Truck drivers need to be physically fit to handle the challenges of their job. In fact, physical fitness is essential if you want to be in this industry for the long haul. By incorporating some simple yoga poses into your daily routine, you can maintain good health and reduce stress.
September is National Yoga Awareness Month — the perfect time to highlight the benefits of yoga. A few of these include increased flexibility and strength, improved balance and a sense of calm. Yoga is an ancient practice that combines physical, mental and spiritual disciplines. It can be a lifestyle, but it is also a form of exercise that can help improve strength, balance, flexibility and breathing.
Yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety while improving your overall health. When many hear the word “yoga,” they immediately think of putting a leg behind the head, twisting into a pretzel or sitting for long hours on the ground.
The yoga I know is not like that. This is about learning to slow down, breathe, feel and move your body to improve your overall health.
Trucking yoga is about taking a few minutes to improve yourself and your day in a conscious, constructive way. One pose here, one move there, a few breaths there — that’s trucking yoga.
The simple act of breathing helps reduce stress, which leads to better sleep and more energy the next day. Breathing exercises are an easy way to relax after a busy day. Our bodies tend to hold onto tension in the shoulders and neck areas (look in the mirror and see for yourself).
Breathing deeply stimulates relaxation throughout the body by increasing blood flow and, with practice activating the vagus nerve and the parasympathetic nervous system. This slows the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and can reduce stress hormones like cortisol — no prescription needed.
There are many simple practices drivers can do while out on the road. For example, here are some tips to help you maintain good posture:
- Stand with your back against a wall or the side of your truck or trailer (any flat, vertical surface).
- Bring your heels near the base of the wall and adjust for your backside to stand as tall as you can.
- Point your feet forward (double-check this; most people’s feet will be pointing out and uneven).
- Level your hips and pelvis so your back has a small curve.
- Relax your front ribs down.
- Bring your arms up to shoulder height in front of you. Without bending your elbows, plug your shoulders back into the wall without pushing your ribs out (hello, core muscles!).
- Next, find the wall with the bottom edge of the back of your head (occipital bone) while keeping your chin level.
- Finally, reach up through the crown of your head and feel your spine elongate.
How long can you stand here? Can you lift your arms overhead without moving your ribs and torso? Where do you feel tension or strain? This is a great starting point for posture and your body’s true balance, strength, and stability.
Yoga is a great way to build strength that can be useful in maintaining control over your vehicle in emergencies. Yoga can also improve a greater range of motion when driving. This may allow for more rapid reflexes when reacting to hazards on the road, which could save lives!
There are many types of yoga poses (asanas) that are beneficial for relieving stress and keeping your body strong during long hours behind the wheel. A few of these include the Half Dog, Standing Extension, Devotional and Cobra.
If you’re looking for a way to improve your health on the road and reduce stress, I highly recommend trying yoga. You don’t need any special equipment or clothes, just some space in your truck or trailer where you can lie down or sit up straight with good posture.
The numerous benefits include increased flexibility and strength, improved balance, and a sense of calmness. Plus, the simple act of breathing helps reduce stress which leads to better sleep and more energy!
Hope Zvara is the CEO of Mother Trucker Yoga, a company devoted to improving truck drivers’ fitness and wellness standards. She has been featured in Forbes and Yahoo News, and is a regular guest on SiriusXM Radio. Her practical strategies show drivers how they can go from unhealthy and out of options to feeling good again. Find out more at mothertruckeryoga.com.
Hope Zvara is the CEO of Mother Trucker Yoga, a company devoted to improving truck drivers’ fitness and wellness standards. She has been featured in Forbes and Yahoo News, and is a regular guest on SiriusXM Radio. Her practical strategies show drivers how they can go from unhealthy and out of options to feeling good again.