There are a few moves that, after working with women’s bodies for a number of years now, I truly believe we all need to master.
No matter your age, we need to incorporate moves that allow our posture to be upright, movement to be easy and fluid and our internal strength and balance to be optimal. Without these key yoga based stretches, that literally only take a few minutes a day, we’d find our everyday ability to walk, run up or down stairs and simply stand upright to be compromised – severely.
If you’d like to skip the reading and head straight to the video below feel free. I’ve explained each move with the assistance of my daughter Jess and then we show you how to do the moves safely so that you can follow along. So what are these moves and why do I love them so much?
Relaxing but still a decent stretch. Childs pose allows you to stretch thighs, hips, lower back. While calming, it reduces fatigue and stress but it can also be very strong and active. It just depends on how much ‘push’ you want to create with the arms forward on the mat. Come down to childs pose after a huge day at the office and see how it relieves pain in back and neck.
One of my absolute favourites. There’s strength required as you hold your body up but still just as relaxing when you’re comfortable with it. I look at it as the harmoniser, recharger, realignment type pose. You’ll certainly feel the strength building in arms, shoulders and wrists, so be careful if there’s any wrist pain because they take pretty much the whole body’s weight. Try downward dog for a short time daily until you feel your wrists and arms coping with holding the weight. Downward dog helps to stretch the belly and builds lung capacity and not to mention balance. It’s another great stress reliever as you hold your head below your shoulders. Great with mild depression.
Hip flexor and Hamstring stretches (These are 2 separate moves but work the same core area)
The purpose of stretching your hip flexors and hamstrings is to help the hip joint move properly in their full range. These moves help you to draw your leg up and down therefore making walking up and down stairs fluid. We need to move from side to side, frontwards and backwards without pain or worry of not feeling we can do these everyday moves with ease. These big central muscles are our stabilisers. When they’re tight, or short, we suffer from poor posture and back problems. So stretching them and strengthening them is crucial to every day movement.
How many of us at some stage of our life have experienced pulled hamstrings? And how many of us have tight hamstrings? Find out just how tight. Have a go right now at sitting on the floor with your legs straight. How far can your arms reach? Hamstring flexibility and strength are important for everyday walking, running, taking that flight of stairs and bending down to pick up something.
Can’t tell you how much your body will change if you learn to enjoy a plank. And plank every day. I love how my body feels now that I’ve mastered the plank and feel I can hold it for at least a minute. It works shoulders, back, core, abs, glutes and ankles. It’s an all over strengthener and shaper. I think to plank is far more effective even than doing crunches. Crunches seem to concentrate only on the abs while a plank works front, back and everywhere else. High plank, knee assisted or even elbow plank is great. No matter your age and right up to your later years, you need to be planking.
Twists are amazing for waist definition, elimination, digestion. Twists work like an internal massage and stretch out the lower back and shoulders. It’s a major stretch for glutes and hips as well.
All of these moves work toward having a great posture. For women as we age we need to know we have that internal strength.
So check out the video below and follow along. Pop a yoga mat on the floor rather than straight onto carpet or tiles. A yoga mat keeps the feet and hands from slipping. Want to try some of my classes? Head along to this page hover your mouse over the word Yoga right at the top menu and see what might suit you. I have a few different styles of class. Would you like to try my chair yoga ebook? It comes complete with coloured photos AND a video to follow along all from your chair.
Here’s another video you might enjoy. Last week at our ‘Roll Back Your Body’s Odometer 8 week program’ we were talking about strength poses and of course the plank featured. We demonstrated about 4 different styles of plank from super easy to one like the one above – the side plank. We had a few laughs, hope you enjoy.