You walk and you strength train (good work!), but what about stretching? Thought so. Follow this simple plan to up your flexibility fast.
Trainer Larysa DiDio created these 10-minute sequences that blend calming yoga poses with targeted stretching and meditation to increase flexibility while easing stress and pain. They also build balance and grace, which you don’t get with cardio and strength work, and will leave you with your most balanced body ever.
YOUR WEEKLY PLAN
MONDAY, WEDNESDAY & FRIDAY
Morning Refresh: Stretch out the kinks and start the day energized with feel-good standing postures that strengthen and tone, too. Hold each pose and stretch for 20 seconds.
Side Garland (Garland Pose into Side Bend)
Start in Garland Pose (feet slightly more than hip-width apart and toes facing out, palms in Prayer position). Hold 20 seconds, then stand up, straightening legs, and reach your left arm overhead as you lean your torso to the right, feeling a stretch along the left side of your body. Hold 20 seconds, then return to Garland Pose. Hold 20 seconds, then repeat the Side Bend on the opposite side. Repeat the entire series at least once more.
Inner Warrior (Warrior II into Inner Thigh Stretch)
Start with your feet parallel and one leg-length apart. Rotate your left foot out 90 degrees and your right foot in slightly, so your left heel is lined up with your right foot’s arch. Bend your left knee, bringing your thigh parallel to the floor (or as close to it as you can get) with your knee over your heel. Raise your arms to shoulder height, bringing them parallel to the floor, and gaze over your front fingertips. You are now in Warrior II position. Hold 20 seconds, then move into an Inner Thigh Stretch by leaning to the right, bending your right knee and dropping your hips as you straighten your left leg, lifting your left toes off the floor. Rest your hands on your right thigh. Hold 20 seconds. Return to start and repeat both poses on the opposite side. Repeat the entire series at least once more.
Stand with your feet together, arms by your sides. Fix your gaze on a point on the floor or wall in front of you (this will help you balance). Then, moving slowly, place the sole of your right foot on your left inner thigh or calf, above or below the knee. Bring your hands together at your chest in Prayer position, standing tall with your shoulders over your hips. You are now in Tree Pose. Hold here 20 seconds, then move into an IT Band Stretch by crossing your right leg over your left and bringing your right foot to the floor outside your left foot. Flatten your back and lower your chest slightly toward your thighs, resting your hands above your right knee. Hold 20 seconds. Repeat both poses on the opposite side, then do the entire series at least once more.
Elevated Chair (Chair Pose into Chest Stretch)
Stand with your feet together, then bend your knees and sink your hips, coming into Chair Pose with your hands in Prayer position in front of your chest. Hold here 20 seconds, keeping your weight in your heels and your thighs pressed together. Then straighten your legs and place your hands behind your head, elbows out to the sides, as you rise on your toes and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold here for a few seconds, then lower back to Chair Pose and hold another 20 seconds. Repeat the series at least once more.
Running Plank (Plank into Runner’s Lunge Stretch)
Start in a plank position with your arms straight and your wrists directly under your shoulders. Keep your abs engaged and your hips in line with your shoulders. Hold 20 seconds, then step your right foot outside of your right hand, coming into a Runner’s Lunge. Hold 20 seconds, then return to the plank position. Hold 20 seconds, then repeat the lunge on the opposite side. Repeat the entire series at least once more.
TUESDAY, THURSDAY, SATURDAY & SUNDAY
Evening Unwind: Let go of the day’s stress and ease aches with this calming routine that targets your legs, hips, and lower back.
Super Cat (Cat Pose into Superman Stretch) – Stretches and strengthens back
Start on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Inhale, then exhale into Cat Pose, rounding your back and pulling your belly to your spine, allowing your neck to relax. Hold 10 seconds. Return to start and simultaneously extend your right arm at shoulder height and your left leg at hip height. Hold 10 seconds. Return to start and repeat both moves on the opposite side. Do the entire sequence at least once more.
Lower-Back Cobra (Cobra Pose into Child’s Pose) – Opens chest; stretches and strengthens back
Lie facedown with your legs extended, the tops of your feet flat on the floor. Place your palms torso-width apart on the floor, your elbows bent and pointing behind you. Reach through your legs and press down through your hands as you start to straighten your arms and lift your chest, rolling your shoulder blades back and down. Hold 10 seconds, then slowly lower your torso back to the mat. From here, move into Child’s Pose, knees mat-width apart with your big toes touching behind you and your arms reaching forward, your forehead and palms resting on the mat. Hold 20 seconds. Repeat the entire series at least once more.
Forward Fish (Forward Fold into Half Lord of the Fishes Pose) – Stretches backs of legs; releases lower back
Start seated with your legs extended in front of you. Inhale and reach your arms overhead, then fold your torso forward, keeping your back as straight as possible. Hold 20 seconds. Lift your torso back over your hips, then place your left foot outside your right knee, left leg bent. Place your right elbow outside your left knee and your left hand on the floor behind you. Sit up tall and twist your torso to the left, pressing your right elbow into your left knee. Hold 20 seconds. Repeat both moves on the opposite side. Do the entire sequence at least once more.
Piriformis Bridge – Stretches hips, releases lower back, strengthens butt
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Cross your right ankle over your left thigh, just above your left knee. Press your left heel down and lift your hips to knee height. Hold 10 seconds. Lower your hips to the floor, then place your right hand on your right knee and your left hand on your right ankle. Pull your right knee toward your left shoulder. Hold 20 seconds. Repeat both moves on the opposite side. Do the entire sequence at least once more.
Figure 4 Pigeon – Stretches hips, backs of legs; releases lower back
Start in a runner’s lunge with your right leg forward, right knee over right ankle and left leg straight. Walk your right foot toward your left hand, then drop your right shin and thigh to the floor to come into Pigeon Pose, making sure to keep your right knee in line with your right hip. Allow your left leg to rest on the floor with the top of the foot facing down. Hold 20 seconds, then transition to sitting with your legs extended in front of you. Bend your left leg and rest your left sole on your right inner thigh, letting the outer left knee rest on the floor (if your hips are tight, your knee may not meet the floor). Inhale and reach your arms overhead, aligning the middle of your torso with your right leg. Fold your torso forward, keeping your back as straight as possible. Hold 20 seconds. Repeat both moves on the opposite side.