Car Yoga: 8 Calming Stretches to Unwind on the Road
Americans constantly drive from one event to the next. From work commutes to family activities to road trips with friends, we spend a large chunk of time traveling from A to B. According to AAA NewsRoom, the average driver spends 17,600 minutes driving per year. Clearly, car transportation is a fundamental part of the American lifestyle.
With such busy schedules, it can be difficult to find time to decompress. However, there are many ways to slow down and release stress, like practicing yoga. According to the Mayo Clinic, the health benefits of yoga range from decreased stress and anxiety, to a reduced risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, to alleviating insomnia. Yoga brings peacefulness to your emotional well-being while boosting your physical health.
Since so much time is spent in the car, why not practice car yoga to conveniently bring some Zen to your life? The following yoga stretches can be practiced right from your vehicle. Try them out in your driver’s seat or as a passenger (we recommend following the sequence from start to finish for the most benefit). Just remember that safety always comes first; do not attempt car yoga while actively driving!
Ujjayi Pranayama Breathing
Begin your car yoga sequence with a steady breath to calm your mind and body. Ujjayi Pranayama (ooh-JAH-yee prah-nah-YAH-mah) is one of the top breathing techniques for relaxation and often occurs at the beginning of yoga classes.
- Sit in a seated, comfortable position with your eyes closed.
- Take a deep inhale through your mouth, and exhale while focusing solely on your breath.
- After a few rounds of deep breathing, close your mouth and begin to breathe through your nose. Fill your lungs with air before exhaling through your nose.
- Practice Ujjayi Pranayama breathing for several minutes to relax your body and mind.
Continue to breathe in and out through your nose as you continue your car yoga session.
Seated Cat/Cow Pose
Cat/Cow pose is a slow, gentle stretch that warms up the spine and releases tension from your neck.
- St in a comfortable, cross-legged position (Easy Pose).
- Take a deep breath in, and lift your chest to bring your heart forward.
- Roll your shoulders down and back, and look up for Cow Pose.
- Exhale while pressing your palms on your knees, and round your back.
- Drop your chin and gaze down for Cat pose.
- Continue five rounds of seated Cat/Cow Pose while focusing on your breath.
Many people hold tension in their shoulders and neck. You can alleviate neck stiffness by simply rolling your head in opposite directions.
- Sit up straight in your seat, and roll your head to one side.
- Roll your head backward, then to the opposite side, and forward.
- For a deeper stretch, place your left fingertips above your right ear and your right fingertips on your right shoulder.
- Gently pull your head to the left.
- Switch directions by bringing your right fingertips above your left ear and your left fingertips on your left shoulder
- Gently pull your head to the right.
- Hold each side for several breaths.
Thread the Needle
To stretch both sides of your body and release tension from your back, shoulders, and neck, you can Thread the Needle right from your car.
- Position your left hand on your steering wheel and stretch out your arm.
- Move your right hand underneath your left arm.
- Walk your right hand back as far as your flexibility will allow you to give the right side of your body a nice stretch.
- Swap your hands and stretch the left side of your body.
Cow Face Arms
Your triceps and shoulders will thank you after this feel-good arm and shoulder stretch.
- Sit up straight in your seat.
- Raise your right arm, and bring your right hand down your back.
- Reach your left hand behind you to grab your right hand.
- If this isn’t comfortable, you can grip your right elbow instead.
- Gently press down on your right elbow or hand and breathe.
- Then, change your grip, and repeat the stretch on both sides.
Seated Figure Four Pose
Did you know that many people hold stress in their hips? Let go of pressure by giving your hips and hamstrings a deep stretch.
- Sit comfortably in your seat with your feet flat on your floorboard spread slightly wider than the distance of your hips (you can measure this by placing your fists in-between your feet).
- Pick up your left foot, and place your left ankle on your right thigh.
- Hold for 5-10 breaths.
- Switch sides and repeat the pose on the other side.
- If you want a deeper stretch, thread your left hand through your legs, and hold the back of your right thigh while pulling both of your legs toward your chest.
- Switch sides and repeat.
Seated Head-to Knee-Pose
Transition from Seated Figure Four Pose to Seated Head-to-Knee Pose to stretch your spine, hips, and hamstrings.
- Extend your right leg and place your right foot on your dashboard.
- Place your left foot on your right thigh, and begin to fold over your right leg.
- Hold for 5-10 breaths
- Change sides.
Seated Spinal Twist
Finish your car yoga sequence with a final spinal twist.
- With your feet flat on your floorboard hip-distance apart, twist your body to the right.
- Hold onto your seat with both of your hands to deepen your stretch.
- Take five breaths.
- Turn to the left and twist for five more breaths.
After your car yoga session, you will hopefully feel more relaxed, centered, and mindful as you begin your next journey. Now that you know how to bring more tranquility into your life, does your car insurance policy also bring you peace? If you’re looking for affordable car insurance that you can always count on, Direct Auto can help. For a free quote or to learn more, call 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732) or come into a Direct location near you so you can nama-stay safe on all of your adventures.