Flex it with Yoga!
(Author : Dr. Swapnil Rane)

To start with any workout or Yoga routine stretching and warm up is very essential. Your body needs to prepare for the workout by flexing and stretching the muscles and increasing the circulation of blood so as to keep up with demand of energy during the workout. Without a proper pre-workout warm up and post workout stretching you increase the chances of landing up with muscle soreness, injuries, cramps, difficulty in active movements during exercise, etc.
Here are a few stretching patterns for you to start your workout routine.

Standing stretching exercises –
1. Wrist rotations – rotate your wrist without moving your forearms. Do it with one wrist at a time and then other, both clock wise and anti clock wise directions.
2. Single arm shoulder rotations – start with rotating your arm in circular movements, forward and backward. Repeat it with the other side as well.
3. Neck rotations – rotate your neck in circular pattern clockwise and anticlockwise. To take it more further, try touching your chin to each side of armpits and then shoulder. Also try to raise your chin as high and as low as you can. Repeat each one of these 3 to  times.
4. Side stretching – take distance in between both of your legs. Now raise your arms upwards and breathe in. Bend your body towards either side while touching the respective side of arm to your leg and opposite arm extended upwards touching it to your ear. Repeat it to the other side as well.
5. Forward bending – maintaining distance between both the legs raise your hands upwards and breathe in. Now breathe out and slowly bend forward as much as you can. Return to your initial position while breathing in.
6. Backward bending – with the same stance as explained in forward bending, place your arms on the back of your thigh. Now bend backwards as much as you can, keep breathing in while bending backward. Return to your initial position while breathing out.
7. Calf pull – Stand with feet together. Take a step back and keep heel on the floor with knee straight. Bend your front knee and feel the pull of your calf muscle.
8. Chest expansion – bring your arms backwards and together crossing fingers of one hand with another. Try to lift them as high as you can to stretch your chest and shoulder muscles. To take it even further you can try the same with forward bend.

Seating stretching exercises –
1. Hamstring pull – sit with legs extended straight and forward. Now try to touch your toes while breathing out. This will flex not only your hamstrings (back of the thigh) but also your back muscles. Hold for a while and revert to your initial position. (If this is not possible at the moment, then you can go for the sleeping position explained further as knee to chest pose)
2. Inner thighs flex – bend knees and bring soles together near to your body. Keep your feet together and try to push your knees towards the floor.
3. Child’s pose – from the kneeling position, sit back on heels and bring arms forward placing your palms on the floor, keeping elbows off the floor. With head between elbows, rest forehead on floor.

Lying down poses –
1. Pelvic twist – lying down on your back, bend your knees and bring your feet towards your body. Now turn your knees along with your pelvis towards either side. Turn your face to the opposite side. Repeat to the other side as well.
2. Full body stretch – lying down on your back push your arms upwards and legs downwards. Keeping pushing it outwards until you feel the stretch.
3. Knee to chest – in the lying down position bend either of your knee and bring it towards your chest. Use your palms to press your knee against your body, thus giving it a support and good amount of pressure. Repeat it with other side and then do it with both the knees together.
4. Cobra’s pose – lie down flat on your stomach and place your palms along your body just in front of your shoulders. Now lift your upper body with the help of your arms. Try to straighten your elbows and press your lower back downwards.

Although utmost efforts are been taken to design the stretching poses intending to make it the best suitable for every body type, it might not meet the need of a very few individuals. But in case you feel any pain or excess stiffness do not hesitate to contact us or to your Yoga trainer. Also avoid any movement that causes such kind of pain. Try to understand your limits and gradually go ahead with your Yoga practice to increase your flexibility.

Stay tuned with us for the next article on beginner’s Yoga postures.