It feels a bit like your body is falling apart. You are not too far over 40 and you realise with some annoyance that your body feels more tight when you get up in the morning, that your back and shoulders ache after doing your favourite sports. It never used to be like this!
Truth is, the body is quite forgiving when we are young, but once over 40 it starts telling us what we have been doing over the last decades. Chances are, we have spent quite a few hours slouching on the sofa, driving a car, sitting at our desk, alternated with intense bursts of running, swimming, cycling…
It’s not too late!
The great news is that it is not too late to address the imbalance: you can stretch out the muscles that are feeling increasingly tight and strengthen those you have used less. Some of my students were initially attracted to yoga because they were in the same position: not quite willing to give in to feeling older yet! And to be honest, that is also why I cannot skip my daily yoga practice any more….
After 40, your body can still feel great, but it just needs that extra little bit of care. What I love about yoga is that it helps to balance the body; you can choose the poses that are right for you. If you are unsure what these poses are and you want to know more, check out my one-to-one yoga sessions and small group classes.
Today, I am explaining 3 yoga exercises that may help you start releasing muscles and relax your back. These are easy, safe exercises that are not a “quick fix”, but they are an important first step when you want to “undo” tension. Don’t dismiss the small stuff: before strengthening, it is important to release.
So try these
It is good to do these movements before going to bed, but any other time in the day will do as well. Remember that yoga should never hurt: never stay in a pose when it feels uncomfortable. During the pose, pay attention to the sensations in your body and to your breath. Do not change the rhythm of your breathing but go along with it, however slow or fast that is. Just make sure not to rush! Do each of the 3 exercises for about a minute or longer.
- Lie on your back on a fairly firm surface, such as a yoga mat or a carpet. Make sure your head and neck can relax; if your chin sticks up to the ceiling, please use a pillow under your head. Keep one leg extended on the floor and fold the other leg towards you: hold that knee with both hands without pulling it towards you. With every exhalation, feel a little more relaxed in this pose, allowing the body become softer and heavier. Repeat with the other leg. This pose relaxes and stretches the back in a safe way. If you feel tightness in the groin, bring your knee slightly out to the side.
- Still lying on your back, bend both legs towards you and place one hand on each knee. As you exhale, gently bring the knees closer to you (no strong pulling please) and as you inhale, allow the legs to move away from you. Repeat at least 8x. Then, to loosen the hip joints, and still with one hand on each knee, circle the knees in opposite directions, as in swimming breaststroke. Reverse the direction.
- On the back with the legs bent towards you, place the arms on the floor next to the body, inhale while you straighten the right leg up to the ceiling and bring the left arm next to your head. Do the same with the left leg and right arm and repeat at least 6 times — slowly — with the breath. If you wish you can also do both arms and legs at the same time: inhale up, exhale down. This movement stretches the back of the legs and the lower back while expanding the chest.
Finish your mini yoga by lying at least one minute on the back with your legs bent.
Onwards and upwards!
Tell me how you are getting on – leave a comment below