“Sitting is the new smoking,” cautioned US magazine, Wired, in early 2013.
Whether we talk about the number of hours put in at work or the time spent watching TV at leisure or the part of the day spent commuting from place to place; most of our present life is visibly sedentary. The build-up of chores and obligations causes stress and leaves us physically stiff with tension. So many people literally move around with a locked, immobile lower back and hip flexors dissuading them even further from finding joy in any physical activity.
The following stretches are an ideal way to unwind at any time of the day to get rid your body of any negativity and discomfort. The routine can be pursued first thing in the morning, right before bed or even in the middle of the day. It relieves the most common points of tension in our body, hence, discharging trapped energy. These stretches are fairly simple and the videos provided eliminate any guess-work in carrying out each move.
- Downward dog:
If the entire routine feels too much for you, stick to this one move alone at the end of the day to open up your lower back, hips, hamstrings and calves. This is a great move for ladies to gauge their upper body strength. If holding your body weight on your hands feels too much, then come down on your forearms for additional support.
Whether you are feeling achy after a tough, grueling workout or are feeling low after a long stressful day at the office, this move is a great way to relax your body and uplift your mood. Simply lift off your body into an inverted V and sit back into your heels as much as you can. It is okay if your feet do not completely touch the floor to begin with.
- Cobra pose:
The Downward dog should immediately be followed by the Cobra pose.
Back bends are hardly ever a natural part of our daily physical movement. We usually confine ourselves to bending forward or find ourselves slouching over a laptop or a television.
The Cobra pose helps in stretching open the tight, shortened chest muscles, stimulates the organs in the abdomen and strengthens the arms. It also improves mobility in the spine and invigorates the passages of the heart and lungs.
- Standing backward bend:
According to Yoga guru Bikram Choudhury, “Nobody has psychological or emotional problems, everyone has a bad spine.” Poor posture driven back pain has become very common and slouching forward aggravates the pain even more.
As challenging as back bends appear to be, one need not stretch too deep to relieve stress and avail the benefit of a realigned posture. To hold this move with confidence, it may be performed a foot in front of a wall to eliminate any fear of falling over.
- Forward Bend:
To counteract the compression of a backward bend, the spine needs to be lengthened with a forward bend immediately after.
With the head below the heart, one experiences the blood rushing to their head, eventually soothing the nerves, relieving headache if any and eases the symptoms of insomnia.
The following video demonstrates the backward and forward bend done together.
- Cat and Cow Stretch:
This gentle exercise is yet another calming breath synchronized movement to ease the strain in the spine and neck. It is often prescribed even to older people with limited physical mobility to help maintain a healthy lower back.
- Bound Angle pose:
A position that mitigates tension in the lower back, hips, inner thigh and groin and eases menstrual cramps and sciatica.
However, one need not wait to suffer a terrible ailment to garner the benefits of this move. When practiced regularly, it improves the efficiency of all the organs in the abdominal region, keeps one disease free and is a great way to get rid of weary feelings of lethargy.
The following video describes how this pose is a great stretch for golfers to develop greater hip mobility – a benefit that contributes to greater agility in movement that we could all use. The video also addresses the common issue of tight muscles and how to get past them.
- Eye of the Needle:
A gentle, restorative stretch that opens up your outer hips as much as it loosens the spine. It is a great move to regain balance after a long day of sitting in your workplace.
- Happy Baby Pose:
This resting pose is yet another useful way to undo the damage caused by long hours of sitting and stress driven anxiety.
If your hands can’t make it to your feet, you might consider pulling your feet down with a strap.
- Legs up the Wall:
A great way to rehabilitate aching, cramped, tired legs after a long day of travel or running around is to rest with your legs up against a wall.
Holding this position is also suitable for people with blood pressure problems since it gives the hard-working heart a break.
- Child’s Pose:
One of the most popular stretches; it is often used by athletes from diverse sporting fields to bring all kinds of workouts to an appropriate close by normalizing blood circulation.
Use this move to end your entire series of stretches and is also a beneficial way to rest in between exercises at the gym.