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You’ve been researching and planning your summer vacation for months. The best resort has been booked. The just-right bathing suit with the perfect floppy-but-chic beach hat has been packed. Your Kindle is loaded with all the latest reads. It’s finally time to relax and unwind.

But nothing steals the feel-good vacation vibe quicker than the aches and pains that can arise from actually getting from Point A to Point B. Standing room only at your gate, a middle seat on a long flight or maybe a 10-hour car ride could leave you arriving at your destination more zapped than zen.

Rather than lose one precious moment of your vacation to sore hips or a creaky neck, we’ve rounded up five yoga poses for you to take with you when you travel. Not only will they leave you in full-on vacation mode, but they don’t require any props. And a pain-free back with more space in your bag for all your vacation finds is never a bad thing!

5 Yoga Poses for Travel

Standing Forward Fold

A lot of the discomfort of travel comes from being in a seated position for extended periods of time. When you’re seated, your hips are flexed. This flexed position is what accounts for lower back issues and the tightening up of the front of the hips over the course of a long car ride or flight. By preparing your body with opposite motion, says Chelsea Gartner, studio manager of CorePower Yoga in Brentwood, Tennessee, less tension builds up in those areas.

“This is your pre-travel pose,” says Chelsea. “You can do this before you jump into the car. You can do this once you’re at the airport and you’ve made it to your gate.”

  1. Begin with your feet hip-width distance apart.
  2. Take a soft bend in your knees and begin to hinge from your hips.
  3. Let your stomach fall to your thighs.
  4. Let your head and your neck relax.
  5. Let your head become heavy. You can grab for opposite elbows, interlace your fingers at your low neck or just hang heavy.
  6. When you’re ready, dig into your heels and gently roll up to standing, one vertebra at a time.

Make sure to keep equal weight distributed in your heels and the ball mounts of your feet with a slight shift forward. “The focus here,” says Chelsea, “is about releasing from your sitz bones down through your low back and out through your spine. This is a nice restorative pose you can do anywhere.”

Hinge at your hips and let your chest fall against your thighs.

You can grab for opposite elbows, interlace your fingers at your low neck or just hang heavy.

Seated Figure Four

It’s no surprise that travel, even vacation travel, can be stressful. That stress and tension can often build up in our outer hips, or piriformis. Seated Figure Four is a gentle, easy pose to release some of that unwelcome baggage we’d rather not vacation with.

  1. Sitting up straight, place your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Cross your right ankle over your left knee. Make sure the right foot stays active by kicking out through the heel and flexing the toes. This will protect your knee.
  3. Relax and breathe into this as you open up your right outer hip.
  4. To deepen the pose, you can gently press your right hand on your right knee to help guide it down. You can place your left hand on your right ankle for additional balance.
  5. Engage your core and then start to hinge forward from your hips to further deepen the opening and stretch of your outer hip.
  6. Repeat on the left side.

For the Seated Figure Four pose, start with your feet hip-width apart, and cross your left foot to your right knee, keeping your right foot flat on the ground. Keep your left foot flexed to protect your knee, and gently press down on your left knee to deepen the stretch. Repeat on the other side.

Deepen the stretch by gently bending forward at the hips.

Seated Mountain Pose

“Mountain Pose, traditionally, is standing, arms up above your head,” says Chelsea. “This is the seated variation of that same pose. The benefits are that it allows you to find length in your spine and keep a nice, balanced posture.”

  1. Sitting up straight, place your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Make sure your knees stack over your ankle bones, then ground into your sitz bones. Draw your stomach in and lift up tall through your spine.
  3. If you have the space above you, reach your arms overhead.
  4. If you don’t have room for full extension of your arms, then you can interlace your fingers and place them on the top of your head. Think of reaching your head into your hands rather than pressing your hands into your head.
  5. If it feels good, add a slight back bend.
Relieve lower back pain with the Seated Mountain Pose, a variation of the Mountain Pose.

Relieve lower back pain with the Seated Mountain Pose, a variation of the Mountain Pose.

Seated Twist

“I shouldn’t call this one a cure-all, so I’ll say it’s a nice refresh,” jokes Chelsea. This pose not only helps to lengthen your spine, it helps release the low back during or after all that sitting. The twisting action can also aid in digestion.

  1. Sitting up straight, place your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Make sure your knees stack over your ankle bones, then ground into your sitz bones. Draw your stomach in and lift up tall through your spine.
  3. Use your right hand to ground into your right hip crease. Inhale, and as you exhale, twist your body so that your left hand comes to the outside of your right knee.
  4. Hold the twist for a few breaths. With each inhale, grow one inch taller. With each exhale, twist one inch deeper.
  5. If it feels good, turn your gaze to your side or all the way to your back shoulder.
  6. Repeat on the left side.

Chelsea adds that by digging your heels in right away, your core engages and you stay active in the pose.

Ground into your hip with your hand. If it feels good, cast your gaze over your shoulder.

Repeat the move on the opposite side.

Repeat the move on the opposite side.

Legs Up the Wall

You’ve finally made it to your destination. Before you hit the town, give yourself the gift of one more restorative pose. This one is guaranteed to help release tension in your legs and stress in your low back. The upside-down effect will also increase circulation after a long day of travel.

  1. Find a wall or door, and slide your seat against where the wall and floor meet.
  2. Kick your feet straight up above you.
  3. Relax and breathe. Let gravity pull your low spine into the ground.
  4. Hold for 10 to 15 minutes.

And if it fits in your travel schedule, pop into a yoga class or two while you’re on vacation, recommends Chelsea. She also suggests tossing RAD Rollers or some other kind of handy and portable massage tool into your bag for on-the-go muscle release. Above all else, says Chelsea, “Stay hydrated.”

For an added lower back release, lie on your back, put your seat against the wall and put your legs up the wall. Hold the pose for 10 to 15 minutes.

For an added lower back release, lie on your back, put your seat against the wall and put your legs up the wall. Hold the pose for 10 to 15 minutes.

CorePower Yoga is available at more than 180 studios nationwide. 

Images courtesy of CorePower Yoga.

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