Technique: Five Stretches You Need to Add to Your Routine
Is it time to change up your stretching routine? Are you looking for new stretches to add to your arsenal? These 5 stretches are great for increasing mobility and warming up your muscles before any class.
Exercise 1: The Half-Split Stretch
If you have never done this stretch, it is seriously going to be your new best friend! It stretches your hamstrings, glutes, achilles, metatarsals, and even your back. Because this can be an intense stretch, make sure your body is warm before beginning. Begin in a kneeling position, extend one of the legs forward so that the heel of that foot is resting on the ground. Check to make sure that your hips are facing forward and that your hip and knee are stacked on the supporting leg. Curl your toes under on the supporting leg to get a stretch through the arch. Slowly, hinge at the hips into a flat back position over the leg and hold. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and continue to take deep breaths. Then repeat on the other side.
Pro-tip: Want a deeper stretch? Place one hand on the ground and reach the other to the sky creating a lumbar twist.
Exercise 2: Puppy Pose
Looking to increase back flexibility? Puppy pose is a deep stretch for the back but will help you greatly when it comes to arabesque. Begin by warming up the back by kneeling on all fours and alternating between contracting the back and extending the back as to warm up the vertebrae. From this position, slowly reach your arms forward while your hips and knees remain stacked. Lower your chest to the earth and take deep breaths. If at anytime any stretch hurts, stop immediately. Once you have held this pose for about 15 seconds release into child’s pose to counter-stretch.
Exercise 3: Happy Baby
Have you ever taken a yoga class? If so, this stretch may be familiar. Happy baby is a very relaxing stretch, but also it is very effective too. It helps to open up the hips and stretch the lower back too. Begin laying on your back and tuck your knees into your chest. Grabbing one foot at a time open your knees to the sides of the body while the legs remained bent. Make sure that the knees are close to the body and facing towards the ears. Hold this stretch and breath.
Exercise 4: Top of the Foot Stretch
Begin in seated kneel. Placing your hands behind you so that your fingertips face forward, shift your weight slightly back. Keeping your feet pointed, left one knee at a time to stretch out the top of the foot. Make sure your ankle is staying in line with the foot. Alternate between the left and right holding for 5 seconds on each side.
Exercise 5: Shoulder Release
Has your teacher ever told you to relax your shoulders? If so, this is the stretch for you. It helps to open the chest while releasing the shoulders downward. Stand facing the wall and extend one arm out to the side and place it on the wall. Slowly, turn away from the arm by moving the feet and then hold. Make sure you are not locking your elbow, but do keep the arm straight.
Pro-tip: Stretch out your hand or make a jazz hand to experience a stretch into your fingertips.