There are two airport experiences that flank travel: the departing one and the arriving one. The former is usually characterized by over the top excitement and the good kind of anxiety where your tummy is filled with butterflies in anticipation of the inherently unknown adventure that lies ahead. Heading to the airport to depart, for me at least, usually consists of getting there unnecessarily early, enjoying a coffee or a good drink, and soaking up the liminal space of not quite having left, but not quite being home anymore either.
Arriving home afterwards, though, is always different. No matter how lovely the travel was, it’s always good to return home—back to the people, places, and things that fill your life and create your community, back to the things that support and nourish you on the daily. Arriving is usually characterized by dirty clothes, varying levels of exhaustion, and often a healthy dose of jet lag to top it off.
However, no matter what side of the travel experience you’re on, it’s never a bad time to catch some zen while you’re in transition. In fact, I’ve found that I have some of my best meditation and yoga sessions in airports, not the least of which is because, while yoga studios and meditation rooms are proliferating across major airports around the globe, they’re usually pretty empty—and any practitioner knows that solo space can be hard to find. Whether it’s to quell your nerves before a trip or you’re on a quest to quiet your stress upon returning, getting your zen on in the airport is always good for the soul.
If you’re gearing up for a trip, consider traveling through one of these nine airports around the world that have dedicated yoga and meditation spaces available to all (exclusive access via private lounges doesn’t count here). You won’t regret it—promise!
1. San Francisco International in San Francisco, CA (SFO)
It’s not surprising that SFO has not one, but two yoga rooms that are free and open to anyone post-security. One is in Terminal 2 near Boarding Area D, and the other is in Terminal 3 in Boarding Area E near Gate 69.
2. O’Hare International in Chicago, IL (ORD)
Sporting bamboo floors and offering plenty of mats to use, this yoga room is conveniently located near restrooms that make changing a chinch, just make sure you’re traveling between 6am and 10pm if you want to take advantage. You’ll find this beauty in the Terminal 3 Rotunda on the Mezzanine Level.
3. Schiphol International in Amsterdam, Netherlands (AMS)
The Meditation Centre in Schiphol, one of Europe’s main international travel hubs, is open 24/7 and is a dedicated non-denominational, interfaith space that provides a luxurious break from the hustle of this major airport. There’s even a library!
4. London Gatwick in London, UK (LGW)
Located in the airport’s south terminal, Gatwick’s “floga” lounge (flight + yoga… get it?!) has a 20-minute, professionally instructed video on loop. The flow is specifically designed to improve circulation and digestion, two issues that often plague air travelers.
5. Burlington International in Burlington, VT (BTV)
BTV’s yoga room is courtesy of Evolution Physical Therapy and Yoga, a local staple in Burlington, and donations from other local businesses. You’ll find this gem tucked away near baggage claim to use anytime between 4am and 10pm every day.
6. Raleigh-Durham International in Morrisville, NC (RDU)
The Meditation Room in RDU never closes and is designed to offer a space for prayer, meditation, or simply reflection of any kind. The room is located on the ticketing level of Terminal 2, just to the right of Travelex Worldwide Services. The best part is that it’s pre-security, so you can get your zen on even if you’re just dropping someone off.
7. Dallas-Ft. Worth in Dallas, TX (DFW)
DFW has a lot going on when it comes to ways to center yourself while on the go. This airport has two yoga studios (one near Gate B1 and one near D40), a walking path that stretches on for just under a mile that meanders through the airport’s Art Program, and a whopping four (!) interfaith chapels ideal for a little meditation by gates A24, C15, D21, and E4.
8. Helsinki Airport in Vantaa, Finland (HEL)
As part of the airport’s TravelLab project (how great is that?!), Helsinki Airport rolled out a yoga and pilates space in 2014 that even offered instructed classes once upon a time. Located in the Kainuu Lounge, the yoga space is open 24/7 and still has mats galore for yogis on the move.
9. Sioux Falls Regional in Sioux Falls, SD (FSD)
Even in the middle of the Midwest you can find a dedicated yoga and meditation space in an airport—how wonderful! You’ll find this zen space sporting a chart of 10 common poses in the gate area of the tiny airport near the business center.