Last updated: 04:34 PM ET, Thu September 10 2015

The Hottest Trend in Air Travel? Yoga.

Features & Advice | Josh Lew | September 10, 2015

The Hottest Trend in Air Travel? Yoga.

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Travelers have different ways of dealing with lengthy flights. Some subscribe to the idea that if you are stuck in economy class for more than a few hours, it is best to sleep through the journey with the help of a couple of cocktails or a Tylenol PM. Others prefer a more natural approach: staying hydrated, munching on fruit or granola bars, and maybe keeping limber with a few strolls up and down the aisle.

Airline alliance SkyTeam is bringing another option to health-conscious fliers: they can do yoga while in the air. Carriers like Air France and Delta began offering yoga tutorials as part of their inflight entertainment packages earlier this summer. The service was launched in June as part of the International Yoga Day festivities. The 15-minute tutorials are still available on most flights. The instructional videos are offered on flights that have video-on-demand service, and they are also accessible via the SkyTeam app. 

Yoga Poses Specifically For Airplane Passengers

To produce these tutorials, SkyTeam worked with a yoga instructor based in the Netherlands. He developed two routines based on his own experiences as a frequent flier. One workout is meant to be completed at the airport, and the second is designed to be done in-flight.

You won’t see people sprawling out in the aisles during your next trip on Delta. The airborne tutorial consists of basic breathing and stretching exercises that do not require much space. Passengers don’t even have to get up out of their seat if they don't want to.

The idea of fighting stiffness and fatigue on long flights using yoga is not a new one. In fact, the SkyTeam tutorials grew out of a test program that was offered at London Heathrow. A similar service will soon be provided at Hong Kong International.

Way back in 2009, Qatar Airways published a four-page guide that featured yoga poses especially designed for long-haul passengers.

A Wealth Of In-Flight Yoga Resources

What if you want to get some yoga in during your flight, but you are not flying with a SkyTeam member? Airplane yoga is actually a pretty popular niche. A quick Google search will prove this. Most of these online in-flight yoga routines focus on keeping a passenger's back, legs and neck from tightening up and becoming stiff during a lengthy journey.  

A Yoga-Filled Layover

What about at the airport? You could grab a corner to limber up during your layover or after your flight, but if you are too self-conscious to execute a “downward dog” pose in the middle of the terminal, you might be able to find a dedicated yoga room. San Francisco International has taken the idea of travelers doing yoga very seriously. The airport has yoga rooms that are open 24 hours per day. These purpose-built spaces provide a private place where people can practice before or after a flight. SFO's two yoga rooms are located on the airside of Terminals 2 and 3. Burlington International, the main airport in the state of Vermont, has also opened a yoga room. Dallas Fort Worth International has one as well.

Just Want Some Peace And Quiet?

Some airports don’t have specific yoga facilities, but they do have places where passengers can go to get away from the crowds and recover from the general stress that often comes along with air travel. Albuquerque Airport, for example, has a meditation room.

Airports and airlines take steps to differentiate themselves from competitors with special services and unique offerings. It is actually a bit surprising that the idea of in-flight and airport yoga has not taken off until recently. One of the most common post-flight complaints is a stiff back or neck and a general feeling of malaise. Some simple stretches can go a long way towards alleviating those traveling pains.   


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