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Did you just complete a big workout or run? Or are you waking up today with stiff muscles and/or joints as a result of yesterday’s sweat session? Well then you have come to the right place!
I can’t say enough about how important it is to stretch after any sort of workout. But you are here already, so instead of preaching to the converted, let’s get to it!
In the images shown, I have not used any props for these poses, however you may see I have a set of blocks nearby. I suggest you do too, especially if your hamstrings are feeling tight today.
These stretches come from a 30 minute video practice over on my YouTube channel – Yoga for Sore Muscles.
1. Sidebend Stretch – Sit comfortably in any way that you can ensure you ground the sit bones down. Feel free to use your hands to move the flesh and get rooted. Lengthen the spine and drop the shoulders down away from the ears. Try to keep the rib cage drawing down for a neutral spine, rather than puffing the chest forward. Bring the left fingertips down to the floor at your side, and then reach the right hand up towards the sky. Keep the shoulder from creeping up towards the ear, as you reach the right hand towards the left side. Keep the head and neck relaxed. Close your eyes and imagine the breath going into the lungs and also your shoulder with every inhale. To take the stretch deeper, bend the lifted arm into cactus, and rotate the head to look towards the ceiling, as you squeeze the shoulders towards one another. Return to a neutral spine, then take the left hand behind you as your right hand rests on the left thigh for a little twist. Draw the belly in towards the spine, and avoid rounding the back. To complete the twist, take your gaze over the left shoulder. Repeat to the other side.
2. Wide Legged Child’s Pose – Coming up to kneeling, take the knees wide and bring the big toes to touch. Instead of walking the hands directly forward as we traditionally do in this pose, walk them over to the left side of the mat. Crawl the right fingertips as far over as possible, while keeping the heels towards the hips. Bring the forehead to the mat (or a block), and let the chest melt down. Walking back through neutral, reach the hands over to the right side of the mat. This time reaching the left fingers as far as you possibly can.
3. Wide-Legged Downward Dog – From hands and knees, curl your toes under and lift the hips up and back. Then widen your feet towards the edges of your mat. Bend your knees generously, and reach the tailbone up. Relax your head, shaking it gently side to side or up and down. Push into the fingertips and knuckles. Return your feet back to hip width. Bend the right knee generously, while pushing into the left heel, then alternate.
4. Low Lunge – From downward dog, kick the right foot up and then step it through between the hands at the front of your mat. Rest the left knee down to the mat. If it’s hard to keep your fingertips touching the ground here, bring the ground closer by using some blocks. Ensure that your front knee is over your ankle. Keep it there, while pulling the heart forward and letting the hips melt forward and down. You may be feeling this stretch in your thighs and hip flexors. Grounding down with the feet, reach the arms up overhead. To take into a sidebend, bring the right hand onto the right hip while reaching the left hand up and over to the right. Feel the stretch intensify into the hip flexors and also the waist.
5. Half Splits to Quad Stretch – Staying in low lunge, bring your hands down to the floor. Then start to straighten the right leg, lifting the toes to the sky and keeping the heel down. If your lower body is tight you may want to keep a small bend in the front knee. You may also want to elevate your fingers using a set of blocks. Keeping the front foot flexed, reach your chest forward and hinge at the hips. Bending back into the front knee, kick the left toes up. Reach the right hand back, trying to grab hold of the left foot. If you catch it, draw the foot in towards the glutes. Gently release the back foot down.
6. Pyramid Pose – Bringing your hands back to the mat on either side of you, tuck the back toes under and lift the knee off of the mat. You may again find it comforting to have some blocks underneath your hands. Straighten the front leg, while pushing into the back heel. Keep a wider stance than you typically would for pyramid pose (this will most likely mean your back heel doesn’t touch the mat, and that is totally okay). Flex your right foot, then point the toes down. Pressing the soles of the feet down, see if you can fold a little further over your front leg.
Repeat 4 through 6 on the other leg.
7. Puppy Pose – Set up on hands and knees. Keep the hips directly over the knees as you start to walk the hands forward. Coming down onto the forearms, as you bring your forehead and chest to the ground. This is option 1, to stay here with arms extended. Or for option 2, bend the elbow, bring the palms to touch, and then reach the fingers back to the neck. Keep the low belly drawing in to protect your low back.
Want a full 30 minute stretching session? Follow along with my video below.
Cheers to relief from the stiffness,
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