Hello travellers and commuters,
Would you like to know some Yoga you can do while on the bus, in a traffic jam, on the metro, tram, or train?
There’s a load of stuff you can do. Most poses can be modified to be done in a chair – from stretching your hamstrings to stretching your glutes or loosening up your neck and shoulders. You can also practice meditation and breathing exercises.
Let us begin with some meditation to calm the mind. Then we can stretch some of the lower body.
If you have enough time, why not try all of the things I’ve listed below? You might find that by the end of the journey you feel fresher and more energised than when you started. Feel free to add any organic movements you feel like adding to the stretches. As long as it doesn’t hurt, it’s all good.
YO-GO – Let’s GO!
Outward meditation: Let’s start the practice with a little meditation. Sometimes it can be unnerving to close your eyes and meditate when in a public place. I recently discovered a fantastic meditation that is done with the eyes open. It’s called outward meditation.
- Make sure you are sitting comfortably. Both feet should be firmly placed on the ground and your back upright. You can gently rest your hands on your thighs or in your lap.
- Focus your eyes on one point, choose something that is not moving and keep your gaze focused on the same spot to minimise distraction.
- Now that your eyes are glued to one point, start to send your attention outward. Observe how the seat you are sitting on feels. Is it hard or soft, hot or cold? Feel the points of contact your body has with the ground, the seat, the back rest. Feel the air on your skin. Keep your eyes glued on one spot while sending the attention out of the mind and on to the body.
- Now bring your attention to what you hear. Listen to what you hear nearby…traffic…wind…people…and now try to hear further away. Become aware of the infinite universe and how far you can send your auditory perception…with your eyes still glued on one point, see if you can send your ears out into space. How far can you hear?
- If your mind becomes distracted by thoughts or moving images, allow the thoughts kindly to pass and come back with your eyes to your still point and keep sending your attention outwards with your ears.
- It is completely normal and human for the mind to jump onto distractions. The trick is to be kind about it and remember that you are in the middle of a meditation. Keep coming back to the meditation. That is the whole point. Observe the distractions, allow them to pass and keep coming back to the sensations outside of your body.
- You will find that the mind becomes calm, silent and rested when we send our attention outward like this because instead of focusing on the endless chatter inside our heads we are focusing on what is real, what is here in the present moment.
- See how long you can keep your attention outside of yourself. It might just be 5 minutes at first. With practice you can build up to 15-20 minutes or even an hour.
Hamstring stretch: Hamstrings are made up of three large muscles that run down the back of your thigh. They run all the way from your pelvis to the top of your lower leg. These muscles aid you in activities such as running, walking and jumping. The hamstrings bend the knee and move the hips backwards.
If you run, walk or sit in front of a desk all day, have had a long journey on a flight or bus, your hamstrings could probably do with a little extra tender love and care. Having strong and flexible hamstrings improve your overall athletic ability, helping you to have long limber thigh muscles that support the rest of your body. Stretching the hamstrings can also relieve lower back pain.
How to stretch: It is really simple to stretch your hamstrings in a seated position in any form of public transport, at your desk, or on the couch while watching telly.
- Place both feet firmly on the ground with a 90 degree angle between your thigh and calf.
- Extend your right leg forward placing only the heel on the ground.
- Bring your hands onto your thigh, or behind the knee, see what feels comfortable.
- Lean your torso forward and you should feel the hamstring stretching.
- Come back up, relax and repeat on the other side.
Caution: You should feel a nice stretch here that decreases over time. If you feel any sharp pain, or if the feeling of the stretch is not decreasing bring your torso back a little, you are probably going too deep and risk pulling a muscle.
Glute stretch: The gluteal muscles are a group of three muscles that make up the buttocks. The gluteal muscles canbecome quite tight as a result of sitting for an extended period of time: especially when you are travelling. Tight glutes can pull on the pelvis, cause postural problems and back pain. Having flexible glutes makes us fitter and can help with reducing lower back pain
How to stretch:
- Making sure you are sitting with your back upright – both feet firmly placed on the ground and thighs parallel to the ground.
- Lift your right leg and place the right ankle on the left thigh making a 4 shape.
- Activate the right leg by flexing the right foot, that means point the toes towards your shin and pushing the heel away. This activation helps to protect the knee.
- Keeping the right leg active, lean your torso forward. You will feel the glutes stretching immediately.
- Lean as far forward as is comfortable and gently press down on the right knee. When you feel a nice deep stretch, stay here for at least 20 seconds. The feeling of the stretch should decrease over time.
- Come back up with your torso, relax for a moment. Observe both sides of your body. See if the side you just stretched feels different compared to the other side.
- Repeat on the other side.Caution: As with the hamstring stretch, make sure you are listening to your body. You want the stretch feeling to decrease over time. Any sharp pain means you are going too deep. Bring your torso back up until you are at the point that the sharp pain goes away.
Hope these Yoga tips are helpful. If you happen to give them a try, please let me know how they worked out for you. 🙂
Keep an eye out for part 2, which I will be posting next week.
Would you like to know more poses you can do in a chair? Check out my post on Office Yoga – in which I offer tips and exercises you can perform while at work to de-stress and re-energise.