Yoga Stretches for Long Driving Days
Ground Your Post-road Body with These 7 Yoga Poses & Stretches
Road tripping can be hard on the body. Your lower back and neck might ache, and your joints may creak when you stop for the night. Regular stretch breaks can help you feel better and make it easier to keep going, so long as it’s safe. Here are seven poses to do along the route to stay limber and de-stress while RVing!
Try shoulder rolls while filling your RV gas tank! Stand or sit with your arms by your sides. As you inhale, shrug your shoulders up toward your ears while keeping your arms straight. On an exhale, shrug your shoulders down, feeling your muscles loosen. Repeat 10 times.
Inhale and roll your shoulders toward the space in front of you and up toward your ears. Exhale and roll your shoulders backward. Inhale and roll your shoulders back and up toward your ears. Exhale to roll your shoulders toward the front and back down to neutral. You may hear cracking noises or feel some clicking – this is usually normal! You’re loosening up muscles that may be tight from gripping the steering wheel around mountain passes or in traffic.
Standing cat-cow is a great way to wake up your body if you’ve been seated for several hours. Stand with your feet hips-distance apart with your arms by your sides. On an inhale, straighten your torso and lift your chest as if there’s a helium balloon in your rib cage. Shrug your shoulders downward and lean back slightly to angle your chest up toward the sky with your arms hanging slightly behind you. Look toward the horizon or up.
As you exhale, curve your back so your shoulders move forward and your arms hang above your feet. Do not bend at the waist. Make sure your shoulders are away from your ears. Repeat 10 times. You can also place your hands on your upper thighs during cat-cow for some stability. This pose is excellent for the lower back, shoulders, and neck! It’s also nice in the morning after lying in the same position for much of the night.
Goddess Shoulder Dip
Try the goddess shoulder dip when you’re outside the RV at a rest stop or parked at a campsite. To stay indoors, stand in the RV hallway with your feet perpendicular to the longer walls.
Step your feet apart far enough that you can bend your knees 90 degrees with your thighs near parallel to the ground. If this is uncomfortable, bring your feet a few inches closer together with your thighs at a 45-degree angle to the ground. Point your feet forward, parallel to each other.
Place your hands on your thighs above the knees with your elbows bent. On an inhale, lean your right shoulder toward your left leg, keeping your hands in place and holding the near 90-degree bend in both legs. Slowly return your torso to an upright position before exhaling and turning your left shoulder toward your right knee. Keep your hands in place.
This unique twist strengthens the legs and hips while stretching the spine. Engage your core by clenching your ab muscles for a more engaged stretch. Sink deeper into the pose by bending your knees more than 90 degrees for an additional leg workout.
Sit under the RV awning or on the bed with your legs crossed. You’ll need about three feet of open space on all sides. Place your left hand on your right knee. As you inhale, raise your right hand toward the sky, lengthening your spine upward. On an exhale, twist toward the right, keeping your left hand in place and reaching your right hand toward the ground or floor behind you.
Start with a slight twist. With each breath, think about lengthening upward as you inhale and twisting slightly more to the right as you exhale. After five breaths, slowly turn toward the left and return your torso to the center. Place your left hand on your left knee and your right hand on your right knee. Take a few deep breaths and notice how your body feels.
When you’re ready, place your right hand on your left knee. As you inhale, reach your left hand toward the sky, lengthening your spine upward. On an exhale, twist toward the left, keeping your right hand in place and reaching your left hand toward the ground or floor behind you. Start small and lengthen upward with each inhale before twisting slightly more to the left with each exhale.
Return your torso to face forward and place your hands on your knees. Take several breaths and notice how you feel. This pose is a great stretch to do while seated at a rest stop or in the passenger seat. The twist stretches the neck and spine while also encouraging digestion which may slow while you are traveling.
Seated Forward Fold
Sit on a flat surface like the floor, mattress, or couch with your legs out in front of you. If you’re on the floor, sit on a blanket or sweater to cushion your sit bones. As you inhale, reach both arms toward the sky and lengthen your spine upward. As you exhale, slowly fold forward, reaching your hands toward your knees, shins, or toes. It’s ok to round your back. Relax your neck muscles to release tension by letting your head hang between your hands
If you can reach your toes, slowly pull them toward your face to stretch the foot muscles. Don’t worry if you are nowhere near touching your toes. Consider bending your knees until you can reach them with your arms over your legs or on the outside of the legs. Breathe deeply for several seconds before slowly releasing your toes, shins, or knees and inhaling as you return to an upright position.
Seated forward fold stretches the hamstrings, shoulders, and spinal column. Try this pose before bed and when you wake up. Some people like this pose when they have a headache after a long day of driving. It can encourage blood to flow to the head, reducing blood vessel restriction and easing pain.
Supine Spinal Stretch
Try supine side stretch on a flat surface like your mattress or the ground outside the RV. If outdoors, use a yoga mat, blanket, or rug underneath you. Lie down on your back with your feet together. Use your right pointer finger and thumb to encircle your left wrist. On an inhale, stretch your arms overhead and slowly shift your torso toward the left, stretching your left arm toward the right while lightly pulling the left wrist toward your head.
Make this a full-body stretch by shifting your feet several inches to the right at the same time, creating a C shape. You may feel a stretch in the left rib cage and left hip. You can cross your left leg over the right at the ankle for a stronger sensation. Hold this position for several slow breaths.
On an exhale, return your feet and torso to a neutral position and let go of your left wrist. Return your arms to reach straight, resting on the surface outstretched above your head. Take several deep breaths. Use your left pointer finger and thumb to encircle your right wrist. On an inhale, slowly shift your torso toward the right, stretching your right arm toward the left while lightly pulling the right wrist toward your head.
Hold the position for several slow breaths before returning to a neutral position with your torso and legs aligned. Try the stretch on the opposite side.
Child’s pose is a great way to quiet your mind before bed or before interacting with others after a long drive. Kneel on all fours with your body weight resting on your hands and knees. Sit back on your shins with the tops of your feet pressing into the ground. As you inhale, reach your arms overhead before slowly lowering your hands toward the ground with your arms outstretched. Rest your palms on the ground and your belly on the tops of your thighs. Rest your head on the tops of your knees.
Try widening your stance to create space between your knees to sink deeper and make more room for your belly and chest. Stay here for several slow breaths as you let go of muscle tension and sink toward the ground. If it’s not possible or comfortable to rest on your thighs, place something under your rear like a yoga block, dense pillow, or stuffed duffle bag. Propping yourself up should take pressure off the knees and make this grounding pose more comfortable.
Child’s pose stretches the ankles, thighs, and hips. It’s helpful when you’ve been driving for hours and your ankles could use a break from pushing the pedals.
Try these simple poses and stretches during a rest stop break or at the start or end of your day. They’re also helpful when you switch off from driving to riding shotgun. Whether you’re sleeping in an RV bunk or a full-size RV bed, your whole body will thank you!
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