Danielle Acoff is a professional dancer, model, actress, and yoga instructor with a passion for holistic health. She has worked in entertainment for 12 years and uses yoga, meditation, and her love of all things movement to keep her balanced in a high-pressure industry. Keep an eye out for her articles about everything from self-care to developing a home practice.
I think we can all agree that travel is one of the best gifts you can give yourself—regardless if you’re an avid traveler or indulge in the occasional vacation. I think we can also agree that sitting in a cramped seat for hours on end can leave you feeling stiff and sluggish. But if you don’t want to be that person doing Warrior 2 in the aisle, there are some simple stretches you can do from the (dis)comfort of your seat to keep your blood flowing, to de-stress, and to make your time in the sky (or on the road) more tolerable. Below find some of my favorite in-seat stretches that I swear by on every flight.
1. Close your eyes, and inhale. Drop your head to your right shoulder, and exhale. Keep breathing through your nose, and begin to drop your head forward. Inhale, chin to chest, and bring your head to the left ear as you exhale. Let your head be heavy—a pendulum swinging from one ear to the other. Do this slowly and mindfully, working out all the kinks in your neck.
2. Inhale, looking straight ahead, and then look to the right as you exhale. Bring your head back to center, and inhale, and then look left as you exhale. Do this for five breaths.
1. Bring both arms in front of you, cross your right arm under your left, and then bend both of your elbows, bringing your palms together (Eagle arms, for all you yogis). Begin to lift the elbows up while keeping your shoulders down. Hold this for a few breaths, and repeat on the other side, bringing the left arm on top of the right.
2. Bring both arms above your head, bringing your palms together. Now bend your elbows so your hands fall behind you. Gently look up, put a slight bend in your back, and breathe. You can hold this for five breaths. This is a great one for the upper back, too.
1. Place your hands on your knees, and begin a seated Cat-Cow: As you inhale, bring your chest forward, and look up, and then exhale, and round your spine, bringing your shoulders forward so that you gaze down at your belly button. I love this one, so I usually do this for about seven to 10 breaths.
2. When you are finished with your Cat-Cow, place your right hand on your left knee and your left hand on the seat, and twist, looking over your left shoulder (trying your best not to breathe in your neighbor’s face). Stay here for a good five breaths before repeating on the other side. Bring your left hand to your right knee, and twist, and look over your right shoulder. Hold, and breathe.
Hips and legs
1. The seated figure-four is great for releasing your back and hips. Bend your right knee, lift and place your right ankle on your left knee or thigh, and begin to fold at the hips. (Keep that foot flexed!) Repeat on the other side. This one is probably best to do when your neighbor is gone—or you can do it in the back of the plane.
2. Bring one knee to your chest, and at the same time, straighten and flex the other leg as straight as you can. Repeat a few times on both sides. This one is also great to do at the back of the plane by holding the wall and bringing your leg to your chest (just as you would while seated).