This is “commercial break yoga” – short, dedicated spurts of movement and breathing…! Perfect for athletes or anyone seeking great performance and freedom of movement. No excuses. Breathe mindfully. Focus and stay present. Do in this order. Listen to your body – stretch to resistance but never pain. Smile. Repeat.
#1: RIGHT ANGLE / DOWNDOG AT THE WALL
Spinal extension. Lengthens tight hamstrings. Reduces tension in shoulders and back. Lengthens breath.
1. Bring feet hip distance apart, parallel to each other.
2. Hinge at the hip and place hands at wall about chest height.
3. Body in an approximate right angle shape, push hands into wall with elbows remaining straight.
4. Find and feel the spinal extension – hips pushing away from the wall with strength through arms
5. Hold for 5 breaths and build to one minute.
#2: BIRD DOG
Promotes health for the spine. Great traction effect for spine. Promotes balance. Activates core.
1. From hands and knees, lift left leg back, keeping it straight and strong. Don’t point toes.
2. Maintain neutral pelvis with that lifted left leg hip rotated toward floor.
3. Activate low belly to promote balance and lift right arm straight forward and out.
4. Maintain gaze toward floor, NOT forward. Reach as far between hand and foot as possible.
5. Stay still best you can and breathe deeply. Hold for about 5-10 breaths. Switch.DOWN DOG at the WALL
A beginning backbend that strengthens legs and hips, massages the spine, and opens the heart. Counterbalances compressed chest.
1. Lie on back with knees bent, feet flat, parallel to each other and hip distance apart, 10 to 12 inches from pelvis. Ankles directly under knees.
2. Rest hands near hips with palms up, helping to open front of shoulders and collarbones.
3. Rock gently to roll and slip shoulder blades under, tucking toward hips, creating space between ears and shoulders.
4. Push up through feet to bring hips off floor.
5. Clasp hands underneath helping to ground shoulders and roll open chest. Clasped hands continue to push toward ankles while engaging legs; continue to open chest in backbend.
6. Do NOT tuck chin, but rather keep throat open and bring front ribs toward face.
7. Hold for five breaths. Release to floor and rest. Repeat 2-3 times
#4: FIGURE 4 HIP STRETCH
Superb outer hip opener and IT band release.
1. Lay onto back, with knees bent and thighs parallel and hip-distance apart.
2. Cross left ankle over right thigh, making sure that anklebone clears thigh. Actively flex front foot by pulling toes back (this is so the center of foot will line up with your kneecap rather than curving into a sickle shape, which can stress the ligaments of the ankle and knee.)
3. Maintaining this alignment, pull right knee in toward chest, thread left arm through the triangle between legs and interlace fingers around the back of right leg or right shin (not back of knee). If you can hold in front of your shin without lifting your shoulders off the floor or rounding the upper back, do so; otherwise, keep hands clasped around hamstring or use a strap.(Goal is to avoid creating tension in the neck and shoulders as you open the hips, so choose a position that keeps your upper body relaxed.)
4. As you draw right leg in (making sure to aim it toward right shoulder and not the center of chest), simultaneously press your left knee away from you.
5. Hold for 10 breaths or longer; switch sides.
#5: RECLINED HAMSTRING STRETCH
Phenomenal hamstring stretch – SAFELY bringing leg to spine vs taking spine to leg.
1. Lie on back, legs extended.
2. Place a strap, belt, towel, band, anything on the ball of right foot.
3. Slowly lengthen right leg allowing strap to slide through hand until leg is straightened.
4. Right elbow fully extended, with upper neck and shoulders relaxed until they press into floor.
5. Hold for approximately one minute or longer on each side.
There you have it! Keep it up – regularity is key. Make time – you’ll be glad you did.