Do you always feel tense and stiff after a long ride? Understandable. Your body is often exhausted and the muscles shorten after several hours of sitting still and driving. You can easily prevent this by re-activating your body and stretching and stretching with yoga exercises during breaks and after the ride! Luckily, we have two yoga teachers, that are also car dealers (apply now if you want to be one), who have put together 13 great yoga exercises just for you that you can do on the go.
As a co-driver, you can even do a few yoga exercises while riding, but we recommend taking the time to use the breaks so nothing happens to you when you brake!
1. Cow head posture (Gomukhasana)
The so-called cow’s head opens your chest muscles and stretches your arms and shoulders. To do this, place one arm on your back from above and the other arm from below. You can bring a piece of clothing or a scarf in both hands so you can connect them together. Once you’ve gripped the fabric tightly, you can gently pull it in either direction. Maybe even your fingertips on your back come together and you can grab the other hand. Breathe in and out deeply and slowly 5 times, then change sides so that each arm has been up or down once. Pay attention to your shoulders; they can sink to the floor in a relaxed way, and on your neck; straighten your shoulders, in line with your spine.
2. Seated twist (Ardha/Purna Matsyendrasana)
The swivel seat is a great rotation for your spine and creates space in the abdomen – it stimulates digestion and promotes detoxification in the body. Sit with your back upright. Your lower back should touch the seat back. Now stab your right leg over your left leg and bring the back of your left hand to your right knee. You can take the right arm next to the seat or grab something in the car on the backrest. Make sure you don’t pull your shoulders up. Inhaling makes your back and neck very long. When exhaling, use your arms to gently turn to the right. You can follow your gaze to your right shoulder. Hold this position a few times and with each inhalation it gets a little longer, with the exhalations you gently turn a little further to the right. And don’t forget to do the same on the other side!
3. Eye-of-the-needle posture (Sucirandhrasana)
The eye of the needle is usually done lying down, but we adjust the pose for the car! Put your left foot behind your right knee. Straighten your back and gently pull your back straight forward. Imagine that your stomach wants to step into the car seat. If your back is already very flexible, you can also lie down during the break (certainly not while driving!) and let your arms hang to the ground. As you can see in the photo of Katrin on the right. Take a few deep breaths and relax your entire back. It can pull something into your buttocks and legs, that’s totally okay. Then repeat with the other leg.
4. Eagle pose (Garudasana)
The eagle is usually done standing, but for now we focus on the upper body and enjoy the benefits of the eagle’s arms, for the relaxation of shoulders and neck. Take your bent arms in front of your upper body and bring your left elbow and place it in the right arm. Maybe now you can take the backs of your hands together, or you can even wrap your right hand around your left hand so that your fingers touch the palm of your hand. Again, make sure you keep your shoulders relaxed. If that’s not enough for you, you can bring your elbows to shoulder height. Breathe deeply into your upper back and feel the stretch between your shoulder blades.
5. Mountain posture (Tadasana) with lateral slope
We are now stretching your whole body. You can stand up straight and stretch your arms up. Make yourself tall. Now you can also place your left leg behind your right leg. Now grab the left leg with your right hand and gently pull it to the right side. Tilt your upper body to the right as far as it feels comfortable and feel the stretching of the entire left side of your body – from belly, shoulders to arms. Breathe deeply into your stretched side of the body. After breathing a few times, change sides and stretch your right flank.
6. Hunched over posture (Uttanasana)
The hunched over position is a great position for your entire back and especially relaxes the lower back. you can bring your feet close together or you can place your feet close together or place them in the hip width (approx. 15 cm apart). Bend your knees and let your stomach sink over your thighs so he can almost touch them. If you already feel stretching in the back and legs, stay here and breathe in and out at least 5 times with enough time. If you want to go further, you can also stretch your legs and touch the floor with your fingertips. The most important thing about this exercise is that your lower back stays straight and you don’t make any curvature. If you repeat the exercise daily, you will soon be able to touch the floor comfortably with stretched legs!
7. Warrior I (Virabhadrasana 1)
The Warrior I is a great stretch for our hip muscles, which are very shortened after sitting all the way in the car. The hip flexor is the muscle that connects the spine and hips to your thighs. Take a big step forward, bend your front knee 90 degrees and bend your back foot. The front foot points straight forward, and the knee should be just above the ankle. You can first place your arms in your hips. Make sure your hip is straight forward and doesn’t open to the side. Lower your sacrum (the extension of your tailbone) perpendicular to the floor and tilt your hip slightly forward. If you have a hard time with this, try tightening your buttocks a little and “pushing forward a little.” The hind leg is stretched. Distribute your weight evenly over both feet and maintain your body tension. Now you can stretch your arms up. Make sure your shoulders at the bottom stay relaxed.
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8. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana 2)
You can take this position right after the Warrior I. Turn your buttocks and put your heel on the floor. The back foot should now point inwards about 90 degrees. This rotation automatically opens your hip to the side. The muscles on the inside of the thighs are now slightly stretched. Pull your sacrum back down vertically. Make sure your knee doesn’t fall inwards – it stays exactly vertical above the ankle. You can now extend your arms right above your legs. Keep your shoulders down and your head tilted so that your gaze goes to your hands. Hold this position a few more times for a few breaths, then change sides.
9. Stretched forward bending (Prasarita Padottanasana)
With a wide step to the side you start this position. The feet are straight ahead or 5 degrees inwards. Try adding a little more weight to the outside of the feet. Cross your hands behind your back and lower your upper body with your back straight. Then you can lift your arms out of your back and lower them as low as you want. You should now feel the stretch in your legs, back and shoulders. Make sure your lower back stays upright and hold this position for a few times. Let your upper body and arms sink further and further to the floor.
10. Create space in your upper body
We often let our shoulders hang forward a bit, especially when we’re sitting. This exercise opens the shoulders and chest muscles and creates space in the upper body. You can simply stand up straight, fold your arms behind your back, and pull your hands to the floor. Your chest will automatically open upwards. Your gaze can gently go to heaven. Now breathe deeply in and out of your chest and feel how you create space through your breathing.
If you have a camper with a bed with you, you can lie down on your stomach – and also relax! Place your forehead on the bed and put your hands under your shoulders. Your elbows stay close to your chest. Breathe in now, come with your chest and head up – without the power of your hands! Use your back muscles to lift your upper body a little off the bed. Your gaze goes straight ahead – and a smile is always a good idea when you practice yoga. Hold this position a few times and try to get a little higher with each inhalation.
12. Exit stretching exercise
For this you need a slightly higher car. You can simply open the door of your camper and make a big step and park your forefoot in the camper. Make sure your knee is not bent more than 90 degrees. You can then place your arms on the top of the camper and gently move your upper body forward. Your shoulders should be far away from your ears. For a few breaths, enjoy the stretch on the inside of your legs and in your shoulders and arms, then change legs.
13. Handstand for adventurers
For the particularly adventurous, I still have a special attitude: half of the handstand! It’s great to bring a little more blood circulation back into the brain and definitely perfect for your breaks!
You should only practice the handstand if you have practiced it with a yoga teacher for a while. Therefore, we will not give you detailed instructions and we recommend that you visit a yoga studio near you, if you have never done it before.
Let us know if the article helped you relax during and after the car ride. We encourage everyone to try yoga as it has been proven to be very good for your health, body and mind. We traditionally say goodbye with a Namasté and wish you a safe and relaxing car ride!