What is the first thing you do every morning, even before you’re feet hit the floor? You hit SNOOZE, take a deep breath, yawn, and stretch. Feels great, right?! Stretching not only feels awesome, but it also provides many benefits. It helps to loosen up those tight muscles, allowing improved flexibility, range of motion, as well as prevention of injuries. So, if stretching really is this great, why is it that I am feeling the need to highlight several simple stretches? Well, the problem is, it gets over looked, or put on the back burner. We don’t remain loyal in continuing to performing them. We don’t feel like it, don’t have time. Good news is, these stretches are quick and easy to do, and can easily be added in to even the busiest of days!
Child’s Pose: Come to your knees with feet flush with the ground. Allow toes to touch. Knees may be slightly apart, or widened more for deeper stretching. Arms may be extended out front, or gently swept backward alongside legs. Place your forehead toward the ground.
Benefits: This is a personal favorite of mine. It is typically used as a period of rest and regrouping during yoga routines. It is great for reducing stress and diminishing fatigue. This pose allows great stretches throughout the hips, ankles, and thighs. Varying your pose will allow you to explore increased hip opening stretching.
Standing Side Stretch/Standing Crescent Moon: While standing firmly with feet together, inhale and allow arms to stretch upward. Hands may be together, relax shoulders away from ears. Bump hips to one side and stretch upper body to opposite side. Repeat the other way.
Benefits: This is a good stretch to open up the side body and really get a good stretch throughout the ribs, while engaging your core and leg strength. To create a great and solid base, you also are honing in on your balance and concentration skills. This simple stretch can really get the energy flowing.
-See my post : Yoga: Where to Start
Downward-Facing Dog/Dolphin Pose: From an all-fours position on the floor, rise up to an inverse “V” stretch while stretching hips upward, and heels toward the ground. Press into area between thumb and pointer finger. Looking to change it up – shift to dolphin pose by allowing forearms to plant firmly on ground (right picture).
Benefits: Basically the most well known yoga pose of all time, downward dog has great benefits. It allows great stretching ability to hamstrings, arches of feet, and calves, while building up arm and leg strength, opening the chest and shoulder, and toning that core!
Forward Fold: From a firm standing position with feet together, or shoulder width apart, inhale deeply while reaching arms toward the sky, and exhale downward into a forward fold. Hands may be on shins, ankles, or floor. Bend the knees some, if needed. Reach hips toward the sky. Allow your head and neck to relax and loosen. Be sure to continue to lengthen the spine while drawing the stomach in and up.
Benefits: This simple stretch has many benefits. Not only can you feel the significant stretch that it gives to the hamstrings, hips, and calves, but it also helps to strengthen the ankles, knees, and spine. You should also notice a great relaxation in the neck and shoulders. It also can benefit the nervous system, as well as the digestive organs. Not only are the physical benefits amazing, but it can also help to decrease stress and anxiety, as well as depression.
Seated Twists: Send right leg out straight while bringing the left foot to the inside of the extended knee. Turn to face left and place left hand on the ground slightly behind you, and the right elbow to the outside of left knee. Slowly turn into the stretch with each breath. Repeat on the opposite side. Many variations of this pose may be taken (see above for examples).
Benefits: A proper seated twist stretch can feel amazing! There are so many variations to how to do this, so decide what works best for you. These poses are great for stretching out those muscles that tend to tense up and limit our spinal rotation over time, and adding in a little extra v to them. Not only that, but it helps to stimulate the liver and kidneys and give some extra energy to the digestive tract.
What stretches do you like to incorporate each day?
Have a beautiful day!