Madonna Does Yoga in Aisle of Stranded Plane.

Via Birdie Greenberg
on Dec 21, 2010
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Yogi Faux Pas?

Picture yourself traveling home for the holidays.

You’ve no doubt trudged through horrible weather to get to the airport, and braved the long lines at airport security. You finally settle into your seat and peer out the window to see that a blizzard has arrived.  The pilot gets on the intercom and tells you that, unfortunately, you’ll be stranded on the tarmac for several hours until  conditions clear for take-off.

You wish you could just concentrate on reading your book, but another passenger decides that now would be the perfect time to practice yoga…Now…In the aisles…Of the stranded airplane.

This scenario was not just a figment of my imagination…this was reality for several hundred people aboard Virgin Atlantic from London to New York City this week.

The perpetrator of this bizarre performance?


Yes, the Material Girl decided that there was no better place and no better time for her to get in a little asana practice than on the tarmac, in the blizzard, and in the aisle of that airplane.

The other passengers of the flight were none too thrilled. Said one passenger:  “It was bad enough having to wait, but then she started doing her yoga in the aisles.”

Luckily the unwanted in-flight entertainment ceased when a bus came to collect Madonna and her entourage.  The other passengers? They had to wait an additional 2 hours for a bus to arrive to transport them out of the plane.

But this whole thing got me thinking: Isn’t it a little inappropriate and inconsiderate to other passengers to take over the aisles and start practicing yoga? I can certainly understand doing a little yoga in the gate area prior to boarding. But on the flight?

What do you think?


About Birdie Greenberg

Birdie Greenberg has been a struggling yogi since the summer of 2004, when she was stressing herself out studying to pass the bar exam. In an effort to chill her out, her mom dragged her flapping and squawking into her first yoga class. She never looked back. Four years later, she became a Registered Yoga Teacher with Temple of Kriya Yoga in Chicago. Birdie lives and works in Los Angeles, California. And when she's not yogaing or blogging, you'll probably find her hiking in the mountains with her handsome husband and her two beloved furballs. You can read more about her personal yoga journey at her blog, Yogi, interrupted.


33 Responses to “Madonna Does Yoga in Aisle of Stranded Plane.”

  1. cowsaregreat says:

    Nothing wrong with it unless she is making contact with passengers while stretching in a pose. They
    could hand out numbers and each yogi could have a turn. That would be peace, love and cooperation.
    Who doesn't want to look doesn't have to. Who wants to learn could have a free demo.

  2. Manohar says:

    Are you serious? Who's bothered by YOGA? Maybe if she was blocking the way to the bathroom (or booze cart) that would cause a stir, but then surely it wouldn't matter what she was doing in the aisle but just that she was blocking it!

  3. Dawna says:

    Amen, sister, to Linda-Sama; I totally agree that on a long international flight, it is far better for people to feel free to stretch and move than worry about what others think about their asana practice. Not all yogis are as dramatic as Madonna, nor do we have entourages or private transportation. Since we've got to stick it out, we better be practicing yoga wherever we can for our health and safety. I had a pulmonary embolism at age 33 and was in the best shape of my life, never smoked and was uber healthy. Or so I thought. So I know first hand that we all must do our best to be compassionate to ourselves, our loved ones, and our fellow passengers in these situations, and I support passengers who for their own health and safety are getting into the aisles and doing yoga!

  4. elephantjournal says:

    Sonya B a form of stress relief in a stressful situation no matter her famous status….others should have joined in 🙂

    Jeff B I would have loved to see that

    Heather S Well, maybe that's all she can do to de-stress. I wouldn't do it. But she is who she is. And sometimes, ya just gotta do so yoga 😉

    Allyson B public masturbation…

    SarahJessica PrincessButtercup Farber
    I routinely do yoga during long flights, but I usually go back by the loo and the emergency exit. Last time, on a flight from London to the US in September, the flight attendant chatted me up the whole time and we compared notes on our respective home studios and practices. I'm pretty sure I didn't bother anyone. The aisles seem a bit tight to me, but meh, I don't see why it would be a big deal. If you are stuck on a plane, its much more difficult to listen to a child scream or cry (for the child and the passengers) than to watch (or ignore) a yogi or two.

    Graham S: Most people feel awkward doing yoga in public. Plane seats are cramped.

  5. Kimberley Rome says:

    Birdie, I always do yoga on a long flight. I usually go back into the area where the attendants hang out, but I have done it in the isle if there's too much congestion back there because of the restroom line. What's the big deal about moving the lymph, blood, oxygen and muscles around in a cramped, not too healthy environment. Personally, my hit is that if it was such a big deal, it was probably more the fact that it was Madonna, than the fact that she was doing yoga. People love to snipe about celebrity. I've never gotten anything but a smile from folks, and it's way less intrusive than some uncomfortable seat mate slumping asleep into my chair space. Quietly doing yoga, being present, and breathing — sounds like practice to me. Stranded on the tarmac? I think we would have a much happier and more compassionate planet if people whipped out a few asanas in every stressful situation. Think about if those folks complaining had focused on their breath, instead.

  6. i always encourage my students to practice yoga on a plane, and i myself practice during flights as well. it's so important to move and get the circulation going. as long as you aren't in anyone's way, i'm 100% on board for yoga on a plane!!!

  7. yogabird says:

    Ha! Linda! OK, now I can relate…Half of my family is from Australia. The flight from the U.S. to the motherland is brutality. And I can certainly admit that I do a little yoga-ish stretching here and there. But I guess I imagine Madonna getting into some of her more show-offy poses (see photo above)…In that case…save it for the hotel room. Right?

  8. Hey Everyone!

    These comments are so much fun to read! I love reading your thoughts on the subject. You've almost convinced me that there's no wrong time or place for yoga. But not quite.


