15 yoga moves for the car to banish back pain during commutes

Try this 15-step yoga and stretch routine for long car journeys

Woman in a yellow T-shirt driving a car
(Image credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels)

If you spend a lot of time behind the wheel, chances are you emerge from your car after a long drive feeling tired, achy and sore. To combat this pain and discomfort, this 15-step yoga routine can be done in your car and works to stretch the body and banish back pain during long commutes.

It goes without saying but the human body shouldn’t be sitting in a fixed position for too long. Sitting for long periods of time in the car (or anywhere else) can cause muscle pain and fatigue, plus it carries a number of more serious health risks, including raised blood pressure and cholesterol.

Aside from these health risks, sitting in a car for hours on end just isn’t comfortable but car leasing company, Vanarama recently teamed up with yoga instructor, Poppy Alexandra to share 15 car-friendly yoga poses that combat traffic jams and target the spine, neck, chest and shoulders.

What’s great about these moves is you don’t even need the best yoga mat with you! Instead, make sure you’re stopped in a safe spot and you’ve turned off the engine before trying this quick yoga and stretch routine.

Car yoga routine: 15 moves you need to try

1. Check Your Mirrors

Targets: Neck

Put your hand on the opposite side of your head and gently pull it to the other side of your shoulder. You should feel a slight stretch down the side of your neck which helps alleviate stiffness from having your face fixed while driving. Repeat on the other side.

2. Folding Seats

Targets: Back, hamstrings and quads

Turn your car off and move your seat back before leaning forward and reaching for the pedals of the car. Press your upper body against your thighs if you can. This is a great stretch for long journeys where you’re not getting much leg movement.

3. Signal and Turn

Targets: Shoulders and arms

Straighten your left arm out to the side and bring it across your body, using your right arm for support and to deepen the stretch. Repeat on your other arm. This stretch loosens up the arms and gives them some TLC from holding a steering wheel for long periods.

4. Lift The Clutch

Targets: Hips, lower back, hamstrings and quads

With your back straight, lift one leg parallel to the dashboard and place the ankle on the opposite knee. For a deeper stretch, lead forwards slightly. Repeat on the other leg.

5. Three-point Turn

Targets: Spine, neck, chest and shoulders

Hold your left knee with your right hand before rotating your upper body so you’re facing the headrest. Place your left hand behind you for more support and a deeper stretch. Repeat on the other side.

6. Open the Sunroof

Targets: Spine, neck, chest and lower back

Move your chair back for some extra space before bringing your hands into a prayer position. Place one elbow on the opposite side of the opposite knee and rotate your head and shoulders up to the roof of your car. Hold and repeat on the other side. This should give you a nice long stretch down your back.

7. Seatbelt

Targets: Chest, shoulders, upper back and triceps

Bring one arm above your head before bending at the elbow and reaching down between the shoulder blades. With the other arm, bring it behind you and try to grab your other hand behind your back. Hold before swapping arms.

8. Roll Cage

Targets: Spine and rib muscles

Bring your arms behind your head and grasp your elbows so your forearms are parallel. Lean to one side while keeping your hips and pelvis neutral before switching sides. This stretch is good for alignment and stretching out your back muscles.

9. Reversing Parent

Targets: Chest, shoulders and arms

While facing forward, extend your left arm back for a deep stretch in your chest and arms. If you need, you can use the front passenger seat to hold your left arm. Do the same on the right side.

10. Headrest

Targets: Neck, shoulders and upper back

Sit upright and rest your hands on your thighs. Lift your shoulders up to your ears and hold before lowering. As you lower, try to draw your shoulder blades together to really feel the stretch.

11. Roundabouts

Targets: Neck and spine

In the same position, drop your head down and bring your chin to your chest. Move your head to the side, resting your head on your shoulder if you can. Come back to the chest before repeating on the other side.

12. Cupholder

Targets: Spine and lower back

Move your chair back if you need and bring your knees up to your chest so your feet are resting on the seat. During these moves, you should be stopped and with your engine off, but make sure to keep an eye on what’s happening around you in case the traffic starts up! Hold your knees with both arms or do one leg at a time.

13. Biting Point

Targets: Neck, spine, chest, upper back and abdomen

Come back to your normal driving position and put your hands on your knees. Tuck your chin into your chest and arch your back. Next, lift your head up, draw your shoulders back and push out your chest. Essentially, this stretch is like the cat-cow pose but seated.

14. Winding Roads

Targets: Arms, shoulders and upper back

Cross your arms in front of your body, with one arm on the top of the other. Rest one elbow on the other and intertwine your arms so your palms are touching. Lift your arms up so your elbows are in line with your chin. Hold before swapping which arm is on top.

15. Changing Lanes

Targets: Neck, spine, chest and shoulders

Place your right hand on the left of your steering wheel before stretching your left arm underneath your right. Repeat on the other side. This stretch should run down your sides and spine, and loosen your arms.

Bethan Girdler-Maslen
Home Editor

Beth is Home Editor for T3, looking after style, living and wellness. From the comfiest mattresses to what strange things you can cook in an air fryer, Beth covers sleep, yoga, smart home, coffee machines, grooming tools, fragrances, gardening and much more. If it's something that goes in your house, chances are Beth knows about it and has the latest reviews and recommendations! She's also in the know about the latest deals and discount codes from top brands and retailers.

Having always been passionate about writing, she’s written for websites, newspapers and magazines on a variety of topics, from jewellery and culture, to food and telecoms. You can find her work across numerous sites, including Wedding Ideas Magazine, Health & Wellbeing, The Bristol Post, Fashion & Style Directory, TechRadar, CreativeBloq and more. In her spare time, Beth enjoys running, reading, baking and attempting craft projects that will probably end in disaster!