the phrase, ‘I need it.’
Eagle Arms (right side)
• In your tall, seated position, bring your forearms together in front of your face and cross your left elbow underneath your right elbow.
• Continue to intertwine your arms so that your palms eventually face each other again (if your shoulders are tight this may not be possible, just do your best)
• Lift the crossed elbows to the height of the chest or shoulders
• Take a few deep breaths and see if you can open your chest and upper back using the fullness of your breath
• Keep your arms in this position and gently tilt your head to the side (lower your right ear to your right shoulder, gently) and just hang out here for a few breaths; then you can tilt the head to the left.
• Next, bring the head to center, lower the chin towards the chest and bow forward (bring your crossed elbows in towards your bellybutton (you are essentially curling into a ball); take some big sweet breaths here
• Come back to center and release
Best yoga pose after the airplane
What I love to do while I am waiting for my bag is just a simple forward fold with legs just a little wider than the hips. This pose will open up the legs and get the blood flowing after long periods of sitting. Or try a standing side stretch with arms over head, which always feels good.
Favourite travelling outfit
Regardless the time of year, I tend to wear the same thing when flying. Onboard cooling and heating does not seem to be an exact science, so I am always prepared. I like to dress casual and light but stylish (to improve my chances of upgrades). Most often it’s black or dark blue jeans, a stylish t-shirt (I seem to wear the lululemon 5 Year Basic Tee a lot), a nice belt, and either boots (in winter) or white Vejas any time it’s not cold. In my carry on bag, I always have the light lululemon Tactic Jacket and a scarf. This combo has saved me so many times.
Best breathing technique when your flight gets cancelled
This is never fun! However, it’s not the end of the world, either, so just relax. To help with this, take some deep breaths in (see if you can fill your shoulders with air without tensing up the body) and then let the breath out as slow and as long as you can. It will just take a few of these to get you calmed down.
Next, get online and look for a cool place to eat or hang out for the time that you are there. Turn a canceled flight into a free layover and a chance to explore a new place.
Finally, try to remember the big picture. Things happen, nobody is perfect, and everyone you talk to will be doing their bit to help you out. I have found that approaching airline staff with a positive and friendly attitude during a moment like this can produce miracles. So stay positive, keep breathing, and it will all work out.
Global yoga teacher Chris Chavez discovered the practice in the mid-1990s, while touring as a professional musician in Ireland. One of lululemon’s original ambassadors, Chris is now based in Istanbul, Turkey, where his teacher trainings and workshops bring together students from all over the world to deepen their yoga practices, go upside down (occasionally), and have fun. Check out where in the world Chris is teaching next here, learn more about his teacher trainings, or visit the website of Cihangir Yoga, the yoga centre Chris co-owns where you—yes, you, the intrepid adventurer reading this!—have an open invitation to join us on the mat.