According to the Harvard Health Watch, the average American spends just over 100 minutes sitting in a car every single day. That means more than an hour and a half of sitting in an upright seated position with little to no mobility. Combine this with the stress accompanied by sitting in traffic, and you’ve got yourself a problem. So what can you do about it?
While you may not be able to leave the driver’s seat for a quick run, you can still work some movement into your in-car time. So the next time you’re commuting to work or on a long road trip, refer back to these simple yoga moves that’ll help you get through the long ride.
Car Cow Face Pose
While keeping one hand on the steering wheel, bring the opposite arm up overhead and bend it at the elbow. You can then attempt to either grab the back of your seat or reach your arm down as far as possible in order to stretch the anterior part of your shoulder. Be careful not to overstretch — this should be done slowly and gradually. .
Threading the Needle
Place your left hand at the 10 o’clock position on your steering wheel. Then take your right hand and move it underneath your left arm. Slowly walk your right hand as far back as possible as you reach across to stretch the right side of your body. Switch hands and stretch out the opposite side.
Checking Your “Blind Spot”
Only perform this move when you are at a complete stop, like when you park your vehicle. Start by pretending to check your blind spot, but turn your head at a slower pace than you normally would. Once you’ve gone back as far as you comfortably can, hold your position and take a deep breath. Inhale 1-2 times, exhale and then return to your normal resting position. Repeat 2-5 times on each side.
If you’ve had a stressful day, there’s no better way to unwind than with deep breathing like this simple belly breathing exercise. Place one hand over your stomach, and breathe in deeply through your nostrils, letting your hand get pushed out by your expanding stomach. Exhale through your mouth, pursing your lips as if you were about to whistle. Repeat 3-10 times.
Keeping one hand on the steering wheel, slowly roll your shoulders back and forth. While doing so, practice your breathing by inhaling and exhaling deeply. By doing this you are loosening your joints while also increasing the blood flow to your arms. Switch hands and repeat.
Seated Spinal Twist
Constantly sitting in the same position puts quite the strain on your spine, which isn’t ideal for your posture. Remedy that with a simple seated stretch you can also do at your desk. Take the back of your hand and gently place it at the middle of your spine. With your hand in place behind you, turn toward that arm as far back as possible. So if your right hand is on your back, rotate your body so that your left shoulder is rotating to the right. Move slowly and gradually. Once you’ve done one side, do the same thing on the other.
Another good breathing exercise, “Sama Vritti” is also known as “Equal Breathing” and is meant to balance the body and help get your mind off of distracting or racing thoughts. To start, inhale through your nose for a count of four. Once done, you’ll want to exhale through your nose again for a count of four. This is meant to slow your heart rate, reduce tension and increase focus. Repeat as needed.