You’ve had a great night sleep and woke up feeling rested and refreshed, ready to tackle anything that comes your way. The sun is shining and there’s a light breeze outside. Your hair looks like it just came straight out of Vogue and anything you put on makes you feel million dollars.
You leave the house feeling empowered knowing nothing can take this feeling away from you. You get on the packed train, smiling at strangers and ignoring the morning odours.
All is going really well. Until…until someone pushes you with their backpack, spilling the next person’s latte on your new dress and shoving your nose into your fellow traveller’s armpit. You close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, hoping to bring yourself back to your ‘happy place’…
Your stop finally arrives, and whilst trying to push your way out of the ‘sardine tin’, you catch your headphones on someone’s handbag but don’t have enough time to reclaim them. When you finally arrive at the office, feeling like you just went through a whole washing machine cycle, you spend the first 10 minutes ‘venting’ to your colleague over a cup of coffee.
If this sounds familiar, then perhaps you might benefit from a dose of ‘commuter yoga’.
Jennifer Ellis is a yogi and the founder of The Yoga Wellness Company, which delivers wellbeing through yoga practice with focus on the mind and emotional health, as well as all the physical benefits.
I recently attended one of Jennifer’s workshops where she taught us a few simple yoga moves that can be performed during our daily commute (or anywhere) to help de-stress on the go.
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR DAILY COMMUTE WITH THESE SIMPLE EXERCISES THAT YOU CAN DO WHILE TRAVELLING
The six simple exercises shown here are perfect for a micro-session on your bus or train to work.
Sit on front of seat. Feet firmly grounded. Hands on thighs. Practice slow breathing
– inhale (note to yourself ‘breathing in’) and exhale (note to yourself ‘breathing out’). Practise with your eyes closed, focusing
on slow breaths, clearing your thoughts to just focus on the movement of the breath in all the parts of the body involved.
2) Neck flexion
Sit forward on seat. Feet flat on floor. Clasp hands behind head but do not yank on the head. Press head into hands. Lift gaze. Look diagonally upwards. Pull elbows up and out as you stretch up, lifting your chest. Tuck chin into neck. Roll head down. Look at chest. Hold briefly. Roll back to start.
3) Neck incline
Sit on seat. Feet shoulder width apart. Sit straight. Feet grounded. Right ear to right shoulder. Left ear to left shoulder.
4) Hip flexion
Sit on seat. Feet and legs shoulder width apart. Sit straight. Slowly bring one leg up and squeeze towards chest. Repeat on other side.
5) Hip opener
Sit on front of seat with feet firmly grounded. Place right foot on left thigh; to deepen stretch, very gently push down on right thigh. Repeat on other leg.
6) Ankle stretch
Sit on front of seat with feet firmly grounded. Lift left leg straight in front of you, draw up with the kneecap and thigh muscle and slightly engage the abdominal muscles. Flex and point foot (toes stretch up). Stretch toes down. Repeat on other leg.
Chair Yoga poses devised by George Watts –
When you have less than a 5-minute journey:
- Take 5 long, slow, deep, diaphragmatic breaths, lengthening and deepening the exhale. Imagine you are exhaling stress and inhaling energy.
- Spend a moment in contemplation and immerse yourself in a memory of a time when you felt most happy and relaxed.
- Stand-up and stretch.
When you have a 10-minute commute:
- Walk briskly or climb the stairs instead of taking the escalator.
- Do a few stretches in your seat, to loosen up tight muscles.
- List five things that are positive or amusing about a tense meeting or situation that you have just come out of.
When you’re doing a longer commute of 15–20+ minutes:
- Practice 15 minutes’ seated meditation, focusing on the body breathing itself.
- Play a piece of music you enjoy.
- Write down your anxieties and contemplate them for a while, until you’re no longer feeling stressed about them and are bored of them.
- Jennifer Ellis is the founder of The Yoga Wellness Company, a new London based company that works to develop and share the mind, body and well-being benefits that flow from the practise of yoga. For more information and upcoming workshops and retreats, click here.