7 Yoga Poses That Will Save Your Road Trip

Road Trip Yoga

Road Trip Yoga
Road Trip Yoga. Chris Bennett/Aurora Open/Getty Images

There’s nothing quite like a road trip. Feeling the thrill of the highway as you sing loudly to the classic rock station in the middle of nowhere while the scenery whizzes past. Oh, and then there’s that cramped sensation you get in your lower back from sitting in a car seat all day, possibly accompanied by shooting pains down the backs of your legs. If you’re the driver, add in shoulder soreness and tired wrists. All of this is easily counteracted by some basic yoga. If you can drop in on a class or two on your travels, that’s great, but you may have to make do with unrolling your mat in a hotel room or campsite. If that’s the case, you’ll want to make the most out of your time. Here’s the most effective poses you can do in 10 to 15 minutes to make sure that your trip keeps rolling smoothing down the interstate.

Standing Forward Bend - Uttanasana Variation

Standing Forward Bend - Uttanasana. © Ann Pizer

Stretching your hamstrings is the key to staying pain-free when you’re spending a lot of time in the car. This variation of uttanasana addresses that area of the body, plus stretches the wrists and shoulders. Interlace your fingers behind your back and roll your shoulders up and then back before your forward bend. Take it easy if your hamstrings are really tight. Bend your knees or release your arms as necessary. You may want to return to this pose at the end of the routine for comparison. You will probably will feel a lot less tight then.

Cat-Cow Stretch - Chakravakasana

Cat-Cow stretch
Ben Goldstein

Come to your hands and knees. A few rounds of cat-cow stretching is just what you need to unwind your spine, restoring ease of movement and reestablishing your natural spinal curves. Inhale to arch and exhale to round for at least 5 breath cycles. While you're on all fours, circle your hips first to the left and then to the right. 

Downward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog - Adho Muhka Svanasana
Downward Facing Dog - Adho Muhka Svanasana. © Ann Pizer

Of course you're going to do downward facing dog. It's a great stretch for your whole body, including our key areas of hamstrings, spine, shoulders, and wrists. In fact, if you are really pressed for time, just doing the forward bend, cat-cow stretch, and down dog will go a long way toward curing what ails ya. Shift your weight from foot to foot few times, pedaling out your legs. Take at least five deep inhales and exhales.

Downward Dog Split

Down Dog Split with Open Hip
Down Dog Split with Open Hip. © Ann Pizer

Lift your right leg into a downward facing dog spilt. Keep your hips square to the floor at first and then open your hips and bend your right knee as shown. Try to keep the weight in your hands from shifting to one side. Press down firmly through both palms and keep your shoulders level, not allowing one to hike up.

Crescent Lunge - Anjaneyasana

Crescent Lunge - Anjaneyasana
Crescent Lunge - Anjaneyasana. © Ann Pizer

Step your right foot forward inside your right hand. Drop your left knee to the mat, padding it with a blanket if it is sensitive. Lift your arms overhead for a full crescent lunge or clasp them behind your back if you want more shoulder opening. Balancing here takes a bit of core strength, which is going to help your back feel better too. 

Half Moon Pose - Ardha Chandrasana

Half Moon Pose - Ardha Chandrasana
Half Moon Pose - Ardha Chandrasana. © Ann Pizer

Release both hands to the floor. Come up on the ball of your left foot to transition into half moon pose. The hamstring and hip opening one-two punch of this pose is perfect to counteract a long day of sitting. If you usually use a block under your hand, make use of a chair or the edge of the bed for the same purpose. Since this is a balance, it also works the core a little bit.

Half Pigeon - Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

Noe Montes/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Come back through downward dog and then bring your right knee inside your right wrist for half pigeon pose. This is the best way to get in to the piriformis and send that sciatic pain packing. Use pillows or blankets as props. If this version of pigeon is too intense, substitute eye of the needle pose.

After spending a few minutes in pigeon, return to downward dog and repeat the previous four poses with your left leg. 

When you're on a road trip, practicing these seven poses every day will help keep you pain-free so you can enjoy the experience to the fullest. Happy trails!

Continue Reading