Road Trip Yoga: 9 Poses You Can Do on the Road

A young woman doing yoga on a road trip

Setting out on a grand adventure can be incredibly inspiring. The wind in your hair. The sense that anything is possible. Wanderlust finally satiated!

And…oh, that pain in your low back. And now that dull ache in your neck. And that twinge of a headache. When preparing for a road trip, long or short, remembering the benefits of yoga, stretch breaks, and breathing can help make your excursion enjoyable.

The Effects of Sitting for Long Periods of Time

While a spontaneous trip to see your favorite aunt or to catch the views at a nearby national park is highly beneficial for your mind and spirit, it can certainly take a toll on your body. Sitting for extended periods of time, whether at a desk or in the car (or on a train, bus, plane, or boat!), has been linked to increased blood pressure, risk of cardiovascular disease, and other health concerns. Taking regular breaks to move, circulate the blood, and breathe intentionally can help keep you calm and agile for your journey.

Besides, finding mobility in the hips, back, shoulders, chest, and spine makes it possible to stay safe on the road. That range of motion allows you to look and make sure your passengers are buckled up, to check carefully for motorcycles and other drivers, and to quickly make any number of unplanned “I gotta pee!” exits.

Skip the squabbles, boost your travel stamina, and make your trip a mindfulness journey with these on-the-road inspired yoga poses.

“Do We Have Everything?” (Downward-Facing Dog)

Yoga pose downward facing dog next to a car

  • Bring your hands to the upper edge of the window or car door.
  • Keep your arms straight as you step back and hinge slightly forward.
  • Allow your head to hang heavy and bend your knees as needed.
  • Pedal your feet for extra calf muscle stretches.
  • Take a look in the windows as you stretch to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything!

“Check the Tires!” (Malasana)

Yoga frog pose next to a car
  • Stand with your feet a little wider than hip’s width.
  • Bend your knees and squat down.
  • Let your hips get heavy and lift your heart.
  • Rock gently foot to foot.
  • Settle into stillness and bring your hands together at your heart or rest your hands on the car for support.
  • Hold for three to five breaths.
  • Take a look at the tire pressure while you’re at it!

“Before We Go …” (Figure Four)

Yoga pose figure four seating in a car
  • Take a seat in the car.
  • For best results, do this stretch before putting on your seat belt.
  • Sit up tall.
  • Cross your right ankle over your left thigh.
  • Flex your right foot.
  • Bring your hands gently to your right knee and ankle.
  • Breathe into the sensation at the right hip, hold for three to five breaths.
  • For more intensity, lean forward slightly.
  • Repeat on the left side.
  • This pose is also an option for passengers during the ride.

“Always Look Twice” (Seated Twist)

Yoga pose seated twist in a car
  • Take a seat in the car.
  • Set your feet on the floor and enjoy two to three deep breaths.
  • Sit up tall as you inhale, then bring your left hand to your right knee or thigh.
  • Reach your right elbow or arm around the seat behind you.
  • Hold for three to five breaths and twist deeper as you exhale.
  • Unwind and repeat the twist to the left.

“Rest, Stop, Reset” (Sun Salutations)

Yoga sun salutation on a road trip
  • Pull over and take a pit stop to use the facilities or grab a snack.
  • Find a flat, grassy spot (preferably with a view!).
  • Take a moment to stand tall and check out your surroundings.
  • Enjoy a deep breath and a moment of gratitude.
  • Inhale, reach your arms up (urdva hastasana).
  • Exhale, fold forward (uttanasana).
  • Inhale, lift up half way to lengthen the spine (ardha uttanasana).
  • Exhale, step back to plank and lower down (chaturanga).
  • Inhale, open your heart and roll your shoulders back (bhujangasana).
  • Exhale, lift your hips and press your chest back (adho mukha svanasana).
  • Step or hop forward, feet to hands.
  • Inhale, lift up half way to lengthen the spine (ardha uttanasana).
  • Exhale, fold forward (uttanasana).
  • Inhale, stand up (urdva hastasana).
  • Exhale, bring your hands to your heart and notice how you feel.
  • Repeat until your feel ready to hit the road.

“Refuel Roustabout” (Dancer Pose)

Yoga pose dancer next to a car
  • While you charge/gas up/oil the car, why not oil the spine, chest, and shoulder!
  • Stand on your left foot.
  • Reach back and hold onto your right foot with your right hand.
  • Hold onto the gas pump or a lamppost for extra stability.
  • Kick your foot into your hand and arch your back.
  • Balance and breathe for three to five breaths.
  • Repeat on the second side.

“Get Out and Stretch Your Legs” (Picnic Table Posin’)

Yoga pose lunge at a picnic bench
  • Find stable ground.
  • Step your right foot up onto the bench.
  • Bend your right knee and keep your left leg straight.
  • Reach your arms up overhead.
  • Hold the lunge for three to five breaths.
  • Lunge on the second side.
  • For more intensity, set your foot on the table instead of the bench.

“Back-Seat-Driver Prevention” (Eagle Arms)

Yoga eagle arms pose at a car rest stop
  • For passengers only!
  • Wrap your arms around yourself like a hug.
  • Cross your elbows and reach your hands toward one another.
  • Touch the backs of your palms or the front of your palms together.
  • Hold the pose for three to five breaths.
  • Repeat with the other arm on top.

“We Made It!” (Legs Up the Wall)

When you finally arrive at your destination (whether it’s to rest for the night or you’re at your final destination, find a clear wall space and rest in Viparita Karani.

  • Find a clear wall space.
  • Set up a blanket or pillow right next to the wall.
  • Take off your shoes and make sure your feet are warm.
  • Sit on the blanket with your right side against the wall.
  • Roll down onto your left side and simultaneously swing your legs up the wall.
  • Roll onto your back and slide as close to the wall as is comfortable for your hamstrings.
  • Rest your arms overhead, out to the side, or on your torso.
  • Stay here for five to 45 minutes.

Take a journey within amidst the beauty of Banff National Park at Seduction of Spirit, our signature meditation and yoga retreat with Deepak Chopra. Learn More.


 

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About the Author
woman smiling in yoga pose

Lena Schmidt

Certified Yoga Instructor
Whether it’s exploring the local trails, playing pretzel on the yoga mat, or diving into a book on inner peace, Lena loves an adventure. You can find her teaching yoga in San Diego, leading retreats near and far, and empowering others to be the change they wish to see in the world. Learn more about Lena at www.yoginilena.com The spiritual aspects of yoga have aided Lena in the never-ending search for peace, calm, and positivity within, and she’s passionate about sharing these tools with others. She is intentional about taking yoga off the mat and loves finding the bridges between the heart and mind, the individual and community, and mindfulness and expression...Read more