A regular stretching practice has been shown to have many physical and emotional benefits. Aside from the obvious benefits of increasing flexibility, stretching helps with mental and physical relaxation, prevents muscle soreness, and helps the body produce chemicals that lubricate connective tissues and joints, which helps prevent injury. Read on for some suggestions of how to incorporate stretching into your daily routine!
1. Before You Begin
There are some things you should know before you begin a stretching practice. First and foremost, stretching should not be painful! You don’t want to push too far and cause yourself an injury. It is very important to make sure your flexibility goals are realistic. Check out this article from Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health for more things to know before you start your stretching or yoga practice.
2. Stretching in the Morning to Wake Up and Release Tension
A good stretch in the morning is a great way to wake up the body and get blood flowing. It is always good to reconnect with your body after several hours of little movement, and it can help with stiffness. Try this short sequence of 5 stretches from Self Magazine to start your day off right.
3. Releasing Stress at Work
For people who work at a desk, long periods of sitting and stressful workloads are a recipe for disaster. One of the best things you can do is get up and move around once per hour. Try incorporating some of these stretches into your workday to help prevent some of the negative effects of prolonged sitting.
4. Winding Down in the Evening
At the end of a long day, it is important to find ways to wind down and relax in order to get a good night’s sleep. Many people store tension in their neck, shoulders, and lower back. This set of 5 stretches is perfect for targeting that lingering stress in the evening so you can settle in and get cozy.
5. Yin Yoga on the Weekend
When you can, it’s a good idea to take a bit more time to really tune into yourself and relax. One thing you can try is a yin yoga session on the weekend. Yin yoga is a slow, deliberate practice in which the stretches are held for several minutes. You can use props and blankets to support you in the poses, and just bliss out and enjoy the stretch. Try this sequence for relaxation any time you have 20 or 30 minutes to focus on yourself.
Stretching is a great way to focus inward, connect with your body, and release the tension of everyday stresses. Try adopting just one of these routines and see how it improves your quality of life!