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Bookmark This Daily Stretching Routine for Better Flexibility and Mobility

Living with a cat or dog often exposes us to their frequent stretching habits throughout the day. Surprisingly, humans, on the other hand, tend to neglect incorporating a daily stretching routine into their lives, despite the numerous benefits it offers.

The advantages of stretching extend beyond physical well-being; it also contributes to mental and emotional health. Stretching not only enhances flexibility but also improves blood circulation, posture, and can be a valuable addition to both pre and post-exercise routines. Engaging in stretching after a workout can reduce the risk of injuries and muscle soreness.

Katie Baki, a yoga instructor from Louisville, Kentucky, emphasizes that certain stretching types, like static stretching (holding stretches), can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, inducing a state of calm and relaxation. Additionally, being mentally present during stretching enhances focus, concentration, and aids in stress reduction.

Here is a comprehensive daily stretching routine curated by Baki, targeting the entire body, including muscles and joints. The first five stretches are dynamic, involving moving muscles and joints through full ranges of motion, while the last five are static, or held stretches.

1. **Open Book:**
– Lie face up on the floor with feet raised in a tabletop position.
– Open arms wide to either side, palms up.
– Drop legs to the right while bringing the left arm over.
– Repeat 10 times on each side.

2. **Cat Cow:**
– Start on all fours, inhaling to arch the back and tilt the pelvis forward (Cow).
– Exhale, rounding the spine, tucking the tailbone under (Cat).
– Repeat 10 times, moving with the breath.

3. **Low Lunge to Half Splits:**
– From all fours, step the right foot forward into a low lunge.
– Inhale, pressing hips forward; exhale, pulling hips back into half splits.
– Repeat 10 times on each side.

4. **Child’s Pose to Cobra:**
– Begin on all fours, moving into Child’s Pose and Cobra alternately.
– Inhale into Cobra, exhale into Child’s Pose.
– Repeat 10 times.

5. **Downward Facing Dog:**
– Start on all fours, lift hips toward the ceiling.
– Pedal heels up and down, bending knees slightly.
– Repeat pedal sequence 10 times.

6. **Thread the Needle:**
– Start on all fours, inhale and rotate torso to the left, reaching left arm up.
– Exhale, threading the left arm through the space between right arm and thighs.
– Hold for 10 breaths on each side.

7. **Butterfly:**
– Sit on the floor, soles of feet together, inhale to sit tall.
– Exhale, hinging forward from the hips.
– Hold for 10 breaths.

8. **Seated Forward Fold:**
– Sit on the floor, legs extended, inhale and flex feet.
– Exhale, hinge forward from hips, holding for 10 breaths.

9. **Prone Chest Opener:**
– Lie on stomach, left elbow at shoulder height, stack hips, and turn head right.
– Hold for 10 breaths, then switch sides.

10. **Supine Pigeon (Figure 4 Stretch):**
– Lie face up, cross left ankle over right thigh.
– Hold for 10 breaths, then switch sides.

While committing to a daily stretching routine might seem challenging, starting with a consistent time of day and cultivating a positive mindset can make it a rewarding practice. Think of stretching as a way to care for both your body and mind, transforming it from a ‘have to’ into a ‘get to.’

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