Oh yes, the daily commute is right up there for ramping up stress – nobody loves the crush of people on a train or bumper-to-bumper traffic! However, according to critical research, daily commutes can cause health problems such as spiked and/or chronic high blood pressure, higher cholesterol, lower quality of sleep, back pain, and a greater risk for anxiety and depression.

You might be stuck with your commute for very important reasons, but here’s the upside: you can shift the way you experience your commute for very real health benefits to-and-from the office.

Start with three of my stress-busting poses designed for travel and commutes:

Pose #1 for Trains (and Buses): Walk Your Puppies

  1. Sit with your legs uncrossed and bend them at the knees at about a 45-degree angle, so your heels are on the floor of the train or bus.
  2. Flex one foot, bringing your toes toward your ankles, and at the same time, point the toes of your other foot.
  3. Switch.
  4. Try to breathe slowly and point and flex to the rhythm of your breath.

Benefits: Pain relieving and refreshing for tired feet; strengthening for legs and ankles; calming for your body and mind through rhythmic, steady breathing

Pose #2 for Planes: Hang Time

  1. Find a space on the plane where you can stand with your back about 10-12 inches away from the wall.
  2. Step your feet about shoulder-width apart, bend your knees, and sit your rear against the wall of the plane.
  3. Hang your upper body and head over your legs, folding over from your hip creases.
  4. Hold your elbows with opposite hands.

Benefits: Calming for your brain; refreshing for blood flow; strengthening for legs and abdomen; relief for your back

Pose #3 for Automobiles: Rearview Mirror

  1. At a stoplight, keep your foot on the brake and look at yourself in the rearview mirror.
  2. Un-furrow your brows.
  3. Unclench your jaw and separate your gritted teeth.
  4. Soften your eyes from anger to kindness.
  5. Smile and/or laugh.

Benefits: Relaxes tense muscles in your face, jaw, and neck and sends a signal to your brain to calm down; laughter releases endorphins, which relieve stress and reduce the feeling of pain

No one yoga pose is a panacea, but adding more mindful movements throughout your day can be a springboard toward regular exercise. Over time, your mind and body will be stronger and more able to manage all stressors of life, including those dreaded commutes.