As a yoga teacher, I get a lot of requests for stretching exercises that can be done at home. For men – especially if you’re inflexible – going to a yoga studio can seem like a daunting experience. And not everyone can afford to hire a private instructor.
There’s YouTube, of course. And these videos can be helpful especially if you are a beginner. As I always tell my students, stretching for five to 10 minutes a day can mean a world of difference if you’re just starting out.
The goal of having a healthy stretch routine is not to become bendy like a contortionist, but to become functionally flexible. That means to be able to move freely as you go about your day without pain or discomfort. Imagine that!
A couple of weeks ago, we sent out a story about exercises you can do at home, if you’re not quite ready to return to the gym, or if your city is still under lockdown. So here are some stretches you can incorporate into your workouts, or if you’re just lolling about watching videos on YouTube or TikTok (like me!)
This pose is great for stretching the inner thighs as well as to relax the back if you allow your body to fold forward towards your feet. If your knees don’t reach the ground, don’t worry – that’s how it is for most people. Try to get comfortable and relax into the stretch. Breathe for 10 counts and recover.
Upward Dog Pose
This is a beautiful way to stretch the chest and core, while going into a gentle backbend. In this pose, try to relax the shoulders down as you push up from the mat. If you’re not able to straighten the elbows and lift up completely, keep your elbows bent and knees on the mat as you lift the chest for an easier version.
Seated Forward Bend
This is a stretch that targets the hamstrings, or the group of muscles in the back of your thighs. If you’re very inflexible you may not be able to sit upright, much less bend forwards. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what your upper body looks like as long as you’re feeling the stretch behind your thighs. If this is still too difficult, try stretching on just one side first and repeat on the other side. Hold for 10 counts and repeat.
This is a great pose to relieve some pressure from the lower back, while stretching the chest and glutes, depending on where you feel more tightness. To deepen the stretch, you can bring your knees closer to the chest in your twist, or twist with the bottom leg straightened to the front. Hold for 10 counts and switch sides, repeating as often as you like.
Known as a resting pose, Child’s Pose can be a great way to stretch out the back as well as the shoulders as you fold over and reach your arms forward. For some people, this pose can be uncomfortable especially if you have tight ankles or calves. If so, place a pillow or something soft under your feet or knees to reduce the pressure of your weight in this pose.
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