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Stop, Drop & Yoga: 8 Yoga Poses for the Road

July 9, 2015

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‘Tis the season for road trips.

And whether your travel method is car, truck, or tour bus one thing is for certain: you are going to need to stretch. Once you’re ready for a pit stop, try this short and sweet sequence to ensure when you arrive at your destination, you’re relaxed and feeling limber.


8 Yoga Poses for the Road

 1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

After sitting for a bit, it will feel great to stretch out your spine by standing up nice and straight with the feet firmly planted on the grass, or your mat.

Stand with feet stacked under hips, outsides of the feet parallel with the outsides of your mat. Lift up the toes and the arches of the feet pressing down into the big toe mound, little toe mound and back two corners of the feet. Soften the knees, scoop the tailbone tucking the ribs under. A slight engagement of the core will help to protect the low back. Soften the shoulders down and away from the ears. Spread the fingers actively, level the chin with the ground to lengthen the back of the neck. Reach through the crown of the head as you press down into the feet.

Soften your gaze or close the eyes. Begin to bring your attention to your breath.

Hold this pose for about one minute maintaining the integrity of the pose by breathing mindfully.

 2. Psoas Stretch 

Your psoas muscle is actually a hip flexor, and too much sitting makes for cranky hip flexors. This pose is designed to help to release the muscle and stretch it out.

Stand on a book, a blanket, the curb or if you’re ambitious and travel with a yoga block, use that. Stand on the right leg with the left leg dangling, totally relaxed. Take your hands to the hip points, start be squaring the hips with each other. Then, drop the left hip down and out of the socket. Be aware that your left shoulder isn’t dipping down, and that you’re instead allowing gravity to pull the weight of the leg down. Take a slight bend in the right knee and bring the hands to the heart center in anjali mudra.

Soften the face, breathing into the space you’re creating on the left side of the body.

Repeat on the right side, allowing for any differences in the two sides and honoring them without judgment.

Hold each side for about 30 seconds, or more if you feel it necessary.

3. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

This resting pose allows us to breathe through the back of the torso, into the ribs and shoulders. Because the ground is supporting you, you can fully relax your muscles and feel the support of the ground. Which is nice after sitting in a vehicle.

Come to a tabletop position, bring the big toes to touch and open the knees to a place that’s comfortable, you should still be able to breathe with ease. If your hips don’t reach your heels, find a blanket, a sweatshirt or a beach towel to address that space. Reach the arms out and resting the forehead on the mat or the grass.

Hold this pose for about one minute, breathing into any spaces where you feel a constriction from sitting.

4) Hybrid Child’s/ Thread the Needle 

Many of us have a tendency to slump forward, especially when seated for extended periods of time. This pose opens up the shoulder muscles and gives a gentle compression to the upper chest muscles. Since you’ll be supported by the ground, you can really twist it out if necessary.

Keep the right arm where it was from Balasana, reach the left arm underneath the right elbow. Both palms facing down pressing actively into the ground or mat stretching shoulders away from the ears and squeezing the blades toward each other. Rest the left side of the face on the mat, taking the gaze to the right. You can also lift up the wrists pressing the finger pads into the mat if this variation feels better in your body.

Hold this pose for about 30 seconds and switch to the left side. Repeat if you feel the desire to go deeper on each side.

5. Boat to Reverse Tabletop or Navasana to Ardha Purvottanasana 

This pose helps to strengthen those pesky hip flexors, the core muscles and allows for a stretching of the front body which may be a bit grouchy from sitting and slumping.

Start seated with feet resting on the mat, knees bent. Elbows out to the side, gripping hands under the knees. Lift the heart, tucking the chin and reaching the crown of the head up. Stay here or lift up the legs, keeping the knees together, tailbone tucked and the spine long.

Reverse tabletop is a wonderful counterpose to boat pose, and they both help build strength. As you exhale, plant the hands  on the mat with fingers towards the body. Place the feet firmly on the floor, just underneath the knees. Lift the pelvis to be level with the knees and the head. Soften the glutes and bring the gaze up at the sky or soften the head back, depending on your flexibility today.

Repeat this sequence four to five times, inhaling into Navasana and exhaling into Ardha Purvottanasana.

6. Low Lunge Hands Behind Head or Anjaneyasana  

While you’re watching the scenery pass you by, your thigh and groin muscles are getting tight from not being used. Stretch them out with this pose, which also benefits the psoas and hip flexors!

Start by standing in Tadasana, then step back with your left foot. Right foot scoots to the right, left foot scoots to the left giving you a solid base from which to build the pose. Right knee is directly above the right ankle, protecting the joints. Left foot is either flat or toes are tucked, depending on what you want to do today. Hands come to the hips, ensuring that both hip points are pointing forward and also as level as possible. Press into the big toe of the right foot and pull the left hip forward. Lift up through the rib cage and soften the shoulders. Rise up through the crown of the head and then interlace the fingers at the base of the skull. Squeeze the elbows out of your field of vision or as far apart as you can, and relax the shoulders more.

Hold this pose for about one minute on each side.

7. Figure Four with One Leg Extended or Supta Eka Pada Utkatasana 

Yoga lore indicates that the hips are our emotional dumping ground. And while, we go on vacation to escape from stress, sometimes it travels with us. This stretch will help to melt some of the tension you’ve got stored up so that you can fully enjoy your time away.

Come onto the back, arms at the sides palms facing up. Press into the elbows and the back of the head to lift through the chest and shimmy the shoulder blades towards each other. Bend the knees resting the feet on the floor, taking them about hips width apart. Reach the right leg up, extending the heel and sinking the femur bone back into the socket. Flex the right toes back towards your face, keeping the leg as straight as possible. Then, take the left ankle to just below the right leg, flexing the left foot.

You can use the left hand to press the left knee out as long as the face and the shoulders stay soft and relaxed.

Hold this pose for at least two minutes on each side.

8. Savasana 

Now it’s time to reap what you’ve sown by relaxing in Savasana. This is where you can integrate all the poses you’ve practiced into your mind and body.

Come to your final rest on your back. Left foot to the left corner of the mat, right foot to the right corner of the mat. Settle your legs, let them become heavy. Arms come to the sides, palms facing up. Shoulder blades come towards each other. Avoid jutting the chin up and instead, tuck it down lift the chest and feel the back of the skull resting on the floor.

Observe every point in the body that is touching the ground, the grass or your mat. Let those points become heavier as you sink into final relaxation.

Stay in Savasana for at least five minutes to integrate the work you’ve done.

Once you’ve completed this short sequence of poses, you’ll find it easier to sit for another four, five or six hours since your mind will be calmer and your body will be more limber.

Happy travels!

Photo Cred: Porsche Mama

Elizabeth L. Grepp is a #cleveland boomeranger, #yoga teacher, CYT & RYT, aspiring #vegan, poler cub, wannabe fashionista, music lover with an appetite for #travel. (cleyogi@gmail.com)

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