Here are five simple Yoga stretches that can help you de-stress and hopefully calm your mind, mama!
Yoga novice Kaumudi recently shared how mindful Yoga has eased her stress and positively affected her daily life. Today she returns with her instructor to share easy poses you can integrate into your everyday habits.
Many of us find ourselves hunched over a smart device or sitting still for hours while working. Often times, such activity results in stiffness and nagging aches in the neck, shoulders, hips and lower back. Here are five simple yoga stretches that provide muscle relief and relaxation.
First off, begin by setting aside all other thoughts and focusing on deep inhalation and slow exhalation.
The Side Stretch
Benefits: This helps to stretch your sides and relieve lower back tightness. It will also relieve tension in your wrists!
1) Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms relaxed at the sides
2) Inhale and stretch your arms out to the side and then raise them to the ceiling
3) Exhale as you hold your left wrist with your right hand
4) With an inhale, stretch your left fingers towards the ceiling. Exhale and slowly stretch to the right and extend your left fingers to the right, while moving your hips to the left. Keep your chest facing forward, do not hunch forward towards the ground. Keep your head and left arm in alignment with the torso. Feel the side stretch on the left side of your body. Continue to breathe for 5 to 10 counts in this position. Inhale as you return back to the center. Repeat twice.
5) Repeat this sequence on the opposite side.
The Seated Backbend
Benefits: The backbend helps to open your heart and create more space for energy to move freely to and from the heart. It also helps to enhance circulation and release tension in the back and spine.
1) Sit in the center of your chair with your feet flat on the ground and spine straight. Keep your shoulders and belly relaxed.
2) With a deep inhale, raise both arms up towards the ceiling with your arms apart at shoulder width. With a slow exhale, slowly bend your upper back and chest backwards. Look up towards the ceiling or further back if possible. Hold in this pose for 5-10 breaths. Focus your awareness on your chest as you breathe deeply.
3) To release from the pose – with your exhalation, extend your arms forward and down onto your lap. Repeat twice.
4) Option: You may also do this pose in a standing position as shown above.
Desk Shoulder Opener
Benefits: This helps counteract the effect of hunching your back while sitting for long time.
1) Move your chair far enough away from the desk so that you have to stretch to place both your palms at the edge of the desk.
2) Inhale and lengthen your spine. With a slow exhale, drop your head in between your arms while bending at the waist to achieve a good shoulder stretch. Stay in this pose for 10 deep breaths. Repeat twice.
3) Option: You may also do this pose standing and using a wall as a prop as shown above.
The Forward Fold
Benefits: A calming posture that helps stretch your hamstrings. Reversing the blood flow will also give you a boost of energy.
Option 1: Seated on chair
1) Sit towards the edge of chair, with your spine tall and straight.
2) Inhale and raise both arms up towards the ceiling. Exhale and bend forward, with fingers reaching towards your ankles or the ground. Stay in this pose for 10 breaths and let the crown of your head hang towards the ground.
3) Inhale and slowly raise your body and arms back up towards the ceiling. Exhale and release arms down. Repeat twice.
Option 2: Standing
1) Stand with feet together, arms along the sides of your body. If your hamstrings are tight, you may micro-bend your knees.
2) With a deep inhale, raise both arms towards the ceiling, keeping your arms at shoulder-width.
3) Exhale and bend forward, fold your torso over your legs.
4) Grab your elbows in the palms of your hands, and gently sway your body from right to left, left to right, and front and back. Let your head hang down towards the ground.
5) Next, place your hands by your feet or on the ground in front of you.
6) With a deep inhale, extend your chest forward to lengthen your spine, and look forward.
7) With a slow exhale, bend your torso downwards from your lower back without rounding your back. Extend your neck and crown of head toward the ground.
8) Place your hands by your ankles or fingertips on the ground in front of you. Stay in this pose for 1!0 slow beats. Repeat twice.
Seated Spinal Twist
Benefits: The Seated Final Twist is great especially if you have been sitting for long periods of times. It helps to release the muscles and tightness in the back.
1) Sit tall towards the front of the chair.
2) With a deep inhale, lengthen your spine and raise both arms up towards the ceiling.
3) With a slow exhale, twist your body at the waist towards the right side of the chair, placing your hands on the armrest or on the back of the chair, depending on your level of flexibility.
4) Inhale and lengthen your spine, focus on breathing into your rib cage with your inhalation. With a slow exhale, relax your muscles in your back and gentle twist a little farther. Look towards your right shoulder. Stay in the pose for 10 deep breaths. With an exhalation, return to the center.
5) Repeat the same sequence on the opposite side.
All images courtesy of the author, taken in the Himalayan Kingdom, Bhutan.