Jet lag is the pits. Am I right?
It’s no secret travelling can completely throw your energy off leaving you drained, sluggish and exhausted.
The last thing you want to deal with when arriving in a gorgeous new destination or coming back from an epic holiday is waking up at an ungodly hour then falling asleep in your Bouillabaisse at lunch. Absolute Pittsburgh.
But all is not lost! There are a few cheeky yoga moves which can drastically reduce your jet lag, adjust your body clock and bring poised mental focus.
Wanna know what they are?
Wide-Legged Forward Bend
This restorative pose soothes the nervous system, elongating the spine and balancing the pressure of the meningeal system around the spinal cord and brain.
- Standing tall, step your feet out about three-and-a-half to four feet apart into a wide-leg stance with feet parallel but toes slightly inward. Lift your kneecaps and contract your thighs.
- Inhaling lift your arms overhead, and then exhale releasing them to a “T” shape.
- Lengthen the spine and slightly lift your chest, and then exhale and fold forward bringing hands to the ground in front of you. Lift your sits bones and lengthen spine down.
- Relax your neck and jaw, releasing your head to face the ground. Hold for five breaths.
- To come out of the pose, bring your hands to hips, press feet down and draw torso upright.
Thirty seconds in this posture is said to have to effects of an eight-hour sleep. Having practised Bikram for a number of years now, I can say this is a tried and tested method to get rid of jet lag. The slower you can move into this posture the better. It will build abdominal strength and lower back flexibility.
Half tortoise is also good for indigestion, blood circulation to the brain and improves the flexibility of the hip joints, scapula, triceps and deltoids.
- Begin by sitting on your feet – with your bum resting on your heels. Place arms above your head with palms touching and thumbs crossed. Chin away from the chest to keep your spine long – focus on the floor in front of your mat as you come down.
- Exhale slowly and come down with a flat back (no curve or arch in spine)
- Touch your fingertips to the floor first before your forehead – this will force you to keep stretching forward
- Stay active for 20 seconds. push your fingertips forward and your shoulders away from your head. Don’t let your wrists drop to the floor – keep them off the ground to create a stretching sensation in the whole spine.
- Inhale and come back to the starting position with your hands straight up towards the sky above your head
Feet Up the Wall/Shoulder Stand
After sitting on a plane for x number of hours you’re bound to have a build up of toxins in your legs.
Shoulder stand or the beginner version of Feet up the well flushes these toxins out, drains any stagnant fluid from the feet and ankles. and stimulates your immune system, whilst also helping with bloating.
Avoid this pose if you have a recent neck injury or chronic neck pain.
Feet Up the Wall
Sit sideways with your hips touching a wall and swing your legs up the wall, lying flat on your back. Lay your arms wide and flat. Hold for five to ten minutes.
- Lie flat on your back with your legs extended and your arms at your sides, palms down. Bend your knees placing the soles of your feet flat on the floor.
- Inhale and use your abdominal muscles to lift your legs and hips off the floor. Bring your knees in toward your face. Then, lift your hips so that your torso is perpendicular to the floor.
- Keeping your elbows firmly on the ground, place your hands on your lower back with your fingertips pointing up toward the ceiling.
- Draw your tailbone in and straighten your legs and point your feet towards the ceiling. Lift through the balls of your feet.
- Keep your head and neck in line with your spine and do not turn your head. Draw your shoulder blades firmly into your upper back. Keep a space between your chin and chest, and soften your throat. Gaze toward your chest.
- Hold the pose for 10-25 breaths then slowly lower your feet back to the ground.
The perfect pozzie to rejuvenate the spine and wake your digestive system up. Spinal twist stimulates the large and small intestines as well as the liver. It also stretches your hips and buttocks and encourages movement in your shoulders and upper back.
- Begin by sitting up with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Bend your right knee over your left leg and place your right foot outside of your left thigh.
- Bend your left leg and place your left heel under your right thigh.
- Turn your torso to the right and place the left hand on the right knee and the right hand behind you or try and grab your left thigh.
- Inhale and lengthen your spine – twisting to the right taking your gaze as far back as you can.
- Use your arm pressing into your thigh and your thigh pressing into your arm to twist on your exhale. Keep this breathing pattern for three deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.
Remember: Always keep sits bones on the floor. Start the twist from your lower abdomen. Every time you inhale sit up straight and every time you exhale, twist a little more.
Practice these postures when you touch down, at night when you can’t get to sleep or when you get a moment to yourself and you’ll really notice the difference after a couple of days.
Especially coupled with the usual jet lag cures such as getting Vitamin D/sunlight, hydrating etc, wearing sunglasses. I also like to stock up on Melatonin which is proven to combat jet lag and a great natural sleep remedy overall.
And don’t forget to breathe during these postures! Pranayama (breathing) exercises are the best way to naturally re-oxygenate one’s blood. Here are a few Pranayama Exercises to help you.