Get Your Yoga On- Mindful Movement to Reduce Stress for Professional Drivers

Stress is a daily companion for most professional drivers.  It was once considered only to be a mental condition.  But in fact, it affects us physically, especially when we experience them for long periods of time.   It leads not only to diminishing our sense of wellbeing and happiness, but also to debilitating and costly health conditions that can affect drivers’ livelihood.

A recent study confirmed the effectiveness of using yoga to reduce stress.  The findings suggest that yoga is more effective than educating a person on standard ways to manage stress. As a Registered Yoga Teacher (and a licensed mental health professional), I believe that the findings are likely due to the very nature of yoga as an exercise; individuals can engage in the practice as opposed to intellectually addressing their stress.  Today I want to help you consider yoga as your personal stress reduction tool!

De-mystifying Yoga

Mystery can be an appealing in a mystery novel.  But it can also be barrier to accessing things that are good for us.  So, let’s de-mystify yoga a bit.  First, let me tell you a little about yoga. Yoga originated in India roughly 5 millennia ago.  So, it pre-dates modern “stress reduction” techniques by a little- about 4,900 years!  In the late 1800s and early 1900s, yoga masters in India decided to share the practice with the West after recognizing the incredible physical, mental, and spiritual impact that it had on people in Asia. As the years have passed, yoga continues to grow in popularity among Westerners.  People say the number 1 reason for starting yoga was to improve their physical ability. I find this to be true with the people I teach; most come for physical reasons but keep coming due to the mental and emotional benefits- like reducing stress. 

Misconceptions

There are a ton of misconceptions I hear from people who are considering taking up yoga or trying a yoga class. When someone says the word ‘yoga,’ many people have an image of a person sitting crossed legged with their eyes closed, saying “ohm.” Others might picture a person on their head or balancing on one leg.  These are all stereotypes.  With these misconceptions come excuses, something we humans excel at.  “I’m not flexible enough,” “I’m too old,” “I don’t have the time,” “I don’t have a mat, fancy clothes or space,” “I can’t meditate;” the list goes on. What I want people to realize is that yoga is something that everyone can do regardless of age, body size, ability, gender, race, or religion. There are no prerequisites and no, you don’t need special mat or fancy yoga clothes to reap the benefits.

Yoga for Professional Drivers

And one doesn’t have to have a specific classroom, workout area or setting to practice yoga.  In fact, it can be practiced in a wide range of settings, making it convenient and accessible. Recently I had a great experience teaching taught professional truck drivers yoga.  I know how drivers experience such a chronically stressful work life.  They have a hard time getting good rest and many have the aches and pains that come with driving.  They also suffer from an unfortunate but popular misconception that they aren’t interested in better health. The fact is they are interested in better health and in managing their personal stress- they need accessible, practical, and fun means to both stay fit and manage stress.  So, I taught the drivers’ class inside an 18-wheeler truck’s cabin- the home away from home for millions of over-the-road professional drivers.  Now, if “no non-sense” drivers can do yoga in the privacy of their truck cabins to reduce stress and get better rest, I’m pretty certain non-drivers drop their excuses and can find a setting for your yoga workout!  To see one of my Lessons for Professional Drivers, click here Yoga Lesson for Professional Drivers

How it works- a union of body and mind

But exactly what is yoga and how does it work? The word ‘yoga’ is Sanskrit (the language of ancient India) and means ‘union.’ We are essentially creating a union between the body and mind. Yoga is the discipline of strengthening the focus of the mind, which allows us to gain more control over our body and senses. Once one can obtain the concentration and control over mind and body, true meditation can be obtained. When we can regularly strengthen the control over mind and body through yoga movements and then meditation, we see incredible benefits that positively improve daily functioning.

Benefits of Yoga

Benefits of regular practice include but are not limited to: greater flexibility and range of motion, reduced pain and soreness, reduced fatigue, increased muscle strength and tone, improved respiration and energy, weight reduction, improvement in other athletic performance, improved circulatory health, improvement of posture, boost in immunity, prevents digestive problems, and reduces blood pressure. The practice improves sleep, mood, and mental focus, and increases self-esteem. One will notice they are less reactive because they are living in a more mindful way. If that’s not enough to get into yoga; I don’t know what will!

If you are a driver, I hope you will explore yoga for the benefits I mentioned above. If you work at a carrier and are responsible for drivers’ health, please look into how yoga can help your drivers be healthier and safer.  Get your yoga on and start benefiting mentally and physically.

About the Authors

Leanne Shub, LMSW, RYT-200, is a Customer Care Specialist at Espyr. A graduate of Indiana University’s Graduate School of Social Work, Leanne has a background in working with individuals dealing with substance abuse, trauma, and eating disorders. Her clinical interest is in combining Mind-Body interventions to help people cope and manage stress and anxiety. She can be reached at lshup@espyr.com  www.espyr.com

Norman Winegar, LCSW, CEAP, NCAC II, DOT Qualified SAP is the Chief Clinical Officer at Espyr, a behavioral health company based in Atlanta, GA that serves the logistics industry. For over 30 years, Norman has practiced in behavioral health, substance abuse treatment, and Employee Assistance Program practice settings.  He has also worked in leadership positions in both public and private sector behavioral health organizations.  An author of four books, he is frequently called on for presentations and as a panelist to share his expertise and experience as a mental health professional. He can be reached at: nwinegar@espyr.com  www.espyr.com

Norman Winegar
Norman Winegar, LCSW, CEAP, ACSW, NCAC II, DOT Qualified SAP Mr. Winegar is the Chief Clinical Officer of ESPYR, a Marietta, Georgia based behavioral health company. Mr. Winegar has over 30 years of professional experience in the mental health field. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a nationally Certified Employee Assistance Professional, a U.S. Department of Transportation Qualified Substance Abuse Professional, and a Nationally Certified Addictions Counselor, Level II. Mr. Winegar is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management, the National Association of Social Workers, and the Employee Assistance Professionals Association. He has been a Member of the National Academy of Certified Social Workers for over 25 years. A published author of four books and numerous articles concerning behavioral healthcare, Mr. Winegar is a frequent presenter at professional conferences and meetings. Norman Winegar, LCSW, CEAP| Chief Clinical Officer Espyr 1850 Parkway Place Suite 700 Marietta GA 30067