More often than not, you’ll leave your Osteopathy or Massage appointment with a few exercises and stretches to do at home – to build on the work that’s been done in the clinic, and maintain the results achieved during your session.
As Yogi’s, it is important that we make an effort to stay in tune with our mind, bodies and spirits, on a daily basis. As much as we prioritise our daily yoga practice, sometimes life throws lots at us! When this happens, our time available for our practice can occasionally get squeezed. It is important in these times that we stay grounded, and keep our body moving to prevent the stressors of daily life leading to muscular tightness and tension.
With this in mind, we want to give you our 8 most effective stretches that you can do (almost anywhere!) to keep you aligned, grounded, and in touch with yourself, when you need it the most.
Super simple and effective! This is a great movement to improve spinal mobility and stretch the muscles of the back. Even though we may not have space at our desks to break into a full Sun Salutation, a spinal roll can help us keep our spines supple for our next practice.
How to: Start standing tall. Begin by tucking your chin to your chest, allowing your shoulders to round and arms to hang forwards. Picture your spine as a stack of blocks, rolling each block (vertebrae) over the other as far as you can. Then roll back up in the reverse motion. Never rush rolling back to standing.
Top tip: take this one nice and slow for maximal stretch!
This is a useful exercise to reset your posture by strengthening the muscles of the upper back so that we can maintain optimal posture between our mountain and warrior poses!
How to: Stand tall, tucking your chin slightly. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and down – you should feel your shoulders roll outwards and your chest open. Hold here for 3-5 seconds before letting go. Repeat 3-5 times.
Top tip: This exercise can be completed as many times as you like throughout the day.
This is a dynamic all-rounder, and a great spinal mobility movement to improve your range of motion. Using your arms to encourage movement through the shoulders, ribs and spine. A perfect complimentary exercise to your practice that will assist you with your twist poses, such as the Triangle pose.
How to: This exercise can be done either seated or standing. Simply bring your arm straight out in front, lifting and rotating your arm past your head, following your hand with your eyes as you do so.
Top tip: Don’t forget to alternate your arms and to change the direction of movement through the spine!
A strong stretch great for opening the front of the chest and stretching those pectoral muscles. More important in this sedentary digital age than ever, this stretch will help you attain the required shoulder mobility to take your practice to the next level and work towards poses such as Bound Hands Warrior 1.
How to: For this exercise, find a doorway or an exposed part of the wall. Stand in the doorway or next to the wall and place your forearm and elbow along it, perpendicular to you. Step forwards to create a stretch across the front of your chest. Hold here for 15 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Top tip: You can play around with the angle of your arm to target different fibres of the muscle, depending on what feels like it needs the stretch the most.
The glutes are one of the strongest muscle groups, so keeping them flexible, as well as strong is important. This stretch is great for those who spend long periods of time on their feet, and can help those who suffer with back pain.
There is a possibility that some of you may be using your yoga practice to ease the niggles and strains of daily life. This is a great stretch to keep those hips mobile so that you can continue to get deep into your Pigeon Pose, until your heart’s content!
How to: Begin seated with your feet planted on the ground. Bring one ankle over the other knee. Keep your back as flat as possible, hinging at your hips to bring your chest towards your bent knee. Hold here whilst feeling a stretch in your buttocks.
Top tip: Imagine a broomstick connecting the back of your head to the base of your spine to prevent you from slumping forwards.
As more and more of us are now desk-bound, working from home, neck tightness is becoming increasingly common. Feeling tension in the neck and upper back when completing your forward folds? This stretch is a great way to release tension in the neck.
How to: In a seated position, tuck one hand under your thigh, with your palm facing away. Bend your head away from this hand, bringing your ear to your shoulder, then look towards the floor. Gently place your free hand over your head, using the weight to increase the stretch.
Top tip: 15 seconds or so is ideal here. This stretch can be increased by dropping your chin slightly closer to your chest.
The muscles at the front of the neck can become tighter if you spend time looking down at screens, grind your teeth, suffer from breathing issues like asthma, or if you just happened to sleep funny!
If you notice a pulling in the front of the neck when completing your Cobra pose, this stretch will help to target and self-release those tight muscles.
How to: Firstly, find your sternum/breastbone. Using your hands, with gentle pressure push in and slightly down, squeezing your shoulders blades. Bring one ear to your shoulder and look up to the ceiling – you should feel a stretch at the front of your neck.
Top tip: Your sternum is the flat, bony structure at the bottom of your neck and the front of your chest, in between your ribs. It is where this muscle attaches.
Attention to our breath is one of the core fundamentals of our Yoga practice.
As Yogi’s, we know the benefits the breath can have on our state of being! Some of the benefits including:
- Improving mindfulness and promoting relaxation
- Lift mood by decreasing the production of stress hormones
- Lowering heart rate and blood pressure
- Increasing lung capacity to aid athletic performance
- Strengthening the core and pelvic floor
The diaphragm is a large muscle that powers 80% of breathing mechanics!
We love simple techniques that provide so many great benefits, which is why we use this technique in the clinic all the time.
How to: Lying flat (Or seated), place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen just below your rib cage. Pull the air in through your nose and down into your tummy. Imagine that your lower ribs are expanding front, back and either side. Slowly exhale through your mouth, allowing your abdominal muscles to fall.
Top tip: You should feel the hand on your abdomen rise first if you are doing this correctly!
So what are you waiting for?!
Once you’ve had a go at some of these you’ll realise why they are our favourite moves! If you have any questions or would like to discuss anything, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.