captain in the cockpitThe plane shakes and your knuckles turn white while you grip the arm rests. You grit your teeth and tense your neck. Your breathing becomes shallow and rapid as your heart rate spikes.

Stressful turbulance is not fun.

There are many ways to deal with the stress of a bumpy flight – some better than others. Self medicating with alcohol isn’t the best solution for your health – it dehydrates you in an already low-humidity environment. Experience helps but when the body and mind are reeling in fear  it’s not an easy detour to tranquility.

There are a few techniques from Yoga that can make all the difference, distracting the mind and soothing the nervous system.

Calming breath:

Repeating this cycle several times will help trigger your body’s natural relaxation response. You should notice the affects within a few minutes. It also works well to help you sleep.

  • Breathe in fully on a slow count to seven
  • Hold your breath for up to four seconds
  • Breathe out on another count to seven
  • Repeat until you feel more tranquil

Turbulence is a natural part of many cross country routes, but it’s worse when unanticipated. It’s also one of the leading causes of injuries on planes, mostly due to passengers not playing by the rules and getting up after being asked to remain seated. Flight attendants are most at risk – their job has them up and moving about the cabin, or ministering to passengers in all manner of situations.

There’s a great article in the Washington Post about turbulence and what to do about it. I did however notice that they didn’t suggest breath work. It’s an ancient remedy that most everyone can enjoy.

Travel writer, co-host of San Diego Travel Massive.

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