Katy Appleton spent ten years flying around the world with the Royal Ballet and the English National Ballet.
“Before travelling, I’m very aware of what I consume,” she told travel and health writer, Vivienne DuBourdieu.
Now a full-time yoga teacher, Katy teaches Vinyasa, Hatha and Astanga Yoga; and Pilates at her three London studios. She is also a doula – a qualified birth partner.
Katy has built up a reputation for making her brand of yoga – appleyoga – an enjoyable practice; and she has some terrific tips for Silver Travellers to keep mind and body in good condition during long-haul flights.
“The day before travelling, I try and avoid caffeine and alcohol just so that I feel a bit lighter. The system gets much slower when you’re up in the air.
“And I always do a yoga flow – it could be a challenging one or a simple one – just to keep the energy moving.” I know I’ll be spending time in a small seat so that helps prepare me.
Once on the plane, Katy brings out her magic flying kit – a golf ball!
“I use the golf ball to thoroughly massage the bottom of my feet,” she revealed. “It works with all the little meridian points – like reflexology – and keeps the energy grounded.”
“For many people, particularly those with DVT problems, the golf ball keeps the circulation going on a physical level. “I use the golf ball more than once on a long flight.”
Katy told also takes a tennis ball with her. “I know it sounds silly, but I use this on the back of my legs.
“When sitting, I move it down from the sitting bone to the knee joint, where the knee is on the back of the chair, and then down the hamstrings and play around with it on the back of the legs.”
She also wiggles the tennis ball down each side of the bony spine to relieve tension in the lower back muscles.
Another trick Katy uses is humming. “This is a brilliant technique that I use it most of the time I’m flying. Called Bhramari, it’s a gentle humming sound that you feel inside your chest. It helps reduce anxiety, especially in turbulence.
“Incidentally, the noise of the plane will be louder than your hum, so don’t worry about the neighbours.” She added, “It takes about 90 seconds for the humming to come on board.”
Katy also recommends Alternate Nostil Breathing, another exercise that can be done in your seat. “This has a calming, balancing effect on the nervous system.
You can learn how to do this on Katy’s website.
“If you have a chance,” she urged, “stand up and move around on the plane.
“When you find a space, rise up and down on the balls of your feet, bending the knees, moving one foot and then the other up and down, and making ankle circles just to get the circulation moving through the leg.
“You can also do mini calf stretches if you have a wall you can press against. Take one foot back behind the other and then lean forward while stretching the back leg. You can also do some mini lunges to open up the calf.
“For my upper body, I do some simple sideways bends to get under the armpit and the lymphatic system to help fluidity. Raise one arm up, putting the other hand on the hips, and then curve the arm and spine over sideways. Repeat in the other direction.
“Lastly, lock your fingers behind your back to open up the chest. Some deep breathing is good, too, and you can also do sideways twists in your chair.”
Once you get off the plane, Katy urges you to find somewhere you can “get your legs up the wall.” Lie on your back, wiggle towards the wall, swing your legs up against the wall and relax.
Just using two or three of Katy’s yoga tips for travel could make all the difference to the way you feel on arrival.
A final tip from me: have an acupuncture treatment before you fly. I did this before my last trip to New Zealand. Not only did it relax me, I arrived in much better condition than usual.