30 DAYS to a more flexible you
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
As I’ve switched from working in pediatrics to working in geriatrics, I’m seeing (EVERY DAY, FIRST HAND) how invaluable it is to take care of your body and to keep it moving. That means clean eating ( I do that 80% of the time, love me some tortilla chips and vermont cheddar cheese), exercising ( I do that 75% of the time, love me some physique 57), and stretching to remain flexible (I do that…hmm…is sleeping a stretch?). EEK! SO, as my birthday rolled around a few days ago, I really started to think about what changes I wanted to make in my life.
SO, I’ve decided to take a 30 day yoga challenge and I wanted to share my journey. While I have to get up at 5:45 am, I never want to #IMEANWHODOES #AMIRIGHT. My goal will be to wake up and do five simple yoga poses to slowly wake up my body and be on the fast track to a more flexible ME. First things first. Brush my teeth (EW!) Second, drink some water with lemon to wake my brain/body up. Third, yoga time. Here are my five poses, how to do them, and why to do them. Also, make sure to read all the way to the end for my INVALUABLE tip on getting a better posture and saving your back. ENJOY!
HOW: Start on your hands and knees in neutral pose (your back is flat and your eyes are pointing down so that the top of your head to your tail bone make a straight line, your wrists are under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips). Take a deep inhale. On the exhale, arch your spine up, look down between your knees and imagine your belly button is trying to touch your spine to really engage the abs. This would be CAT POSE. As you inhale, Bring your spine back to neutral and then look up while dropping your belly. This would be COW POSE. Repeat this 4 times. Try to coordinate your breathing to the pose; exhale with CAT, inhale with COW.
WHY: This is a great exercise to loosen up the spine, neck and begin to stimulate the abs for the following exercises.
STANDING FLAT BACK
HOW: Stand straight with your hands on your hips, feet together, weight placed in the heels of your feet. Exhale as you bend forward at the hips. Grab each elbow with the opposite hand and let your head hang loose. Imagine your tush bone is trying to reach the ceiling. Lift and lengthen with each inhale and exhale. Try to hold for 1 minute. To return, place your hands on your hips, flatten your back and return to beginning stance.
WHY: The flow of blood to your brain calms your nervous system, which in turn, relieves stress, anxiety, and fatigue (ESPECIALLY IN THE MORNING #amIright). It also lengthens the hamstrings and calves. NEED IT.
DOWNWARD FACING DOG
HOW: Begin on your hands and knees; wrists under shoulders and knees under hips. Your fingers should be facing forward. Exhale as you tuck your toes under and lift your knees off the floor. Imagine that there is a string is attached to your sit bone and it is being pulled up to the ceiling. Gently begin to straighten your legs and start to make an A shape with your body. Draw your shoulder blades back so that your shoulders aren’t up by your ears, and align your ears with your upper arms. Hold for 30 seconds. Return back to starting pose. Repeat.
WHY: It builds bone density, upper body strength, relieves stiffness and back pain, boosts circulation, and can be easily modified.
HOW: Start in a lunge position; left foot forward and the right foot will be at a 90 degree turn to the outside wall. You will want your left heel in line with the center of your back right foot. Exhale and bend your left knee over the left ankle so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor. Stretch your arms away from one another, parallel to the floor, and imagining that your finger tips are trying to touch the walls on either side (this way you are creating space between the shoulder blades and getting a great stretch). Turn the head to the left and look out over the fingers; keeping your torso in line with your pelvis. Stay for 30 seconds to a minute. Repeat on the right side.
WHY: A great stretch for the legs, hips, and chest. It increases stamina, balance, and helps relieve back pain. It also stimulates digestion. WIN.
HOW: Bring your right knee between your hands and place your right ankle near your left wrist and your right knee near your right wrist. Extend your left leg behind you so that the top of your knee and the top of your foot are resting on the floor. Imagine there is a string attached to the top of your head that is pulling up you toward the ceiling while your fingertips stay on the floor. This elongates the spine while you stay grounded in the stretch. Work on keeping your hips in line and parallel to the floor. Nobody wants a lopsided pigeon pose #amIright. Slowly start to walk your hands in front of you as you bend over your right leg. If you can’t get all the way down, go down as far as you can. You can rest your elbows down on the floor for a modified version. Hold for 30 seconds. Walk your fingers back up to starting position and then repeat on the other leg.
WHY: This is a deep stretch for your shoulders, hips, and upper leg area. It also does great things for digestion by stimulating your abdominal muscles. WOOT!
LAST BUT NOT LEAST. Stand straight with your feet hips width apart. Place your right hand on top of your head and your left hand on the back of your head. Press the top of your head against your right hand. While holding that position, press the back of your head toward your left hand. THIS is the ideal position of your head/spine. #pilatestip #allIwantistobeapilatesteacher #ONEdaySOMEday When you are sitting at a desk during the day, try to complete this exercise every hour to help elongate the spine and stretch out the muscles in your neck. It will also help you be more aware of your posture. And remember; 90-90-90. Make sure that your ankles are at 90 degrees, your knees are at 90 degrees, and your hips are at 90 degrees when you are sitting in your chair. This will relieve stress on your muscles and joints and it will save you from back pain later in life. Please see photo below. Make changes. Save the back!
I will check back in at the 15th day, 8.26.15, to let you know how I’m doing on my ALL I WANT IS MORE FLEXIBILITY challenge.
P.S. This is my 100th post! I hope you stay on for many more!