Boost strength, flexibility and energy with this simple series
DOWNWARD FACING DOG
This pose helps to strengthen the shoulders, arms and legs, lengthens the spine and can help relieve pain in the upper, middle and low back. This gentle inversion, reverses the blood flow in the body, benefiting the circulatory and lymphatic systems.
Begin on your hands and knees with your knees directly under your hips and hands slightly in front of the shoulders, palms down with spread fingers slightly outward, and toes curled toward your head. Exhale and lift your knees, lengthening your spine and extending your hips toward the sky. Keep your arms strong and your shoulder blades separated. Press your heels down to the floor as much as you can, stretching the hamstrings. Tighten the thighs and turn slightly inward. Keep legs strong but don’t lock your knees. Look toward your feet keeping your head between your arms and don’t let it just hang. Hold this pose for one to three minutes. Exhale and release back down to kneeling position.
The plank pose is one of the best ways to build core strength, as well as strength and stability in the arms, wrists, shoulders and spine.
Start in downward dog. Roll forward onto the balls of your feet until your shoulders are directly over your wrists and lower your hips so that your hips, shoulders and head are in a straight line. Keep your arms strong and shoulder blades spread away from your spine. Keep your abdominal and leg muscles tightly contracted. Beginners can modify the pose by lowering their knees to the ground while keeping a straight, solid line through the knees, hips and head. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute. Exhale and lower to kneeling position.
This pose strengthens and stretches the thighs, claves, ankles, and groin muscles, which can help prevent lower back pain. This also helps to strengthen shoulders, arms, and muscles of the back.
From the downward dog position, step your right foot in between your hands. Plant your back foot flat on your mat at a 45-degree angle, and ensure your right knee is centered over your right foot. Inhale as you rise up, bringing your arms overhead, palms touching or facing each other. Keeping your hips forward, sink a little deeper with the front leg, trying to create a 90 degree angle at the knee, keeping the knee above the ankle. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute and then switch sides.
This pose strengthens the thighs and knees and stretches the hips, hamstrings and calves. It’s calming to the nervous system and can help relieve and reduce headaches, stress, fatigue, anxiety, mild depression, and insomnia. It stimulates the liver and kidneys, which can help improve digestion.
Standing with feet about shoulder width apart exhale and begin to bend forward from the hips, not the waist, lowering your head and hands down as far as you can. Keep your legs as straight as possible and reach for the floor. If you can’t reach the floor with your hands, grasp each elbow and hang. If you can reach the floor, try to grab your ankles or clasp your hands behind your back and raise your arms as high as possible for a deeper shoulder stretch. Try to bend further with each exhale. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute. Inhale, bend knees, lower hips, and exhale back up to standing position.
This pose stretches the ankles, opens the hips and pelvis, lengthens the spine and tones the belly.
Begin with feet wider than hip width apart, toes turned slightly outward. Looking forward, keeping your back straight, lower your hips down, as far as you can as if you were going to sit. Keep your feet as close together as possible but your knees spread as much as possible. Keeping your back straight and tall, lean forward, pressing your elbows into your inner knees bringing your palms together. Pull your navel inward holding your core tight. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute. Inhale and rise back up to standing position.
SEATED SPINAL TWIST
This pose stretches the neck, shoulder, hips and spine.
Sit on your mat with your legs extended in front of you. Bend your right knee up and place your right foot on the outside of your left thigh and knee. You can keep your left leg straight, or bend it and place your left heel under your right glute. Keeping your back straight, hug your right knee with your left arm or place your left elbow outside of your right knee. Place your right palm on the mat just behind you against your sacrum or glute. Twist your neck and look behind you as far as you can go. With each inhale, lengthen the crown of your head toward the ceiling and with each exhale twist a little deeper. Hold this position for 30 seconds to one minute, then switch sides.
This pose stretches and loosens the neck and torso muscles, hips and abdominals. Strengthening the neck and back will improve posture and balance. This is also a very stress releasing and relaxing pose.
Start in a kneeling position with your shoulders directly over your wrists and your hips directly over your knees with a neutral (flat) spine. Inhale and slowly arch your spine, rounding your mid-back toward the sky, lowering your head and tucking your chin. Come back to a neutral spine. Lower your back down toward the floor and your tailbone, shoulders and the crown of your head lift up, creating a hammock shape with your spine, and look up to stretch your neck while you exhale. Repeat several times and align your breath with your movement.
This pose is for resting, usually between other poses or at the end of your exercises. It stretches the hips, thighs, knees, ankles, and lower back. It relaxes the neck, shoulders and spine.
Begin in the kneeling position. Keep your knees touching or open them a little wider than your hips. Keeping the knees together provides more support and is recommended for people with less flexibility. Lower your hips back and try to sit onto your heels. Extending your arms in front of you, palms down and lower your torso as much as possible, resting your forehead on the mat or extend your arms behind you with your palms resting face up next to your hips. Facing your palms up with your arms stretched forward will intensify the stretch in your shoulders. Hold this position for one to three minutes and breathe deeply and slowly.
About the Author
Noreen Lange has a BS in kinesiology with a minor in fitness, nutrition and health. With over 10 years combined experience as a certified group fitness instructor, personal trainer, and nutrition and wellness consultant, Noreen has worked with celebrities, high profile athletes, and professional sports teams including Tony Gwynn and the San Diego Padres. CommentsRead Bio Read Posts