By Tiffany Griffith, Contributing Blogger
Before we were all virus-weary, mask-wearing, sanitizer-toting homebodies, I would go to the gym, touch all of the shared equipment *cringe* and pump iron until my muscles cried uncle. My goal was to look fit and sexy, and sure, to be healthy, but the wellness of my body on the inside was not at the forefront of my mind.
In addition to transitioning workouts into our homes, people have shifted the way they think about exercise and health altogether – the wellness of your mind, organs, and immune system is vital to your health. Yoga is famous for its calming properties, but did you know that it can detoxify your internal organs and glands, offer relief for mood and anxiety disorders, and give your immune system a huge boost?
This meditative yoga wind-down takes only 5 minutes and will work out all the kinks in your body, reverse the computer/cell phone hunch, boost your body’s system functions, and have you sleeping like a baby.
Hold each pose for 3-5 long, complete breaths. You can hold them longer and repeat the cycle several times if it suits you.
1. Forward fold
Standing at the top of your mat with feet at hips distance, inhale deeply and raise arms overhead. As you exhale, swan dive into a forward fold, being careful to keep a micro bend in the knees. The focus is not on stretching the hamstrings but elongating the spine. If your hamstrings are tight, it is perfectly ok to grab opposite elbows and hang. If you have more flexibility, grip the big toes with your first two fingers and as you exhale pull your toes toward the top of your head (elbows out to the side). Keep quadriceps and abdominals strongly engaged.
This pose is an inversion, which is any posture that puts your heart above the head. Inversions are considered miracle workers in the yoga world because they reverse blood flow and stimulate lymphatic drainage.
- Releases spinal compression and stretches back muscles
- Stretches and strengthens hamstrings
- Reduces adrenal fatigue
- Stimulates lymph node drainage
- Strengthens quadriceps and abdominals
- Reversed blood flow to the face is anti aging
2. Cat/cow with thread the needle
Come to a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Inhale as you arch your back and drop your belly. As you exhale, round the spine and push into your hands and knees. After a few rounds, add a twist by lifting your arm and threading it into the space between the left arm and leg (see pictured). Repeat on the other side. This is a fabulous shoulder stretch, spinal twist, and inversion.
- Lubricates the vertebrae
- Releases tension and hunching in the back
- Stretches shoulders
- Inverts the heart
- Spinal twists detoxify liver, kidneys, and spleen
3. Happy Baby/ supine twist
Lay on your back, bend your knees like a squat and grab the outer edges of the feet. Pull your feet towards you, focusing on compressing the hip joints and pressing the lower spine into the floor. For supine twist, straighten the left leg and hug your right knee into your chest. As you exhale, twist and gently push your right knee to the left towards the ground while keeping both shoulders flat on the floor under you. Repeat on the other side.
- Compressing intestines aids in digestion
- Flushes and lubricates hip joints
- Releases tension and stretches spinal muscles
- Reverses blood flow in the legs, essential as we spend so much time on our feet
On your knees, place your hands on the lower back. Inhale as you stretch the spine upward and long, exhale and bend backwards. Focus on keeping the spine elongated and not crunching into the lower back. If you feel comfortable, place your hands on your heels, while arching and pushing the hips forward.
- Reverses slouching
- Alleviates back pain
- Strengthens back
- Maintains good posture
- Calms the nervous system
Lay on your back with arms and legs extended (optional: place one hand on the heart and the other on the belly). Inhale and exhale in full, deep, complete breaths. Breath-work, also known as Pranayama, is the most important part of your yoga practice. Pranayama makes the blood rich in oxygen, reducing stress and fatigue stored throughout the body, calming the nervous system and the mind, and giving your body time to process all the wonderful work you have put in. Well done, yogi!
Bio: Tiffany is an avid yogi, writer, and mother living in Virginia. She is passionate about providing tools to balance career and family life with physical fitness and mental health. To see more of her work, visit www.TiffanyGriffith.net