The last part of our Summer Shape-Up Series looks at Flexibility…
“Yoga increases flexibility, improves posture, boosts fitness and tones muscles. Through practice you can also learn to quieten the mind, reduce stress and increase your ability to focus. Learning the correct yoga relaxation techniques will flood the body with oxygen and as a result the muscles will release and the body will be able to fight fatigue. This is one of the foremost reasons why people want to start practicing yoga – to feel fitter, be more energetic, and be happier and peaceful.” Jenny Andrews-Smith – Yoga Instructor
Jenny’s at-home exercise for improving flexibility: The Forward Bend
“When done correctly the Forward Bend helps to strengthen the spine and increase flexibility and strength in your hamstrings and lower back muscles. They can be practiced in a seated or standing position; seated is more beneficial for working the hamstrings and standing for the back. Practice daily whenever you have a spare moment – at work, on waking up, in the bathroom – only a few minutes is required and soon you’ll feel that touching your toes isn’t an impossibility, and your lower back will feel more stable, strong and flexible.”
- Stand with your feet together. Exhale and bend forward from the hip joints, not from the waist. As you descend, the emphasis is on lengthening the front torso as you move more fully into the position.
- If possible, with your knees straight, bring your palms or finger tips to the floor slightly in front of or beside your feet, or bring your palms to the backs of your ankles. If this isn’t possible, cross your forearms and hold your elbows.
Tip for beginners: “If you are new to this yoga move, it is important to ensure that you bend from the hips and not from the waist. Remember to keep your abdominals engaged throughout. To make this exercise easier, you can slightly bend your knees to help release any restriction of movement of your lower back.”