Solar plane pilots turn to yoga to stay fit

The two pilots are using yoga to ensure that they use their 20-minute sleep slots or meditative breaks as efficiently as possible to rejuvenate instead of sleeping at a stretch.



By Mahesh Trivedi

Published: Fri 13 Mar 2015, 11:38 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 9:09 PM

Ahmedabad — Yoga, an ancient, 5,000-year-old Indian system of physical, mental and spiritual exercises that help one to control and relax both mind and body, is playing no small role in the Solar Impulse 2 project.

College students visit the solar powered Swiss aircraft Solar Impulse 2 in Ahmedabad on Thursday. — PTI

Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, the two pilots and masterminds of the project, are using yoga to ensure that they use their 20-minute sleep slots or meditative breaks as efficiently as possible to rejuvenate instead of sleeping at a stretch.

It is yoga, India’s oldest techniques of wellbeing and fitness, which will keep the two aviation pioneers fit. Borschberg, whose Swiss company dreamed up the fuelless aircraft, practises yoga regularly and has been trained by an Indian yoga teacher settled in Switzerland.

Indeed, Sanjeev Bhanot, the founder of Yogalife, has been training 62-year-old Borschberg in the techniques for the last 10 years that are now being used by even Piccard.

“In the cockpit when we have to travel for a longer distance, yoga helps me keep fresh and gives me constant energy,” says Piccard who, along with Borschberg, is confident of flying non-stop for five days and five nights over the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.  

The single-seat claustrophobic cockpit of Solar Impulse has been customised to be also a yoga mat. The seat has been specifically designed to be lowered into a horizontal position, providing enough space for the pilot to fully stretch out. 

“Their training is specially designed to balance the central nervous systems, including a special set of classical, static yoga postures, breathing techniques and meditation practices”, says Bhanot, now in Ahmedabad, who has designed customised yoga programmes that help relieve muscle atrophy and aid in concentration.


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