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Staying healthy while traveling

  • Anna Marincovich shows a variation of the half moon, an exercise that even travelers cooped up in a car or airliner can do. (JEFF KAN LEE / PD)

After a long flight, Anna Marincovich likes to stretch out by lying on the floor and swinging her legs up against a wall, in what is known in her yoga world as Viparita Karani. Or legs-up-the-wall pose.

“The way we travel today there is not only a lot of sitting but a lot of standing,” Marincovich said. “Checking in, then standing in line for security, then waiting for others to do something with their bags. Sometimes you can feel your legs and feet start to swell and you need to alleviate the pressure and reverse the blood flow.”

Of course, unless you have your own private jet, taking up space for a yoga pose or a push-up needs to wait until you get home or to your hotel.

But even during a flight or a long car trip, there are ways to exercise a body stuck too long in a seat, said the Parkpoint Santa Rosa yoga instructor and massage therapist.

She starts out with the simple act of sitting still and upright.

“Get into your seat. Plant both feet on the floor even thought it's so natural for us to cross our legs. Get grounded. Get rooted. And then check with your breathing,” said Marincovich, who admits she's not a big fan of flying.

“When I travel I sometimes feel overwhelmed, so I find if I come back to being aware, taking full breaths, making sure my shoulders aren't tight, I can relax,” she said. “The thing about travel is you can't change turbulence or flight delays or whether they'll lose your bags, but you can change how you react, how you hold your body.”

She also recommends being conscious of how you are sitting.

“Make sure your sacrum (lower back) is flush at the back of the seat and you're sitting completely upright. Bring the shoulders back, open the front of your body, make sure you're not hunched over.”

Also, drink water and wear comfortable clothes that make it easy to stretch, she adds.

Many airlines show an in-flight exercise video encouraging passengers to stretch and move. Studies show that prolonged sitting in a plane or vehicle can cause blood clots to form in the legs and add to the general stress of flying.

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