The Trucker Spotlight series explores the lives of truckers and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview different people in the trucking industry to understand some life lessons that make them who they are today. We also learn more about their motivations, and the problems that they encounter on the job. We also tackle how Trucker Path’s solutions helped them with what they do. The information that they provide helps inform other people who are looking to delve into the trucking world.
Today we are putting the spotlight on Hope
, who is a Yoga instructor and founder of Mother Trucker Yoga, whose advocacy is to teach yoga and wellness to truckers. She has been featured in a lot of trucking websites, magazines, and also maintains a podcast on Chrome and Steel Radio. Let’s get to know more about Hope and how she mixed yoga with trucking.
Tell us a short story about you. Any trivia?
I had no idea what I wanted to be when I was in high school. I knew I wanted to help people but was lost among many other things. At age 20 I decided I wanted to do mission work and began to look into being in the Peace Corps. But as a college drop out, that wasn’t an option. So I found a program and a few short months later I found myself on a plane to Nigeria to live for nearly a year. That trip changed my life in a way that helped me to see that I could do anything. As someone who had struggled with addiction and a slew of other issues, a trip like that gave me a deep dose of perspective. That perspective still drives me today to help others gain perspective on their health, happiness, and life’s direction.
Trivia? I am a middle child. I Have been to 7 different countries before the age of 30. I love alternative rock. I love dark chocolate and mojitos. And love love love to travel!
What made you decide to delve into the trucking industry?
Well trucking just fell into my lap. For about 5 years prior I knew I was a transition in my career and was ready to do something different, something more. I had owned a yoga studio for more than a decade and knew owning a studio wasn’t my end game. Then at a local business mixer in my hometown of Hartford, Wisconsin, I started chatting it up with someone I had never met before, who is now my former business partner. I was trying to pitch him corporate yoga for his trucking company office employees and he looked at me and said, “do you have anything for drivers, like in the cab of their truck?” Without skipping a beat I looked at him, threw my arms up, and said “Mother Trucker Yoga”. He loved the idea and the next day I and a perfect stranger were building a company from scratch merging yoga and trucking.
What are the significant changes that you’ve noticed in the trucking industry?
I’ve seen a lot of changes in the last three years. Many drivers I’m sure will comment on the increased regulations. But I want to talk about increasing awareness and action around trucker health. More and more drivers and companies are taking notice of the necessity of taking care of our drivers’ health and well-being. I ask companies all the time are your drivers an asset or a liability? This pertains directly to the health of the driver. Every month I am seeing more and more drivers take an interest in cooking on the truck, drinking more water, trying to exercise or at least for the first time admitting it is something to pay attention to and work to improve. Secondly are mandatory 30-minute breaks and 34-hour resets. Now I am not a truck driver and never claim to be. And as much as these breaks can be a pain in the butt when a load has a deadline. I want to encourage you to see these times outside the driver’s seat as opportunities to take better care of you. Get out and walk, exercise, get to the grocery store or order groceries to be delivered to your truck, or meal prep. See that time as a blessing to help improve your health. You have to take it so you might as well do something positive with it.
What came first, trucks or yoga?
Great question. Yoga came first. As a teen, I struggled with depression, anxiety, and addiction and yoga saved my life. Now I know that might seem heavy, but the reality is that many struggle with mental health and yoga is as much physical fitness as it is about mental and emotional fitness. I went from a young teen practicing yoga as a lifeline to teaching yoga to others, teaching teachers, and then teaching yoga to truck drivers just like you. And I have to say, working with truck drivers has been one of my favorite parts of the road I’ve been traveling (hehe- get it).
Ever tried driving a truck?
I’ve driven a lot of things, a skid steer, a forklift, a truck and trailer backward up a winding driveway- yes; but an eighteen-wheeler, not yet.
What are your trucking industry pet peeves?
