Yesterday I packed up my car, and hit the open road for what Google maps told me would be a 7 hour drive from Washington, DC to South Carolina. Ten hours later (thank you traffic!), I pulled up outside my parents’ house, exhausted, but thrilled to see them. Stepping out of the car, I knew that the many hours sitting in the same position might leave my body feeling stiff the next day. Along the route I incorporated some stretches, and before bed last night, worked my way through a few long and lazy sun salutations, lengthening from head to toe. Whether going on a road trip, taking a long flight, (or even sitting at a desk for many hours!), here are some ideas to counter all that sitting.
Before heading out:
1. I find that before I have to sit for a long period of time, it helps to get active – a quick run, bike ride, or brisk walk – to get the blood flowing.
2. Pack some props – I have a small pillow in the car that I can place at my lower back as I start to feel my spine crunching/hunching.
1. Move through a few cat/cow postures when stuck at a light or sitting in traffic. Round through the upper back, dropping the head to lengthen through the neck on the exhale. On the inhale, draw the chest forward, arching and opening the front of the body.
2. Focus on lengthening the spine – root down through the sits bones and feel as though someone is pulling a string up all the way through the crown of the head.
3. Remember to breathe – long, cleansing deep breaths send new oxygen through the body, help to dispel fatigue, and can reduce frustration. And if you are in the car on your own, try a few lion’s breaths – deep inhale through the nose, open the mouth, allow the tongue to stretch out and down, as you audibly exhale. Ahhhhh…
4. I find driving, especially long distances, to be time for meditation.
Post travel (or a long day at the office):
1. Find tadasana/mountain pose, standing straight, lifting up out of the hips, rolling the shoulders back and down. On an inhale, stretch the arms up over head, until the palms are touching. Reach up, look up, feel like rib cage expand. Allow the fingertips to lead the upper body into a side stretch, being careful not to collapse forward (if leaning to the right, roll the left shoulder open). Repeat on each side.
2. Adho Mukha Savasana, or down dog, is an all around, feel good pose. It not only calms the brain and body, it also opens the backs of the legs (which have been in crunched up all day!) and the upper back.
3. I love a gentle inversion in the evening, such as Viparita Kirani, or legs up the wall, to relieve cramping and fatigue in the legs.
Another road trip from SC to Boston is coming up next week. What are some of your favorite ways to keep the body calm and relaxed on a long trip??
*photo from jwblogisticsandtrucking.