Stretching is like a vitamin. Do it daily and it works better. Rather than a big new year's resolution, I like to try to incorporate quick and easy habits that support my health. Most of us sit at a desk every day and so we need to do stretches that counter that position.
Low Lunge This one opens up the hip flexors (front of hip) which get tight and atrophied from sitting. Tight hip flexors can pull on the low back and create low back discomfort. Do this one on both sides for balance.
Low Lunge Twist One of the best movements you can do for your spine and your internal organs is to twist. A flexible spine is a flexible mind. If you find yourself feeling stuck or tired during your day, try a twist to get your creative and intellectual juices flowing again. Twisting sends fresh blood flow to your vital organs and gets your lymphatic system moving to reduce feelings of sluggishness. Do this one on both sides for balance.
When sitting, there is a tendency to slump over and round the back. This posture effectively counters that tendency. It opens the hip flexors and shoulders and over time can help to prevent kyphosis (hunch back).
Wide Leg Forward Fold This pose stretches the backs of the legs (hamstrings). The hamstring muscles shorten from too much sitting and can compromise the low back. This posture helps to lengthen the hamstrings. Squeeze the front of your legs (your quads) to facilitate stretching the back of your legs more.
Child's Pose/Side Stretch
When stressed, we often become unconscious of how we are breathing and breath into our chest only, which exacerbates stress in the body. To counter that, do this is a variation of child's pose. Walk your hands to the right to stretch the left side of your body. Walk your hands to the left to stretch the right side of your body. Focus on deep breathing into your rib cage while you do this posture. Expand your torso with breath. This pose facilitates deep breathing which is crucial for a calm and centered mind.
Sara VanderGoot is a certified massage therapist, experienced yoga instructor and co-owner of Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga. At Mind the Mat she teaches a variety of classes including Deep Stretch on Wednesdays at 5pm and Slow Flow Yoga on Saturdays at 11:15am in Del Ray. Come on in and try out her class! Learn more at mindthemat.com.