After posting that straight up yoga wasn’t working for me anymore (my exercise routine needed more fire!), I branched out into an array of fitness classes. While each has succeeded in amping up my heart rate and providing ample opportunity for a solid sweat, there’s one thing missing in most of these sessions — stretching.
Okay, maybe there’s two minutes tacked onto the end for a basic standing forward bend, but it’s never enough! And not because my body craves yoga…all bodies need a sufficient stretch incorporated into their exercise. It’s how we prevent injury as well as keeping the muscles lengthened.
In my home practice, I always throw down my mat to go through a series of moves – both flowing and static — that finish off the workout. Usually I just improvise along with what my body needs, but often I return to these same stretches because they feel so right!
They’re easy enough to do on your own, and make the perfect complement to the gym, a run, or even as its own thing. Your body will feel better because of it!
Here’s A Simple Stretch Routine For Before, After, Or As Your Workout
- Begin by standing tall, feet flat on the floor hips width distance apart, arms down by your sides in Mountain.
- Reach your arms up by the ears then roll them forward in a circle keeping the arms long. Do both directions a few times.
- Then interlace your fingers behind the back, open up across the chest, and fold forward continuing to reach your interlaced hands behind your back – like this.
- Now don’t move anything except bend the knees. (Your chest keeps lifting while your interlaced hands keep reaching behind you.)
- Next straighten the legs, and let the clasped hands reach even further behind the back, maybe over the head- like this again. Do this sequence a few more times.
- Come back to Mountain.
- Move through Surya Namaskar A.
- Do your version of sun salutations a couple times then add Extended Side Angle on the right side.
- Now roll your extended arm forward a few times then backwards a few times to open up the shoulder.
- Next lengthen the front leg (into Parsvottanasana),and relax your head towards your knee.
- Bend the front knee into a low lunge – hold this position for a few breaths – then straighten the leg again and hold it for a few breaths. Do this bend and straighten activity several times.
- Then step back into Mountain, and repeat the sun salutations into low lunge sequence on the other side.
- Repeat 3 more times, both sides.
Feel free to use this as a template to encourage your own improvisation. The goal is to follow your body’s lead to whatever feels good.
Put on a playlist –like this– for extra motivation.
And make sure to conclude your exercise routine with a few minutes of seated meditation…it’s the perfect way to seal in the connection of mind, body and soul.
Are you motivated to include some stretching in your exercise routine?
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