A little post-pool stretch can work wonders for the body and mind. Find five super-simple yoga poses to give a little love to those hard-working muscles and joints of the shoulders, neck, chest, spine and hips.
Cat-cow flexions and extensions
The simple but sweet cat-cow flow is a dream for the spine and the mind, stretching the muscles of the torso and neck.
- Come to all fours, placing wrists beneath shoulders and knees beneath hips
- Spread the fingers, pushing firmly into the hands and bring the shins parallel, pressing lightly into the tops of the feet
- Inhale, tilt the tailbone up towards the sky, drop the belly down and draw the shoulders back to create a lovely arch in the spine – take the gaze up
- Exhale, tilt the tailbone under, suck the naval towards the spine and tuck the chin towards the chest, rounding the back like a Halloween cat
- Repeat this cycle for at least five cycles of breath, moving slowly
The big daddy of yoga poses, downward-facing dog is a fabulous all-rounder, providing a deep stretch from head to heels.
- Starting from all fours, tuck the toes under and take a deep breath in
- On your exhale, lift the knees away from the floor and begin to slowly push the ribs towards your thighs – the arms and spine should be straight, the knees bent deeply and the heels lifted
- Take another deep breath in here and on your next exhale, slowly begin to straighten the legs, dropping the heels towards the floor while lifting the sitting bones up towards the sky
- Stay in this position for at least five cycles of breath, pressing the fingerprints firmly into the floor, pushing the floor away and lifting the hips – you should aim to create a nice long line from crown to tailbone and not to get the heels to the floor
Keeping the cow theme running with one of yoga’s oldest poses, cow-face arms provides a sweet release in the shoulders, armpits, triceps. Find two variations below: the first is a good all-rounder, the second if you have a decent range of motion through your shoulders
- Come to a comfortable seat, sit up nice and tall and draw the naval towards the spine – if your hips or groin are particularly tight, sit up on a blanket or block
- Inhale and raise the right arm about the head
- Exhale, bend the arm at the elbow and drop the fingers between the shoulder blades
- On your next inhale, raise your left arm and bring the fingers to the right elbow
- Exhale and gentle draw the right elbow back and down
- Keep the tummy firm in this position by drawing the lower ribs in and sitting up tall
- Repeat on the other side
- For the full posture, repeat steps 1 to 3 then…
- On your next inhale, rotate the left arm and nestle it behind the back, palm facing outwards – the fingertips of each hand should be touching
- If you can, clasp the right hand in the left and keep drawing the elbow back and down
- Stay in this position for three to five cycles of breath and repeat on the other side
Known as a ‘heart-opener’ in yogic circles, this gentle backbend targets the muscles of the chest, shoulders and stomach.
- Come to lie on your front, forehead to the floor, heels in line with hips
- Interlace your fingers behind your lower back
- Inhale and, pressing firmly into the tops of your feet and pubic bone, draw your knuckles down towards your heels to gently lift your forehead and chest up off the floor (you’ll be resting on your lower ribs and belly)
- Keep your neck long by tucking the chin slightly
- Stay in this position for three to five cycles of breath
- Exhale and lower back down
- Repeat once or twice more
Bound angle pose
Stretch the inner thighs and groin with this super-gentle hip-opener.
- Come to a comfortable seat, sit up nice and tall and draw the naval towards the spine – if your hips or groin are particularly right, sit up on a blanket or block
- Bring the soles of the feet together and let the knees fall apart
- Draw the heels as close to the pelvis as is comfortable – don’t force it!
- Place the hands under the feet and interlace the fingers – if this isn’t possible, take hold of your ankles in each hand
- Stay in this position, breathing slowly and deeply for at least 10 cycles of breath… longer if you can
Please note: This article is only intended as a guide and we would always recommend that you visit your GP, physiotherapist, yoga instructor or movement assessor to receive targeted advice and exercises.