8 Road Trip Ready Yoga Poses

Ahh, summer is here! Along with warmer weather and longer days, this is the season for venturing out. Whether you are heading out for a beach destination, family reunion, or trip abroad, the journey gives you the opportunity to stimulate your mind and spirit, all while seeing the sights and visiting friends and family. Unfortunately, it can also take an unwelcome toll on your body and energy.

Sitting for extended periods of time– whether in a car, bus, plane has been
linked to a host of health concerns including increased blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease as well as stiff muscles and joints, none of which are conducive to enjoying your vacation. Taking regular breaks to move, circulate the blood, and breathe intentionally can help you stay calm and alert during your journey.

Don’t dampen your trip (and mood) with aches and pains. Buckle up and boost your travel stamina with these eight “on-the-road” inspired yoga poses. Best part — no mat required.

​Yoga on the Road: 4 Seated Car Yoga Poses 

These first four poses can be done while seated as a passenger in the car. For safety’s sake, don’t try these if you are driving. Start by moving your seat as far back as you can to offer more space. The first two should be done together offering a perfect counter pose to each other.


1) Seated Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

Odds are you sit in your car in much the same way you sit at your desk — hunched over. The result: Tight shoulders and pectoral muscles. Get relief with this simple seated backbend.

1. Sit up straight with both feet flat on the floor.

2. Lean forward slightly and grab the seat behind you, extending your arms as you continue to lean forward. You should feel a stretch in your chest as well as your shoulders. Stay for three deep breaths.


2) Seated Cat Pose Side Stretch (Marjaryasana)

This stretch, which widens the shoulder blades and targets your upper back.

1. From Camel Pose, reach your arms forward with your fingers interlaced and palms pressing away from you. You should feel a stretch in the tops of your wrists.

2. Exhale to round your back, creating a C-shape with your spine. Allow your shoulders to reach forward and drop your chin towards your chest to stretch the back of your neck. Stay for three breaths.

3. Next, lift your interlaced hands overhead to the back of your head to cradle the base of your skull. Tilt your torso gently to one side to stretch through the opposite side of your chest, ribs and waist. Inhale to center and repeat to the other side. Release your arms and shake them out.

3) Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Twists not only help with digestion and elimination (which can become sluggish when traveling), but also releases tension in the spine, chest and shoulders.

1. From an upright position, inhale to lengthen your spine.

2. As you exhale, twist to the right, bringing your left hand to your right thigh. Your right hand can either rest by your right hip or reach around to hold the back of your seat.

3. Stay for three breaths and then slowly unwind. Take a breath and repeat to the left.

4) Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

This pose helps relieve tension in the lower back and neck. You may feel a stretch in your hamstrings.

1. With your feet flat on the floor, rest your hands on your thighs.

2. Inhale to lengthen your spine, then exhale forward with a flat back. Be sure to bend from your hips without rounding your back.

3. Depending on space in your car and the flexibility in your back body, rest your arms and head on the dash or slide your hands down your legs to touch the floor. Stay in your forward bend for three breaths (longer if you like).

4. To come out, walk your hands up your legs on an inhale.

“Rest Stop” Yoga Poses

Taking frequent breaks in order to stretch and stay alert is important. The next time you pull into a rest area, give these next four poses a try.

1) Picnic Table Lunge (Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana)

The hip flexors and hamstrings can become shortened when sitting for hours. Picnic Table Lunge (aka High Lunge Pose) reverses this by stretching the calves, hamstrings and hip flexors.

1. Find a picnic table or bench and step your right foot up onto it. Hands can rest on your hips or table for stability.

2. Rock your weight slightly forward, bending your right knee. Allow your knee to come over your toes, noticing the stretch in your left calf and hamstrings.

3. Next, shift your weight back into your left leg as you straighten your right knee. You’ll feel a gentle stretch in the back of the right leg. Alternate rocking forward and back at least four times.

4. Then, with your weight shifted forward and right knee bent, reach one or both arms overhead. Stay here for three breaths.

5. Bring your arms by your sides and carefully return to standing with both feet on the ground. Repeat with your left leg.

2) Standing Lateral Bend (Parsva Urdhva Hastasana)

The stress of traffic, waiting around and just being immobile for long periods often cause us to take shallow breaths. Standing Lateral Bend not only encourages deep, relaxed breathing, but it also serves to release tension through the intercostal muscles, shoulders, and outer hip flexors.

1. Standing near a bench or picnic table for support, step your right foot over your left. Both feet should be flat on the ground.

2. As you inhale, lift your right arm overhead and arch your body to the left. Your left hand can rest on your thigh, a bench or a table.

3. Take three deep, slow breaths, stretching a little more to your left with each inhale. Breath into the right side of your rib cage to expand the intercostal muscles. Notice the sensations along the right side of your body.

4. Inhale back to center and bring your feet parallel. Repeat on the left.


3) Standing Downdog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

This a great pose to open up the entire body. It creates length in the spine and openness in the hamstrings – two areas that get very tight while sitting for hours in a car or plane.

1. Hold the edge of a picnic table or the back of a bench. You could also place your hands on the upper edge of a car door.

2. Keeping your arms straight, walk your feet back, hinging at the hips to form an inverted L-shape. If your hamstrings are very tight, bend your knees slightly as you lengthen your tailbone away from your head. You can gently pedal your feet or shift your hips slightly from side to side as you stay in this position for three breaths.

3. To exit the pose, lift your gaze and walk your feet towards the table or bench to return to standing.

4) Seated Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Kapotasana)

Your hip flexors, glutes, and piriformis (running from your lower spine through your butt to the top of your thighs) tighten when sitting. Seated pigeon helps release this tension and restore range of motion to your hips, glutes and low back.

1. Sit on a bench, crossing your right ankle over your left thigh. Flex your right foot to engage the muscles around the knee and bring your hands gently to your right knee and ankle.

2. Take a breath in, and as you exhale gently lean forward, bringing your chest toward your right shin and ankle.

3. Keep your spine long as you take three slow breaths, noticing any sensations in the outer right hip and glutes. Inhale back to center. Be sure to repeat on the left.

I hope these help on your next road trip, allowing you to arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and ready to explore.

Safe travels!

Be well!

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