Airport Yoga: Well-Being On the Go

I love to travel, but one thing I dread about it is the plane ride. No matter what I do – standing up and walking during the flight, stretching in my seat – I always emerge from the jet way feeling stiff and tired.   

A few months ago, as I prepared for a trip, I pictured myself doing stretches and yoga poses while waiting at the gate or at baggage claim. I also pictured everyone staring at me, not to mention the dirty airport floor. It made me cringe.

I thought to myself, airports should have designated areas where weary passengers could stretch their tired muscles in privacy. There must be airports with such rooms, right? It seemed like such a good idea. So I let my fingers do the walking (on my iPad) and was pleasantly surprised at what I found – and very lucky. 

It turns out there’s a handful of airports in the world that have yoga rooms – just the sort of thing I was hoping for. But only a handful among the hundreds of airports in the world? Disappointing.

Luckily, one in the handful was the San Francisco International Airport, which happened to be my stopover on the way to my destination. I didn’t get too excited, because our stopover was barely one hour and I wasn’t sure I would have time to stretch my poor old body before we had to get on the next flight.

Fortunately, our flight from Honolulu to San Francisco touched down ahead of schedule, so I had time for a quick pop into the yoga room.

The San Francisco airport’s yoga room is in the domestic terminal, and if you blink when you walk by, you may miss it. It’s a little room tucked on the side by some payphones.

When I entered the dimly lit room, I felt an immediate sense of quiet and peace, and it was warmer, almost balmy, in there compared to the rest of the airport. Obeying the sign by the door, I removed my shoes. An older lady was sitting cross-legged on the floor, quietly meditating. There were shelves with bolsters and yoga mats, and I took a mat.

Another lady had entered with me, and I could tell she knew her stuff, because she started off with the mountain pose.

I only had time for 10 cat cows and a few more stretches before I had to go. The mat smelled of feet, but I guess that was to be expected. At least it shows the room is well used, I reasoned.

When I got to the gate where my husband was waiting, I was feeling pretty good. The long, brisk walk had stretched my legs, and in the yoga room, I had stretched the rest of my stiff body. I could now tackle the next flight, confident and ready to begin my vacation.