By Jenny Park
Fly-and Like an Eagle
In January 2012, the world’s first airport Yoga lounge opened, in Terminal 2 of the San Francisco airport. Painted blue with felt rocks to be installed this spring to help evoke the feeling of a Zen garden, this little patch of serenity was suggested by a passenger at an open meeting with airport officials. The suggestion fell on welcoming ears: the airport’s director, John Martin, is a long-time Yoga practitioner. It cost between $15,000- $20,000 to turn the room from a storage space to an area for asanas. If you need to locate it, follow the signs showing a figure seated in full Lotus, a sign that SFO officials had to devise themselves.
It’s not hard to understand why a Yoga lounge could be needed. A study in Newsweek in 1999 found that 50% of adults who flew on commercial airlines were frightened at sometime, and the events of 9/11 only added to that stress. Flying also exacts a toll on the physical body; immobility and circulatory problems from sitting for too long a period are common, with the most serious condition of Deep Vein Thrombosis leading to death in some cases. Passengers who try to treat their anxiety by drinking at the airport bar only increase the likelihood of health problems in the air. If only there were a way to improve circulation, calm the mind and decrease stress levels- oh yes, there is. Yoga.
Some airlines, like Qatar, China Airways and JetBlue, are already “on board” with Yoga, offering handouts or video instruction of poses that can be done while seated in the plane. Asanas like Ardha Matsyendrasana or Seated Twist, Marjaryasana and Bitilasana or seated Cat and Cow and a modified Savasana can all be done even in economy class, and provide the benefit of keeping the muscles limber and oxygenating the blood.
If you are lucky enough to use the 150 square foot Yoga lounge at SFO, there are some mats and props provided, but no regular instruction. Practitioners are invited to do their own private practices or simply meditate quietly. Asanas like Bhujangasana, or Cobra pose, Kapotasana or Pigeon Pose and Uttanasana or Standing Forward are all excellent choices for a pre-flight practice. Flexing the hips, buttocks and lower back will help counteract the lengthy time spent upright in a seated position. Be sure to do some restorative poses and complete a full final relaxation for maximum benefit.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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