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Aligned Flying, *or* A Bunch Of Funny Photos Of Me

Palm up, use the opposite hand to pull fingers down. Keep your elbow anchored to your side.

Yes, that’s me on an actual airplane. But first, let me say thank you to the woman who was sitting across from me, as I never asked her permission to take photos or post them here. Whoever you are, thanks.

With your elbow pits up and palms forward, place your fingers on your thighs and press the heels of your hands forward. Try to keep fingers and elbows straight.

I had the opportunity last fall to get on an airplane, without my kids, with my sister. Wow!  We were going to a cousin’s wedding and it was going to be the fastest non-business trip ever, so it didn’t make sense to fly the families out. But since sister lives in Texas also, we could fly together… which made it all so much more fun.

As I was sitting there, just feeling my muscles shorten, I thought “hey, this would be an opportunity to see how much Restorative Exercise™ I can do in this seat!” And since sister was there, she could take pictures…

Reach your hand up between your shoulder blades, or as far up your back as it will go. For bonus points, now flip your hand over so the palm is touching your back.

So since we are approaching the inevitable Holiday Travel window, here are my suggestions for ways to lengthen your muscles while you’re cooped up in an airplane or car seat. Just don’t do these if you’re the driver.

I’d intended to get this done before Thanksgiving, but didn’t. Fortunately, this stuff actually works everywhere, so you can do it even if you’re staying at home, and you can continue to do all of it into the new year and beyond! No need to wait for holiday travel!

Cross one ankle over the opposite knee. Rock your pelvis forward to be sure you are sitting up on your sitz bones (ischial tuberosities) and that you still have a lumbar curve.

Sitting cross-legged is one way I pass time when I’m constrained to a chair. But in case you couldn’t tell, this is not first class, and it’s a smallish plane, and there was no room for my knees. Even the piriformis stretch pictured above might not have been appropriate if my seat-mate hadn’t been a family member. (Excuse me while I shove the sole of my shoe into your leg…)

Let your chin drop toward your chest and allow the weight of your head to relax it forward.

It’s a little bit difficult to tell what exactly I’m doing in each photo, and that’s because IT’S A BIT CRAMPED ON A PLANE. Not enough distance between seats for good perspective. But it gets you where you need to go, so I’m not complaining. Really.

If you get up to move around, you can do other stretches too, of course. Just *getting up to move around* is a good place to start. Not sitting down too early is another one- I never understood why, if you had small children, you would want to get on the plane one minute before you had to. Early boarding?? Run those little beans around until the last second! Of course, if you are traveling with smalls, you don’t need these exercises. You’ll be too busy contorting yourself into odd shapes to try to reach the crayon that rolled all the way under the seat in front, or the play dough that fell between the seat and the wall, or walking back and forth to the restroom… but kids are a great excuse to move around more.

Keeping the chin dropped, imagine sliding your head back to bring your ears over your shoulders. Try to make a double chin. See mine?

Safe travels, if you are traveling. Have a wonderful holiday, whatever you are celebrating. And if you need a last-minute gift, don’t forget about all the classes available online from the Restorative Exercise™ Institute! Alignment is an amazing present!



  1. Oh, thanks for the stretches! I’m flying tomorrow and love these. Of course, I’ll be holding a baby the whole time, so I won’t be able to do many of them. The second one with “elbow pits out” and hands flat REALLY stretches things for me.


  2. Good luck stretching and baby-holding on an airplane, Kari! This flight (sans kiddos) was a whole new world for me…


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