Welcome to part one of a 3-part blog series on stretching. Stretching is something I am very passionate about and make part of my daily routine; first thing in the morning to get the blood flowing, gently wake up the muscles and mind. Throughout the day when I am feeling stiff and sore, and in the evening before bed when I want to improve my quality of sleep, calm the mind and relieve muscle tension.
Stretching is simple and can be very fast, effective and the bonus is you can stretch anywhere! Here at PPF we offer regular stretch classes throughout the week that I can only describe as absolutely delicious and divine for the body and mind. If you haven’t been to one yet you definitely need to put this on your class list for the week. A stretch class can be done on its own or after your regular class, it will help you relax and unwind. Another favourite of mine is our Yin yoga classes where we hold each pose for 3-5 minutes which allows for a good stretch and for the muscles to lengthen and release.
In today’s blog I am going to share with you my five favourite stretches to do before bed to unwind, destress and relieve any muscle tension from a busy day. This routine only takes five minutes, paired with some relaxation music, a few big deep breaths and technological devices placed away to help bring a sense of calm and prepare the body for a good night's sleep, enjoy!
*If you are pregnant, please be advised from 20 weeks it is not recommended to lay flat on your back for too long. If you ask one of our wonderful PPF instructors, they can give you variations for any of the supine stretches
1. Pigeon pose
A great stretch to increase hip mobility as it targets the hip flexors and the psoas muscle and helps calm the mind. Pro tip: If your head is unable to comfortably rest on the ground or forearms you can place some pillows or blocks under the forehead. A wonderful alternative to Pigeon stretch is a figure 4 stretch laying down on your back.
2. Childs pose
This pose can be used as a resting pose at anytime throughout your workouts or day as it helps calm the mind whilst stretching the hips, thighs, lower back, knees and ankles. Pro tip: it may feel more comfortable to take your knees wider in this pose. If you feel any discomfort, you could place a bolster or pillow down to support your forehead if it doesn’t comfortably reach the floor. Hold this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes.
3. Single knee and double knee in towards the chest
Start by laying long on your back and hugging one knee in towards your chest. You could hold the pose like this or circle the thigh or ankle around a few times in each direction. Once you have done each side take both knees in towards your chest and give them a big hug. You could stay still or gently rock side to side to gently massage out the lower back.
4. Supine twist
Laying down with your legs out long hug one knee in towards your chest, send that knee over to the other side of the body whilst trying to keep your shoulders grounded, arms out wide and looking over the other shoulder. Pro tip: you could place pillows, bolster or foam rollers under the bent leg to provide more support and comfort in the pose. Hold for 6-10 breaths and complete on the other side.
5. Reclining butterfly stretch
I always like to save this one for last and close my eyes or place an eye pillow over my eyes staying here for 6-10 breaths (if not longer!) Pro tip: if you have any pain in your knees or groin use pillows or blocks under the thighs or knees to help with comfort and support.
Enjoy these stretches and I hope they serve you well!