It’s practiced everywhere: in public squares and even inside some airport terminals.
Next year, yoga looks set to go mainstream at 30,000 feet, as major airlines sit up and take notice of its associated health benefits for passengers couped up for hours on the plane.
Major airlines including Thai Airways, Hong Kong Airlines and Caribbean Airlines are gearing up to roll out yoga sessions through their seatback screens early next year, confirms Jamie Newland, managing director of Yocalm Media, which will provide the service.
“Yoga is a service that’s needed, especially on long-haul flights”, says Newland, whose company offers well-being channels to hotels, cruise ships as well as airlines through their inflight entertainment systems. “We are also in talks with other airlines including Air Transat, British Airways, Etihad and Air New Zealand to offer our yoga programme.”
Airborne yoga is not an entirely new concept. But currently only a few airlines, including Qatar Airways offer a form of yoga exercise through their in-flight well-being channels.
While many yoga moves don’t lend themselves well to confined spaces, in-flight yoga has been adapted so it can be carried out while seated, making it more accessible for passengers in economy class.
Yocalm’s seated yoga session aims to relax anxious flyers and reduce the adverse effects of flying, including the DVT risks associated with long periods of immobility.
“The video is focused on moving all areas of the body in a yoga way – calm, controlled and always focusing on the breathing,” says Newland. “Eventually we will have a complete aircraft [of people] doing seated yoga at the same time! Imagine that!”
Newland’s enthusiasm is clear – but will passengers really take to the idea of meditating and striking awkward poses in front of total strangers, particularly in the confines of economy?
“We understand that people get very self conscious especially in small confined places,” explains Newland. But he thinks that yoga could contribute towards the social aspect of flying: “Our yoga session will attract attention from the person next to you, but that will encourage others to join in.”
At the ‘Yoga-port’
For those who aren’t keen on the idea of practicing yoga in-flight, a few airports in America are offering travellers the chance to get some exercise in on the ground.
Dallas/Fort Worth and San Francisco International Airports have opened basic self-service yoga rooms.
Newland says he wants to go further by offering travellers yoga classes in self-contained ‘pods’ – but that airports aren’t prepared to fund the idea yet.
He adds: “I believe yoga pods will start off in airport lounges initially and spread to the main terminals as demand and education increases.”
DIY in-flight Yoga
Feeling brave? Here’s 5 yoga moves – ranging from simple to adventurous – that you can do when you’re next in the air.
(Images taken by Yocalm Media exclusively for Terminal U)