The latest craze in the world, especially in the female population, has been yoga. And there is a good reason why! Yoga gets your body moving, it helps you escape from your stressful daily life, it moves your body when you have been sitting at a desk all week, for 40 hours or more. It helps you get a break from studying for school. It helps you get the blood pumping, release energy, actually even build muscle slowly over time. Stretching has so many benefits, whether you are suffering from insomnia, stress, feeling bloated or tired, having the usual back pain from sitting too long, or to prevent/heal injuries. Stretching has so many amazing benefits, you would have to be a fool not to get into it!
Yoga, stretching, whatever you want to call it
You don’t even have to necessarily do ‘yoga’. You don’t have to know those crazy poses and moves. I can barely pronounce them myself, so you don’t need to know them either. I just want you to understand even bending down and touching your toes (forward fold) and breathing deeply for a couple of minutes to escape and gain some sanity back during a hectic work day. By doing this daily, you will eventually be able to completely fold over, touching your nose to your knees with your legs straight, reaching your hands behind your feet. And you will feel alive and awesome.
Start small-it’ll make a difference
If you are already working out, you can probably handle more advanced things, but still, be careful. Don’t go jumping into a full on split too quick and rip a hammy (pulling a hamstring hurts- I am still recovering from an injury 6 years ago in my show-off cheerleading days. This injury is what got me into yoga and stretching daily). Start with downward dog, deep lunging, warrior poses, table pose, and simple things. I started with simply typing in ‘Yoga for Beginners’ and following some yoga people on Instagram (yogagirl, beachyogagirl, and ellefit are some of my personal faves). Don’t EVER think to do good at yoga you have to be able to hold a handstand for 8 hours and do fancy stuff like that. Just trying it, even if the most advanced you get is wheel pose (a back bend or bridge to normal people), you are doing the best you can and that’s amazing.
‘But I already work out’
Yeah, so do I. And I get a good workout even at work. But guess what? Yoga and stretching should be done even more by people who work out a lot. The more flexible your muscles are, the more work you can do, the more movement you can do and the less likely you are to pull something or become injured. Stretching after working out also prevents some soreness, and injuries. Even if you are a strong Hulk, you can benefit tremendously from stretching.
Prevents joint pain, arthritis, back pain, spinal problems, lowering heart attack risk,help reduce depression/anxiety/stress
With all of these benefits, why wouldn’t you want to pick up the habit of stretching, even if it’s only for 5-10 minutes a day? Working out does wonders. If you stretch in the morning, you can get some energy to make it through the day ahead and feel lighter on your feet. If you stretch after eating a big meal, you can help prevent stomach aches and bloating. If you stretch before bed you can help your body go into relax mode and drift right off to sleep.
You don’t need a class, you don’t even technically need to go out and buy a yoga mat
Yeah, they’re cute and all. But do you actually need a yoga mat? No. If you have carpet or rugs, you are totally fine. The yoga mats are more useful for hard wood/tile floors or stretching outside. Save money and just use your carpet in the bedroom as your stretching area.
Build up to the advanced moves
I was a gymnast and cheerleader for a long time. Now I coach. I could handle jumping right into head/forearm/hand stands with no problem. I can also do back bends all day. You may never have done a sport in your life. And that is totally fine. Start with trying to do head stands against the wall if you feel comfortable, but please read up on proper form, possibly ask an instructor to guide you some one on one (try to find a cheap beginner class at the local rec center or YMCA and ask to get extra help after class) or at least make sure you have another person to help spot you and hold your legs if needed to ensure you put your weight on your hands (or elbows depending on your position you choose to execute the head stand) and not on your neck or any other bad area. The easiest way to get into a headstand is to lace your fingers together in front of you, place your hands on the floor and place the top of your skull into your palms. Straighten your legs with your toes pointed and still on the ground. Try and test putting your weight on your elbows that are bent and on the ground (your forearms are on the ground as well as you are still clasping your head). Now jump your legs into a tuck position (knees bent, feet off of the ground). Make sure you are sucking in your belly, keeping your spine and neck straight, supporting your balance in your forearm and elbows. Now straighten your legs with your toes to the sky. Squeeze your booty and stay tight. If you are using the wall a lot for support in the beginning, that’s okay. Stay in this position as long as you can to try and get the feel for it as well as trying to gain the muscles needed to be able to hold this without the wall one day. Eventually, you can start trying to get your legs off of the wall slowly to find your balance and hold the position without support for as long as you can. Then you will be able to try it away from the wall completely.
Here are some basic stretching moves you can try anywhere and at any level!
Happy Stretching 🙂