There is nothing you love more than travelling? However, there is nothing you fear more than travelling in an airplane? Then I would like to welcome you to the club of travel addicts and scaredy pants. Fear is something to keep us alive, our safety alert to prevent us from taking irrational live threatening decisions. However, if you do not learn how to control your fear of flying, nurture it with positive thinking and realism, it not only prevents you from dangerous situations but also from happy moments. Exactly, in this case you are, like me, in a quite tricky situation. Then you probably get drunk on an airplane, cry with every little turbulence and swear to yourself you will never fly again. Unfortunately, I am not kidding, but this is my usual behaviour during flights. So I decided to tackle this problem and identified several options to handle it:
- don´t fly – GREAT APPROACH
- stun my fear with medicine or alcohol or both – BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
- try yoga to overcome my fear – YES!!!
Obviously my choice fell on number three. Yoga has helped me in so many ways, so why shouldn`t it help to overcome my fear of flying? Before our trip I researched about different yoga techniques that would help and I am happy to share them here with you now.
Find a less crowded spot at the airport to prepare yourself for the flight and reduce your anxiety with the following yoga poses (click on the link for further explanations about how to do the poses):
- Warrior II: this version of warrior pose is fierce and ready to face your fear. It is great to develop courage, letting you open up to yourself and others. Practice each side for minimum 10 deep breaths per side.
- Standing forward bend: a yoga pose that reduces anxiety and calms the brain. The forward bend helps to relieve stress and should be practiced between 30 seconds and one minute.
- Twisted chair pose: this challenging pose increases focus and concentration. It improves balance and confidence to overcome challenging situations. Practice each side for 5-10 breaths per side.
DURING THE FLIGHT
The level of anxiety is probably the highest during the flight. You are in the moment of fear, facing it during the next couple of hours. Two, four or nine hours, it doesn´t matter; your fear is fluctuating with the movement of the airplane and always there.
Distraction, distraction , distraction
Make sure to bring enough distraction with you. Is there a book you would like to read but you never had time to do so? Great, this is the right moment to bring it with you. A gripping book I would definitely recommend to read is `The end of the ocean´ from Maja Lunde. Besides, the noise on an airplane is one of the most disturbing elements while flying. Make sure to bring your headphones and a great playlist on the plane. For the flight to Lisbon my noise cancelling headphones helped a lot to tune out of my environment. For long flights there are only two men whose music can take me to another place: Frederic Chopin and Ludovico Enaudi, try it! Also a calming scent, such as lavender can calm down your brain. Due to its great impact but light weight, my lavender eye pad is a faithful companion.
Meditation & Breathing
When being in fearful situations the mind is a rollercoaster and we often forget how to breath properly. Consequently, we nurture our uncomfortable situation with even more uncomfortable behaviour and stories. However, we should try to resist the story that fear tells us and learn how to face it by not suppressing but accepting it. We should recognise it as emotional energy that should be rechanneled. The following meditation and breathing techniques are extremely powerful methods to do so: they will calm down your brain, body and help to overcome your fear. Side note: the air inside an airplane is refreshed every three minutes.
- Calming Breathing: take a seated position – what else in an airplane – and close your eyes. Lengthen your spine and either place your hands on your knees or lap. First observe your natural breathing through the nose. Then slowly change to a deeper regular inhale and exhale. Try to make the inhalation and exhalation through the nose equal to the mental count of five. If thoughts distract you from your meditation, accept them and bring your attention back to the breathing. Duration: minimum ten breaths.
- Visualisation of the Moon: sit comfortably with your spine straight and either place your hands on your knees or lap. First observe your natural breathing through the nose. Then move your perception to the space between your eyebrows. Imagine this space is a screen where your thoughts and fears are projected. Then concentrate to relax your forehead and let the images pass by. Now create an image of a moon and let it shine brightly. Let the bright light fill you up and continue breathing. Duration: minimum 5 minutes.
And last but not least . . .
Try to focus on beautiful positive things ahead such as your next yoga practice on the beach 😉
I hope these recommendations are as helpful to you as they were for me to face my fear of flying. Let me know! I look forward to your feedback.
NEXT: WHAT TO DO AFTER A LONG FLIGHT?
Stay tuned for our yoga tips after a long flight and train ride. Spoiler: we will take a look at Ayurveda and how to reduce Vata with specific yoga poses and breathing techniques.