Even when you feel totally calm and relaxed during the yoga class, you might experience all of those feelings vanished once you sit into your car and start driving. How can you cope with that? With the help of mental yoga of driving, of course.
It’s a well-known fact that many people practice yoga to reduce stress. True, it’s one of the most relaxing and de-stressing activities. The stress-relief effects of yoga are proven by various studies.
For instance, a study called ‘The Effect of Yoga on Stress, Anxiety, and Depression in Women‘ shows that only 12 sessions of regular hatha yoga practice are enough to significantly decrease depression, stress, and anxiety in women. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
However, often all the positive effects of yoga practice wear off almost immediately once you find yourself stuck in traffic. It’s hard to remain calm and mindful when all the drivers around you seem to do everything just to annoy you.
Furthermore, such stress isn’t merely displeasing — it could be dangerous as well. Brake and Direct Line published a survey that states that 71% of UK drivers had lost concentration at the wheel due to annoyance and stress. Therefore, it’s crucial to learn how to stay calm while driving for your own sake.
How can you do that? With the help of mental yoga of driving.
How Does Yoga Help With Stress When You are a Driver?
Most people react to stress in the same way: they tense, they start breathing shallowly, and they cannot focus on anything besides the cause of their stress. Yoga teaches us to approach our emotions in a calm and mindful way, to relax both our mind and body, and to find a way to think clearer, no matter how stressful a situation might be. That’s why it’s always a good idea to practice yoga while driving.
Here are 8 ways to use yoga to reduce stress and anxiety caused by driving.
1. Take a breath
Proper breathing is a foundation of yoga and a way to stay calm even when it’s nearly impossible. Therefore, if you need to start with something, start with it.
When you are stressed or angry, or anxious, your breathing most likely isn’t calm at all. Calming it down can instantly help you focus. You can start with simple slow breathing or try one of the breathing techniques.
2. Pay attention to your jaw
If you are frustrated by traffic and other drivers, there’s a big chance you’re clenching your jaw. Try to soften it, to open your mouth slightly to create some space between jaws. This will help you relax and also will be good for your teeth.
3. Notice the way you grip the steering wheel
The same goes for your grip — there’s a chance you’re holding the wheel tighter than needed. In this case, soften the muscles and joints in your hands, relaxing your grip a bit.
4. Eliminate all distractions
It’s easy to be annoyed and stressed when you allow yourself to pay attention to every frustrating detail (and to the ones that don’t seem frustrating at first glance). How can you minimize distractions? For instance, by making a driving playlist in advance or by putting away your phone and turning the sound off.
These small tasks might seem insignificant; however, they might have a huge impact on your driving. After all, we often don’t notice how much these distractions affect our mood until they’re gone.
5. Set an intention
If you followed the fourth tip, then you probably have fewer distractions around you. However, even in this case people often struggle with the thing they cannot change that easily — their mind.
What to do when you keep getting annoyed with so many things during driving? Try to set an intention to stay calm and peaceful, and to focus only on the driving process, not on your negative thoughts. This doesn’t come easily, but practice changes that.
6. Remind yourself about this intention
Maybe you’re doing your best but still cannot get enough relaxation. That’s okay, as long as you keep breathing and reminding yourself that getting annoyed won’t change the situation you’re in.
Just breathe and try to stay calm and focused on the intention. If you do this long enough, the tension will go away.
7. Practice seated Cat-Cow yoga to reduce stress
Yes, it is possible, but only while you sitting in traffic, not during driving. Keep your hands on the wheel, take a deep breath and bend your back slightly, while rolling the shoulders back slowly. Exhale and allow the shoulders to hunch forward.
This small exercise could instantly improve your mood and help your back at the same time.
8. Be compassionate
Last but not least, consider practicing compassion to fellow drivers. True, this might be incredibly hard, but those who practice yoga to reduce mental stress know how important it is to treat all beings with compassion and love.
Changing the attitude towards fellow drivers is probably even harder than setting the intention to remain calm. You need to be understanding even when you want to scream in frustration. However, if you decide to be kind to the people around you, they might treat you with the same kindness.
Stress and yoga rarely go hand-by-hand if you are mindful and committed to sticking to yoga principles. Obviously, this might be hard sometimes, especially if you are a beginner yogi or when the surroundings are too stressful. However, the best way to cope with stress under such circumstances is to stick to yoga tricks and practices to maintain inner calm.
Do you practice yoga in daily life to reduce stress? If you do, please share your own tips and tricks in the comments below.