Part three of the three part Stress Release Series
In part one we looked at breathing deeply as a way to release stress. In part two we looked at the magical playground ball to relieve the tension in the muscles. Today we look at stretching the body finding a nice exhale for stress relief.
One of my favorite parts of Yoga is melting into a deep stretch, now that’s not necessarily what Yoga is all about, but it’s one my favorite perks. There are many stretches that we’ll see in a Yoga class and there are many we won’t find there.
Stretching gets the blood flowing, it improves circulation and relieves muscular tension. Use the stretch as an opportunity for deeper breathing and breathe into your stretch. You’ll find that not only is it relieving muscular tension it’s also releasing mental, emotional, psychological stress as well. Often after we stretch we feel better and have more energy.
How long should you stretch
It’s often recommended to keep active in your stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds. I prefer a minute or longer, how ever long you linger in your stretch just be sure to keep it at least for 30 seconds. Since you’ve made the effort to stretch might as well gain the benefit of increasing your flexibility while you remain in that stretch a bit longer.
Stretches I recommend
It often surprises me when I hear someone say, “I know I should stretch but I don’t know how.” Today, we’ll look at 10 great stretches that help to relieve stress. Be kind to yourself it’s okay if you aren’t as flexible as you’d like to be. Do what you can and you will still reap the rewards.
This side stretch is great to start with and to finish with. Be sure to stretch both your left and right side.
With this chest stretch, you simply clasp your hands behind you and lift your arms as high as you can.
Begin to fold forward as you lift your arms as high as they will go. You may prefer to have your knees bent or you can keep them straight and feel a stretch in the hamstrings as well. It will depend on what feels best to you.
Release your arms and cross one foot over the other. Feel the release in your lower back as you hang down. After about 30 seconds or more be sure you change feet.
Now we get to use the ground. If your body is challenged and it doesn’t like to get back up off of the ground, feel free to use your bed. I know some people have a harder time getting to the ground and back up again. This stretch is often referred to as the Cat Stretch, it’s wonderful for the low back.
This is known as Child’s Pose. It’s another wonderful low back stretch. Kneel on the floor with knees about hip-width apart. Sit on your heels. Lay your torso on your thighs. Your arms can either be straight in front of you or by your sides.
This spinal twist has quite a few variations. You will find the ones you like best. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Slowly let your knees fall to the left as your head looks to the right and your right arm extends out to the side. One variation is straightening the bottom leg while keeping the top bent. Another variation is having the bottom leg bent while the top leg stretches. Be sure to twist in the opposite direction as well.
This one is called Thread the Needle. you are on your back with your knees bent. Cross your left ankle over your right thigh, making sure that your ankle is past your thigh. In the photos I see the foot is stretched, ideally you will flex the foot in this stretch/pose. Pull your right knee in toward your chest, thread your left arm through the triangle between your legs and clasp your hands around the back of your right leg. After you hold the stretch for 3o seconds to a minute change legs and work the other side.
This is the seated twist. Sit cross-legged, right palm placed on the floor. Grab your right knee with your left hand and pull it toward your chest. Look over your right shoulder. After you hold this stretch be sure to do the other side.
With Plank pose you will really feel your core, your arms and your body wake up, when you hold this for one minute. It’s invigorating. Do keep your shoulders above your wrists and keep your stomach lifted so you don’t let your back sway. It feels like your at the top of a push up and you can just stay there for a while, although you might only get to 30 seconds in the beginning.
This concludes the three part series for simple stress release. Hope you find yourself releasing stress daily. Please share your favorite ways to release stress.