I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not always easy to fit in a workout during the week. Between your job or school, meetings, doctor’s appointments, taking care of your pets and family, running errands, and cooking dinner, exercise doesn’t always make the cut. Then when the weekend rolls around, you make up for not exercising by going all out on Saturday or Sunday.
Yoga is a great way to boost the energy of those weekend warriors who wear themselves out on those last days. Specific postures can stabilize your spine, soothe tight hamstrings, open the hips and prevent injuries you might incur doing your favorite weekend activities. These 5 poses target the total body, lubricating the shoulder and knee joints, and protecting your back.
1) Bridge – help shoulder misalignment. Lie back with knees bent and feet to floor. Gently walk your shoulders under your body to clasp hands underneath your buttocks and slowly lift the hips about six inches off the floor and breathe deeply for a minute or two; repeat as needed.
2) Knees to Chest – prevent aggravation in the spine: Lie back and bend both knees into the chest, and slowly grasp your legs toward your chest, rocking slowly back and forth through the hips. Also try making large circles in the sky using your knees in one direction, and then switching. This really lubes your back muscles!
3) Upside-down Pigeon – work out tight hips and thighs: Lie back and cross right ankle over left knee and use your hands to push that left knee away from you. Point the toes on your bent right leg and gently grasp right shin to hold it and stretch through the hips and mid-body.
4) Cobra – Alleviate back pain: Lie belly down with straight legs in back of you, and try to touch all toes to the mat. Bring palms to your lower ribs and slowly use your hands and arms to press chest slightly off the mat. Keep looking down and breathe slowly here for 30 to 60 seconds or so; repeat twice.
5) Dancer – Improve Balance: Stand tall on the left foot and bend right knee so right foot touches your butt in the back. Reach back with right hand and clasp the right foot as you try to balance. Keep both knees together and contract the belly. Slowly bend forward, working your torso to parallel and pushing your feet back against your hand for 30 seconds or so. Slowly stand and release, then switch sides and repeat to the left. This is also a great quad stretch for the front of your hips and thighs, and one of the very best injury-prevention postures that we regularly perform in yoga class.
Have a great weekend everyone! Happy Memorial Day.