An Interview with Elaine Masters, creator of Drivetime Yoga

October 30, 2007 

Dty Elaine Masters first learned about yoga a little over thirty years ago when she started meditating. She got "serious" about yoga about six or seven years ago. She tried many different styles and studios, and studied with some incredible people. When she moved to the San Diego area, she found herself commuting a lot. With a 45 minute drive just to get her son to school, she left the house before she could do her stretches. Eventually, she started stretching in her car. And then she ran across others who stretched in their cars, too. After talking to a yoga instructor, and her ergonomic consultant/ physical therapist sister, Julie, she embarked on making Drivetime Yoga a reality.

 Drivetime Yoga is a collection of movements and breathing techniques to help drivers relax and become fully present in their senses while in the car. It starts with breathing exercises, the core of yoga. Instead of distracting yourself with reading, eating, grooming or talking on the phone, you do less in the car. You pay attention to what your body is telling you.

Elaine introduces Drivetime Yoga by asking drivers if they are frustrated with the amount of time they spend in the car. She asks if they've encountered aggressive drivers, or felt like being one. And she questions if drivers feel stressed or stiff after driving, especially if they get in the car before they've exercised that day. I could answer yes to every one of those questions, even though I don't drive quite as much as I used to. My commute used to be 10 minutes in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. Now it's a more reasonable 15 minutes each way. But I probably could have used some breathing and stretching exercises when I was gridlocked 5 days a week.

 

I asked Elaine how she emphasizes safety. Doesn't concentrating on these other things take your attention away from the road? She first mentions all the things we already do in the car: gadgets, eating, putting on makeup, reading newspapers. Drivetime Yoga is about doing less, about becoming totally present in the moment. We're under the gun to be efficient, but this is about taking care of yourself. She suggests that you find two or three small exercises that address a particular pain or tension point, and then try them out before getting in the car. Learn them first, so you're not taking your eyes or attention off of your driving. You can make tiny movements habitual. And then, you can add other moves as you feel comfortable. Many of the moves can be done without taking your hands off of the wheel and only one suggests taking a single hand off of the wheel. The Drivetime Yoga moves are meant to be simple, easy and safe.

Women are multi-taskers. We take on so much and so often that we put our own needs at a lower priority than everything and everyone else. Drivetime Yoga, according to Elaine, is a way to take care of yourself. You can do toning exercises while in the car
. It's a way to help you feel better, but doesn't replace exercise or traditional forms of yoga. It just enhances them. Maybe these small movements will get someone more interested in yoga and taking better care of themselves.

And for moms hauling around the kids, you can start with your breathing to help center your attention on the moment and what you're doing. If you can't do it while driving, try the breathing exercises and stretches at a stoplight. If your kids are old enough, get them to join in with you, too. Elaine gets her son and his friends to stretch and breathe with her. This engages the kids and teaches them some positive car habits.

After talking with Elaine, and reading the Drivetime Yoga book, I can see where these stretches and breathing can even help me when I'm riding the bus or sitting at a desk. There are many applications for theses small exercises. I was concerned about road safety
at first, but Elaine emphasized only doing what you're comfortable with in small spurts.

So if you haven't checked out Drivetime Yoga
go take a look. It could just add some much needed calmness and relaxation to your daily commute.

By Becky Scott
Contributing Editor

www.AskPatty.com, Automotive Advice for Women

 

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