Courtesy of Sarah StarrDana Meltzer Zepeda, SELF magazine
Between travel, work and school, it's no wonder so many women have recurring tension in their neck and shoulders. But you don't necessarily need to spend 75 minutes in a restorative yoga class to relax those taut muscles in your upper body. Instead, grab a few stretches at the office, on the plane or in your Psych 101 class with these chair yoga moves.
"Most all yoga poses can be modified with a chair," says yoga instructor Sarah Starr, whose Gentle Chair Yoga with Sarah Starr DVD includes mini yoga routines for all of your major muscle groups. "Yoga from a chair allows you to unravel the stress and tension in your body before it turns to cramped muscles, strain and fatigue. Rather than having to wait until you get to your yoga mat or a studio, you can do a few simple stretches in the moment."
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To get started, try incorporating these 3 moves into your regular routine whenever you start feeling sore.
Neck and Shoulder Stretch
Sitting tall, clasp your right hand beneath the right side of your chair. Reach your left hand to the earth at a diagonal. Relax the left ear to the left shoulder. Lean left until you feel a gentle stretch in the right side of your neck and top of your shoulder. Breathe and relax both shoulders away from the ears keeping your heart lifted. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
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Chest and Shoulder Stretch
Place both feet flat on the floor. Sitting towards the edge of your chair, clasp your hands around each side of the chair behind you. Straighten your arms and draw your shoulders down away from your ears. Pull the shoulder blades together and lift your heart. Keep your chin level or look up slightly. Keep your chest lifting and the back of your neck long. Optionally, you can extend your legs in front of you, on the ground. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Slowly bring the head back to neutral and release the stretch.
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Take your arms out to either side, shoulder height and parallel to the floor with your palms facing up. Bring your arms forward, crossing your right arm under the left and bringing your palms to touch or backs of your hands facing each other. Lift your elbows up and lengthen away from your chest while keeping the shoulders sliding down your back. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat with your left arm under the right.
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