Airports are, especially in post 9-11 atmosphere, cold and unfeeling. Families no longer say goodbye or greet each other at the gate; mostly, we take those long, tiring journeys on our own.
Yoga can be a great companion in such times, teaching us philosophical lessons of vairagya or detachment to heal our aching hearts while leaving loved ones. It also teaches us asana practices that can help keep our bodies limber while sitting in smallish seats and sipping teas and juices for hours at length. Often on planes, when possible I take long strides up and down the aisles, lifting my knees. I perform simple asanas like Utkatasana or chair pose while standing, and seated twists such as Bharadwajasana when the seat-belt sign is on.
Then I went to Delhi airport, Terminal 3. When you walk out, you’re greeted by oversized brass hands in yoga mudras. So when you’re waiting for your baggage, you can practice patience by putting your hands in various postures–and you’ve got giant hands to guide you! You can also use specific mudras to help with concentration– so that you pick up the right black box on the belt.
When I’m at the airport, though, waiting at the gate, I’m usually just lounging to the best of my ability. At Delhi Terminal 3, though, you learn that yoga crosses all religious boundaries, and is truly a part of the culture here. Airports tend to stay away from religion, perhaps just hosting a “meditation” or “prayer” room, which is non-denominational. Somehow, yoga found its way in to New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport.
In Terminal 3, 12 statues of a man performing Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) keep you company and remind you to exercise your body and mind to stay limber and calm. The plaque reads nothing on religious affiliation– because yoga is beyond religion. Just a simple prayer to the sun–something that you need at airports, so that you can take off smoothly!
Yoga is for anyone, body, mind, and soul. The next time you’re at the airport– have some fun and pray to the sun. It just might help clear the monsoons that have finally landed here in India!