Warming up for a stretching routine
Shoulder, arm and neck stretch
- Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, swing both arms as you twist your body first to the right (turn your head to look behind) and then to the left. Let the arms flow naturally as they swing. Your left heel will naturally be raised as you turn right. And vice versa. Do this 4 times on each side.
- Stretch out your arms to the side (scarecrow stance) with feet slightly apart. Your right palm faces the ceiling and the left palm faces the floor. Alternate the hand movement simultaneously. You will feel your shoulders activated and moving like a cockscrew (10 reps).
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Take both arms overhead. Bend your left arm to clasp the right elbow. Your right hand is behind your head as you touch the area just below your neck. Bend your body to the left and stretch (hold 10 secs). You may lift the left heel and balance on the ball of the left foot if you are bending to the left and vice versa. Change. Bend your right hand to clasp the left elbow and stretch to the right (hold 10 secs).
Back and chest stretch (cat–cow)
- Go on all fours. Maintain your back in neutral position (flat back). Knees are hip-width apart. Breathe in and as you exhale, gently round your back with your face down. Hold 8 counts. Next, breathe in and as you exhale, arch your back and look in front of you. Hold 8 counts. Do 4 cat–cow stretches.
- Still on all fours, stretch your left hand out in front of you. Your right arm stays bent near your body. Press your left armpit as close to the mat as possible as you lower your chest. Adjust your right elbow to comfortably rest on the mat. Your bottom may stick out as you lean back. Feel the stretch in your arms, back and legs. Hold for 8 secs and then switch sides.
Hip and leg stretches (hip flexors, hamstrings, quads and calves)
- Sit on the mat with your knees bent and legs spread hip-width apart or wider. Now bend both legs to one side to touch the mat with your knees if you can. Hold for 2 secs. Your body would have to turn along with the move. This activates the hip flexors. Proceed to do the same with the other side. Do 8 reps.
- Lie on your back on the mat and bend your legs (about 90 degrees) with knees touching. Keeping the bent left leg steady, open out and move your bent right leg with the knee aiming to touch the floor on your right followed by the left leg joining your right. Go back up to the 90-degree position with the left leg first and then the right. You can use your arms for support. Next, keeping the right knee steady, do the same with the left knee aiming to touch the floor, followed by the right knee joining the left. Go back up.
- a. When you are comfortable with the above, you can try the following: Bend the right knee gently to touch the right floor. Straighten and stretch your left leg to swing over gently to the right to rest on the right floor. Use your right hand to hold onto your left ankle or calf. Your left hand remains outstretched. Turn your head and look to the fingers on your left hand. Repeat for the left. This twisting motion will massage your organs and is an anti-aging move.
- Hamstring stretch: Lie on your back on the floor. Bend both legs. Keep the left foot flat on the floor. Extend the right leg straight and perpendicular to the body. Hold the back of your right thigh with both hands. Slowly pull your thigh towards you. Hold for 8 secs. Then point and flex your foot 4 times.
- Continue into a glute stretch by making a figure of 4. Do this by gently bending the right leg and crossing your lower right leg over so that your ankle is resting on the left quadriceps (upper thigh area above the knee). Extend your right arm through the gap (made by your legs) to catch your left arm at the back of your left thigh. You should feel a wonderful stretch in your hamstrings and glutes. Repeat with the other side.
5 Quadriceps stretch
Overhead shoulder presses
Ankle and shoulder shrugs
Cool down exercises
- Sit with your legs crossed. Tilt your head to the right. Use your right hand to pull your head for a good stretch at the neck. Hold 8 counts. Do it for the left.
- Place your hands in prayer position and push up the chin. Cup your head in your hands and look down for a neck stretch.
- Stand shoulder-width apart. Bend your left elbow to support your right arm stretch. Cross your straightened lower right arm to the left and rest it against your bent lower left arm. Hold for 6 secs. Do the same for the other side.
- Stand in staggered stance. Lean forward as you rest your straightened right leg on your right heel with ball of foot lifted off floor. Stretch your right hamstring. (4 counts). Come back to standing position. Hold onto the wall with your left palm for support and bend your right knee slowly, grabbing the top of your right foot with your right hand if you can (4 counts). Feel the stretch in your right quads. Repeat with the left.
- Take 3 deep breaths with arms outstretched and raised over the head and then lowered.