These series of Asana photos are taken in Munich’s Airport. From the series of yoga asana photos I have been taking lately, these ones are probably the most fun to do, because it was kind of challenging to perform some of the Asana, especially the balancing ones, with people constantly watching and passing by with curious look on their faces. I had to control myself from giggling all the time and falling out of the posture before any photos can be taken properly. Thank God for Juha’s patience, as he followed me around taking photos after photos even though he had just woken up from his short in-between flight nap.
The idea to do the airport asana photos came to me when I was waiting for my flight to India in Munich airport. We were traveling from Helsinki to Mumbai to attend the annual pranayama Anusthan with our teacher, Shri OP Tiwari. I thought that it would be nice to make use of the 4 hours transit time to take some photos for the Instagram Yoga Challenge that I was hosting. Also because it provides as change of scenery from all the nature oriented photos we took in Finland before ( see previous posts “Notes on Asana” ). It was fun and was definitely the best thing to do to kill idle time, also because doing the asana provides me with the much needed stretch for the legs and the spine to prepare for the 8 hours flight from Munich to Mumbai.
I am not a stranger to “airport asana” – which is how I named the simple stretches that I do in between flights, or even during the flight if there is sufficient space in the galley of the plane. Being a frequent flier, with homes in Helsinki and Jakarta, and jewelry exhibitions around Europe and Asia, these simple stretches save me from constant back pain which I am quite prone to have especially during and after a long flight. My personal favorite asana to do during the flights are the spinal stretches, which can easily be done on my tiny economy class seat. The main thing to do is to address all directions of the spine mobility, which are side bends, back bends, forward bends, and twisting. Remember to do it for the three main parts of the spine : lower, upper and neck if possible, though some can get more challenging in the restricted space. Arms stretches like Garudasana and Gomukhasana are also very beneficial to stretch the scapulae, shoulder blade and upper back. If I have more space, a simple standing forward fold (uttanasana) and trikonasa also provides the body with a delicious and much needed stretch during air time. Another benefits of doing airport (or airplane) asana is that it provides you with something to do to kill time that is actually working towards your wellbeing, which is a way better things to do than playing another round of video game, or watching another episode of Sex and the City on the in-flight entertainment system.
My teacher Paul Dallaghan often gives us tips and tricks for healthy flight, which is very useful especially coming from his own experience of frequent global traveling around the continents of America, Europe and Asia. On top of doing simple stretches and asana, Paul is also a big fan of doing Pre-Nauli and Nauli – the internal abdominal massage – during flights. Pre-Nauli and Nauli are part of the preparatory practices of Pranayama, which has the benefit of regulating digestion and bowel movements, removing excess gas and sluggishness from the digestive organs as well as massaging the internal abdominal organs to keep them well functioned, happy and healthy! This exercises can easily be done in the small space in front of the airplane toilet or in the extra space in front of the emergency exist if no one is looking. Simply stand up, bend your knee, look out of the tiny window and pretend you are enjoying the beautiful sunrise ( or moonrise depending where you are flying to ) – while churning your belly secretly. I can assure you that no one will suspect, especially if you master the innocent look and dreamy eyes looking out of the window. Another one of Paul’s tip is to fast during the flight, only drinking water for the whole time, especially during long hauls flight. He believes that fasting will eliminate constipation which is a very common side effect of flying, as well as helping the body to counter jetlag. Fasting also keeps the body light and “clean” since there is less build up of undigested food in the stomach as our digestion slows down during flight. I have to say that fasting during flight is still challenging for me especially during long flights, sometimes I managed to do it but not all the time. But I will definitely stay clear from soft drinks and sugary juices, drinking mostly water or hot tea to help clearing the bowels.
Anyway, now that I have shared my flying secrets and insights, we shall go back to the photos and their respective commentaries. It has been a really nice experience to have this photos taken and I would definitely do it again.
VRKSASANA : Tree Pose
A Tree is a symbol of strength and independence. But to strike a tree pose, you need to have a good balance, focus and coordination between your mind, your heart and your body. The strength of the leg is needed to ground you down. The stability of the core is required to keep you centered. The quietness of the mind is important to keep the focus, and finally a willingness of the heart is the one that keeps your steady in this balancing posture. Once you have all those, all you need is to add some good hearted laugh and try to dance away with one feet above the ground. Let your self be free and have some fun while you are at it to give your best shot at a happy tree! ^_^
EKAPADA RAJA KAPOTANASANA : The King Pigeon Pose
This is one of my favorite deep backbend. With proper warming up, this asana is wonderful for those longer transit time. To be honest, I very much enjoyed doing these deep backbend after the 2 hours flight from Helsinki to Munich. It really helped to open up the stiff upper back, preparing my body for the next 8 hours flight to Mumbai. The delicious stretch helped to soften the back and keeping it pain-free. I ended up staying in the pose for awhile, with people keep passing by looking curious and my wonderful IG boyfriend clicking away on my trusty iphone.
Eka Pada Raja Kapotanasana is both a Hip and Heart opening posture. The Hip is the area of the second chakra, which governs emotion and relationship. While the Heart is the area of the fourth chakra, one that encourage love, gratefulness, forgiveness and compassion. To practice this Asana is to allow your body to slowly melt into a deep backbend while creating a feeling of great expansion in the heart. To explore the feeling of love, to ignite your long-loss passion, and to believe that Love, is the greatest gift of all.
ARDHA MATSYENDRASANA – Seated Twisting Posture
There are a few variation of Ardha Matsyendrasana – and this one here is my favorite. Another one of my favorite airport asana, this posture is excellent to release stiffness in the back and along the spine which can accumulate during short or long hours flight.
The most important thing to do in this posture is to keep the spine straight before going into the twisting movement. So before you even start twisting, make a real effort to sit up straight, elongate the spine, and then slowly twist while keeping the spine nice and long, not collapsing. You can choose any legs position that you want. To me personally, the most beneficial twist comes when there are very minimal effort in the legs area and the seat is nicely grounded. Since the focus is on the spine, direct your main effort to make a nice, clean and delicious twist! One that makes you want to do another one just because it feels so good. I know I would!!!
This Asana is really fun to do since it combines balance, focus, coordination and playfulness. I like to have my arms spread wide open to the side to mimic an aero plane (or a flying eagle!) – but this arm position is also great as a mild chest opening, keeping your heart wide open, happy and light. Though is not very common to be done during transit, but it is definitely something fun to do and try. Keeping the heart bouncing with joy while preparing for the next adventure to come!
Keep flying, keep smiling, and do not forget to strike an asana or two the next time your are traveling!
With Love – Helsinki, 28 September 2017