If you've been following my story along , I started my career in Pilates and wellness not too long ago – with lots of fear and hesitation. I'm now a certified Pilates instructor based in SF and still continuing my Pilates education to keep learning and growing in my career.
With this blog, my aim is to be able to share the benefits of this amazing mindful movement with all my friends and readers far and close. :)
Here's a 5 minute, no equipment stretching routine that I believe everyone can benefit from. Try to do all or some of these every day to get rid of back pain, relieve achy legs, and gain overall flexibility.
Cat & Cow
For a deeper stretch, bring the arms a little more in front of the shoulders (similar to cobra pose from yoga). Reach your chest up to the sky and relax your upper back. From there, move on to your cat pose by rounding your spine as you bring the bum back towards the heels. Then, roll the spine back out in to a nice long line.
This flows really well with cat & cow. Just spread your fingers wide and press away from the floor. Gently lift the hips all the way up to the sky. Maybe paddle the feet here, shift the weight from heels to toes. Just do whatever feels good. Feel a yummy stretch in your shoulders, back and legs. Don't forget to take deep breaths. :)
This is super basic but really feels great after sitting all day. Start with your head down first. Lift one leg up pointing the toes to the ceiling, and lower the leg back down as you flex the toes towards your face. Do 6-8 of those simple leg lifts up and down and hold the last one up, reach your hands to the shin. Just take couple of deep breaths here. Repeat on the other side.
If you have to choose one stretching exercise, choose this one. It's one of my all time favorites because it's the opposite of sitting down and everyone can benefit from it. Focus on peeling your spine off the mat sequentially from tail to top. Go slowly and try to feel each little bone on your spine to work find spinal mobility. Really open the front of the hips and reach the knees forward. Inhale at the top of the bridge, and exhale start melting down sequentially from top to bottom. Be sure to keep your tummy tight and ribs knitted together.
Easy Side Stretch
Inhale lift your arm up to the ceiling and exhale as you start stretching as far as you can over to your right side your. Keep the reaching arm alongside your ear, and allow the other arm to bend on the mat. Be sure to lift up through your torso and resist the urge to sink to your side.
Who doesn't love a good child's pose? I know I do! To end your stretching routine, just spread the knees out wide. Send the hips back on your heels and enjoy this yummy stretch. I also like to stay here and set my intentions for the day. Just a couple simple sentences like "I will try to stay calm, joyful, and mindful today no matter what happens..." It's just a perfect time to connect into your soul and find some peace before the busy day starts. I really hope this was helpful and that you're inspired to do some stretching today. Let me know if you do and I'll be the happiest person!
Lots of love,
All photos are taken by my lovely friend Julia O Test in San Francisco, CA.