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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.