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Here's the Best Way to Do Yoga on An Airplane

Stuck in a middle seat? Relax!

If you've seen the swanky A380 suites that Singapore Airlines launched last fall, or had a chance to experience the 2,500 channels of entertainment that made Emirates the recipient of the World's Best Inflight Entertainment award yet again last year, you know that airlines are really upping their game lately.

Given the rise of low-cost carriers like WOW air, which routinely offer flights from America to Europe for less than $100, traditional airlines have had to not only slash commercial prices, but also invest in amenities that remind people that flying is supposed to be about more than just getting from one country to another.

And since wellness, more so than fine food or extra-fluffy pillows, is increasingly what defines luxury to younger generations, the airline Cathay Pacific has partnered with Pure Yoga to launch a new in-flight program called "Travel Well with Yoga."

The personal televisions of all routes will now include six videos that demonstrates easy yoga and meditation routines by some of the most popular Pure Yoga instructors. The fact that all of the videos are included in the entertainment program means the new wellness feature can be enjoyed by every passenger on the flight, whether they are in First Class, Business, or Economy.

Doing yoga on a flight has become increasingly popular in recent years, as the stretching and blood circulations helps combat the negative impact of being stuck in cramped seating for several hours in a poorly ventilated vestibule. That said, it's hard to imagine how precisely doing yoga is going to work on a practical level, given that most of the poses require a certain amount of space. Just last week, a story circulated on social media about a woman wearing noise-canceling headphones doing yoga in the aisle with what seemed to be very little regard to the people around her.

The good news is, there are ways to get the maximum benefits of yoga without bothering the other passengers too much. Just take a look at some examples below, and remember, when in doubt, it never hurts to be polite and as the people around you if they are OK with your planned routine. And for some great exercises you can perform on terra firma, here are some yoga moves to transform your sex life. 

Seated Twist

cathay pacific seated twist yoga pose

Sitting up tall in your seat,  cross your legs, and put one hand on top of your opposite knee for stabilization. Twisting your torso slowly, move the other hand behind your back, reaching for the armrest. Repeat on the other side, holding each position for 10-20 seconds. According to Bess Abrahams, co-author of "Airplane Yoga, this small movement, "works the chest, shoulders, and spine." It also helps ease constipation, which can be a real problem on long journeys.

Standing Forward Bend

pure yoga instructor does forward fold on cathay pacific yoga video

In yoga, you've probably heard this pose by its Sanskrit name: Uttanasana. Standing up, take in a deep breath, then exhale as you bend forward from the hip joints, bending your upper body as low as you can comfortably go. Try putting your placing your palms down on the ground, or even folding the palms underneath your feet. Alternatively, you can cross your foreams and hug your elbows, gently rocking your body side to side. Let your head hang and relax your body, deeply breathing in and out. You can stay in the pose for up to a minute, then, slowly lift the upper body back up, verterbrae by verterbrae, the head coming up last. In addition to giving the calves, thighs, and hips a deep stretch, this pose improves digestion, relieves anxiety, and helps you sleep, all of which is great for a long-haul flight.

Mountain Pose

seated mountain pose

You can do this one either standing up, as it's done traditionally, or a modified version sitting in your seat. All you have to do is lift your arms up in the air and stretch, elongating your torso, while staring ahead in front of you or keeping your eyes closed. Relax your shoulders and breathe in and out. If you want to make this a bit of a workout for your abs and arms, then bring your arms down so they are still straight and parallel to one another but now just below your face, and hold there for as long as you can. From this basic pose, you can do a lot of great stretches,  like putting your hands on the back of your head and tilting left and right to stretch out the neck, or alternating arching your back and then lifting your chest for a modified cat/cow pose.

Seated Pose

relaxing breathing techniques yoga cathay pacific

At the end of the day, yoga is about connecting with your body and clearing your mind, not about doing fancy poses, and the best way to achieve that state of deep relaxation is to be mindful of your breathing. Sitting in your chair, just drop your head down to your chest, fold your hands on your lap, cross your legs at the ankles, close your eyes and count to ten, slowly breathing in and out. Lean your spine against the back of the chair, crawl your shoulder blades in together, open up your chest, let your head rest on the back of the chair, close your eyes, and count to ten. If you're lucky at you've got an aisle to yourself, you can even do this exercise sitting cross-legged in the traditional lotus pose.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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