Stop, Drop, and Yoga
Yoga has become increasingly popular over the last few years with a 50% increase of Americans doing yoga between 2012 and 2016 with approximately one in three American having tried yoga at least once, men practicing yoga has doubled (4 million in 2012 to 10 million in 2016), and 75% of yoga practitioners also take part in other exercises. View all the interesting statistics on Thegoodbody.com collected from studies completed by Yoga Alliance, Harvard, and more.
There is a good chance, that if you’re reading this blog post, you practice or have tried yoga and also participate in other physical activities! You may also believe that yoga requires a pass to a yoga studio, an expensive mat, and bare feet but in reality, the benefits of yoga –such as increased flexibility, improved mental and physical health, and stress relief– can be accessed and applied throughout or between your daily routine.
We challenge you to Stop, Drop, and Yoga! Can’t think of a yoga pose off the top of your head? Try these five yoga poses, for a warm up or a break and reset from whatever you are doing.
1. Chair Pose: Start standing with big toes touching and heels separated. Inhale to raise your arms overhead, as you exhale lower the heads of your femurs to your heels, allowing the knees to bend and keeping your knees tracking over your feet. Maintain a neutral position in your spine and back and allow your torso to lean slightly forward over the thighs. Hold for several breaths. When you’re ready to release, us the activation of your feet, hamstrings, and torso to lift you back to standing.
Variation: As you lower into Chair Pose try lifting your heels and coming up onto the balls of your feet for a balance challenge. Hold for several breaths.
2. Standing Wide Angle Forward Fold: Step your feet 3 to 4 feet apart with your toes pointing straight ahead. Place your hands on your hips. Feel a lift up through your whole torso, with control fold forward over your legs pivoting at your hips. Keep hands on hips or grab opposite elbows behind your back and relax your head and neck. If the floor is within reach, allow your hands to come to the floor. Hold for several breaths. Return your hands to your hips and engage through feet, legs, and torso to lift yourself back up to standing.
3. Pyramid Pose: Start standing with your feet hip-width apart (in yoga this is called Mountain Pose) and step your right foot in front of you 3-4 ft. Place your hands on your hips and draw your torso and left hip towards your right side to square the front of your pelvis. Ground through the heel of the left foot. With your exhalation lean your torso forward over the right leg until you are parallel with the floor. Hands can stay on hips, arms can grasp forearms, or the hands can reach for the floor. Press thighs back and lengthen the torso forward. Hold for several breaths. Come up with an inhalation and repeat on your left side.
Variation: If available, bring the torso closer to the top of the thigh from the waist and not by means of rounding in your spine.
4: Quad Stretch: This is a classic and common stretch. Start standing. Bring your weight into your left leg and bend you right knee. Grab your right foot using your right hand or use a towel, strap, or band to hold the foot. You can use your left hand on a wall or chair to assist with balance. Gently pull your foot towards your butt. Be mindful that you feel the sensation in front of your thigh and not in your knee, modify as needed to find a deep quad muscle opening. Hold for several breaths and then switch to the other side.
Variation: You can experience a similar quad opener on the ground in a crescent lunge or low lunge option.
5: Malasana or Low Squat: Start standing with your toes turned out. Take a breath in and with your exhale lower your heels to the floor to come into a squat. If the heels want to lift, place something underneath to support them. The thighs will go slightly wider than your body, and your torso will lean forward so your elbows can press against your inner thighs, while the knees resist the elbows. Hold for several breaths and then release and straighten to standing.
Variation: If squatting is difficult try sitting on the front edge of a chair with your feet planted wide and your torso in a right angle with your thighs. Gently lean your torso forward between your thighs using your exhalation. Arms can rest on the knees or lower between the thighs to rest on the floor.
Remember in all physical practices to listen to your body and modify, change, or stop movement when necessary or if you experience any pain. You may also need to adapt your movement to your specific location, physical needs, and restrictive attire like jeans or shoes. Otherwise, don’t let your current environment or the busyness of life stop you from doing yoga, even if it is a couple mins here and there –those minutes can add up!
–Chris and Roxy, @wildacroduo