HGV drivers taking yoga classes as Buxton employer overhauls employee care

Lorry drivers for a major Buxton employer are now taking yoga lessons as part of a new company wellbeing programme intended to help them manage the stresses and strains of life on the road.

Tarmac transport manager Heidi Sherwood, 50, moonlights as an instructor for Iyengar Yoga Buxton and first began offering her services to colleagues via Zoom during lockdown.

But she has since been asked to develop the idea, stretching it beyond her cement division and right across the company as it overhauls its approach to employee care.

Heidi, who has been practicing yoga for 22 years and battled back from a serious car accident to qualify as a teacher in 2020, said: “People at work have started to associate me with yoga, and last year I was asked to do a health and wellbeing day for 200 people.

Heidi says simple stretches can make a big difference for drivers who spend so much time sat at the wheel.

“More recently I was approached by the transport manager in lime and powders, over at Tunstead, to do a safety day with the drivers.”

She added: “The company has lots going on for other employees, but sometimes these guys are a bit isolated. They can be out delivering all over the country, sleeping overnight in the wagon, spending long hours at the wheel.”

The classes were tailored to drivers’ needs, with simple moves they can do while seated in non-moving traffic or leaning up against the side of the cab during stops, as well as breathing exercises to help them cope with aggressive road users.

Heidi said: “I tried to keep it basic, focusing on loosening up the shoulders and making the spine more flexible. Simply by stretching they can begin to feel better. It releases endorphins calms the central nervous system. There are lots of small benefits that will help with the rest of their day.

Yoga teacher Heidi Sherwood shows the drivers the wind relieving pose.

“The sessions were quite fun, we had a bit of a giggle, but they all responded really well and I’ve had some really good feedback from the guys afterwards.”

Bosses at the company have been so impressed by Heidi’s impact that she has been asked to devise a wellbeing programme which will encompass tips on sleep and diet.

For anyone interested in learning yoga with Heidi, her regular classes take place on Tuesdays and Wednesday evenings at the Leewood Hotel. See iyengaryogabuxton.co.uk for full details.

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Heidi is in talks with the national Iyengar yoga association to develop the classes into a scheme for the whole haulage industry.