Travel is very exciting, but it can leave the body feeling drained and pained afterwards.
It’s important to take care of yourself by eating well and making space in the mind and body to keep from getting sick. I hope this routine helps to ease the tension out of your body and also helps you to focus your mind.
There is a lot of movement in this routine, a lot of swaying from side to side and simple moving with your breath to open up your back, hips, and shoulders where any tension might have built up.
The most important thing to keep in mind with this routine is to stay easy and gentle with whatever pose you’re in. Travel creates tension in the mind and body is just a reflection of your emotions and thoughts, often revealing more about how you’re feeling than you’re ready to face in your mind. You can reason with your mind, but your body remembers and holds onto everything.
So, let’s bust through that stress and relieve the body and mind:
If you don’t have time to watch the video, here are the main poses that will help you ease open your body and help you relax after long hours on the road.
If you only have a few moments, stand in mountain pose with all points of your feet firmly grounded into the mat with your hands to your sides. Find your center and enjoy a moment of stillness and balance.
Slowly begin to rock forward and back on your toes and heels. Maybe even begin to move your arms with your body, flowing with your breath and allowing your practice to become a dance, gently wiggling through any tension your muscles are holding.
Come back to your center and step your feet about hips width apart. Maybe sway your arms from side to side, warming up the spine. Keep your focus on your breath, synchronizing your breath with however you’re moving. Coming back to your center, inhale your arms all the way out and up, bring your palms together, close your eyes, and then plug your thumbs into your heart for a few long deep breaths.
I encourage you to sway in your stance, standing easy and ready for anything, not applying any pressure: just using the muscles you need to stand tall while letting the rest of you relax.
Whether you’re home after the holidays or you’ve just had a glorious vacation, traveling is exhausting. I know my whole body gets stiff when I log too many hours in the car and I always walk off a plane with a few knots in my back.
It helps me to hang out in a forward fold for a few long deep breaths. Maybe you’ll want to hold onto your elbows and sway a little side to side, letting your head and neck hang heavy. This creates gentle twists in the hips and back. Keeping that in mind, you can also bring one set of fingertips down to the ground, bend one knee, and open your chest as you lift your left arm up to the sky. Maybe look up, maybe look down if that hurts your neck. Remember, your body is yours. You know what feels good for you. Then twist to the other side.
Come back to that familiar and easy forward fold. Remember to bend your knees as much as your need to. Move around, maybe come up to stand, inhale your arms all the way up before folding back down. Just stay with your breath, staying in the moment. You are home. You are safe.
We all hold tension in different places so I have divided the rest of my instruction into sections: yoga for your back and yoga for your hips.
For your back:
Make your way back to plank pose and just hang out here for a moment. Sway your hips until you tilt over onto your right arm, coming into a fun side plank. Maybe step your left foot back behind you and do a little backbend.
This part of the routine is primarily for your spine, to work those knots out of your back.
Shift right through center, your strong plank pose, and then stretch that left leg right out in front of you for a nice backbend on the other side. Don’t worry about what you look like or what pose you’re in. Just move. Get your body nice and warm and be gentle as you work through the knots. This isn’t about force of pushing. This is about healing and opening.
Come back to center, the top of your push-up position, and then lower on down onto your belly. Still focusing on the back, keep your palms planted and lift on up to a baby cobra. If you need something more go right up into up-dog. I recommend keeping that sway going. I like to move a lot in my practice so that my yoga is more of a dance with my breath.
Maybe look over one shoulder and then the other before sinking back into a nice easy child’s pose. There you can lace one arm under the other, opening up your shoulders. If you do, make sure to do it on both sides so you’re feeling good all over.
From child’s pose you can shift forward, climbing up onto your hands and knees and then lift on up and bend back, reaching for your ankles, for a camel pose. This not only opens up the back, stretching the spine, but it also opens up the chest and works your hips and shoulders. It’s an awesome pose. Just breathe deeply here for a few moments, relaxing more with every exhale. If you don’t want to hang out in a camel, you can sit back on your heels and do some nice twists. Just keep moving the spine. Keep breathing wherever you are.
I’m sure you can tell by reading this that I focus a lot on my back, because that’s where I hold all of my stress. But, the whole body can hold tension.
Here is yoga for your hips:
From your seated position, come to sit with your right knee resting over your left for a cow face pose. Maybe do some cool eagle arms in front of you, lifting open the shoulders, or wrap your arms behind you as you reach for your fingers in a nice bind. You can also lean forward, folding over your legs to work your hips and back. Maybe sure to do the other side.
Then stretch your left foot forward and lift on up into low lunge. Don’t forget to sway side to side, making some space in your hips and allowing your body to adjust. Then keeping your legs where they are, ground your right fingertips down and lift your left arm so you’re opening up your chest. Then bring both fingertips back down on either side of your foot and lift the hips, straightening both knees as you fold over that front leg, stretching out the legs and hips.
When you’re ready step that back foot up to meet the other. Take a deep breath here before stepping your left foot back. Sink your hips down into low lunge. Wiggle around here making some space. Then plant the left fingertips down and lift the right arm all the way up and maybe a bit behind you to really open up the chest and spin the belly open to open the hips more. Then bring your fingertips back around your foot and straighten both knees, lifting the hips.
When you’re ready, step that back foot up to meet the other. Just fold over your legs here for a few moments. Maybe pedal your feet, bend your knees. Be easy and move however it feels good to you. This is your practice, your time to rejuvenate.
Then come up to stand. Stretch out your sides. Then, bring your right knee into your chest and settle your foot in for tree pose. Your foot can be up high in your thigh or down low so your toes tap down to the floor. Just keep your foot from pressing against your knee.
Plug your thumbs into your heartbeat and find your balance. Find your center. Give that knee another squeeze and then wrap the right leg around the left and sink down into eagle pose. Wrap your right arm under your left and lift up in the shoulders. Then release your legs and arms and dive right on down, catching yourself with your fingertips, and lift your right leg up for standing split. It doesn’t matter how high that leg goes. Just relax and open the body. Relax and restore.
Step that right foot down to meet the other and then do all that on the other side.
When you’re back to center, inhale your arms all the way out and up and then fold back over your legs on the exhale. Plant your fingertips down and sink down into a comfy squat pose with your toes pointing out. Do some twists, lifting your right arm and then your left. Move around here for a few moments before touching down behind you and coming into a nice easy seated pose.
Breathe. Breathe and come home.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Stacy Porter
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: author’s own