I'm the type of person who people are always telling he should do yoga. I'm that uptight.
It's been a life-long condition, one exacerbated by rush hour traffic. Those days are over. I've started doing yoga – in my car.
My journey began after I picked up Christine Chen's Happy-Go-Yoga: Simple Poses to Relieve Pain, Reduce Stress and Add Joy, a book that shows how to incorporate yoga into everyday life and daily drives. Its chapter "Road Rage Relief" outlines 10 car yoga poses with names such as Nimble Warrior and Car Kali.
Chen is a former Seattle TV anchor who turned to yoga in 1999 as a way to lose weight and combat the mental and physical toll of her high-stress job. She suffered chronic back pain so severe she could barely move. Desperate for relief, she tried yoga and, over time, her pain began to dissipate. After reading her book, I interviewed her in late January. "Every time I went to class I felt more aware and more calm and centred," Chen said by telephone from New York City. "I'd lie down between takes on the news set and do stretches." After 18 months of yoga, her back pain was gone.
She left journalism to teach yoga and it permeated her life. "When I was on the subway or at the airport, I'd be doing yoga and people would see me and ask me about it." These encounters inspired Happy-Go-Yoga. She knew there would be a chapter on driving.
"I'm from California and everyone in California is in their cars all the time," she said. "It's especially bad in Los Angeles, where it can take 30 or 40 minutes to travel what should take 20 minutes. Commuting two hours a day means sitting for a really long time. You're being put in a place of stillness and that can bring up a lot of frustration and issues if you don't know how to be still in your mind."
Chen's rules for road yoga are pretty clear. Poses must be safe. They can't distract the driver or impede road safety. Most exercises are done while the car is stopped or moving slowly.
I was a tad skeptical. Driving has always seemed like the antithesis of yoga. I started out with Nimble Warrior, an exercise inspired by the hand-flipping motion done when executing the traditional Warrior Pose. It involved opening and closing each hand while you're travelling slowly. It's intended to release blood flow in the hands and wrists.
At red lights, I did Car Kali. "The Hindu goddess Kali is known to annihilate evil," Chen said. "And it's not always a pretty sight. You've got to get fierce." Fierce meant crossing my arms, gripping the wheel, sticking out my tongue, whilst making an ugly face and hissing. The ugly grimace stretched my facial muscles while the hiss released anger. It felt ridiculous, but boy, did it feel good. I began to look forward to red lights.
I now average 30 minutes weekly car yoga. It breaks up the tension and monotony, and is the opposite of distracting. It's even made me more comfortable in the present. Don't worry, I'm a lot closer to inhaling a piece of pizza than I am to attaining inner peace, but that's not the point. I feel ready to make the leap from the front seat to the yoga studio.
"It's like a savings account," Chen says. "You put in a little bit at a time and after a while you've got a good balance. You're in the car anyway, just say to yourself, 'I want to do something about this.' You have nothing to lose."
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram
Add us to your circles
Sign up for our weekly newsletter