How to stay toned, calm and ease driving pain

     Drivetime Yoga Award winning audio book

Secret Stretches for Busy Travelers

How to stay toned & calm behind the wheel safely and simply with Drivetime Yoga®

Do you often jump into the car before exercising or stretching? Perhaps you've noticed that you start out feeling great but arrive feeling stiff and cranky? You've got lots of company. Even driving just 15 minutes at a time, day in and out, can put you at risk of developing long term health problems. Most of those can be avoided by practicing Drivetime Yoga's small stretches and breathing techniques. They have been tested for years and are used by police officers, sales people and busy parents world wide. Some are specifically designed to be done on the road; others only at stoplights or at your destination. These techniques have been developed and tested by Elaine Masters, RYT, with Julie Garner, Physical Therapist and Ergonomist, contributing.

What's the secret? No one else on the road needs to know that you are doing these little techniques! Extend your workouts, your Yoga classes, or just warm up your muscles with these little moves. Ease shoulder, back and neck pain. Practice them often to arrive at your destination feeling dynamic and vibrant.

Practice 2 or 3 of these in your driveway first. Since the basis of Yoga is balance and unity, begin the habit of listening deeply to what your body needs moment to moment and move from there. Honor your own comfort zone. Do only what works for you and always drive safely (See disclaimer below).

1. Conscious Breathing

Anxiety can age us more than the number of birthdays we have accumulated. Schedules can be bruising and we've become multi-taskers out of necessity. Taking time for ourselves is a learned skill. Making space for you in your busy day ultimately gives you more energy for all the other demands in your life. One of the easiest and most profound techniques is conscious breathing.

Harvard's Mind Body Medical Institute found that simply focusing on your breath can lower blood pressure, release stress and create mental clarity. The suggested techniques in Drivetime Yoga will give you more energy and focus. Conscious breathing massages your inner organs and begins with:

  • Dropping your breath deeply into your belly and releasing it with awareness.
  • Avoid raising your shoulders as you inhale.
  • Think of filling your lungs from the bottom to top, then exhaling bottom to top as well.
  • Repeat several times to energize and trigger your body's natural relaxation response.

Because of the litigation-happy times in which we live, here is the necessary legal disclaimer: The authors and publisher shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, damage, injury or ailment caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by the information in this booklet. Any liability, loss or damage resulting from the performance of the exercises or the advice and information given here, is expressly disclaimed.

2. Chin Swings

Neck tension plagues many of us daily and contributes to stress and fatigue. A simple way to tone the lower facial muscles from your chin down through your neck, is a Stoplight technique:

  • At a fresh red light, slowly turn as you exhale, looking over your right shoulder.
  • Push out slightly through your chin.
  • Keep the rest of your body facing forward and your hands rest, relaxed on the steering wheel.
  • Hold for a few seconds and swing slowly to look over the left shoulder.
  • If there's time, do 10 repetitions slowly.

Second stage:

  • Make sure the light hasn't changed, then look over your right shoulder and up slightly, so you feel a good stretch though the neck muscles.
  • Next, leading with your chin, drop your head down as you roll to the other side - slowly again.
  • Check on the traffic and if there's time, repeat these rolls slowly 10 times.

3. Bottom Squeeze

Whenever you sit for long periods, and especially in a car, gravity takes its toll. It's harder for fresh blood to flow, to bathe your lower spine, inner organs, thighs and sit muscles; to cleanse and bring renewed energy. A simple way to work those lower muscles is with a slow squeeze and release:

  • In a smooth motion, slowly contract your sit muscles - from your hips down through your thighs.
  • Hold for a count of 10 or 15 and slowly release.
  • Be sure to keep breathing and repeat often.

4. Tummy Contractions 

Working your tummy muscles with awareness and intent helps tone that area, while aiding digestion and elimination:

  • Slowly squeeze in below your diaphragm (the muscle below your ribs)
  • Hold for a 15 count and release slowly.
  • Remember to keep breathing.
  • Repeat 10 or so times a day to help keep your stomach muscles firm.

5. Upper Arm Pumps 

This is a simple Stoplight technique to work the under arm area and stretch through your shoulder blades:

  • Raise your right arm and place your hand behind the head rest.
  • Make sure that your shoulder joint is not over extended. Stop if there's pain.
  • Then slowly, using resistance as if you were pushing and pulling against something, pull your elbow forward slightly and then push it back.
  • Repeat in combinations of 15 on the right side and if it's a long light, work your left arm the same way.

6. Torso Shifts

It's so easy to form habits, settling into the same position when you're driving. Finding little ways to move and stretch helps you on many levels simultaneously: fighting fatigue, toning muscles and bringing you to your destination feeling relaxed and energized. A simple isolation exercise can help relieve back tension while working your midsection:

  • Keep your hips still and imagine sliding your ribs and upper body, to the right slightly. Imagine this first and it'll be easier to isolate the areas needed. It's a small movement, at most an inch or two to begin with.
  • Shift slowly to the right, back to center and slide over to the left. Repeat 5 or 6 times back and forth to release the mid back down through the hip.

7. Thigh Swings 

Low back pain and sciatic nerve problems are often triggered on longer drives. Here's a simple move that work tension out of the hips while stretching the inner and outer thighs. How far you move depends on the space you have in your car and your flexibility. Because this is a thigh move, only practice this when the car is stopped:

  • Slowly, push your right knee out towards the passenger side, from the upper thigh and out. It should feel like your pushing against something. Hold for a moment.
  • Then with resistance, push your knee towards the left car door as far as feels comfortable and hold for a moment.
  • This pushing and pulling move can be repeated several times for maximum benefit.
  • At the next stop light repeat with the left leg and thigh, moving slowly and strongly, engaging the full thigh.

8. Kegels

Pelvic Muscle exercises are especially important for women to prevent urinary problems as we age. For men they are beneficial as a deterrent to prostrate problems. They also help to reduce hemorrhoid symptoms. Develop the habit of doing Kegel contractions at every stop light. There are many good variations but the simplest is:

  • To start with a slow, progressive contraction, as if you were trying to keep from passing gas. Contract from the anus forward and down towards the pubic bone. Hold a few seconds and release gradually with control.
  • For the best results avoid squeezing other muscles. Don't squeeze your stomach, legs or sit muscles at the same time, which would put pressure on your bladder. Be sure to keep breathing.

I hope that these little techniques work well for you. There are many other Drivetime Yoga moves and suggestions on how to avoid driving habits that hurt, avoiding road rage, identifying your driving style and more, in our award winning CDs and illustrated book.

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If you fly often for business or pleasure the Flytime Yoga® booklet and passport wallet will help you stay calm, flexible and arrive ready to play. The small booklet fits into the wallet and can be purchased separately online at our website:

Both the Flytime Yoga wallet and booklet are available with private labeling for your clients and team. Contact us for bulk discounts.

Flytime Yoga Booklet and Passport Wallet

Happy travels, Elaine Masters


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Always Drive Safely and Responsibly

The Authors, Illustrators and Publisher of this site and these products shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, damage, injury or ailment caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by the information presented. Any liability, loss or damage in connection with any use of these exercises, including but not limited to any liability, loss or damage resulting from the performance of the exercises, or the advice and information given here, is expressly disclaimed.