10 Stretches In 10 Minutes
Is taking care of your child and managing work and home making you feel overwhelmed and well, stretched thin? Try these one-minute relaxing moves to de-stress, become fitter and more energised!
By Varsha Venkatesh
As a busy mom, you're probably on your toes all day, every day. Taking care of everyone and everything can, after a point, leave you feeling stressed, rundown and tired all the time. Often, this can lead to other physical symptoms too — soreness in the joints, tight hamstrings, stiff hips and so on. It may leave you with back and joint pain and in a lot of discomfort.
What you really need to do is loosen up. But don't worry if you feel you lack the energy or the time to exercise. We have compiled 10 one-minute stretches to improve your health and well-being.
So, do make the effort to try out these stretches. These will do away with those niggling aches and pains. Picking up your child will no longer be a struggle, nor will it be difficult to bend down to tie a shoe lace. Trust us, you will soon feel the positive effects — you'll happier, healthier and more energised!
Palms up-palms up
Sit cross-legged, with hands extended to the sides, parallel to the floor. Draw the belly in and maintain a straight length in the spine. Inhale and exhale as you relax the shoulder blades by rotating the arms.
Start with palms facing up and alternate twisting from the shoulders between palms up to palms up, synchronising with the breath.
How it helps: This helps release stiffness in the neck and shoulders. Along with each breath, you will find that you feel less tense.
Seated side bend (Side body stretch)
Sit in a cross-legged position and place the left palm on the floor with elbow slightly bent. Reach your right arm up to the sky over your head and lean your body to the left. Keep the hips grounded as you lean your torso. Hold the pose for 30 seconds and switch sides.
How it helps: This soothing posture stretches the neck, shoulders, back and abdomen muscles.
Butterfly (Seated hip-opener)
In a seated position, bend your knees, pull your heels as close as comfortable toward your pelvis. Drop your knees out to the sides and press the soles of your feet together. Make sure your back is straight and your head pointing toward the sky as you inhale. Exhale and bend forward, keeping your spine straight.
How it helps: This pose is beneficial for the health of the reproductive system. It also improves blood circulation and stimulates the abdominal organs.
Head to knee pose (Seated hamstring stretch)
Sit with your right leg extended in front and the left leg bent at the knee. Place the left foot against the opposite inner thigh and bring the heel as close to the pubic bone. Place the left knee away from the right leg so that the thighs form an angle greater than 90 degrees.
Bend forward over the extended right leg without bending at the knees. Hold the foot with your hands. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.
How it helps: This pose improves flexibility and strengthens the shoulders, spine and hamstrings. It is effective for easing period pain too.
Lie on your stomach, take your hands backwards and hold your ankles. Breathing in, lift your chest off the ground and pull your legs upward. Look straight ahead with a smile on your face. Your body is now curved and taut as a bow. Bend only as far as your body permits you to.
How it helps: This pose adds great flexibility to the spine. It strengthens the back and abdominal muscles. It helps you open up the chest, neck and shoulders.
Plough pose (Backstretch and fold)
Lie flat on your back. Bend the knees and lift your legs upwards. Slowly and carefully bring your bent knees to the forehead and place the hands under the hips. Slowly, as you exhale, straighten and stretch out your knees to attain the proper posture. Keep your torso perpendicular to the floor.
To feel the complete benefits of the pose, move your legs as far from the head as possible. At this stage, you will achieve a chin lock.
How it helps: It stimulates the thyroid, parathyroid (tiny glands in the neck), throat, lungs and abdominal organs. It helps relieve gas and back pain. It also promotes good digestion.
Runner’s lunge (Hip flexor stretch)
Stand with feet apart and keep your hands by your sides. Step forward with one leg and bend your knee (90°). Lower your feet till the back knee is close to the floor and front knee is directly above the ankle. Tilt your pelvis forward and breathe deeply. Hold the position for 30 seconds, repeat with the other leg.
How it helps: Runner's lunge is a deep stretch for the hips, hip flexors (a group of muscles which help lift the knee towards body) and legs.
Standing quadriceps stretch (Front thigh muscle)
Stand straight with feet wide apart, pull your abdomen in and relax your shoulders. Bend the left leg, bringing your heel toward the back and at the same time, grasp your left foot with your right hand. Feel a mild pull gradually spread through the front of your left leg. Switch legs and repeat.
How it helps: This pose helps lengthen and relieve tightness in the thighs and hips.
Reclined spinal twist (Lying torso twist)
Lie on your back. Extend your left leg on the floor, keeping your right knee drawn to your chest. Extend your right arm out along the floor at shoulder-height with your palm facing down.
Place your left hand on the outside of your right knee. As you exhale, drop your right knee over the left side of your body keeping the gaze towards right fingertips and the shoulder blades pressing firmly into the ground. Hold the pose for 10-25 breaths and switch sides.
How it helps: Releases tension in the spine. Massages the abdominal organs and tones the muscles of your back.
Figure 4 Glute stretch
Lie on your back with the knees bent. To begin with, cross your right ankle over your left thigh. Your legs should look like the number 4. Interlock your hands behind your left thigh and gently begin to draw your legs closer to your body. Try to keep your spine straight and shoulders relaxed. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
How it helps: Opens up the hip and back muscles. It is good for lower back pain and relieves tension.
As a busy mom, of course, you have lots to do and little or no time to do it all! But self-care is essential too — all you need is 10 minutes! Not only will these relaxing moves and asanas help you feel rejuvenated, but doing them will also erase the negative effects caused by stress and a sedentary lifestyle.
All stretches demonstrated by the writer, a trained yoga practitioner.
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