On the Road: Tips for Traveling

On the Road: Tips for Traveling

by Valerie Baadh Garrett

Planes, trains, automobiles…buses and ferries, too: it’s been a great summer of lots of traveling, visiting, and sitting for hours on end while doing so.  Each time I unfold myself out of the car or the plane, I creak a bit and crack a bit more, and think of sharing some thoughts on how to arrive bright and fresh, rather than crumbled and aching.

Before You Go

  • Get some vigorous exercise so some sitting is welcome, including full ROM and core work.
  • If you are already sore and achy before you start a trip, take some time for stretching or floor yoga.
  • Wear loose and comfy clothing.
  • Bring a travel pillow to put behind your lower or mid-back for better and more comfortable sitting posture.

During the Trip

  • Stop often if driving (see video tips at a rest area while On the Road)
  • Body-yawn as often as you can.
  • Uncross your legs to allow better circulation
  • Use your travel pillow. Shift the pillow to different spaces of your spine, lower or higher, to refresh your posture with movement rather than stillness. I sometimes use a rolled-up sweatshirt if I’ve forgotten my pillow.

Agile Aging On the Road. from The Movement Academy Project on Vimeo.

If You’re Flying

  • Stand and stretch often.
  • The in-flight magazines often show some simple and effective moves you can do while seated, so try them out.
  • Drinking lots of water will not only hydrate you but get you moving to and from the toilet.
  • Get an aisle seat so you’ll have to get up for your neighbors in your row, too.
  • Use your travel pillow for your neck or to support your spine.
  • For a long trip, bring and use an eye-mask for more restful sleep. (I also bring noise-cancelling headphones.)

After You Arrive

  • Go for a walk or a swim as soon as possible, getting some fresh air into your blood, brain, and muscle.
  • Get a massage; take a warm bath.
  • Go to bed early.

What are your top tips for comfortable travel? Please share in the comments below.

On your trip, enjoy the change of scenery, and travel safely!

Our Best Music

Our Best Music

Here are some of our favorite tunes for Agile Aging.  If you’ve enjoyed our classes either live or on video, you know that our music choices make the movements sing! We encourage you to listen, download them and arrange them in the order of our Basic Class, or as you like.  Enjoy our best music for movement!  (You can get CDs of more music with our Instructor Kit at our online store.)


Ding Dong the Witch is Dead

Flower Hands Music

Golden Leaves Begin to Fall


King of the Fairies

The Lover’s Waltz


Music Hall Waltz Medley

The Jitterbug Waltz

Over the Rainbow

Santa Baby

Seven Jumps

Spring, Spring Spring

Zat You Santa Claus?



The 3 Aspects of Balance

The 3 Aspects of Balance

by Valerie Baadh Garrett

We all balance. If we didn’t, we’d be falling down all the time!  Our balance grows more organized in childhood as we learn to roll, stand, and walk. Then, in our elder years, the sense of balance unravels.  While most of us have heard about “sensory integration” during the first years of a child’s life, a number of interesting studies are now being conducted around the sensory dis-integration occurring in our later years.

What is balance?

As a young ballet dancer, striving and often struggling in sustained balances, sometimes on pointe, I was told by my teachers that the key to balance was to “find my center and hold onto it” I looked around at other dancers who seemed to be doing just that, and pondered just what they were finding (center?) and how they were “holding” it.  Later in life, I realized that this was terrible advice, totally counter-productive, and just plain wrong. (Dance teachers, please take notice! Much more helpful imagery can be found; check out Eric Franklin’s work*, for example.)

Balance doesn’t have a center; it’s the nexus of an intricate interplay of dynamics. The result is balance.  Trying to “hold” it is a misguided concept: balance is not a still point of perfection, but rather an ongoing activity of balancing.  You can test this yourself: stand comfortably near a sturdy chair or wall (in case you need some support) with your feet together. Close your eyes.  Observe your “balance.”  Is it a still point of perfection?  If so, congratulations!  But I suspect your balance is a more active experience, one of small and subtle shifts; of moving this way, then that way, never coming to a still-point.  Right?

Science tells us there are three body systems involved in balance. Agile Aging’s founder Valerie Baadh Garrett describes them in this short Mondays in Motion video.

3 Aspects of Balance from The Movement Academy Project on Vimeo.

Balance is a movement activity.  We can strengthen our balance by challenging each one of the three body systems in turn. We do that quite specifically in our Agile Aging “Rainbow Wobblies” activity when we stand on one foot, lift our gaze, “spread our wings” as we spatially expand ourselves, and carefully wobble.  When we “follow the arc of the rainbow overhead” we are challenging our spatial and vision system to pick up the slack as the vestibular system of the inner ear is de-stabilized as our head moves.  Movement by movement, we can shift from excluding one and then another of these three systems. In this manner, we strengthen our balance by isolating the different body systems that contribute to stability, then integrating them again, over and over.  Sensory integration, helping the body organize its many (more than 12!) different senses, is not just for the very young.

Balance is also a spatial activity. We can expand our range of balance by exploring the spaces around our body.  We begin with experiencing gravity and her playmate levity or lightness. Activities that involve expansion and contraction can also offer pathways to an heightened sense of one’s physical and spatial self. Similarly, doing an activity with a partner can give one the experience of moving out into the world, towards or with the partner, a great shift of spatial relationship when one is mostly by oneself. Moving fully through three planes of space (horizontal, frontal, and symmetry) can also strengthen the somato-sensory integration, at any age. The movement approach of Spacial Dynamics®, among others, has many activities with which to explore these movement fundamental themes.

From our first movements of life, we move. Movement is the key to balance: balance is the result of the subtle activity of multiple body systems working together, through movement. Everyday movement such as walking helps, and specialty activities to practice movement integration helps too.

So, let’s get moving!

Read more about Agile Aging here.

Rainbow Wobblies can be found on our Agile Aging Basic Class DVD, in our online store, or learned from one of our certified Agile Aging instructors in community classes.

An optimal state estimation model of sensory integration in human postural balance. Arthur D Kuo 2005 J. Neural Eng. 2 S235

Attention influences sensory integration for postural control in older adults. Mark S Redfern, J.Richard Jennings, Christopher Martin, Joseph M Furman. Gait & Posture – December 2001 (Vol. 14, Issue 3, Pages 211-216)

*Franklin, Eric. Dance imagery for technique and performance. Human Kinetics, 1996.

Matthews, Paul. Space is Human. http://bit.ly/ufEmxR

Rose, Debra J. Fallproof: a comprehensive balance and mobility training program, Human Kinetics, 2003.