Driven to Yoga

I love Issaquah. Driving in Issaquah, however, requires sessions of yoga while restrained in the front seat. To keep from losing my cool I downshift into bikram, power, ashtanga and hatha variations of yoga.  I find it is the only way to cope with the various frustrating situations presented to drivers while navigating the streets of our otherwise-delightful town.

The challenging driving scenarios that present themselves on a daily basis are both structural and human-caused. Not only do other drivers put a hitch in my Savasana but structural design flaws of our streets prevent Om fluidity. Let me elaborate on the latter.

Courtesy of Amy CarrGaruasana (Eagle Pose)– Waiting on the SR900 overpass bridge to make a left onto I-90 can be an exercise in restraint. The tangent cut by those turning left and passing in front of the waiting line of cars is so tight and linear I am frankly amazed my front bumper is not clipped. Adopting this wringing-out-squeeze-of-a-pose and chanting my “Don’t hit me” mantra while awaiting the left-turn signal is my only recourse against sloppy drivers. I’m convinced it’s prevented many a fender-bender!

Amy Carr bending to Half Moon

Half Moon Pose – Issaquah has its traffic flow snarls where dexterity and litheness are routinely summoned by drivers. I hit a particularly challenging stretch after I’ve left Target and am heading down Gilman to get on I-90 at the SR900 overpass. Since I’m the only occupant of my car I cannot legally turn into the right HOV lane, which unfortunately, is the only lane offering entry to the freeway onramp. In the time it takes to inhale and release a cleansing yoga breath I have to swing out to the center lane, look over my right shoulder, re-enter the right lane, then glancing over my left shoulder to make sure I’m safely yielding to oncoming cars, then contracting my driver’s side calf muscle to launch onto the freeway. When I’m finished with this series of Half Moon Poses, I have displayed the admirable flexibility of a yogi.

Warrior Pose – Turning left onto SR900 after leaving Trader Joe’s (PCC/Michael’s) allows me to fully extend my controlled assertiveness. The turn signal lasts as long as a transition from Downward Dog to Upward Dog, which leaves at least four cars waiting to turn south. Oncoming traffic has the right-of-way but all of us who were left out of the turn signal privilege edge out opportunistically into the intersection. We wait as oncoming traffic proceeds straight through the intersection to enter the PCC shopping center, but what we’re hoping for is the chance to turn our yield into a merge opportunity. The problem though is that it’s not a merge. Oncoming traffic has the right-of-way, and I have the need-of-way because I’m protruding vulnerably out into the busiest intersection of Issaquah. I paste on Warrior Pose face, look formidable and wait in the middle of the street for my chance to jump into the safety of southbound SR900 without incurring the wrath of my fellow drivers.

Standing Stretching Legs Separate Pose (Dandayama) – Turning left into Safeway off Gilman offers more opportunities for contortionism. We drivers are provided exactly one and a half car-lengths in the turn lane. Generous? No. It’s about as fulfilling as miso soup for dinner. Cueing up behind other drivers endeavoring to buy some milk at a fair price causes me to fold myself into a compressed position. The trick to this position is remaining visible to other cars speeding down Gilman from behind. Standing Stretching Legs Separate Pose allows my caboose to remain prominently visible while I position myself in the turn-lane behind another driver. I can be found muttering “Please don’t rear-end me! Please don’t rear-end me!”

Balancing Stick Pose – Let’s address the departure out of Home Depot/Fred Meyer/Starbuck’s. We’ve all been there and cursed the city planners for their miserly traffic flow patterns by providing only ONE left-turn opportunity within the half-mile-long complex. Nursing my chai tea from Starbuck’s I position myself to turn into the lane so I can make a left onto East Lake Sammamish Parkway. I’m not alone. My driving brethren coming out of Krispy Kreme and Walgreen’s want to do what I’m doing. Faced with this clutter of cars closing in on the same 50 feet of street I initiate the Breath of Fire and Balancing Stick Pose. When pairing a cleansing, abdominally contracted breath with a boldly jutting automobile I often achieve submission from my fellow drivers and am allowed to cue up at the traffic light. Occasionally I have to resort to Lion Face, the pose where I inhale deeply, widen my eyes, stick out my tongue and roar. That usually does the trick and a vacant position magically opens up in the turn-lane.

Chair Pose – By now you are probably getting the hang of Behind-the-Wheel-Yoga and can imagine numerous Chair Pose scenarios. Familiar with the left turn at the bottom of Issaquah-Fall City Road? Yup, you can experience reincarnation awaiting that lifetime-long light to turn to green. Please meditate on your favorites and comment below!

Namaste!

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