Video: Downward dog
Well known for its overall body stretch and energising qualities this pose is included in most yoga classes. It deeply stretches the lower body including the hamstrings, calves and ankles, meanwhile it strengthens the arms, shoulders and legs.
Widely used as a transitional pose our down dog can be used alone to increase blood flow and energy. I offer my beginner students blocks underneath their palms to take pressure off their wrists and shoulders.
Spread your fingers wide, press firmly into hands, bring your body into the shape of an A, press the floor away from you, internally rotate armpits, lift through pelvis, soft heels, exhale chest towards thighs and let go of the neck in between your arms, engage legs and continue to let the sit bones lift. I personally always start to walk out my legs to compress my spine and lengthen my legs.
- Do not do this pose late term pregnancy.
- Shoulder injury: don’t do downward dog.
- Wrist injury: try dolphin pose instead
Last Reviewed: 08/08/2018
Stretching: an illustrated guide
Stretching exercises encourage lengthening of your muscles and their associated tendons, and oppose the shortening and tightening of muscles that can occur immediately after vigorous exercise, and as a product of ageing and inactivity.
Video: Child's pose (Balasana)
Child’s pose gently stretches the shoulders, lower back, hips, legs and ankles. It complements the beginning of a practice and throughout for its grounding abilities.
Strength training exercises
Challenging your muscles with strength training exercises 2 or 3 times each week can improve the strength and tone of your muscles.
Video: Wide-legged forward fold
After a day of being deskbound your most common areas of tightness are your hamstrings, lower back, shoulders and neck. Wide-legged forward fold is good pose for a 3 pm slump and to calm you when you're feeling anxious about your workload.
Muscle workout: chest
Having a strong chest helps to improve the strength in your back muscles and maintain a good posture. Your chest muscles are used for moving your arms across your body and up and down as well as pushing the body away from the arms, as you do when you do push-ups.