Stop the Clot Yoga: Yoga Poses for Long Haul Flights

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I was kindly asked to partake in the ‘Stop the Clot Road Show’ to raise awareness of blood clot prevention. On the 1st of October I taught Yoga on the ‘Stop the Clot Bus’ and it  was a new experience to say the least. I am so glad I did, as I learnt so much which is so important to share.

This health initiative was designed to create awareness and educate our healthcare professionals in hospitals and the community, as well as the public, on the danger of blood clots. Clots pose a risk to us all. This was not something I was aware of before agreeing to partake in this initiative.

Venous Thromboembolism Disease, or VTE, claims more lives than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and motor vehicle accidents combined. It is reported to be the leading cause of hospital-associated death and direct maternal death in developed countries. VTE is a blood clot that forms in the veins and can travel in the circulation, lodging in the lungs. It can be fatal. Blood clots are reported to be the number one cause of preventable death in hospitals, ahead of infection and pneumonia, with 1 in 4 people dying from causes related to blood clots.

The groups most at risk are:

– Maternity patients
– Cancer patients
– General long-stay hospital patients
– Women receiving hormonal treatments (contraception or HRT)

This health promotion scheme started on the 10th of September 2019, and is running through to World Thrombosis Day on 13 October 2019. However, it is important that this knowledge continues to be communicated hence my motivation to write this post. The Stop the Clot bus has been touring around eleven hospitals in the Ireland East Hospital Group and their communities.

What can be done to reduce your risk?

  • Firstly being aware of this risk is essential as I always say ‘knowledge is power’.
  • Regular exercise massively reduces the risk of clots and can actually help dissolve them.
  • Being aware of our breath also increases our likelihood of being able to notice and act on any feelings of shortness of breath. Yoga practice helps this connection and familiarity with our breath.
  • Hydration is also really important to prevent clots so like I am always harping on about, get those litres of water into you.
  • If you are overweight you are also at an increased risk of developing a clot so an overall general healthy lifestyle is beneficial to us all.
  • Movement every twenty minutes is recommended also to prevent clots so get up and have a little stroll if you spend a lot of time at your desk.

Like in so many ways yoga has such a positive impact on our overall health. Here are some simple yoga poses that can reduce the risks of clots forming. These are of particular use prior to a long haul flight and can be done while sitting on a plane also.

Yoga Flow:

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Start with some deep breathing. Being connected to your breath will help you notice any abnormalities in it and may encourage you to seek advice if you are concerned. Inhale into your chest, ribs and all the way down to your belly. Exhale from your belly followed by your ribs all the way up to your chest and out through your mouth. Repeat for five big deep breaths for centring and grounding.

  • Neck rolls

Gently circle your neck clockwise and anticlockwise in sequence with your breath to create some movement in your upper body. Slowly bring your left ear to left shoulder and pause here for a few breaths, repeating on the opposite side.

  • Pelvic floor tilts with arms

While seated imagine a torch shining from your belly button and direct the light beam up high and then down low while extending your belly and chest forward and rounding through your spine hugging your belly in. If you have space you can add your arms into this flow by reaching them forward as you hug your belly in and releasing them back as you shine your light up high.

  • Toe raises

Bring your awareness to your feet on the ground. Feel the sense of being rooted and supported by the ground. Planting your heels into the ground lift your toes to point towards your shins and lower down repeat this 10 times.

  • Heel raises

Similarly plant your toes to the ground and lift your heels up and down ten times. This stretches the calf muscle which is really important to do during long haul flights.

  • Ankle circles

Rotating your ankles clockwise and anti clockwise numerous of times throughout a flight is also really important to create movement in the lower legs and increase blood circulation.

  • Calf stretch  and forward fold (Can be done sitting or standing )

Extend your leg out in front of you and point your toe towards your shin gently fold over your extended leg. Gently fold your upper body over your leg and hold for four deep breaths. Repeat with opposite leg.

  • Seated or standing hip stretch

Grounding your bum into your seat and sitting up tall through your chest, shoulders away from your ears. Lift your right leg and place your right foot on your left knee. Keeping your right foot active gently fold over your leg which will deepen the stretch. Pause here for four deep breaths. Repeat with opposite leg.

  • Ukatassana standing forward fold.

Standing with your feet rooted to the ground gently fold over your legs and let your head and body hang. You can pedal out your left foot followed by your right and enjoy this stretch down the back of your legs.

  • Seated Savasana

Even though you may not be able to spread out on a plane you can enjoy a seated Savasana by simply closing down your eyelids and taking ten big deep breaths. Quieten your mind and let your thoughts wash over you, choosing not to engage with them. Be present in your body and connect with how you are feeling emotionally and physically. Savasana is very important for stress reduction and over all wellbeing.

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I’ll finish this post with a little quote:

‘If you don’t make time for your wellness you will be forced to make time for your illnesses

‘Health on the outside starts on the inside’

Thank you all for taking the time to read this post. Please spread the awareness and feel free to contact me with any questions, if I can’t answer them I will direct you to someone who can.

Namaste,

Lía xx

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