Yoga for Drivers

The following post was provided by YAS Fitness Center founder and owner Kimberly Fowler.

I live in Los Angeles, so I drive a lot. Or, more precisely, I sit a lot — in traffic. As a fitness expert, I know a thing or 2 about what to do if you’re always in your car: Yoga. More specifically, yoga for drivers.

Why yoga? Because yoga is all about a flexible spine … Sitting for long periods is a major source of lower back pain. The small muscles in your back that hold your vertebrae in place need exercise to stay in shape. When they’re weak, your back is more likely to “go out.” Studies show that practicing yoga regularly is the most effective exercise for relieving back pain.

Try the following poses from my no-nonsense guide to yoga, The No OM Zone, to gently stretch and strengthen your back and relieve stiffness before or after driving (or any time your lower back feels tight). Work on a yoga mat, rug, or other padded surface. If a pose feels too difficult or intense, take it easy and don’t push yourself.

Easy spinal twist pose

  • Lie on your back on the floor and bring both knees to your chest.
  • Hold your right knee there and straighten your left leg on the floor.
  • Bring your bent right knee across your body (to the left side), keeping your shoulder blades on the floor.
  • Look back over your right shoulder. Hold for 45 seconds or so, then bring both knees to your chest and switch sides.

Knees-to-chest pose

  • Lie on your back, bend your right knee, place your hands below the knee, and draw your thigh towards your chest, leaving your left leg extended on the floor. (If you can’t keep it straight, bend the knee and put your foot flat on the floor.)
  • Exhale and bring your forehead to your right knee (or toward it without straining). Inhale.
  • Exhale and return to your original position.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Dead bug pose

  • Lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest.
  • Reach up and grab the outsides of your feet. (If you can’t reach your feet, grab the back of your thighs.)
  • Gently bring your knees to the outsides of your chest and toward the floor, keeping your entire back on the floor.
  • Hold for 45 seconds to one minute.

Locust pose

  • Lie face down and bring your arms alongside your body.
  • Lift your head, upper body, arms, and legs up off the floor, keeping energy in your arms and legs.
  • Look forward and hold for 45 seconds.
  • Release to the floor, turning your head to one side.
  • Repeat 3 times. If this is too intense or difficult, try lifting your head and chest off the floor while leaving your legs down, and vice versa.

Child’s pose

  • Kneel on the floor with your knees together or apart.
  • Rest your chest on your thighs (or between your knees if they’re apart).
  • Bring your arms alongside your body and let your forehead rest on the floor.
  • Hold for 45 seconds or longer if it feels good.

A resting pose, child’s pose releases the muscles in the back, making it a great pose to finish with.

More about Kimberly

Kimberly sparked today’s biggest fitness trend — the yoga hybrid movement — when she opened her original YAS studio, the first studio dedicated to the combination of yoga and Spinning®, in 2001. Her game-changing YOGA for ATHLETES® class and DVD soon followed. Author of The No OM Zone (Rodale, 2010), Fowler’s writing has also appeared in Shape, Self, More, and Yoga magazines. A longtime cancer survivor and motivational speaker, she’s made recent appearances for Prevention Magazine and Got Milk? Dubbed “the new face of yoga,” by Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN Health, she’s been seen on The Doctors, Good Morning America, CBS Money Matters and Fox Business. Her YAS Gives Back has donated over $1,000,000 to charity.

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What to Do If Your Car Overheats: 5 Must-Know Steps

When the mercury begins to rise outside, it’s common for car engines to get overly toasty too. Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to make sure a temporary jump in temperature doesn’t lead to long-lasting trouble. To help you know what to do if your car overheats, here are 5 easy steps.

