It's hard to learn to love your commute. Whether you're sitting in the car for an hour or just a few minutes, that time always feels like it could be to put to better use. But after taking a class with La Jolla-based yoga teacher Jeannie Carlstead at a local Ford Go Further event, I'm wishing that driving was a bigger part of my daily routine.
Jeannie dreams of drivers "reclaiming their time in the car and making it more meaningful." She offered a few insightful tips that may have you feeling a little more Zen, regardless of your circumstances while driving.
Get a grip: You may not even realize how much extra energy goes into holding the steering wheel. Clenching tightly can harm the wrists and perpetuate a sense of stress. Doing something as simple as shaking out the hands and wrists for a minute or two can provide relief. Also, clenching a tight fist and letting it go a few times helps relax the arms. Just be sure to keep one hand on the wheel at all times!
Connect with your core: Whether you're walking down the street or sitting in a car, drawing strength from your core is integral to your body's well-being. Jeannie asked, "If we're sitting in a car, what is holding our body upright? Our core being. We've got to be aware of that and hold ourselves up with a strong core, while consciously relaxing the upper part of the body."
Keep good posture: Jeannie drove home the importance of proper posture throughout class: "Having good posture is a type of body language we have with ourselves. It's holding ourselves in a new way that expresses a confidence, a calm, a centeredness." If you're feeling uncomfortable in the car, then take a big breath, lift your heart, and roll your shoulder blades back and down. If your head is past your chest, then tuck your chin and get your spine back into alignment. You'll definitely feel a shift with this one.
Practice patience: As a passenger, there is one easy way that can really help change the scene: start breathing deep. Jeannie suggests to "breath through your solar plexus [area between the rib cage and the navel], even on the inhale, even on the exhale. If you're really wound up, start to lengthen the exhale; this will induce a relaxation response in your body. If one person is more relaxed, the other person is going to become more relaxed."
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