The 6 Best Yoga Poses for Travelers

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We love to travel for so many reasons: Exploring different cultures, taking a break from our inbox, and actually relaxing a little are just a few. One part we don’t particularly enjoy? Feeling super cramped and uncomfortably sandwiched between strangers (who somehow always seem to have a very unhappy baby or a hacking cough) on long flights, train rides, or road trips.

While we can’t help with your unfortunate seatmates, we can offer a way counteract all that sitting. The following yoga poses help relieve an achy back, open up hip flexors, and even provide a mini-workout while you’re on the go. They’ll bring blood flow back to your head, legs, and all those body parts that fell asleep.

The best part: You don’t need any equipment, so you can perform these moves anywhere your travels take you—a hotel room, the corner of an airport terminal, or even at a highway rest stop. Just be sure to stash some hand sanitizer in your suitcase.

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1. Half Dog (Ardha Adho Makha Svanasana)

Place your fingertips on the wall at hip-height. Walk your feet back and bend from your hips until your legs and torso form a 90-degree angle with the floor, ankles directly underneath your hips.

Benefits: Opens your chest, shoulders, back, and hamstrings.

Perfect for: Relieving lower back pain after hours spent sitting in an uncomfy plane, bus, or train seat.

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2. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

Bring your feet together or hip-width apart. Reach your tailbone toward the floor, back straight, as you sit into an imaginary chair. Reach your fingertips toward the ceiling. Gaze upwards, drawing your head back.

Benefits: Strengthens your shins, legs, glutes, core, and arms.

Perfect for: Waking up all those parts of your body that don’t get enough blood flow when you’re strapped into a seatbelt.

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3. Standard Hip Opener / Quad Stretch

Stand one to two feet away from a sink or chair. Bend one leg, reach the top of your foot behind you to rest on the surface. Draw your hips forward, holding onto the surface. Make sure hips stay level. Repeat on other leg.

Benefits: Stretches your quads, opens your hip flexors.

Perfect for: Lengthening tight hip flexors and quads. Also gets blood flow to the knee joint.

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4. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Planting one foot firmly on the floor, bring the bottom of the other foot to the inside of the standing leg’s calf or upper thigh. Keep a wall within reach in case you need it for balance. Switch legs and repeat.

Benefits: Improves balance, opens your hips, engages your core, improves ankle stability and foot arch strength.

Perfect for: Stretching and strengthening the back and side of your leg (and core) that get stiff during long commutes.

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5. Standing Big Toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana)

Plant your left foot on the floor and straighten your left leg. Shift your weight onto it. Lift your right leg off the floor. Bend at the right knee. Reach down with your right hand to grasp the big toe of your right foot (or the outside of your right foot). While holding onto a wall, extend that right leg straight out in front of you. Modify this by drawing the right knee into the chest with your right inner elbow. Repeat on other leg.

Benefits: Improves balance, engages the core, stretches the hamstring and lower back.

Perfect for: Stimulating parts of your brain that control balance.

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6. Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

Place both feet firmly on the floor and place your fingertips or palms next to the outer edge of each foot. Pull your torso forward for a serious stretch. (If touching the floor makes you squeamish, simply grasp your calves to pull your torso forward.)

Benefits: Stimulates blood flow to the brain, stretches the hamstrings and lower back, lengthens and take stress off the spine.

Perfect for: Relieving back pain from uncomfy seating positions.

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