We’ve all heard it before, “ You need to stretch more.” Most of us shake our head yes while silently thinking maybe later. To help get you out of the “maybe later” rut and into the habit of stretching, we consulted one of our resident yoginis, Senior Lead Instructor Aly Raymer, to learn more about the benefits of post workout stretching and which ones to do if you can only spare a few minutes each day.
“A deep stretch – even if brief! – will help lengthen your muscles, prevent soreness by reducing lactic acid build up, and keep your joints healthy. Add a little breath work in and you will also see benefits such as: reduced stress, better sleep and a more heightened sense of your body and how it responds,” said Aly. “All you really need is enough space that you can fit laying down!”
Here are the everyday stretches recommended by Aly:
Downward Facing Dog
We’ve all heard this one before. With hands and knees on the floor, place your knees directly below your hips and hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Lift your knees away from the floor. As you do this, gradually straighten your knees (without completely locking them); activate your shoulder blades so they are firm and pushing into your back. Keep your head down between your upper arms. This pose promotes length of hips, quads and backs of your legs! Feel free to activate your legs one by one once you’re settled.
From Downward dog, bend your knees and step your feet to your hands. With your feet hips distance apart, fold over your legs and add a small bend in your knees. Grab opposite elbow with your opposite hand. Drop your head completely. Sway a little side to side and nod your head no / yes. This pose stretches the backs of your legs, your lower back and your neck.
Everyone’s favorite. Set your knees down and out wide, bring your toes to touch behind you. Sink your hips to your heels and walk your arms forward. Relax your torso over your thighs and flip your palms to the ceiling. This pose promotes length in your quads, it stretches your lower back and tops of your feet. It is also a very calming pose if that’s also what you need.
Start seated with legs out in front of you. Place your feet together. Bring your heels towards your pelvis and let your knees drop and open up on both sides. Hold onto your feet and draw your shoulder blades outward as you draw your forehead towards your toes..This will open up your inner thighs, hips and lower back.
Reclined Figure Four
Lie on your back. Bend your knees and cross your right ankle over your left knee. Keep your right knee wide. Reach your hands in between your legs, grab behind your left knee and draw it towards your chest. Repeat on the other side.