How to Manage Jet Lag

From Yoga Sadhana Panorama, Volume Five, Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

These days the airlines provide guidelines on how to manage jet lag., which include the practices of pawanmuktasana part one. These are very beneficial exercises that you can do sitting in your economy or business class seat. When you do the pawanmuktasana one exercises, you are stimulating the nerves and nadis. Activating the nadis will help to harmonize the pranas, remove the blocks from your posture and also allow a free flow of vital energy. There is a sensation of lightness and increased energy when you practise pawanmuktasana after feeling stiff.

Yogic breathing helps a lot with jet lag. Breathing is one of the most important functions of the human body and yet we do not know how to breathe correctly. Usually, we breathe in for two seconds and then out instantly for two seconds or so. The general theory is that if you breathe in for one second, you breathe out for one or two seconds, and that ratio keeps on increasing. So, if you normally make the attempt to breathe in for five seconds, you will breathe out for six. If you breathe in for two seconds, you will breathe out for three, and so on. Expiration is always longer by a second.

If you inhale deeply, you fill the alveoli, the air pockets in the lungs, with more air. However, only about ten to fifteen percent of the air actually goes into the alveoli. There the oxygen is separated from the air and mixed with the blood. There is a oxygen deprivation in the cells of body. However, if you are able to raise the level of oxygen in your cells and increase the intake and absorption of oxygen into your blood, it is easier to manage jet lag.

Research has shown that with pranayama, breathing techniques, the intake of oxygen and the level of oxygen in the blood remains the same as in normal breathing. However, there is greater assimilation and absorption of oxygen during pranayama than in normal breathing. In slow, deep yogic breathing, we fill up more of the lower area of the lungs with air and hold it there for a longer time before exhalation. Absorption of oxygen happens in a smoother and easier manner without a lot of strain and effort by the body.

Research has also shown that the output of carbon dioxide and toxins from the body doubles when one practises pranayama. If, for example, the normal intake of oxygen per breath is three milligrams, then even with a pranayama practice of deep, slow and regulated breathing, the intake will still be three milligrams, but there will be less effort from the body to assimilate, absorb and use that oxygen. If the output of carbon per breath is normally 2.4 milligrams, then with pranayama it will become 4.8 or 5 milligrams. Pranayama eliminates gases and toxins from the body more than the intake of oxygen. The increase in vitality and in blood oxygen levels will help manage jet lag. better.

So to help manage jet lag. try pawanmuktasana part one and nadi shodhana pranayama with deep abdominal yoga breathing.

—2005, Satyanandashram Hellas, Greece