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There are those moments in your practice where you feel completely transported. It may be during an extended Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (One-Legged King Pigeon Pose) or when you’re lying on your mat in Savasana (Corpse Pose). You’ve traveled to another dimension—or at least it seems like that. But then you’re prompted to slowly roll up, and open your eyes. The imaginary excursion ends as you glance around the yoga studio (or your living room).
However, there’s one yogi who actually took her practice to new heights—literally. In a collaboration with Cosmic Kids Yoga, Samantha Cristoforetti, an astronaut for the Italian European Space Agency, participated in a virtual 10-minute session alongside teacher Jamie Amor through dueling webcams.
Who says you can’t do yoga in space! At least you can try 😁 Looking forward to trying out the full yoga plan @CosmicKidsYoga prepared for me! ▶️https://t.co/UVuLlV6aFe#MissionMinerva #InternationalDayofYoga pic.twitter.com/uIUFMxzBYr
— Samantha Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) June 21, 2022
So, yes, yoga in space is possible—with a few minor tweaks. Due to the absence of gravity aboard the International Space Station, Cristoforetti made adjustments using bands and poles. The reason for this was evident. During Garudasana (Eagle Pose), sans straps, she drifted away for a few moments. (I’ll admit this was a concern I had never previously considered.)
Cristoforetti and Amor previously did a short practice together, during an in-person meeting at the European Astronaut Center in Germany. However, this virtual session was the first one in space.
At the start of the practice, Cristoforetti hooks her feet underneath a pole, keeping them locked in place as she warms up her body and takes some deep breaths. These adaptations continue throughout the video. For example, she moves into Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) by working her hands down the length of an elastic band. In Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2 Pose), the straps loop around her shoulders, keeping her body connected to the space station’s floor. “Actually, this feels really nice,” Cristoforetti says while in the posture. “I feel the stretch, and I feel my legs working.” (Even astronauts crave a good muscular release.)
It’s a practice Cristoforetti hopes to continue while in space. She says she’ll make time to move through postures on a regular basis due to yoga’s ability to help build strength, flexibility, and better posture.
Cristoforetti’s coolness factor goes beyond her ability to move into Eagle Pose or Natarajasana (Dancer Pose) without gravity. She’s also credited with making the first TikTok while on board the International Space Station. And on September 28, she became the first woman to take command of the station. “I am humbled by my appointment to the position of commander,” she said in a statement addressing her appointment. “[I] look forward to drawing on the experience I’ve gained in space and on Earth to lead a very capable team in orbit.”
Her TikToks, which have more than five million views, chronicle her life on the International Space Station. While you may be picturing endless floating (and, yes, there is some of that), her life in space is shockingly normal. In her videos, she shows herself preparing lunch, working out, and getting ready for bed. And, sure, these processes look slightly different than the same ones on Earth, but the same healthy routine stands.
Curious to see the complete video of Cristoforetti’s space yoga practice? We’ve included it for you here.