[image-1] After missing a yoga class earlier this week because of backed up traffic, I realized that all the anger and frustration I was spewing weren’t doing me any favors. Sometimes, there’s not much you can do about a long, long line of dead stopped cars, except take a deep breath.
I asked local yoga teachers to fill me in on how they stay calm during frustrating situations, namely, traffic. Utilize these seated stretches, breathing techniques, and moments of mindfulness to get through a rainy, traffic-y drive home this weekend … and the foreseeable future. And if you’re a yoga teacher with hot tips for keep cool and collected in the car, send your techniques to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to create a calm car with your kids in tow according to Integrative Movement and Mindset Coach, Katie Ashley:
- We practice staying super present by playing I spy. It’s a fun game, and also great practice for staying mindful and observant in the moment.
- We notice all of the other people around us who look frustrated and upset and say “may they be happy, may they be free of suffering, may they experience all that is good and beautiful in life.” We also sing Lokah Samastah, Sukhino, Bhavantu and the English translation and smile a ton and see who smiles back at us.
- We have a conversation about how we can’t control the traffic in that moment, but we can choose how we respond to it — so we practice those feelings. Sometimes that’s noticing, naming, and owning them “this is frustration, this how my body feels when frustrated, this is what my mind says when frustrated…”
- We detour to get out of traffic and into nature and just drive wherever we were going later. Turn it into an adventure instead of an obstacle.
Yoloha Yoga’s Julie Luisi is here to help you roll, baby, roll:
A tool you can use that wouldn’t require closing your eyes (although you’d still want to be at a dead stop) would be doing some neck rolls.
- Take a deep inhale and then drop your chin to your chest on an exhale until you feel a good stretch in your neck.
- Inhale your right ear towards your right shoulder and exhale as you drop your head back
- Take another inhale as you hang your left ear towards your left shoulder, and then exhale as you drop your chin to your chest
- Alternate directions and repeat for 5-6 cycles.
Urban Yoga’s Meg Gray wants you to sigh.it.out.:
Personally, in less than ideal traffic situations, I use my favorite pranayama, lion’s breath. It’s so much more effective than the excessive honking and less than kind language I used before yoga started commuting with me. Deep inhale, stick out your tongue, and let the anger and anxiety forcefully exhale. Repeat. Am I right?
Charleston Power Yoga’s Sarah Finn Frick thinks we could utilize a little perspective:
Here’s the thing about traffic. It’s like the weather. Can’t do much about it. I try (try being the key word!) to use it as time to practice my yoga off the mat… allow myself some space to feel annoyed and put off and then channel that into the practice of breathing through the uncomfortable — out of my control circumstance. Because believe me. They’re around us all the time. The traffic is just the ‘teacher’ in this instance. And if all else fails and your kids are losing their sh*t and so are you — follow me on Spotify. I’ve got some fun old school hip-hop mixes to get ya through anything! And remember. As a community we’re experiencing this together so you’re not alone in it. Give yourself and everyone else grace to be a little late and disheveled by the time they arrive. Nothing is permanent. Not even this pain in the ass traffic. It’s all good — and it will pass. Remember that.
Holy Cow Yoga’s Katy Firth has the perfect mantra:
A great mantra for traffic: “Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile”. Even a forced smile can help change our mood and calm the mind. Or put on a mindfulness podcast! A couple of suggestions: On Being with Krista Tippett and Tara Brach.
Still Soul Studio’s Kelly George suggests connecting both sides of your brain:
Below is a simple explanation for the alternate nostril breathing, or nadi doshana, technique. Alternating your breath between nostrils in a regular pattern is balancing, relaxing and calming; it balances the two sides of your brain and clears the energy channels that run along the base of the spine through the crown of the head, and can also reduce blood pressure. Perfect to do in the car while sitting in frustrating traffic!
- Holding your right hand in front of your face, begin by using your thumb to close off your right nostril.
- Inhale slowly and deeply through your left nostril.
- Now close off the left nostril with your ring finger while removing your thumb from your right nostril.
- Exhale slowly through your right nostril.
- Inhale slowly through your right nostril.
- Now close off the right nostril with your thumb again while removing your ring finger from your left nostril.
- Exhale slowly and gently through your left nostril.
- This completes one round of pranayama. Now begin at step 1 again by inhaling through your left nostril, and continue for several rounds.