3 Stretches You Should Do Every Day, According to a Yoga Instructor
As much as we’d all like to find time for a daily yoga class, life often has other plans. Whether it’s work, school, or family responsibilities getting in the way, it can be tough to find time for flexibility, especially if you’re focusing on strength training.
Still, studies show that regular stretching has a positive impact on your physical performance and increases your flexibility and mobility for everyday life. A bit of daily stretching, especially in the mornings, can also help keep your body feeling good all day long.
With your busiest days in mind, we asked Coach Jacqueline, yoga instructor and In-Shape’s Director of Communications and Wellness, for three stretches you should do every day. You can fit these moves into even the busiest schedule.
1. Forward fold or Uttanasana
“I love this posture for opening up the entire back body, and it has a few variations that you can customize based on your needs that day. It’s also a wonderful way to connect internally to what’s happening inside your body and inside your mind because you’re quite literally folded over, gazing inward.”
“Begin by bending the knees a lot and clasping opposite elbows as you’re folded over. This helps release the low back and prevents the hamstrings from straining. I also love to have my students tuck their chins in to release their necks. If available, begin to play with straightening through one leg, then the other, then maybe both as you reach your hands toward your mat, allowing them to fall wherever they fall. This posture will lengthen the spinal column, stretch the hamstrings and calves and release a day full of tension in just a few long breaths.”
2. Low Lunge or Anjaneyasana
“Many of us sit in chairs all day, or do exercises that tighten and shorten our psoas muscles (also referred to as your hip flexor or that muscle that connects your leg to your hip). I love this pose because when our hip muscles are underused (sitting), they get weak and short. When they are overused, they get tight and short. So, by lengthening them in this posture, you’re counteracting that.”
“I’d recommend a chest opener with this where you sweep your arms forward and up, pinkies facing in, shoulders down the back and shine your heart up as you lightly begin to reach back. This will also counteract the sitting we do all day – hunched over computers, phones or steering wheels.”
3. Half Pigeon or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
“This move is the king of hip openers. Similar to low lunge, it is a hip opener, but it’s all about the side seat. Since we’re talking about the top three poses, I’m thinking of poses that deliver bang for buck and reach many different parts of the body or connect you internally. This pose is great for stretching your thighs, groin, back, piriformis, and psoas.”
“If the traditional expression of this posture is not available due to knee or joint pain, I love the reclined version (pictured), also known as reclined figure four.”
Need more workouts you can squeeze into your day? Try these:
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