Yoga for the Traveller. (or the Desk Surfer).
Many of us spend copious amounts of time in either a car, airplane or other form of commuting nightmare. Sometimes, we are sitting and not even going anywhere (#deskjob) Usually, there is minimal stretching or activation done to combat the strain we put our bodies through. In this post, I am sharing a few of my favorite moves to get the body (and the mind) feeling just a little bit better.
Using either a large bath towel or a thigh blanket, roll into a long, thin pillow. Place on the ground and lay back so that the roll fits just at the lower tips (inferior angles) of the scapula. The blanket will extend out under each armpit. There should be a gentle lift in the chest. If there is strain in the neck, place a small towel or pillow under the head.
Laying on the back, draw on knee into the chest.. Flex and point the foot, rotate the ankle and spread through the toes. As the hip flexor warms up, start to draw the knee to the outside of the ribcage, allowing the stretch deeper into the hip flexor. From here, draw the knee across the body to the opposite side of the body, coming into a twist. Take the arms to a T or to cactus arms. Stay here for 1-2 minutes. Repeat on the other side.
Laying on the back bend the left leg so that the sole of the foot is rooted to the ground and the knee is pointing to the ceiling.
Lift the right leg, point and flex the foot and then cross the ankle over the left knee. Keep the foot on the right leg flexed, drawing the toes to the shin.
Stay here for several breaths. To go deeper, draw the left knee toward the chest and thread the hands behind the hamstring. Keep the lowerback long on the floor, continue to draw the knee deeper into the chest.
Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
Laying on back, keep the right leg straight on the floor and draw the left leg toward the ceiling. Loop the towel around the ball of the left foot and take hold of either side of the towel with each hand. Flex through the left foot and start to draw the left leg to the chest. Keep the shoulders and the head relaxed on the floor. Stay for 1-2 minutes.
Taking both ends of the towel into the left hand, place the right hand on the quad of the right leg. This is a reminder to keep the right hip rooted down on the floor. Start to take the left leg to the left. Stay here 30 seconds. Bend the left leg and bring it back to the ceiling.
Take both ends of the towel into the right hand. Take the left leg over to the right. Try to keep the left hip grounded (although it will come off the ground slightly). Stay here 30 seconds, then rebend the leg and bring it back to center.
Laying on the back, bend both knees with the soles of the feet rooted and hip width distance apart. Place the palms down on either side of the hips and press into the mat. On the inhale lift the hips toward the ceiling, trying to peel each vertebrae of the ground, one at a time. Imagine that you are holding an orange between the chin and the chest so that you elongate the back of the neck. Repeat 10-15x.
This pose engages and strengthens the hamstrings and quads while lengthening the hip flexors.
Coming onto all fours, stack the wrists under the shoulders and knees under the hips. Bring the spine into a neutral position, one line through the top of the head through the tailbone.
On the inhale, drop the belly, lift the tailbone and reach the heart through the shoulders. If it feels good in the neck, lift the gaze.
On the exhale, push into the palms, drop the head toward the chest and pull the belly button to the spine, arching the back like a Halloween Cat.
Repeat 10-15 breaths.
Come back to a neutral spine. Begin to move laterally, drawing the left shoulder to the left hip and reaching through the right rib cage.
Switch sides with the breath and repeat 10-15 times.
Coming into table top, root through the right knee and both palms. Flex the left foot and make a 90 degree angle with the foot, ankle, and knee. Begin to press the sole of the foot up to the ceiling, engaging in the connection between the glute and the hamstring.
Continue for 10-15x and then repeat on other side.
From table top, root into the left hand. On the inhale, draw the right arm up to the ceiling. On the exhale, thread the right arm underneath the body to the left. Repeat this 3x. After the third time, come down onto the right shoulder into the twist. There are 4 different arms placements that you can try here, depending on where you feel tightness.
1. Place the top palm (left) on top of the right. Use the pressure of the left palm to gently traction (pull) the right palm away from the body.
2. Extend the left hand long past the top of the head and feel the stretch diagonally from the hip to the fingertips.
3. Come onto the fingertips of the left hand with the left elbow bent and pointing to the ceiling. Push into the hand and use that pressure to rotate the chest deeper.
4. Take the left hand and reach back from the right hip. Try this only if the shoulder girdle does not feel pain.
Hold in this rotation for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat on opposite side.
In a low lunge, draw the right foot between the hands. If available, place the hands on blocks to allow for more room in the chest.
Inhale, lower the hips toward the floor and lengthen through the left hip flexor. Expand out through the chest and if the neck feels good, lift the gaze.
On the exhale, push the hands into the blocks/floor and arch through the upper back. Engage the hamstring by energetically drawing the left heel toward the glutes.
Come back to a neutral spine, root the left hand down and draw the right hand to the ceiling, twisting over the right bent knee.
Repeat on other side.
How did those feel?
The key is to follow the breath and take inventory of what is happening in the body. Move in a way that serves you and what your body needs. Any favorites? Let me know!