You must be wondering how can you do yoga while driving? Don’t you need a yoga mat? A quiet place? Well, yoga comes with a variation. Driving around the city has become a strenuous activity with an increase in traffic leading to mental disturbance and physical pain. Car yoga (yes, it is a thing!) is well known to reduce stress when driving. It eases your stiff muscles, tensed nerves, and clenched jaws.
An average working person spends 3 hours of her/his day on the road getting from home to work and back. This leaves you with less time for you to indulge in any physical activity. However, you can practice a few yoga techniques while driving to stay calm and focused. Yoga for drivers will keep your emotions in place during traffic and help ease any physical pain.
6 Yoga Techniques for Drivers to De-Stress, Stay Calm and Focused
1. Breathing Exercises while Driving
Did you know that your breath is a gateway through which you can enhance your mental, emotional and physical well-being? It helps to increase your inner calm by sending safety signals to your central nervous system and brain. Proper Breathwork is the foundation of yoga – slowing down of breath, focusing on your inhales, breath-holds and exhales which only leads to stillness.
Practising yoga breathing exercises while driving can change the impossible – that is it releases tension and stress while driving. Staying stuck in traffic for hours, the anticipation of not reaching your destination on time, the constant honking, potholes, and many others leave you feeling anxious and agitated. This increases your stress and blood pressure levels. You will notice how you put all your frustration in honking the horn or ranting out verbally. Thus, practice yoga for drivers that consists of a few breathing exercises – that will make travel a little easier if not completely smooth.
Equal Breathing or Sama Vritti is a yoga technique that helps to centre and soothe your mind especially when it is overwhelmed with stress. This yoga technique is also used by the Navy seals and Olympic athletes to avoid stress getting in the way of their performance.
You can do this yoga breathing exercise while driving or when your car is stationary at a traffic signal.
Yoga Breathing Exercises for Car Drivers – Pointers to Keep in Mind
- Sit upright and comfortably with your face, neck, and shoulders relaxed.
- Avoid breathing from your mouth. Always breathe through your nose.
- As you inhale, expand your lower belly outwards and not inwards. This will send the safety signals to the regenerating and soothing parts of your nervous system.
- As you exhale out, pull your belly inward.
- Car drivers need to keep in mind to not move your shoulders, neck, chest, or upper body. But also, do not keep it to stiff.
The Equal Breathing (Sama Vritti) Technique
Keep your hands on the steering wheel in the position of 10 and 2 (based on the clock). Take a deep breath in and count till 4.
Hold your breath for four counts.
Then, exhale out for four counts.
Again, hold your breath for 4 counts. Repeat steps 1 to 4 for a minimum of 12 rounds that is almost over 3 minutes.
2. Seated Cat/Cow Pose – Yoga for Drivers
Yes, this is one of the driving yoga poses with a variation that you can practice when stuck in traffic or even while driving. (Just do not lay your eyes off the road)
How to do Seated Cat/Cow Yoga pose while driving –
Keep both your hands on the steering wheel at the same level and your spine upright. (Remember 10 and 2 hand position).
Take a deep breath in and slightly bend your back and neck backward for the Cow pose. Slowly roll your shoulders back as well but keep your eyes on the road. Do not look up at the roof of the car.
Then, as you exhale out, hunch your shoulders forward and try to push your belly button to your spine for that extra stretch. This is the Cat Pose. But do not look down at your belly button.
Practice this pose 4-5 times or more till you do not feel relaxed in your muscles.
3. Seated Spinal Twist Car Stretch Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Continuous sitting during traffic hours in the car lays immense stress and pressure on your spine and back. It makes your back and shoulder muscles stiff. This yoga pose for drivers is a perfect car stretch that one can do when stuck in traffic. You can also practice this seated yoga pose during road trips when you feel tight and tired.
How to do Seated Spinal Twist Car Stretch Pose –
Sit with your back straight and feet flat on the floor and hip-distance apart. Take your right hand and hold the back of your car seat.
Twist your upper body towards your right side. It should look like your left shoulder is rotating towards the right. Hold the pose and take 5 to 6 breaths in and out.
Once you finish on the right side, switch to the left side by holding the back of the car seat with your left hand. Repeat this pose 5 to 6 times but do it slowly and gradually. Avoid jerking your back.
4. Neck Stretch Exercise for Drivers
You often find yourself massaging and stretching your own neck after or while driving due to the strains caused by long hours of traffic. A quick neck stretch in the car for drivers will relieve you of the chronic neck pain. This yoga stretch for drivers is not safe for those who have spondylitis or any neck-related health issues.
How to do Neck Stretch Exercise –
Keep your neck straight, aligned to your spine. Then, slowly bend your neck down bring your chin to your chest.
Rotate your neck clockwise by touching your ear to your shoulder. Do not overstretch your shoulders and repeat this 2-3 times clockwise.
Then, repeat this neck roll anticlockwise for 2-3 times. This will stretch your neck muscles relieving you from any muscle tension and stiffness.
5. Seated Side Stretch Yoga for Drivers (Parsvottanasana)
Long commutes and hours of traffic affect your spine deeply as you are seated in one position for a stretched duration. Harvard Health Watch reported that an average American spends over 100 minutes every day sitting in a car with no mobility. No wonder, you often complain of back pain, leg cramps, stiff neck and shoulders, and headaches too. However, to keep the spine healthy while driving for hours or seated during long commutes, practice yoga poses for drivers – the Seated Side Stretch Yoga pose.
How to do Seated Side Stretch Pose –
Keep both your hands on the wheel and take a deep breath in.
As you breathe in, extend your spine and stretch on to your left side first (if you have a right-hand steering car) keeping your eyes on the road and then exhale out.
Inhale again while coming back to the centre and then exhale out as you stretch to the opposite side. Repeat this 5 times on each side and pay attention to your breath to stay focused.
6. Relaxation Technique while Driving – Listening or Chanting OM
Stuck in traffic or getting late for work or an appointment? Practice chanting Om or play audio that you can listen to while driving.
Chanting Om is a very powerful yoga technique while driving. It helps to activate energy within your body even if you are sedentary. Chanting Om alleviates tensions, stress, palpitations that pile up during bad traffic jams.
While chanting or listening to the sound of Om, your mind will feel a shift of consciousness to the present and give you a sense of clarity and focus. It reduces your heart rate back to normal and calms all your nerves down. You can even practice chanting while driving especially if you feel nervous before an important meeting or event.
If you do not feel comfortable in chanting Om in particular, you can always chant mantras that you feel connected to or comfortable with.
Fighting the traffic every day is exhausting to the mind and body. Thus, yoga poses for drivers help to balance the imbalance that you feel every time you are behind the wheel stuck in traffic. These driving yoga poses will – keep your anger and frustration at a minimal level, make travel a little easier, and set in compassion towards your fellow drivers who are going through the same pain.
Calm your nerves while driving is very important as it avoids any mishaps such as accidents and road rages. Listen to soothing music instead of the ones that get your adrenaline pumping which add to your stress levels if stuck in traffic jams.
You can also practice these seated yoga poses during road trips or even at your work desk to relieve muscle tension from your body.
Drive safe my readers!
Tell us below in the comments section how do you cope with stress while driving or when stuck in traffic jams.