Inhale… Exhale… Inhale… Exhale…
How can you incorporate one of the most important ways to take care of your body… while breathing? We all gotta breathe, right? (Duh.) “Where’s this going, Jennifer?”, I hear you ask? Well, I’ll tell you where this is going. We talk about aches and pains, stiffness in joints. Not being able to quite move around like we used to. Well, my friends, sometimes we are the one thing standing in our own way to having a more flexible body, to having less stiff muscles and joints, less injuries, and overall lengthening of that beautiful body you were given!
When you can hardly squeeze a workout into your day, taking time to focus on flexibility may feel like, well, a stretch. But did you know that regular stretching is just as important as regular exercise?
I’ve asked my fellow Lululemon Ambassadors and yoga instructors, Taylor Matus and Tiffany Denny, to share with all of us what they would consider great daily stretches for anyone at any fitness level, for any activity. Check out their suggestions and give them a try!
Taylor Matus: Indigo Yoga Instructor
If I’m looking for some quick yet effective poses to bust out, these are at the top of my list:
Ragdoll – Forward folds are great because they open the entire back half of your body. You can bend your knees as much as you need (especially if your hamstrings are tight) and take a wider stance with your feet for more stability.
Extended Side Angle – This targets a lot of places at once – specifically your thighs, glutes, hips, and sides. Fantastic way to get a sincere stretch throughout your entire body.
Camel – Back bends are where it’s at for reversing the effects of poor posture/slumping. This pose can also be done standing or in a chair. Simply support the back of your hips with your fists, engage your core, and extend your spine up and slightly back. Shoulders come down away from your ears and your head can go back as far as is comfortable.
Legs Up the Wall – This pose is an Inversion, meaning your feet are above your hips, and your hips are above your heart (hence you see a block underneath my tailbone). Inversions reverse the flow of blood in the body (read: very therapeutic) and are referred to as “the fountain of youth” by traditional yoga systems. Hooray for that! Stay in this pose for at least 3 minutes to get the most benefit. You can also literally do this pose with your legs up against a wall.
Tiffany Denny: Three Tree Yoga
Here are some great poses for stretching.
Thoracic opener over a roll: Use a rolled up mat, blanket, or whatever else you find that you can place under your shoulder blades, and relax your arms out to the sides. For other variations, you can take your feet together and knees apart, and you can grab opposite forearms and reach them over your head.
Lizard Pose: Lunge one leg forward, then place forearms on the ground or on a support of some kind on the inside of your front leg. You could add a twist, and if it feels good, you could bend your knee and grab your foot with the opposite hand for a quad/hip flexor stretch.
Gate Pose: Kneel and stretch one leg out to the side. Sideband in the direction of your extended leg and either stretch your top arm overhead or put your top hand behind your head (so your shoulder doesn’t get pinched).
Thread the Needle: From all fours, thread one arm under the other and put your shoulder and the side of your head on the ground. You could stretch one leg out to the side as well.
Keep breathing and happy stretching!!!
Jennifer Kieta is a native Texan, born and raised in Houston. She graduated from Texas Tech University and has lived in Fort Worth since 1996. Jennifer worked as a Child Life Specialist at Cook Children’s Medical Center for 9 years before becoming a full-time mommy to her two daughters. She currently serves as a worship leader alongside her husband at Christ Chapel Bible Church. In the fall of 2014, Jennifer started training and soon became a spin instructor for Zyn22, a boutique spin studio here in Fort Worth. Her love of and belief in taking care of your mind, soul, and body has always been a priority, and she looks forward to sharing that love with her community!