Yoga is a great way to strengthen your body, and also is great for helping your body to become more flexible. The more times per week you practice the stretches below, the more flexible you will become and the better you will feel.
Along with stretching, make sure that you are eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, to help to clear out acids in the body that can contribute to aches, pains and stiffness.
We accumulate stress in the neck and shoulders everyday as we sit at our desks, or work on our computers. Stress in the neck and shoulders can cause tension headaches, and relieving the stiffness can help us to have a clearer mind.
Left shoulder stretch – Stand comfortably in a natural position and take in 2 to 3 deep breaths, and on the third exhale, slowly tilt your head to the left. Breathe in and on your exhale, return your head to neutral. Repeat this exercise 3 more times.
Right shoulder stretch – After you have finished with the left side, move on to the right side. Breathe in and as you exhale, tilt your head to the right, allowing for a stretch in the left shoulder. On an exhale return to the neutral position, and repeat the exercise 2 to 3 times for the right side.
Front neck stretch – After completing the left and right side, move on to the front of the neck. Take in a deep breath, and while exhaling tilt your head backwards, enough to feel a stretch in the front throat area. On an exhale, return to the neutral position, and repeat this exercise 2 to 3 more times.
Back neck stretch – After stretching the front of your neck, the last stretch is for the back of the neck. In the neutral position, take a deep breath, and as you exhale, slowly tilt your head forward. You will feel the stretch in the back of your neck and shoulders. On an exhale, slowly come back to neutral. Repeat this exercise 2 to 3 times.
Back stretches are great for alleviating pain in back, and allowing you to become more flexible in your back. Twisting and stretching the muscles in the back also relieve built up stress
Right and left twist – Starting with the right side twist, begin by laying on the floor on your back with your legs straight out, bring your left knee as close to your chest as possible while keeping your right leg straight on the floor. With your left leg still bent, twist the left leg to the right side, keeping your back flat on the floor. You can use your right hand to hold your left leg close to the floor, and stretch your left arm straight out beside you while looking to the left. Hold this position for 10 to 20 seconds, then release and go back to lying on the floor with both legs straight out. Repeat this for the left side.
Lower back stretch – lying on your back, bring both knees as close to your chest as possible, and hold there for 10 to 20 seconds breathing slowly, and deeply.
Spinal twists – Start off by sitting on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, pull your right knee to your chest, and with your right hand on the floor behind you, twist to the right while placing your left elbow to the outside of your right knee. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. This is a great spinal twist to relieve stress. Repeat on the left side.
Hip stretches are great if you sit in a car all day or at a desk all day. Our hips can become stiff, which will make the back stiff as well. Hip openers will help to alleviate back pain, and leg pain.
Pigeon pose – Pigeon pose is a great stretch for your hips. First sit on your knees, then take your right leg and bend it to an L-shape in front of you so that your right foot is pointing toward the left side of the room. Then take your left leg, and stretch it straight out behind you. Take a deep breath and as you breathe out, bend forward towards your right knee till your forehead is to the floor. You can stretch your arms straight out in front of you. Hold the stretch for 10 to 20 seconds, and the switch to the other side.
Butterfly knees bent stretch – In a seated position on the floor, bend your knees, and bring both of your feet toward your torso. Stretch your arms straight out in front of your body, and begin to bend forward, only bending to the point that is most comfortable for you. Relax here and breathe deeply, keeping the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
Butterfly legs straight stretch – In a seated position, stretch your legs straight out in front of you into a wide V shape, and while breathing out begin to slowly bend forward towards the ground. Stay in this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
Remember to stretch daily, and to breathe deeply while you are stretching. Breathing deeply will help you to go deeper into your stretch, allowing you to alleviate even more tension and stress in the body.