Yoga combines many popular stress-reducing techniques, including exercise and learning to control the breath, clear the mind, and relax the body. As yoga becomes increasingly popular, more and more people are discovering the benefits this ancient practice brings to their stressful lives.
Simultaneously increase oxygen uptake and spark happiness by moving your body in the opposite direction, opening your chest and shoulders, and releasing the intercostal muscles between your ribs to expand your heart space and alleviate tightness and stress.
Take 10 to 15 minutes to perform this self-care routine one time through first thing in the morning or in the afternoon for an energy boost. Do the moves in order and transition from one to the other smoothly, relaxing and focusing on your breathing. Perform another round of the supine spinal twist on both sides at the very end and you’ll be ready to face the world.
Unblock Your Heart:
- Set up two yoga blocks about 6 inches apart and parallel to one another.
- Turn one to a medium height and the other to the tallest height.
- Sit in front of the medium block, then recline back slowly on top of both blocks, adjusting them so the medium-height one sits directly under your shoulder blades and the taller one is right underneath your skull supporting your head.
- Hold here and take 15 slow breaths.
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The Chest Expander:
- Lie on your right side with your knees bent and legs stacked, extend your right arm along the floor and rest your head on top of it.
- Extend your left arm over your shoulder, bend your elbow and place the back of your hand against your lower back, fingers pointing toward your head.
- Slowly slide your hand upward along your spine as far as you comfortably can and then roll onto your back, keeping your left arm in place, and hold for five to eight breaths.
- Do on both sides.
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- Get onto all fours with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.
- Inhale, drop your belly and gaze at the ceiling as you push your glutes down and back to touch your heels, keeping your arms straight.
- Immediately exhale as you round your back and drop your head, then push forward back into the tabletop.
- Repeat five to eight times.
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Kneeling Cactus Arms and Backbend:
- Kneel with your knees hip-width apart, tuck your pelvis and extend your arms straight up overhead.
- Inhale and then exhale as you bend your elbows and pull your arms down to the sides as you lift your sternum without arching your lower back.
- Inhale as you return to the start and repeat five to 10 times.
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Supine Spinal Twist:
- Lie faceup and raise your knees over your hips, legs bent 90 degrees.
- Use your left hand to gently guide your legs down to the left side, keeping them stacked, and extend your right arm to the side along the floor.
- Look toward your right hand and hold for five to 10 breaths.
- Return to the center and then repeat on the other side.
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- Get into plank with your hands underneath your shoulders and your head, hips and heels aligned.
- Lift your left leg, bend your knee, then twist and reach over and behind your right leg as you open your body to the left.
- Lift your left hand and reach it overhead as you extend your left leg and touch your toes lightly on the floor.
- Take five slow breaths and then return to the start.
- Repeat on the other side.