The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives. Many of our normal activities have been disrupted. Some of us are unemployed or furloughed. Restaurants, malls and gyms have closed. We may be working from home, sitting at our desk at the computer or on the phone for long hours. Or maybe we are sitting on the couch watching TV hour after hour.
There are activities that can be done while at home and sheltering in place that are healthy for you. Regular exercise, eating a nutritious diet, and getting enough sleep are a few of them. Stretching is another activity that can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle.
Stretching keeps muscles flexible. It is a vital link between a sedentary and active life, as it helps prepare the body for movement. Stretching should be done before and after a workout. It can also be done anytime of day, and should feel good, not stressful.
Since each of us are unique individuals, stretching should be tailored to our individual body type and musculature. The focus is to reduce muscular tension and to promote freer movement.
Some yoga poses are a great way to start stretching. Here are some poses to begin your yoga journey. The instructions to these yoga poses came from Prevention Magazine, www.prevention.com.
How to do it: Start in the tabletop position with your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath you hips. Your spine and head will begin in a neutral position. Inhale. Exhale and enter cat: Round your spine to the ceiling and gently release your head toward the floor. Inhale and enter cow: Lift your chest, head and butt to the ceiling and be careful not to over strain the neck. Instead of holding each pose for 5 to 10 breaths, oscillate between these two positions 5 to 10 times going at your own pace.
Modifications: If you are experiencing wrist pain, you can do these positions from your forearms. For achy knees, a folded pillow can add some cushion. And if your neck is bothering you, keep your neck in a neutral position throughout the movements.
How to do it: Start in a tabletop position. Touch your big toes together. Then sit back on your heels and put your torso on your thighs. Place your arms straight in front of you with your palms facing the floor.
Modifications: If it’s painful for you to sit over your heels, fold a blanket or towel and place it in between the back of your thighs and calves.
Seated Forward Bend:
How to do it: Sit on your mat with your legs straight in front of you. Keep your hands on the ground by your hips as you actively press your heels forward and descend your thighs into the floor. Take a deep inhale. As you exhale, lean forward from the hip joints. If you can, you can grab your big toes or the outside of your feet. Never force your body to go too far. Just observe where your body is at today.
Modifications: For added support in this pose, place a folded blanket under your butt. If your hamstrings are tight, loop a strap around your feet instead of trying to reach for them. If you are really tight, roll up a blanket and place them under your knees.