Welcome onboard Flight 484, now departing for LAX. My name is Shayne, and I will be your Inflight yoga instructor today.
Life has a funny way of working itself out. Less than a week after my Mind Body Dancer graduation, I began training to become an Inflight Crewmember with jetBlue Airways. JetBlue is an amazing company with five core values: Safety, Caring, Integrity, Fun, & Passion. It’s always fascinating to me how often my yoga practice and teaching come into play as a flight attendant, and how the values that jetBlue upholds translate so directly into my yoga work.
Due to the physical demands of my profession, movement and breath are key to a long career. I often find myself teaching my coworkers breath and anatomy awareness techniques in an effort to help them avoid future injuries. Something as simple as learning the rotation of the spine and where a twist should originate (while holding a tray and serving customers on each side of an aisle) can prevent years of back pain or injury.
When your workday starts at 5am and you get stuck with a four-hour delay at JFK on your way to Burbank, a six-hour flight (plus you already flew to Bermuda and back to New York), you’ve suddenly worked a sum total of 17 hours. In the midst of a workday like that, an inversion or pranayama like kapalabhati could be just what you need to jumpstart the rest of your day!
My teaching and personal practice also comes into play with my customers. It is not uncommon to find a customer in the back galley stretching and complaining of back pain or hamstring tightness after sitting for such a long period of time. I always enjoy giving simple verbal adjustments and teaching the anatomy of an asana to offer them relief. For those anxious flyers, teaching a simple pranayama technique – like extending the exhale – calms them and builds a sense of trust that we crew members are there to keep them safe.
When I accepted the job with jetBlue I worried that my teaching and practice would take a backseat to the long hours and demanding physicality of my work. Yet after almost two years, I realize I not only provide my customers with great service, but I get the chance to plant little yoga seeds, spreading the value of this practice’s capacity for mind-body connection all over the world.