Calm your energy, recharge and feel more present with these simple stretches.
1. Connect with the breath
This helps: improve your lateral breathing, which allows your mind focus breathing in a different way, and change your normal patterns to help you become present.
Laying on your back, bend your knees keeping feet hip distance apart.
Place arms down beside your hips, pressing them to mat, close your eyes to allow yourself to relax while connecting to breath.
As you inhale, feel the backs of the ribs meting into the floor and expanding to the sides. As you exhale, feel the rib-cage close in. Take 10-15 deep breaths.
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2. Engage your pelvic floor
This helps: to isolate your lower abs and pelvic floor, prompting your mind to connect with your deeper muscles.
Laying on your back, breathe in and as you exhale gently tilt your pelvis upwards without squeezing your butt. Repeat for 10 pelvic tilts.
3. Knees side to side
This helps: the spine become more mobile and helps release tension in your back.
Keeping your lower back in its natural or ‘neutral’ curve (do not squash it to the floor), draw in your abdominals and lift your legs, one at a time, to a ninety degree angle.
Place arms firmly to the floor out to your side. Keep shoulders pressed into your mat the whole time.
Keeping knees together, draw in your belly button towards your spine, and take your knees right to left. Exhale as they move to the side, inhale as they move back to centre. Your shoulder blades must stay on the floor.
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4. Bug legs
This helps: your brain to coordinate right and left bringing you into the present.
Keep legs at ninety degree (table top) angle off ground, raise arms straight up above shoulders.
Draw in abdominals, exhale moving your right arm behind you about halfway to the floor, left leg forward straightening the knee about halfway to the floor. Ensure your ribs do not pop up off floor. Inhale holds position, exhale return to start and repeat other side.
Repeat 10 times on each side.
5. Single knee stretch
This helps: to boost circulation and breathing to get energy moving through your whole body.
Deep breath in, exhale drawing in abs, pull right knee towards chest, holding right hand on knee, left hand on shin. Stretch left leg out halfway to floor.
Lift your shoulder blades up off the floor, keeping abs strong. Inhale switch to the other side, exhale switch back.
Repeat 10 times each side.
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This helps: with centring the mind and improving your presence.
Move to four-point kneeling: hands under shoulders, knees below hips.
Draw in abdominals. Keeping hips level, reach out your opposite arm and leg keeping the while body steady and strong. Repeat slowly 5 times each side. This helps your balance and deep core strength improve which helps you become more aware of your body.
This helps: your body restore and rest the heart by being in a slight inversion, which is great for the nervous system and grounding your energy.
Moving knees a couple of inches back from under the hips, lift hips straight up pushing knees back so you are in a triangle shape.
Your heels can be raised, press your sit bones upwards and flatten your back, allowing your neck to relax.
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8. Cat stretch
This helps: your spine to get some nice movement in different directions and with the flow of breath will help decrease stress and calmly move energy through your body.
In four-point kneeling (hands under shoulders, knees under hips), breathe in lifting head and tailbone, opening chest, exhale round your back the opposite way tucking chin and tailbone under.
Repeat 10 times.
9. Rest position
This helps: to allow your energy to move inwards. It is comforting and restorative for the whole body and mind.
Kneeling, bring feet together, knees slightly apart.
Slowly walk your hands out in front of your on the floor, lowering your tummy onto thighs, sitting tailbone back into your heels. Reach through your finger tips and lengthen your spine allowing forehead to relax onto mat.
Stay here for 10 to 15 deep, slow breaths.
Come up slowly after being in rest position and ease yourself up keeping that calm energy and strength with you for the rest of the day.
For more tips and workouts from Pilates and wellness expert Vanessa Bartlett, head to www.vanessabhealth.com.
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fitness | body+soul