Sunday, January 11, 2015

4 Stretches to Undo Sitting All Day

Ever since I quit my nursing job and started working from home, I went from standing for 8+ hours at a time to virtually sitting... all day long. I noticed that my flexibility went from high to none-fast! Also, my lower back started hurting which was strange because never ever did I have back pain in my entire life!

It wasn't until I began a yoga class that I learned that tight glutes and tight hips can lead to back pain by pulling those muscles out of alignment. Tight hips and glutes can also lead to a tummy pooch by forcing your lower back to arch itself.
Sounds lovely, right?

These 4 stretches have helped me tremendously and I would recommend them for anyone who has a desk job or who happens to sit for long periods of time. I do these 4 moves every morning and every night. At first, it was a bit painful, but now my flexibility has improved and my back pain has virtually disappeared.
Here are 4 stretches to undo sitting all day:

1. Lizard Pose
  1. From Downward Facing Dog Pose, step your right foot forwards between your hands. Heel-toe your foot towards the edge of your mat, so that your foot is slightly wider than your shoulders.
  2. Let your hips grow heavy, so that they settle forwards and down. Begin to walk your hands forwards until you are able to come down on to your forearms. You may place your forearms on the ground, or on a block.
  3. Extend your heart forward, lengthening the spine. Try to soften the heart and draw the shoulder blades together, taking the rounding out of your back.
  4. Keep your right knee hugging towards your midline to get into the inner hip and thigh area of your right leg. You can keep your left knee lifted with your leg active, or for a more restorative version, you can lower your left knee.
2. Happy Baby Pose
  1. Lie on your back. With an exhale, bend your knees into your belly.
  2. Inhale, grip the outsides of your feet with your hands (if you have difficulty holding the feet directly with your hands, hold onto a belt looped over each sole.)
  3. Open your knees slightly wider than your torso, then bring them up toward your armpits.
  4. Position each ankle directly over the knee, so your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Flex through the heels. Gently push your feet up into your hands (or the belts) as you pull your hands down to create a resistance.
3. Pigeon Pose
  1. Begin in Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), or on your hands and knees in Table Pose.
  2. Bring your right knee between your hands, placing your right ankle near your left wrist. Extend your left leg behind you so your kneecap and the top of your foot rest on the floor.
  3. Press through your fingertips as you lift your torso away from your thigh. Lengthen the front of your body. Release your tailbone back toward your heels. Work on squaring your hips and the front side of your torso to the front of your mat.
  4. Draw down through your front-leg shin and balance your weight evenly between your right and left hips. Flex your front foot. Press down through the tops of all five toes of the back foot.
  5. Gaze downward softly.
  6. Hold for up to one minute. To release the pose, tuck your back toes, lift your back knee off the mat, and then press yourself back into Downward-Facing Dog. Repeat for the same amount of time on the other side.
4. Plow Pose
  1. Begin by lying flat on your back with your legs extended and your arms at your sides, palms down.
  2. On an inhalation, use your abdominal muscles to lift your legs and hips up toward the ceiling. Bring your torso perpendicular to the floor. Straighten your legs and slowly lower your toes to the floor with your legs fully extended.
    • If your toes do not yet touch the floor, support your back with your hands. Lower your legs as far as possible, keeping your legs straight. Continue to keep your back supported if your feet do not touch the floor.
  3. If your feet rest comfortably, extend your arms along the floor and interlace your fingers. Press your upper arms firmly into the floor, drawing down through the pinkie finger side of your hands.
  4. Align your hips over your shoulders. Un-tuck your toes and press the tops of your feet into the floor.
  5. Lift your tailbone higher, and draw your inner groin deep into your pelvis. Keep a space between your chin and chest, and at the same time, lift your chest to open the upper back. Soften your throat. Gaze down toward your cheeks.
  6. Hold the pose for up to five minutes.
  7. To release, support your back with your hands. Then, slowly roll down, one vertebra at a time, bending your knees if you need to.

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