Jul 09, 2014 Getting a little limber Fitness Side stretch, hamstring + inner thigh. Start sitting upright, tuck one foot in and float your hand over to opposite foot. Engage your core and keep the straight leg strong with a flexed foot. Goal: side chest to rest on leg. Hamstring + lower back. Flex feet to get the most out of this stretch and keep legs straight and flat. Think about lengthening top and bottom halves of your body. Goal: chest to knees. Backward thigh stretch. I could lay here forever. Start sitting and bend legs backward next to thighs. Slowly make your way down to the ground and place arms over head. Great for people who do a lot of heavy work with their thighs. If laying down is too extreme start by just sitting. Goal: knees to touch and spine flat on floor. Butterfly baby. Stretches inner thighs, groin, hips + lower back. Nice and simple but easy to get wrong. Sit upright, place feet together and press legs down as far as they’ll go. Goal: knees to ground. Thighs, hamstrings + chest. This one hurts sometimes but opens the legs out nicely. Plant one foot down with sole facing up and stretch out back leg. Think about sitting upright and if you can start to bend back slowly. Keep shoulders relaxed. Goal: to look back completely while pelvic floor remains planted. Standing side stretch. Start standing tall, interlock fingers and like a rainbow make your way over to one side. Repeat both sides and remember to engage core. Goal: As far as you can manage. Back bend. BEST WAKEUP CALL! This may be challenging if you haven’t stretched much so you can start by kneeling and bending back on to your heels. To get into full bridge lay on your back with feet flat on floor. Place hands palm down next to your head and press down on hands and feet making your way up. Push your pelvis upright and continue to stretch your body imagining a rainbow shape. Remember to breathe! Goal: get onto toes and straighten legs! Split. Best thigh and hamstring stretch. You can start by kneeling and placing one foot out in front to stretch the hamstring. When you’re ready start to lower into split, maintaining good posture. You can do this between 2 chairs for support. Goal: fold chest down to thigh. Tree pose. Although it’s technically not a stretch I always finish with a balance pose. Maintain a strong standing leg and stand tall. Focus your gaze on an object ahead. Swap sides and sweet dreams. I believe one of the most simple yet powerful practices in the world of feeling good is stretching. I aim to attend at least one scheduled yoga class a week and on other days I stretch before bed or after strenuous training sessions. I can’t express enough how amazing the benefits of stretching are, not just physically but mentally and emotionally. I attended my first yoga class 8 years ago when I lived in Singapore. It was hard, I hated it but I stuck with it for a few weeks and haven’t stopped since. You don’t have to be a crazy yogi to reap the amazingness of stretching either. A simple session with focus on lengthening and limbering paired with a good breathing technique can have you feeling much better. Stretching improves my sleep, focus, cravings, anxiety and allows my body complete stillness. If I miss a day I certainly notice. Stretching tips: 1. Start with a simple set of 5-10 stretches that you can do comfortably and work on your technique. Just like driving a car, the smoother the gear changes the better the drive. 2. Always think about lengthening in a stretch. How can you achieve more length from a position? (Vertically, horizontally) 3. Use your breathe to deepen the stretch. On the inhale fill your chest with air, stretch up and on the exhale release down into the stretch position, letting go of any tension. 4. Every stretch should be done with good posture. Think of a piece of string pulling from the top of your head and a piece of wood running down your back. Lengthen your neck, shoulders down, tummy in, straight legs. This is also what you should aim to do while standing throughout the day. 5. Always leave stretching as your last activity before bed. Make a strict rule not to pick up any technology after you’ve treated yourself to a stretch. I find it reverses the benefits and only re-stimulates the nervous system.