Complaining. Now people in every area, every walk of life, every industry complain. And sharing our concerns, or dislikes, and frustrations when done correctly can be an effective way to make a change. But when people leave comments complaining about what they don’t like in a negative tone without any suggestions on how to make it better and when people attack and never for a second consider all that the other has done or has to go through to make X happen, is so frustrating. I believe the key is perspective. And when we gain perspective our tone often changes. We see life differently.
The second is people saying it is impossible to be healthy or exercise when you are a truck driver. I promise you with 100% confidence that there are things that you can do as a truck driver to improve your health, fitness, and wellness that you can implement today.
What are the common habits that a truck driver should change?
#1 thing a truck driver should change today is drinking more water. Our bodies are made up primarily of water and many of our health concerns can often be tied back to dehydration: grogginess, muscle pain, cramps, fatigue, mental fog, and digestive issues. Drinking more water, ideally, 1/2 your body weight in ounces can dramatically change your health. Secondly is to move more. I’m not telling you to exercise, what I’m saying is with all that sitting you need to move more so you don’t end up as stiff as a board. Simple things like small movements or stretches while driving. Walking laps around your rig while filling up with fuel. Or a yoga stretch here and there in those moments where you are waiting to load, unload, on your break, on your reset. It all adds up.
What are the benefits of yoga for truck drivers?
There are endless benefits to practicing yoga. And being a truck driver you aren’t exempt to those benefits. Here are13 of my top benefits to truck drivers practicing yoga:
- Improves flexibility and mobility.
- Strengthens muscles, which can help with arthritis and back pain.
- Aids in realigning the spine to help distribute weight evenly.
- Helps keep spinal disks supple.
- Offers a natural weight-bearing exercise, increasing bone density.
- Gets your blood flowing, providing more oxygen to your cells and helps boost hemoglobin and red blood cells.l
- Assists in increasing the drainage of the lymph, helping to destroy and fight cancerous cells.
- Gets your heart rate up, lowering the risk of heart disease.
- Gets you breathing.
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Lowers cortisol levels, helping with long term memory, and fighting depression.
- Improves coordination, reaction time, memory.
- Helps you to relax
What is the best truck stop food for truckers?
There are dozens of diets and eating guidelines that people follow-truckers included. And I think the better question to ask is what should drivers look for each day at the truck stop to eat? And the answer to that is simple. Look for foods that are fresh, look for foods that are preservative, additive-free. Look for foods that have some sort of nutritional value. So many drivers (and Americans) are eating empty calories: chips, fast food, candy, soda. And sometimes it is hard and there are minimal options so ask yourself what is “good, better, best” for me to eat today. Dried nuts are good, a container of raw carrots, pretzels and hummus is better, or a burger without the bun and a salad with a hard-boiled egg and tons of veggies on top is probably the best. Sometimes the best option is not available. So what is good or better? When we bucket the foods in front of us this way we take some of the stress out of it and stop thinking in the form of “good diet” or “bad diet” and start thinking along the lines of good, better, best. And remember you don’t’ always need to be the best!
What are some wellness tips that you would like to share for truckers?
What we do each day is often dictated by what is sitting between our two ears. Mental health is critical as a truck driver. When you add up being away from family and loved ones for weeks on end coupled with isolation, erratic schedules, and deadlines, you need to take time for you. This does not include mindlessly scrolling Facebook or Instagram. This is you listening to a positive audiobook, or upbeat music, calling a friend, and not complaining but sharing your wins for the day. But don’t be fooled, simple things like drinking more water, and getting your butt moving (sorry to be so blunt) WILL and does positively impact your overall wellness every single day.
How can truckers subscribe to your yoga classes?
Drivers can easily subscribe and join our Mother Trucker Yoga family as easy as a click of a button. By going to MotherTruckerYoga.com
and go to our “Subscribe” page. Don’t worry it’s not $100 a month to join our family and receive our amazing content. Subscribe for just $7.99 a month and get new content dripped to you each month.
By Aldous Aldwin