We invest in gadgets, stock up on supplements and sign up to gym classes to improve our health and wellbeing, but what if we told you the most powerful tool you have is actually free? In our new weekly column, JANINE THOMAS explains how using your body, mind and breath can help you sail through life — and it won’t cost you a cent. Each week she takes a different, often challenging, scenario and shows you how to make the best of it using the simplest methods.
TICKETS, money, passport… if only travelling was that simple. By the time you’ve packed, dashed to the airport, battled the crowds at security and found your gate, your nerves are well and truly jangled, — and that’s all before you get on the plane!
Jetting off to an exotic, far-flung destination is exciting, but for many of us, flying, especially long haul, is stressful. There are, however, simple ways to ease any flight discomfort so you can start your holiday as soon as you settle into your seat.
First, when you get on board change you watch so you can start to adjust to the new timezone as early as possible.
I know it’s boring, but try to resist the temptation of free inflight booze and stick to water. Don’t rely on the tiny plastic cups they give you — bring your own bottles and keep supping away. I’d also steer clear of caffeine to avoid dehydration.
Aeroplane meals are notoriously stodgy and sugary — apparently our tastebuds dull down when flying at 30,000ft — so bring your own wholesome snacks to help combat bloating and tummy troubles that can arise due to cabin pressure.
Another benefit of drinking so much water is you’ll need the loo more frequently. I know cramming yourself into a horrid little toilet cubicle isn’t particularly pleasant, but regular trips get you up and about, which stretches out muscles and increases oxygen and blood flow around the body to limit stiff limbs, reduce puffiness and prevent deep vein thrombosis.
You can also try a few stretches when you’re back at your seat. Anything goes, really, as long as you don’t clobber your neighbour. Every hour, start at the top of your body and work your way down by stretching anything you can. Just go with what feels good: try some neck rolls, followed by a few shoulder circles and shrugs, and perhaps some hand stretches.
Stretch out your legs as far as you can and circle the ankles, before pointing and flexing your feet and wiggling your toes. You might look a bit silly, but you’ll feel much better for it.
Sleep is not easy to come by on an aeroplane, but you can at least turn your atten-tion inwards by focusing on the breath and relaxing. Earplugs, a neck pillow and an eye mask can help here.
Meditation is one of the best ways to pass the time. It’s great for everyone, not just anxious fliers, because it calms and relaxes mind and body. I use it to ease the boredom — when you’re focusing on your breath in this way, time really does fly.
Check out the Headspace app, which has guided meditations, including some especially for nervous fliers, or try this beach visualisation:
1. Sit comfortably in your seat, lengthening the spine and relaxing the shoulders.
2. Close your eyes and start to pay attention to your breath.
3. Feel your body rise and fall with the gentle ebb and flow of each breath.
4. Now imagine a beach, the most beautiful beach you have ever seen. You’re alone in this paradise. Look around you and notice every minute detail of your surroundings. Notice the sea, calm and still, the waves gently lapping at the shore. Palm trees wave overhead and vibrant birds soar high in the turquoise sky?
5. Feel the sand beneath your toes, warm and soft; notice the gentle breeze caressing your body.
6. You see a sun lounger. It’s the most comfortable sun lounger in the world. Lay down and sink into the soft cushions. Let your body fully relax here.
7. Breathe in. Savour the sweet, salty scent of the sea. Breathe out and relax. Stay here, in your very own paradise, as long as you like.
See, I told you it was possible to start your relaxing holiday on the aeroplane!
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Published in the Irish Daily Mail, Tuesday April 10, 2018