  9. yogi tobye says:

    Used to do the 12 hrs from London to Arizona a lot. Defo did yoga in the back of the 747. The laneway between the toilets is just right for squeezing into Prasarita padottanasana.

    A lot of the exercises they give you in the little handbook on those long-haul flights are all yoga poses.

    Most yogin would seek a private practice somehow…or at least be discreet. That said, peeps do strange things when they get stressed. Madonna was probably trying to control her anxiety at being delayed…

  10. No problem with it at ALL. I'm always posing… Give me a queue and I'm doing Mountain, Warrior or whatever takes my fancy, especially when the lines are long…
    I think it would have been more in the spirit of everyone receiving the benefits of yoga, if she offered others to join in…

  11. yogadarla says:

    def a faux pas! people are already close enough. i really dont want people sweating and exhaling all over. it's travel. do your yoga in your seat. sheesh! (i am a yoga teacher i LIVE for sweat and breath but if you need to stretch on a plane- walk to the bathroom)

  12. Rebecca says:

    The least she could have done was invite people to join in and lead a small yoga session! Haha.

  13. krisR says:

    Give me Madonna doing yoga over a screaming, kicking child or obnoxious drunk anyday.

  14. Randall Smith says:

    Absolutely fine. First, I would ask if there were any other practitioners. And as Rebecca suggested would invite others to join in. It might transmute other passengers' flight rage.

  15. Mel says:

    Hi there,

    I think yoga in the airport is totally fine, and I think some light seated stretches are appropriate. But people are irritable and protective of their space on planes to begin with. It's the last place to do or say anything that communicates an attitude of, I just NEED to do this for MYSELF right now.

    The Madonna-doing-yoga-on-a-plane is a pretty funny story, though.


  16. Manohar says:

    Yoga doesn't necessarily = sweat. As for exhaling- I think that's unavoidable, yoga or not…

  17. Pamela says:

    Don't you just think ego, when you read this.
    Don't tell me someone like her couldn't find a quieter spot on the plane to practice.

    It's always, all about her. The performance.

    Perhaps if the screaming, kicking child was allowed to burn off energy by running up and down that would be good for everyone. But it would be considered rude to do that – so why should anyone else be allowed to block the aisle.

    One thing, where did this story come from? It would be easy to say something bad about Madonna – as I just have, but what happened really. I'm always a little wary that we are being manipulated into thinking the worst about people because it sells papers – or whatever.

  18. Yogini# says:

    FREE demo? Unsolicited demos better be free!! Never travel through Mexico City these days, but on that note her Hard Candy gym better have Keiser Cam … because there are plenty of weight training fans who don't DO exhibitionism …

  19. Emily says:

    She's a star, it's her job to call attention to herself. Who cares! The real issue is how she got to leave 2 hours before every other person on the plane. Oh I guess I answered my own question, she's a star.

  20. Kristy says:

    I think its great and if i was on the plane i would have joined her! I dont know why anyone would be bothered by someone stretching in the aisle!!

  21. Lizzy says:

    Oh come on. People are irritated by someone doing yoga in the aisle of an airplane? If she’s doing some intense pranayama, that could be a bit much, but some quiet asana? What’s the problem? On a long flight yoga in the back keeps me sane.

  22. Atai says:

    I'm thinking there a lot worse someone could have been doing other than yoga in the aisle of a plane. I think that these people who were annoyed should have joined her or perhaps find something to do to keep themselves occupied and in a positive frame of mind.

  23. Atai says:

    That and she probably paid for the bus to come get her early. She is a star and does have a bit more cash on hand than the average person. I'm sure those people would not have wanted to travel with her given that she might have continued her yoga practice on the bus.

  24. Carpe Diem. Yoga is transportable, that's the best part. And when its off the mat, so be it. After traveling 70% of the time for years in the corporate world (now a yoga teacher) doing some yoga asana instead of over drinking like my colleagues and fellow passengers was a pretty good option. More yoga for everybody, everywhere!

  25. Superstitious says:

    Why take advantage of an opportunity to meditate when you can draw psychologically needy attention to yourself instead.

  26. Rose says:

    Great post! A few good breaths in sirsasana while waiting for a delayed flight really saved me earlier this year. I really wonder if people were upset at Madonna doing yoga or if they were upset that she and the entourage had the opportunity to deplane early. I can absolutely understand the latter. Anyway, thanks again for posting; it inspired me to finally around to a blog post I've been meaning to write for a while now, about how to maintain your yoga practice while traveling. Merry Christmas!

  27. BenRiggs says:

    What would everyone say if I, a 6 foot 8 bearded man, stood up in the aisle and begin to do yoga? For that matter what would they say if you did it? It seems like strange behavior that is a bit misplaced, no?

  28. […] Madonna Does Yoga in Aisle of Stranded Plane by Birdie Greenberg […]

  29. Enda Theard says:

    I love the way Arsenal play, I’ve noticed a lot of times when Arsenal play many touches uninterrupted the end is a goal, we did that against Manure when Nasri scored twice, Arsenal are the most wicked attacking English football team of our time, their patience build ups always end up in goals, oh I love being a gooner. What a football club we have, debt free, believing in youth, I tell you pound to pound in the transfers we are rated as stock city and Sunderland though we are a mile richer than then we always contest for the honors of winning the league, we have riched the quarter and the semis in the last 4 yrs on small budgets far less than the spuds, Aston villa, Liverpool and Man City, viva le Gunners. I was impressed by Kos though he made a mistake to the Bolton goal, I was impressed by his aerial ability he won most of the aerial balls. Big up to all the gooners out there.

  30. fancy finding you here, Linda 🙂

  31. […] path to yoga was simple: shortly after Madonna went public with her new yoga habit, I was all over […]