Living in Melbourne and having family in Europe means regular 25+hrs plane journeys. If you want to do it on the cheap, you’re actually looking at 30+hrs. A few years ago, a 9hrs flight from London to Delhi seemed daunting, but now sitting an entire day on planes and in airports has become a regular feature in my life. I can proudly say that I’m able to navigate Kuala Lumpur airport without even looking at the signs. I know the location of all cafés, shops, and toilets. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as an airport yoga room (and the multi-faith prayer room doesn’t look like it’s meant for stretching).
I don’t know about you, but I only get to see the business class seats, sorry, beds, on my way down the aisle towards the back. Now add a generous helping of non-sattvic airplane food (what would my Ayurvedic doctor say to that?), cabin pressure, and the confined space that makes you abandon any thought of moving your legs. But the worst of it comes after: jet lag. I’ve attempted about everything to fight it, but there’s only one thing that actually worked.
Of course I had tried to adjust my sleeping pattern at home, kept hydrated on the plane, avoided coffee, was equipped with ear plugs/neck pillow/eye mask, and even OTC sleep aids. Nothing worked. I was in desperate need of alternatives. Something that was quick and easy to do, did not involve any medication and would bring instant relief.
Call me crazy, but I was desperate enough to try out tapping – and it became my go-to remedy. Disclaimer: You’ll only be able to do this if you’re not too self-conscious in public. But then – do you really want to waste the first week at your destination with being awake when others sleep, with feeling nauseous and irritable? I don’t, and neither does my family (or so I’ve heard…).
So tapping meets all these requirements. Yes, I was sceptical. The idea is that by tapping on acupuncture points on your body, the end points of your body’s energy meridians, you can adjust your inner clock and therefore minimize the gap between the actual time and the time felt by your body. You’ll be able to simply shift your body clock.
Depending on the length of the flight, you can do several rounds of tapping, ideally every two hours and once just before landing. After a while of practice you will get a sense of when the body is out of alignment with the actual time zone you are travelling through. For travelling east, the direction which your body will find harder adjusting to, try gently tapping with your fingertips under the eyes, under the arms (just below the hair growth area), and just below both collar bones. For travelling west, tapping the collar bone area and the root of the eyebrows is effective.
This technique is best accompanied by an internal inquiry: Focus on the felt difference between the two time fields and try to estimate your body clock’s time.
Yes, it does sound weird. And yes, it does work. Maybe it’s a placebo effect, who knows. But even if – it still works!
So that’s solved the issue with jet lag, but what remains is the big question: How to feel better while on the plane? Sitting for an extended period sounds like torture to most yogis, and all doctors and airplane videos would tell you is to “move your feet to encourage the blood flow towards the heart”. If you ask me, that’s a bit lame and won’t keep me entertained and feeling fresh for 12 hours.
Yoga, tai chi and qigong instructor and fellow Melbourne yogi Fiona has developed the IOS app Salute the Desk that makes you stretch and relax while sitting. You can improve your posture and release tension or use the app’s guided relaxations to feel calm and refreshed. You can plan your sessions, track your progress and set reminders. It works on airplane mode, like a charm. The app is just under 5$ in the app store but we’ve got five apps to give away for free! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org with what you’d like to read more about on this website – winners will be announced in two weeks from now. Should you win, you can either keep the app or pass it on to a friend as a gift. The app works on iPhone or iPad and this is what it looks like:
Namaste and happy practising,
P.S.: Have you checked out our BEST of YOGA guides, the ultimate, non-biased guides to yoga classes around the world?