You know that exercise helps to boost your mood and relieve anxiety, but when you’re really stressed, it can be hard to get motivated to work out. This stretch will help you become both relaxed and energized, says Rachelle Wintzen, a yoga instructor and founder of Chi Junky Wellness Concierge and Private Yoga Studio in Toronto.
‘When we’re really stressed and holding on to negative emotions, we tend to contract our body and slump our shoulders. This stretch’I call it the Wide Leg Hero Pose‘counters that negativity or tension by opening up the anterior chain, which is the front line of the body,’ says Wintzen. It stretches the entire front of your body, including the quads and hip flexors, so it is especially beneficial for cyclists and those who sit for long periods. ‘The key is to combine this pose with deep breathing, which will help you let go of tension and relax.’
This is one hard-working pose. Says Wintzen: ‘In addition to easing stress and stretching most major muscles, it’s also great for circulation because it gets your blood flowing.’ Do this stretch every day before or after exercising. Since it’s an energetic posture, it is especially good to do it first thing in the morning, says Wintzen. That may give you the oomph you need to fit your workout into your day.
See the illustration to get set; place your knees in the position as shown, hands behind you with the pads of your fingertips pressed into the floor, fingers pointing forward. Open up the chest by bringing shoulders back and lifting the sternum (breastbone) to the ceiling. Start to lift the hips by squeezing glutes and pressing hips forward to come into the full posture. Keep your gaze forward and your neck long. Hold for five to 10 deep breaths.
If you feel any pain in your ankles or knees, you can modify this pose by putting a blanket or thin pillow under your ankles or behind your knees.