Day 11: Rest On The Road - 3 Poses to Sleep and Wake Up while Traveling
I find that keeping the body mobile when traveling for work one of the toughest parts. Constant flights, taxis, hunching over laptops and the onslaught of emails and phone calls can leave you physically exhausted. Then when you FINALLY make it to the sixth hotel in seven nights, the body is exhausted and sleep suffers. Here are three simple poses to help reduce some of that stress, and all can be done in less than five minutes.
When you arrive in your hotel room, take your shoes off and remove any extraneous coats, ties, belts, and untuck your shirt. Get comfy!
Set the room to a comfortable temperature for sleep. Hotel rooms are notoriously extreme in temperature, so adjust the room temperature to your comfort level (for me that’s between 69-72F or 20-22C) and set it as soon as you arrive. Ideally turn off the air-conditioning as it can dehydrate the body. Take a warm shower.
1. On Arrival - Forward Bend:
Find the nearest hotel chair, sofa arm, or sideboard, and bending from the waist, reach your arms forward and down bringing your head toward the table or arm rest, and resting on your forearms. For people with more flexibility, bend down over your legs, and let your head hang heavy, drop the arms by the sides grasp opposite elbows and gently sway your hips side to side. Breathe slowly in and out, focusing on your belly.
Stay in the forward fold for 2-3 minutes. Rise up S-L-O-W-L-Y, one vertebrae at a time with the head coming up last, and stand with eyes closed for 1 minute.
Bringing the heart below the head helps to calm the nervous system and opens up the lower back and hips – the prime crunchers from travel. It also extends the calves and hamstrings, the muscles that tighten when sitting for extended periods.
2. Just before Bed - Legs up the Wall:
With email closed down, FaceTime with family complete, and alarms set, pop your self on the bed removing the pillows and sit on the bed with your tush perpendicular to the pillow area and as close to the headboard or wall as possible.
Bring your legs (literally) up the wall and bring your upper body into a T formation with legs parallel up the wall and your body at a right angle arms out to a T. If your legs are not straight, simply bend your knees until the soles of your feet are flat on the wall. Close your eyes and rest your hands on your belly, breathing into your hands and stay in this pose for 3-5 minutes.
When you are complete, roll over on to your RIGHT side (this minimizes pressure on the heart) and lay with your head resting on your right arm for one minute, before laying down, lights out and dozing off.
Blood drains away from the feet and extremities back to your heart, bringing vital oxygen back to the organs and relaxing the system. Feet flat on the wall also helps release any tension in the lower back.
3. Waking Up: Upward Salute
Sleep can be easy but waking can be hard, so upon getting out of bed, before showering or coffee, stand with feet about hip width apart and hands by your side. With an inhale bring your arms up over your head and point the hands palms inwards. Stay for an exhale. Feel the gentle stretch along the side body. Inhale again, arms still above your head, and feel your feet press firmly into the ground, the breath rising from the bottom of your belly, through your diaphragm and up in into a full chest. Repeat for 5 breaths then on an exhale bring arms down by the sides, feet together. On an exhale bring arms back down to the sides, and repeat for 5 breath cycles.
Raising your arms overhead helps stimulate blood flow to extremities, and synching breath and arm movement helps to wake the body’s nervous system and coordination. Even two minutes of this pose will help wake the body and have you energized and ready for the day. (NB: This pose may not be suitable for people with hypertension, or heart issues.)
Hopefully this small investment in your daily routine helps make your travel schedule a little less stressful. I'd love to hear any comments, feedback, or other poses you find beneficial.
PS The blog of this series is up over on my website, for your convenience and to revisit at your own pace. Enjoy!