A gentle 20-minute flow to increase flexibility. By Kino MacGregor
Stretching increases the blood flow to muscle tissue, improving your flexibility and lessening your risk of injury as you go about your day. Even though flexibility is an important component of muscle and tendon health many neglect it in their daily lives.
Tight muscles and tendons can ache, making even the most ordinary everyday tasks painful. As we age our muscles and tendons constrict and we lose the range of motion we once had, but that doesn’t have to happen.
Stretching and flexibility training keeps muscles long, loose, and healthy. Having a daily stretching routine will ease aches and pains, improve your range of motion, and leave you feeling relaxed and renewed. You don’t have to dedicate a large chunk of time to building flexibility. Taking just a few minutes a day can be all your muscles need to loosen up.
Joining the Omstars Flexibility Challenge from September 1-14 will help you into the habit of taking a few minutes to stretch daily. You can go to Omstars.com to sign up.
In the meantime, here are some simple yoga poses you can use to increase your flexibility until the challenge starts.
1. Puppy Pose
We’ll begin with puppy pose to give you a nice stretch through your shoulders and front body. Come onto your hands and knees in tabletop position. Walk your hands forward and place them close together so the nails of the thumbs touch each other. Send the hips back and walk your hands further forward until your forehead touches the ground with your arms straight out in front of you. Come up onto your fingertips and breathe deeply. Hold for five breaths.
2. Ustrasana (With Anjaneyasana Prep)
Ustrasana provides an intense stretch to the front body. We’ll prepare for that posture by doing Anjaneyasana first.
To do Anjaneyasana come into a low lunge position. Your right foot is in front with your knee at a 90º angle and your left leg is behind you. Drop your left leg to the floor and externally rotate the shoulders. Inhale and bring the arms straight above your head. Hold for five breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Now that you’ve given your hips an initial stretch you are ready to do Ustrasana. We will do several versions of this pose with each getting progressively more challenging.
Come onto your knees. Your knees are at a 90º angle. Your torso is upright. The tops of your feet are on the floor.
For the first version, draw the navel in and lift through the ribcage. Interlock your fingers behind your back and lift your chest. Hold for five breaths.
For the second variation, place blocks beside your feet. From the same kneeling position you started in before, inhale and lift through the ribcage. Exhale and bring the hips forward and your hands back to rest on the blocks. Roll the shoulders back and gaze at the nose.
If you are comfortable here, walk your hands down to your heels to deepen the stretch and hold for five breaths.
Paschimottanasana will give you a good hamstring stretch while releasing the muscles in the back.
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Draw your navel in and lift your spine out of the pelvis. Inhale lengthening the spine. Exhale as you lift the ribs up and forward, pivot through the hip joints. Fold forward and grab your big toes. If you can’t grab your big toes, reach wherever you can comfortably.
Hold for five breaths.
4. Upavistha Konasana
Our final pose is Upavistha Konasana.
Sit on the floor with your legs spread apart. Use blocks to give you support in this posture. The first option is to stack two blocks on top of each other in front of your pelvis. Now bend forward bringing your hands down your legs toward your feet. Let the height of the blocks support you.
If that feels easy for you, place the blocks against each other in front of you making a longer lower support for your torso. Pivot through the hips, bend forward and bring your hands down your legs toward your feet. Rest your torso on the length of the blocks.
If you are comfortable in this stretch try repeating it without the blocks and bring your chest or chin to the floor.
Stay here for five breaths.
You can use this simple routine to increase flexibility and ease the tension in your muscles. Practice along with this short video anytime you want.
Kino MacGregor is an international yoga instructor and the creator of Omstars online yoga platform (omstars.com)
Make the decision to get more flexible today by joining Omstars’ Flexibility Challenge. The challenge runs from September 1-14, 2021 and is the perfect way to kickstart the habit of stretching daily. Go to Omstars.com to sign up