5 Minutes to Less Stress

By Stepfanie Romine, for SparkPeople

Are you feeling tense? Do you suffer from back pain or stiffness? Whether you're an experienced yogi or a fitness newbie, whether you can touch your toes or are very inflexible, this 5-minute yoga-inspired stretching routine can help you unwind anytime of day or night.

You don't need any equipment, and, as long as you have a floor you can kneel on, you don't even need a yoga mat. Since it's just five minutes, you can even do this in your regular clothes.

Child's pose: Starting in a kneeling position.

Keep your knees together but separate the feet and allow your bottom to rest on the floor. Roll your calves away from your thighs (use your hands) to help you get comfortable.

For a deeper stretch:
Sit back on your heels, shins together, tops of the feet pressing onto the mat. (Place a rolled-up towel between your heels and hips to ease this stretch.)

From here, start to lower to the floor. Your belly will rest on or between your thighs, and your forehead will reach towards the mat. (Place a towel or a yoga block under your forehead if it won't reach the floor.

Stretch the arms alongside the body, with the fingertips facing the toes, to stretch between the shoulder blades.

TIP: Roll your forehead back and forth across the mat with your arms along your sides to help alleviate sinus congestion.
Child's Pose (Long Arms) From child's pose, stretch the arms out in front of you, palms down, to feel a stretch up the length of the back. Keep the forehead on the mat, and keep the back of the neck relaxed.


Child's Pose (Arms to Side) Keep the arms outstretched, palms down on the mat. Take the hands out to the far left side of the mat, feeling the stretch up the right side of the body. (It's OK if the hips lift.)

Breathe here for 30 seconds, then walk your hand to the far right to get a stretch up the left side of the body. Stay for 30 seconds.

Keep the forehead on the mat, and keep the back of the neck relaxed.

Thread the Needle Pose Return to Child's Pose (Long Arms). Come onto your hands and knees. Bring your wrists directly under your shoulders and knees under the hips.

From here, slide the right arm under the left arm, palm up. Let your right ear and cheek rest on the mat, and gaze toward your left. Feel the right shoulder draw closer to the floor. Keep your hips up and your elbow lifting. Let the lower back relax and feel the twist in your spine, in addition to a release in your shoulders, arms, and neck.

Stay here for 30 seconds, then slide the right arm back to center and switch sides. Stay for 30 seconds on the other side.

Puppy Pose (variation) Return to Child's Pose (Long Arms). Lift the hips and come onto the fingertips. Allow the middle of the back to round, and keep very little weight in the fingertips. Let the head hang heavy (you can shake it back and forth a few times), and keep the weight in your shins. Stay here, breathing deeply, for one minute.

TIP: Avoid squeezing the shoulder blades together in this pose. Tuck the chin to the chest to avoid doing so. This pose will help loosen the spine and hydrate the discs.

Optional: Return to either Child's Pose or Child's Pose (Long Arms) for one minute.
Which of these poses if your favorite?


Related links:
How Do You Cope with the Stress in Your Life?
6 Tips for Finding Peace and Staying Balanced
7 Ways to Relax on the Job (without Getting Fired)


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