5 Ways to Feel Better on an Airplane

I’m writing this from Austin, where I’ve returned for Module 1 of my Peak Pilates Level 3 Comprehensive teacher training. While my flight was a pretty easy one, the cramped conditions of a budget flight can take their toll, and I found myself needing to fidget and stretch. Below are five Pilates-based moves that I did on the plane to help. The best part: your seatmate probably won’t even notice! (And if they do, who cares? If feeling good in your body is weird, then embrace the weirdness.)


Perch is a Pilates concept, and not actually an exercise. However, practicing the concept can help keep your glutes from falling asleep on a long flight. Sit in such a way that you can feel your sitting bones. Draw those sitting bones toward each other. It’s okay if you don’t feel much. Just keep practicing that action.

Figure 1: Perch


In classical Pilates, ISO-abs is typically performed lying down. I find it much more challenging when seated! When done upright, it’s a subtle way to connect to your deep abdominal muscles. On an exhale, pull your navel up toward your rib cage. Again, you might not feel much at first. Keep working the action.

Figure 2: ISO-Abs

Shoulder Rolls

A classic pre-Pilates exercise that you’ve probably encountered in other movement modalities! Roll your shoulders forward up to 10 times, and then roll them backward up to 10 times. Remember to use the same number of repetitions for each direction.

Figure 3: Shoulder Rolls

Swan/Neck Roll Variation

Press your arms into your arm rests. If arm rests are not available, press your hands onto your thighs. Focus on your upper back, and extend your upper spine into a small backbend. Roll your neck from the right to the left, and from the left to the right. Repeat, this time rolling from the left first. Repeat up to two more times.

Figure 4: Swan/Neck Roll Variation

Ear to Shoulder

Gently reach your right ear toward the right shoulder until you feel a stretch. Hold for 3-10 seconds before lifting your head. Return to your starting position, ensure you’re still in alignment, and repeat on the left side. Perform 3-5 times on each side.

Figure 5: Ear to Shoulder

I hope this series gives you a little relief the next time you have to go on a flight. Comment letting me know how this series helped you, and feel free to share other ways you keep yourself feeling good during air travel!

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