The Polk family heaved themselves onto the airport shuttle yesterday morning and, sandwiched there thigh-to-thigh, on the way from Baltimore to Thanksgiving in South Carolina, they heard the voice of an angel - the angel of airport serenity.

"Roll your heads in a circle," the angel soothingly instructed. "Pretend there's an imaginary pencil on your head drawing big circles on the ceiling."

Airport Fast Park hired Jean-Jacques Gabriel, who isn't exactly an angel - though he does have heavenly posture - to lead yoga classes on its shuttles from long-term parking lots yesterday and again this morning. They charged Gabriel and a colleague, instructors at Baltimore Yoga Village, with soothing harried holiday travelers with as much deep breathing, limb stretching and spiritual rejuvenation as they can fit into the minutes-long trip from lot to concourse.

The Polk girls, young teens in tie-dye, didn't exactly throw themselves into the yoga. But their mother did. Ingrid Polk was all over the breathing exercises, having seen them, she said, on Oprah.

"I hate travel and this was so terrific," Ingrid Polk gushed as she stepped off the bus. "More people should be doing this stuff than taking pills."

If there's serenity to be found on the busiest travel days of the year, the airport would normally be the last place to look.

Though millions of people will fly this Thanksgiving - and most of them burdened by travel stress and general holiday anxiety - Airport Fast Park doesn't believe "travel" and "tranquillity" must be mutually exclusive. The company figures a little downward dog could go a long way.

Generally, air travelers around Thanksgiving have grounds to be thankful if they make it out without sweating for hours in a grumpy security line, getting mysteriously delayed on the runway, losing their luggage, missing a transfer, suffering through an indigestible meal - or any of the scores of ways flying can try the patience of the Dalai Lama himself.

"We find they're really tense going out," Jim McCleaf, who manages the company's lot on West Nursery Road in Linthicum says of his clients. "They've got the whole holiday ahead of them."

McCleaf's operation near Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is just one of a number of Airport Fast Park sites around the country introducing yoga this holiday season.

Though it seems reasonable that not every traveler laden down with luggage, sleepy, and bracing for hours on a crowded flight would be game for a surprise ashtunga attack, Gabriel and his colleague Sara Sheikh, long-trained in the blissful arts, disagree.

"I think that most people can relate to needing to loosen up a little," Sheikh says. "Or at least that's my positive attitude."

Remarkably, she was right. Whether it's the recent surge of yoga's popularity or the persuasive charms of these two teachers, all morning long scarcely a soul declined to breathe and stretch - at least a little. And the few that refused certainly seemed to have fun watching.

Our Baltimore locations:
Fast Park2-Elkridge Landing - Baltimore/BWI airport parking
Fast Park & Relax-Nursery Rd - Baltimore/BWI airport parking