Back arches for drivers

Back arches for drivers from Drivetime Yoga.

Seven techniques to transform your ride.

On the road do you think about where you’re going, what you’ve just been doing or what you’ll do when you arrive? Habitually we ‘trance drive’ and distract ourselves to get through the monotony of long ride. While it’s great to day-dream, listen to music or audio books, play word games and visit with our fellow travelers, it’s important to stay present and tune into what the body needs. Finding little ways to stretch every twenty or thirty minutes help us arrive feeling vibrant and ready for whatever adventure is around the bend. A little road trip yoga can go a long way.

These tips can transform your car from road rage central into a road refuge. Remember: Do only what feels safe and comfortable for you and drive responsibly and with attention, while keeping your seat belt buckled.

1. Breathe Consciously

While driving, we often collapse our chest and breathe shallowly or even hold our breath when tense. Energize and clear your mind by following your breath with awareness, inhaling deeply and slowly, in and out through your nose, dropping your breath into your belly. Repeat this breath with awareness for three or four cycles to lower blood pressure, increase mental clarity and fight fatigue.

2.  Get Present

Roll through your senses one by one with a beginners mind. Listen to the noise of the car. Feel your back and legs against the seat and the vibration of your feet. Sense the space around your car and the distance between you and other drivers.

3. You Deserve a Break

Check in and feel what’s going on in your body while sitting in the car. Add little stretches and adjustments based on what you discover. Stretch slowly and deeply at rest stops. Take a stretch break and stop at least every hour; you’ll arrive feeling better, with less stiffness and have less recovery time from a ‘dull driver’ mindset.

4. Shoulder Push-Pull

While driving on a straight stretch, let your hands gently hold the steering wheel at the three and nine o’clock positions, then exhale, gently pulling the bone at the top of your right shoulder forward and down, towards the center of the steering wheel. Inhale, slowly pushing your shoulder blade back into the seat. This releases tension from your neck, collar bone and across your shoulder blades. Repeat slowly, three to four times on each side.

Stop light side stretch, Drivetime Yoga

This side stretch is perfect at a stop light.

5. Shoulder Push-Pull

When driving we tend to collapse our ribs forward or lean too far back. To ease back aches, start by opening your heart. Your ribs will follow. Exhale and curl your upper spine back into the seat, then arch forward and up on an inhalation, stretching the area around your rib cage. Repeat this same sequence in your upper, mid and then lower back.

6. Rest Stop Yoga

Give yourself a couple of moments to settle once the car stops moving and just breathe a few times before jumping out and off to the next activity. Once you step out of the car, practice a couple of side stretches, lifting up and bending to the side with your arms up over your head. Next, put your hands on your lower back and lean back slightly. Then with your hands clasped in front of you, gently pull your arms down as your chin pulls towards your chest, or try a folding into forward bend for a few breaths.

7. The Rolling Namaste

Attitude is everything. You just can’t avoid stress on the road and with all the uncertainty in our daily lives, our personal stress is right there in the car with us. If you can remind yourself to practice a ‘rolling namaste’ respecting yourself, your passengers and your fellow travelers, there’s a good chance you’ll be less tempted to road rage and enjoy the ride more.

There are many more tips in the Drivetime Yoga booklet and award-winning audio from Elaine Masters, freelance travel writer, and Yoga teacher Flytime Yoga will help you arrive ready to play, ready to work as well.