MOVE YOUR BODY
Exercising regularly is one of the most important ways to reduce stress and to stay vital.
Ideally you should aim to strike a balance between aerobic exercise (cardio); core and strength training; stretching; and restorative yoga, which helps to relieve mental and physical fatigue and soothes the sympathetic nervous system.
A few Be Well favorite exercises, below, will help you to stretch and strengthen your core.
Try them at home — your body will thank you for it!
Builds core strength, improves balance and increases shoulder and hip mobility.
All of our upright moving life is driven by coordination of the body through the hips, spine, and shoulders. This exercise helps develop important oppositional patterning abilities that affect the brain and body on a deep level. Coordinating a shoulder and the opposite hip is only possible with the help of a balanced core.
- Start in an “all fours” position on your hands and knees, with your hands as wide as your shoulders, and your knees and ankles as wide as your hips.
- Turn your fingers forward and press through the base of the fingers to relieve pressure from the wrist.
- Round your spine a few times, letting it sag, to warm the core muscles, then find a position somewhere in the middle—neutral.
- Draw in your abdominals to maintain this position. Lengthen your left leg behind you but keep weight on the left hand. Feel the core working to maintain this position. This is already challenging, but if you’re feeling playful, stretch the right arm forward, lifting it from the middle of your back.
- Keep your navel moving toward the spine, away from your shirt, to support the balance.
- Inhale and exhale five times before switching sides.
- Perform 3-5 sets, then rest.
Opens up the front of your body, strengthens your core, releases the psoas muscle which gets tight from sitting - it’s the perfect antidote for a day at the desk or computer.
- Start on your back on a comfortable but firm surface.
- As in the picture, your knees are bent and just a few inches apart.
- Place a thick book (a crossword dictionary works well), yoga block, or a kid’s rubber ball between your knees.
- Turn your toes in until they feel slightly pigeon-toed.
- Position your arms at shoulder height on the floor, bending the elbows to ninety degrees. Your arms will look like a cactus or goal posts. If your shoulders aren’t happy with the backs of the hands on the floor, lift them off so just the elbows are down.
- Gently press your elbows into the floor to widen your collarbones and expand and feel your shoulder blades pinch toward the spine.
- Draw in the abdominals.
- Now engage the back of your legs to lift your hips off the floor. Feel the entire back of your body working, with the support of the belly.
- Keep front ribcage "closed" so that your ribs are not popping out and lifting away from the spine or moving out of line with hips and shoulders.
- Lift hips only high enough to take your weight by your shoulder blades ; avoid placing weight on neck or head.
- Continue holding the block or book with the knees. Pay attention to how strengthening the back of the body opens the front of the body. Stay for five breaths, then lower and rest.
- Repeat this 5 times.
Perform three sets a day and you’ll soon be standing tall.
Releases glute muscles that are locked from too much sitting, Increases blood flow to hip musculature and reduces glute-induced back strain. Releasing the gluteals ( butt muscles), will relax the back and return energy to your hips so you can fight gravity, climb mountains, leap tall buildings, or just stand up straight.
- Start on your back on the floor with bent knees.
- Cross your right ankle over your left knee.
- Place a tennis ball in the middle of your glute.
- Avoid the low back and the bone in the center of the pelvis – aim for the spot where a bodybuilder would have a dimple.
- Slowly roll your weight onto the tennis ball. Pause before returning to center.
- Do this five times before pausing to hold your weight on the ball.
- Keep your ankle crossed as you move your right knee away from you and toward you 10 times.
- Remove the tennis ball, uncross your leg, and feel the difference between the right and left sides of your hips and lower back.
- Repeat on the left side.
Avoid doing this exercise if you experience sharp pain or if you are in the acute stage of sciatica. Keep your range of motion small if you have had a hip replacement.
This exercise, when paired with the Ultimate Hip & Back Release, relieves sore hips and a tight lower back. Excellent for lower back pain, tight hips, piriformis syndrome and sciatica. We all suffer from too much sitting or “chair body” – this release exercise fights back, easing tension in the hips and lower back.
- Sit toward the front of a chair so that the edge of the chair just hits the intersection of your butt muscles and hamstrings.
- Cross your right ankle over the left knee so that the ankle bone rests on the soft flesh just above the knee.
- Flex the right foot.
- Lengthen your spine, making the sides of your body longer and then lean slightly forward with this extended spine.
- Avoid rounding the spine – keep the back flat and lean forward from the hips
- Breathe deeply. Hold for 1-2 minutes, moving the torso closer to the legs as the hip opens.
- Switch sides.
Gently nudges the lower back to open up, broaden and release, while simultaneously releasing the hips and groins and softening the belly. It is easy to do and a great way to prepare for sleep and there really isn’t a better pose for someone with back pain.
- If you don’t have a chair with a hole in the back, like the one in the photograph, use a regular chair turned sidewise
- Support the head with a blanket or folded towel, which should make your face tilt downwards slightly. This should not strain your neck, but serve to emphasize and support the natural curve and shape of your cervical spine.
- Extend the back of your neck, bringing your chin slightly down and letting your throat be soft. The face, eyes and shoulders are also soft and easy.
- Notice the angle of the thighs. Adjust your legs so that you have the sensation of your legs being fully supported and “falling” away from you onto the chair. This will give the groin and lower back (lumbar spine) a great sense of relaxation.
- Rest and breathe in this position for at least 10 minutes.