  1. First, always carry an extra bottle of coolant (also called antifreeze) in your car, as well as a jug of water. Engines typically overheat because the coolant’s low, so topping it off will usually solve the problem. Failing that, water will also temporarily do the trick. Plus, that water could be a lifesaver on long, sweltering summer drives. Just don’t drink it all.
  2. When you see the temperature gauge creeping into the red or a notification light glowing, immediately turn off your air conditioner (since the AC puts a lot of strain on your engine).
  3. If the problem persists, crank your heater up to full blast. It could make the next few miles a pretty brutal experience, but the transfer of heat away from the engine might just save its life.
  4. Should the preceding steps fail, pull over as soon as you can. Turn off the engine. If you can pop the hood from the driver’s seat, do so — but don’t risk opening it by hand until the engine has cooled, especially if you see steam wafting off the engine. It typically takes a solid 30 minutes for an engine to cool down enough for it to be safe to handle. If you’d rather let a professional handle the problem, it’s time to call for a tow truck.
  5. Once the engine has cooled, check the coolant tank. It’s usually a translucent plastic tank near the radiator. If the coolant tank is empty, you may have sprung a leak. Take a quick look under the car. If you notice a drip or puddle, chances are the coolant tank is leaking.

If you do have a leak, carefully open the radiator cap. Place a cloth over the radiator cap to protect your hand, and tilt the cap away from you as it opens. Refill the cooled radiator with your spare coolant or water. Do not pour cold water into a still-hot radiator — it could cause the engine block to crack due to the sudden change in temperature. If you absolutely have to add water while the engine is still warm, pour slowly while the engine is running in neutral or park.

Note that most cars require a 50/50 mix of coolant with water to prevent overheating, so you won’t be able to drive indefinitely with nothing but water. If you don’t have coolant on hand when your car overheats, make sure to add a comparable amount of coolant as soon as possible.

If the coolant tank is full, the problem may be electrical or mechanical in nature, in which case a tow to the nearest repair shop is definitely in order. A leaking hose, worn or broken fan belt, bad water pump, or malfunctioning thermostat may be the culprit.

What to do if you’re in traffic

Being in traffic when your car begins to overheat can make the situation that much more stressful. But it’s important that you let your cooler head prevail and follow these tips:

  • If you’re stopped in traffic, put the car in neutral or park and rev the engine a bit. This will encourage water and air flow through the radiator, helping to cool it.
  • If you’re in stop-and-go traffic, aim to creep rather than alternating between braking and accelerating. Braking generates a lot of friction, which will only turn up the heat.

If the needle’s in the red

It’s not common for contemporary cars to overheat, and it’s never a good thing, regardless of your vehicle’s age. If you find that your car often gets a little hot under the hood, it’s probably an indication of a larger problem, so consult your repair shop or trusted auto expert.

In the summertime …

Keep the livin’ easy by watching the temperature gauge, storing bottles of water and coolant in the back, and maybe even stashing this list in your glove compartment. You don’t want a volcanically hot engine ruining your summer road trip — or worse yet, your engine.

Related: how to change a flat tire and what to keep in your emergency road kit.

Fourth of July DUI: How Much Does It Cost?

This weekend marks American independence, and with parties and parades planned from Portland to Philadelphia, it’s the biggest birthday bash of the entire year. The fourth of July weekend means backyard picnics and BBQs, fireworks and flags, sun tea and sparklers. Unfortunately, it also means more drunk drivers (and DUIs) on the road than any other weekend of the year. According to MSN Money, the Fourth of July is the number one holiday for alcohol-related fatal crashes.

You may already know this, but did you also know that a DUI can triple your car insurance premium for as long as 5 years? That means that if you pay $150 a month now, your premium could increase to $450 a month. Spread that extra $300 a month over the next 5 years and you will have paid $18,000(!) extra for the same coverage.

Once you have a DUI on your record, your car insurance company considers you a high-risk driver and so will charge you a higher rate (to offset the added risk). Additionally, you may no longer qualify for any car insurance discounts you may have been receiving prior to your DUI — such as good driver or claim-free — causing your rates to increase even further.

Of course, the numbers vary by state and circumstance, but after you add in fines, court costs, and DMV fees, the average DUI costs between $10,000 and $20,000. Compound all that needless expense with the inherent dangers of drinking and driving — the fact that you could lose your life (or take someone else’s) or wind up spending time in jail — and the reasons for staying smart and safe this weekend become more than evident.

If you’re like most of us, you’ve heard it all before, so just consider this a friendly reminder from a friendly car insurance company to avoid drunk (or even tipsy) driving this holiday weekend. Whatever you have planned — a picnic in the park or fireworks on the beach — have a great 4th and stay safe.