Baggage Claim Yoga: Post-Flight Exercises

May 14, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Everyone hates waiting for bags after a long flight; your body is usually achy and stiff. So what better time to fit in some yoga? Here’s a short series of poses I typically do in the airport baggage claim area. I recommend using a wall, a chair or even your carry-on bag handle as balance support. This sequence is particularly recommended for travelers with back and neck pain.

Downhill Skier

This move is designed to reestablish the lordotic (inward) curve in your lower back after having been in a flat position for most of the flight (we all tend to sit with a rounded or flat lower back by resting back into the seat).

Ross Rayburn demonstrates the "downhill skier" yoga exercise. Image via Brendan Dorsey.
Ross Rayburn demonstrates the “downhill skier” yoga exercise.
  1. Stand with your feet parallel, hip-width apart
  2. Bend your knees and place your elbows on your knees — into a downhill skier position
  3. By bending your knees and sticking your butt out, you create an inward arch in your lower back (the opposite of a flat/rounded back)
  4. Note: For people who are more flexible (indicated by front rib cage popping significantly forward), use your abdominal muscles to keep your rib cage toned
  5. Keeping the arch in your lower back, extend your spine longer through the top of your head (imagine the top of your head was pressing on the ceiling)
  6. Maintain the curve in the lower back while lengthening the spine for three to five deep breaths

Standing Triangle Twist

Twisting the spine is a big relief for your back. One of the secrets behind doing it right is to create stable resistance in the parts of your body that are naturally mobile or flexible, so that it’s an actual twist of the spine and its muscles rather than unstable twisting, which has a less profound effect on the back.

The "standing triangle twist" will help relieve pain and stiffness in the back. Image via Brendan Dorsey.
The “standing triangle twist” will help relieve pain and stiffness in the back.
  1. Stand with left foot about two to three feet in front of the other. The front foot faces forward, the back foot (right foot) is angled 45 degrees and turned out
  2. Stabilize your feet and shins by isometrically scissoring them together (in other words, pull your feet and the shins toward each other without any movement)
  3. Twist your torso toward the front foot. Only twist about half of your maximum twist
  4. Keeping the lower legs steady, add some toned stability to your hips and lower back (imagine an abdominal corset getting a bit tighter)
  5. Stabilize the back knee (as you twist your torso, the knee will tend to twist as well, so it’s better instead to keep it steadily pointing toward the same direction as the back foot)
  6. Increase the twist just short of your maximum (a maximum twist would have a forced or aggressive quality, which is not advisable)
  7. Hold for three to five deep breaths
  8. Repeat with feet in opposite starting locations

Shoulder Stretches

This move is particularly good for your upper back, shoulders and neck.

Ross Rayburn demonstrates shoulder stretches to try after flying. Image via Brendan Dorsey.
Ross Rayburn demonstrates shoulder stretches to try after flying.
  1. Stand tall with your legs hip-width apart
  2. Interlace your fingers behind your back
  3. Take such a deep breath that your chest puffs up like a superhero character — taller and wider across your upper back (avoid shrugging your shoulders)
  4. Keep your head and neck steady by imagining pressing your head back against a headrest
  5. Stretch your chest and shoulders by extending your hands and arms farther behind you and by standing even taller and wider
  6. Hold the post for three to five deep breaths

You might feel strange doing stretches while everyone else is standing around, but ignore that feeling! Your back and overall attitude will be so much better if you take advantage of this wait time to clear the deleterious effects of flying.

Ross Rayburn is a guest columnist for TPG. He teaches yoga workshops, trainings and retreats all around the world. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter and at

All images by Brendan Dorsey, TPG’s Assistant Editor. 

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.