Heathrow Express passengers travelling yesterday were treated to sessions with yoga influencer Celest Pereira, who has developed a 12-minute seat-yoga and meditation session to help travellers relax.
The class has been developed so travellers of all ages and abilities can perform the exercises safely from their seats – and it’s believed to be the first time a yoga class has taken place on a moving train.
To get passengers in the right frame of mind, the ‘Tranquil Train’ carriage hosting the sessions was decorated with fresh eucalyptus and lavender to fill the carriage with soothing aromas.
The initiative was trialled after a study also commissioned by Heathrow Express found more than half of public transport users find travel stressful following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Celest Pereira said: “Travelling can get very fraught – there’s lots going on, lots of things to think about, and it’s very deadline driven - so it can be a very intense experience.
“By hosting these classes we’re hoping to alleviate those pressures and help passengers be in the present moment, feel less overwhelmed and relieve any muscle tension.
“There’s no reason why travel can’t be tranquil – and often it’s about training your brain to think a little differently.
“And that’s largely what these meditation and yoga sessions are doing – they aim to help passengers clear their heads through breathing exercises and particular body stretches.”
Frustrated aspects of travelling
The study of 2,000 adults also identified the most frustrating aspects of travel – including delayed departures (52 per cent) and crowds (48 per cent).
Missing flights, trains, or buses (47 per cent) also leads to aggravation, as does trying to find a seat (43 per cent) and worrying you’ve forgotten something like your passport or the tickets (40 per cent).
Other worries include getting lost (38 per cent), being separated from your luggage (33 per cent), and missing travel announcements (29 per cent).
So perhaps it’s no wonder 72 per cent would like operators do more to make travelling on public transport more relaxing.
Joe Bence, a 26-year-old from London who was among those who boarded the Heathrow Express ‘Tranquil Train’, said: “I have such a busy life and usually look at my phone on the train - but today I completely switched off.
"The class was a nice distraction from life, it made my day.”
And 31-year-old Talitha Lindo, also from London, added: “I enjoy going to new places but I’m not too keen on the travel aspect – it’s too busy and rushed.
“So, something like this is really great – it’s made me feel how I think you should feel when travelling, and I’m a lot more excited about my trip now.
“I’m feeling very zen, so the exercise has definitely worked.”
Reducing passenger worry
Those polled also revealed how operators might be able to reduce passenger worry when travelling – including more ‘quiet carriages’ (39 per cent) and reserved seats (39 per cent).
Free snacks or refreshments (36 per cent) would also make a difference, as would reserved places for luggage (32 per cent) and onboard entertainment to take mind off things (30 per cent).
Three in 10 (30 per cent) would also like tranquil music to be played during journeys, while a quarter (24 per cent) think calming fragrances would help, according to the OnePoll.com data.
The eucalyptus aroma on the ‘Tranquil Train’ made an impression on many passengers.
Commenting on her experience, Elizabeth, from Washington DC, said: “This was a real pick me up, especially after a long over night flight. The smell is so wonderful.”
The poll revealed onboard yoga classes get the thumbs up from around a fifth (18 per cent), so passengers who missed this experience on the ‘Tranquil Train’ yesterday can relive the moment on Heathrow Express over the next year as their on board media screens will show a short recording of the class, for future passengers to get involved and relax.
Gifted to charity
The flowers used on board for the event have been fashioned into 45 beautiful bouquets and donated to a local Paddington charity, LDN London – who are giving a bouquet to brighten each of their 45 services.
A spokesperson from Heathrow Express said: “We’ve always aimed to provide a premium service which is easy and straightforward, while giving passengers all the facilities they need.
“Our trains run every 15 minutes and offer the quickest transfer between Heathrow and Central London, so if passengers need to get somewhere fast our service is one they can rely on.
“But we’re only one part of the journey – many passengers have already spent hours on trains or planes before they travel on our service, by which point they can be feeling quite tense and exhausted.
“So hopefully initiatives like the ‘Tranquil Train’ will ease worries and help to relax passengers as they get back to travelling following the COVID-19 pandemic.”