The following exercises are geared to particularly suit this time of year and yes all can be done to help aid emotional as well as physical stress that generally does occur at this time of year due to so many more tasks and deadlines, as well as an abundance of parties, food, alcohol and general indulgence. It is also the time of year when perhaps exercise is forgotten, but these quite simple and not too stressful exercises will help keep what often turns to guilt at bay, while helping cope with what can also become stressful situations.
1. Spine Twist Standing or Sitting (can be done at a desk as well) rotates and lengthens the spine and aids detoxification by gently massaging the internal organs, liver on one side and spleen on the other. Inhaling helps lengthen the spine and exhaling helps rotation. This is particularly beneficial when we over indulge in food and alcohol at this time of the year. My clients often tell me amusingly that they twist on their bar stool or twist deliberately while standing with a drink in their hand at a bar, club or party!! At least they know about this and even jokingly is a good tip if you know you are in for a big day/night. These poses can be done whenever the opportunity is available but particularly if someone has been sitting in the same position for a very long time. I recommend a sitting spine twist every 30 minutes or so if sitting at a desk or on a long haul flight for all of the above reasons.
2. Side Bend or Lateral Stretch. This mobilises the spine on the lateral plane. This movement lengthens the spine on the inhale and the exhale aids the mobilization which is done when reaching over and sliding the bottom arm out and allow the top arm to reach over the head , not across the face. This can also be done sitting or standing and is beneficial for people sitting in the same position for a long time. It is as though you are putting some space between each rib as the stretch is done on each side. This also promotes better oxygen intake and is great to re-energise after sitting or standing for a long time. Anyone should do this unless there are spinal or shoulder injuries that impair movement and can be done at any time of the day, but especially after long periods of sitting.
3. Cat Stretch. The most wonderful stretch to release back muscles and promote spinal awareness. Again think of what a cat does after eating or sleeping…….stretch their spine. Again this pose can be done after long periods of sitting and can also be done at a desk by pushing the chair away and doing a standing cat stretch using a desk as the base, arching and stretching the spine. Apart from spinal awareness this pose also strengthens the wrists and shoulders while massaging digestive organs and improving digestion. When done on all 4’s it also aids postural stability and strengthens core muscles against gravity and is excellent for anyone having difficulty being able to do sit ups, roll ups and traditional core strengthening exercises such as crunches and also improves blood circulation. This can be done any time of day that suits the individual and again after long periods of standing and sitting and if indulging in alcohol and foods that may upset digestion this exercise will aid in elimination too.
4. Side Lying Twists . At this time of year any twisting exercise will aid digestion, detoxification and elimination but this one is also very relaxing after a stressful day or evening. This will aid general aches an pains in the lower back and hips after a day of playing sports or a night of clubbing. Adding a left/right brain balancing component by turning the head the opposite way the legs are going will help balance mind and body. This exercise requires lying on your back, so you need to find a suitable location and a mat or rug. Bring knees to chest and inhale and take both arms outstretched away from the shoulders, exhale and lower both knees to the right side of the body while turning the head to the left and looking along the arm. Inhale return the knees and repeat on the exhale to the other side. This can be done in a suitable location and is very beneficial to de-stress and balance the body, while relaxing the mind after celebrations and big events like Christmas and New Year. It is suitable to most unless there are spinal or shoulder injuries.
5. Savasana Relaxation Pose. Lying in Savasana restores the body, the senses and the mind. It aids relaxation and a feeling of tranquility and state of wellbeing. Breath is very important and will help slow the body down. One exercise that helps relaxation, while lying in Savasana, is to inhale and exhale through the nose and feel the cool air entering the nostrils and warm air leaving. This will create a feeling of clam and tranquility. Another to calm the body and mind is to count the length of the inhale and the length of the exhale and if one is longer than the other to make both the same length and then add another count. This will really slow the breathing down which will bring anyone doing this to a state of calm. If a pregnant woman of more than 22 weeks would like to do this, it is best done on the side. Anyone with a bad back may need to either sit in a chair or lie with a bolster under the knees or bend both knees. It is suitable for anyone needing to calm and relax and can be done in a safe and comfortable area on a mat, rug or even a bed for at least 10-15 minutes. Taking a positive thought or intention into the mind and saying it and seeing it with the ‘mind’s eye’ during this relaxation can also help make wonderful outcomes occur.
Thank you for reading