Everybody should stretch a few times per day in order to keep the body functioning properly, especially those that get minimal exercise. But it can be difficult to keep up with a stretching routine on top of all those other routines we all carry through each day. But the truth is, it’s simply imperative for the wellness of your entire body (inside and out) to get in a few good stretches each day. Preferably, Morning, Noon and Night, just after waking, around lunch time and just before bed.
But what to do? You don’t have time. You don’t have space. You simply don’t know what to do – have no fear – we are here!
As an author, I am granted the liberty to choose how and what kind of content is created for these topics at hand. With that said, I recommend YOGA. Always, no matter what. Whether you’re a gym rat or a couch potato, there are simple (and complicated) yoga poses for everyone. And the really great part is, not only are you stretching, but if you’re doing it right, you’re also relaxing, meditating even, and getting exercise all in the same session.
Where to begin? – in the morning, when you wake up. Drink some water to get the energies flowing. You might try to avoid coffee or tea until after your workout routine, but some experts actually recommend caffeine before a workout. But this isn’t a workout, although it should be treated as such.
I like to begin all my yoga sessions with Child’s Pose. It’s a really great stretch to get your muscles prepared for more stretching, and your mind too.
Kneel down to the mat posing your torso over your hips as you bend forward pushing your arms forward on the mat. Keep your feet touching behind you. Take a few deep breaths (if you’re a beginner, count to five, slowly – longer if you can hold it).
From child’s pose, it’s quite simple to move into cat/cow pose. Simply lift your torso and bring your thighs up off the mat squaring yourself out on all fours.
Slowly breath in and out as you arch your back toward the ceiling and then back down toward the floor. I always try to get at least 10-20 breaths in with this pose. It really stretches the spine and you will feel a difference throughout the rest of the day.
Last quick stretch for the morning – Downward Facing Dog.
From cat/cow pose, easily lift your knees so that you’re balancing your entire body now on all fours, but feet and hands instead of knees and hands. Arch your buttocks up toward the ceiling while pulling your torso in toward your thighs. Hold at least five breaths.
And there’s your morning! – it only took a few minutes. So that was easy… let’s try some afternoon stretches. Afternoons can be especially difficult to get stretches in for those of us that work and travel and lead busy, complicated, public lives. But here’s just another few that you can squeeze in with just a few free minutes in a quiet space:
The Standing Forward Bend is highly recommended by physical therapists far and wide. It’s all about relaxing but you will feel a deep and intense stretch in your hamstrings and upper back.
- Begin standing straight up and slowly exhale as you bend forward, engaging your abs. Tuck your chin in toward your chest and relax your shoulders. Try to place most of your weight on your toes, while this may be a bit uncomfortable, it’s a super good stretch.
- You can either let your arms dangle toward the floor or touch your fingers and palms to the far as far as you can reach. Hold for at least five breaths.
Warrior Pose is another strong foundation for your Yoga practice. Similar in nature to the Child’s pose for the meditative factors but also engaging muscles that otherwise might not always be used.
- Stand straight up on your yoga mat and step your right foot out to the right as far as you can extend. Turn your left heel in, press into your feet and lift your torso up.
- Lift your arms up, draw your shoulder blades down and toward your hips and gaze up at your hands
- Hold for at least five breaths and slowly bring yourself back to a standing position before repeating on the other side.
One more afternoon stretch really gets the shoulders and neck…the Wide Legged Forward Bend Pose
- From warrior pose you can easily move into this position.
- Standing straight up on your mat, bring your arms behind you and interlace your fingers into a fist.
- Inhale and engage your abs pulling your hands away from your shoulders. Exhale as you fold at the hips, keeping the legs and spine straight.
- Hold for at least five breaths while trying to lower the hands toward the floor. Stand up slowly so as to alleviate a bit of dizziness.
Finally, it’s bed time but you’re still feeling a bit tight, maybe sore from the day’s events. Don’t have time for a bath or a relaxing massage before bed or after dinner?… of course not – so let’s try just a few more stretches to get you rested well and prepared for tomorrow.
Start with butterfly pose which will stretch your hips, hence relieving stresses on the lower body.
- Sit on the floor with both knees bent and bring your feet together.
- Pull your feet in as close to your inner thighs as possible, holding them clasped with your hands
- Bend forward as far as you can, holding the breathing for at least five breaths.
From the butterfly pose you’ll come into the Seated Straddle. This is considered an active pose but it will help you sleep better.
- From butterfly pose, straighten your legs into a straddle position allowing plenty of space between your heels.
- Point your knees and toes straight up. Sit straight up with your spine straight and pull your torso in toward your abdomen.
- Reach out and hold the tips of your toes with your fingers and hold for five to ten breaths.
Lastly, end with Child’s Pose – Rounding out the day
These ‘exercises’ take mere moments from your day and you’ll notice the benefits. Get your Yoga on!