The time of the year when we get super active and we want to burn everything from the past months has come! .
Most of us are planning in advance to feel better for summer, I wont call it a summer body because we have the same body the whole year long, but we do start to exercise around this time of the year more often than usual, and that usually makes us feel good about ourselves.
Saying this so, we also tend to get injured more than usual. We expect to run 10 miles out of nowhere and feel the bliss and fire afterward with no side effect, you know, like those Nike commercials, the truth is,t without proper after workout stretches, our muscles and ligaments are going to feel the damage, we might not feel it the first couple of times, but theres going to be a moment when your body wont resist it anymore and you will end up injured.
That’s why I came up with this sequence to stretch and release the tension after any workout. It also applies for those who feel the soreness from a long day at work and need a good stretch before bed. Feel free to use this sequence whenever you feel the need to stretch and release.
- Forward fold variation / Uttanasana : with your hands interlacing behind your back, bend the knees and bring the tailbone back and up. Rest the torso over the thighs and slowly start to straighten your legs keeping the back straight. Your head is hanging and your hands are trying to reach forward. Hold for 5 breathes.
- Twisted forward fold: From uttanasana, bend one knee and straighten the other one, twist the torso towards the straight leg and bring the arm from the same side up. Arms are in T, the twist comes from the waist, and the chest and face are facing up, hold and change to the other side.
- High lunge with hands on the floor: Bring one feet in between your hands, your arms are strong like in the top of a push up, the other leg is straight back, the heel is pulling back and the muscles are engaged. The spine is long, belly in, looking forward. The front knee is bent at a 90 degrees and the knee is aligned with the foot. Hold for 5 and change to the other side.
- Low lunge / Anjaneyasana : From high lunge, drop the back knee to the floor, keeping the muscles contracted, lift the torso and interlace the fingers on top of the knee, shoulders away from the ears, chest is up, belly in. Let the hips hang a little bit without loosing control of it. Hold for 5, change to the other side
- Half Split / Ardha Hanumanasana: From low lunge, bring the hips back to the heel, straighten the opposite leg and leave the hands at the side of the front leg, you will feel a deep stretch on your straight hamstring, use blocks or books to take more space if necessary. Hold for 5, change to the other side.
- Big toe Pose / Padangusthasana: With feet hip width distance grab the two big toes with the first two fingers, bend the knees if necessary to keep a straight spine. Start to pull your head towards your feet , bend the elbows to the side and keep the shoulders away from the ears. Hold for 5
- Upside Down Pigeon: Lying on your back, bend one knee and leave the foot grounded, then place the opposite ankle on top of the knee, making a shape 4 with the legs, push the knee away from the torso to feel a deep hip stretch, you can grab the thigh behind and lift the leg, in order to create more tension and a deeper stretch in both legs.
- Twist with eagle legs: with the back laying on the floor, cross one leg over the other one, then bring the knee to the opposite side of the floor while the chest and face turn to the opposite side, this is a deep stretch, be careful if you have any back injury. Hold for 5 and change side.
- Seated Forward bend / Paschimottanasana : Seated with the legs straight in front of you bring the chest forward, grabbing the side of the feet or any part of the legs to find a deeper fold. You can bend the knees in order to keep the back straight. Once you find a good stretch you can rest the head on your legs, only if theres no hunch on the back!.
The ideal is to hold each pose for 5 breathes, feel how each inhale will give you space to lengthen , and each exhale will allow you to go deeper.
I hope you find this helpful, I learned the hard way to stretch after practice and now it has become the most important part of it, enjoy!