Ease holiday travel discomfort with yoga

by Irena Lambrou

Wow! It’s December, the holidays are upon us! And with holidays come travel. Many students ask me about yoga when traveling. I get it: airplane bucket seats that compromise the natural curves of your spine, heavy foods and airplane foods, as well as the stress of the holidays that can most certainly raise our blood pressure–insert yoga, please and thank you!

My first piece of advice: Go to yoga or practice at home, or get your blood moving in your own way, pre-flight! The worst feeling is knowing that you had the time for some movement and you made the choice to skip it and sleep in. “But, Irena, my flight is out of Bellingham at 5 am which means I’m waking up at 3 AM!!! Really, go for a walk and practice yoga at 3 AM??”

Ok, if you absolutely cannot get some stretching or movement prior to your flight, here are some ideas for mobility and blood flow while en route (air and/or car) as well as some tips for once you get to your destination:


  • Breath Work: Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana)
  • Rotate wrists and ankles while sitting in your seat.
  • Practice your Kegels/mula bandha: Engage pelvic floor muscles and contract sphincter muscles and lift up & back with navel. Hold for 5 seconds, release and repeat.
  • Engage muscle groups for 15 seconds, release, and repeat a few times (think squeezing glutes or engaging abs).
  • Practice Uttanasana (forward folds) at the back of the plane while you are waiting for the bathroom.
  • Brace your hands against arm rests and lift your hips/buttocks off your seat and pause for 3 breaths or more to relieve pressure on the spine.
  • Neck rolls: drop chin to chest and roll Right ear to right shoulder, back to center and over to other shoulder.
  • Put your seat all the way back in a recline position, stretch arms over head and take a nice full stretch!

Quick Yoga Sequence:

  • Downward Facing Dog: 10 Breaths
  • High Plank: Hold One Minute
  • Lower down to belly: Sphinx pose, hold five breaths; Cobra: 3 X
  • Child’s Pose: 5-10 Breaths
  • Warrior 1
  • Warrior 2
  • Triangle
  • Low Lunge with Quad Opening and Twist
  • Core work
  • FInal twist
  • Take Savasana!! You deserve it!
  • 3-5 Minutes Meditation or Breath


  1. When I fly, I usually take some kind of de-bloat supplement: I like Water Factors sold at Whole Foods. This keeps the potassium-sodium equilibrium in your cells, so that you don’t swell.
  2. Hydrate like it’s going out of style! Skip the alcohol, skip the sugar, and skip excess salt.
  3. Walk up and down the aisles of the plane when the seat belt sign is off.
  4. Driving: Pre-plan to stop for a local hike. On a schedule? Stop at rest stops and walk for 5-10 minutes, or do a few jumping jacks.
  5. Easy items to bring:
  • Travel Mat: I own the Manduka eKo Superlite Travel Mat and I love it to practice on even when I’m at the studio.
  • Tennis ball or lacrosse ball
  • Resistance Band
  • OnGuard doTerra Oil: Rub on hands and feet to ward off viruses and germs!

Click here to learn more about Irena Lambrou and see her teaching schedule.

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