Even though I'm not a yoga instructor, yoga is a great way to stretch several muscles at one time while strengthening your core. Here are a few of my favorite poses that we use in rehab every day.
The first is the child’s pose. You want to start in a kneeling position and sit down onto your feet. Bow down to the ground and stretch your arms as far forward as you can. This is a great stretch for your mid back and shoulders. You can hold it for 30 seconds up to a minute.
The next pose is the downward dog. You can start from all fours on your hands and feet, in a quadruped position. Lift your knees off the ground, and try to keep your heels down with your feet flat. Push your buttocks back away from your arms while trying to keep your legs straight. This is a great hamstring, calf, and back stretch. This is more stressful so you might want to only start with 10 – 15 seconds and work your way up.
Now you can transition into the upward dog. Bring your buttocks forward and down to the ground. Roll onto the top of your feet, dorsum area, and keep your arms straight with your head up looking forward. You can start with your thighs on the ground, but eventually you want to push them off the ground. This will stretch your hip flexor muscles, your anterior tibialis muscles, wrist flexor muscles, and your core muscles.
The last two poses you will do standing. Not only will these stretch your muscles, but they will also challenge your balance. You will now move into the chair pose. Bend your knees into a squat position, and make sure you stick your butt back so your knees do not go in front of your toes. Have your feet about shoulder width apart, and slowly raise your arms to an upward angle. Hold this pose for about 30 seconds to a minute. This strengthens your hamstrings, quads, gluts, and shoulder muscles.
Finally, you can end with the popular tree pose. This will stretch your inner thigh muscles (adductors) and challenge your balance. Take your foot and slide it slowly up the inner part of your opposite leg as high as you can go while keeping your balance. Then slowly raise your arms above your head and put your palms together. Hold this as long as you can up to a minute.
Make sure you control your breathing with all of these poses. You want to take deep slow breaths through your nose. Namaste!
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