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6 Full-Body Stretching Exercises

No flexibility in your schedule? Rest assured, this stretching routine is quick and easy to do.


By Sharon Liao, Real Simple

The Routine

When you can barely squeeze a workout into your day, taking time to focus on flexibility may feel like, well, a stretch. But stretching is an important part of fitness: It can improve your range of motion, increase circulation, and calm your mind—which may help fend off injuries and illness, as well as bring on a better night’s sleep. To limber up, try the following quick head-to-toe routine created by Dana Slamp, a senior yoga instructor at Pure Yoga, in New York City. Do the complete series once daily. Deepen each stretch with every exhalation, and stop if you feel any strain or pain.

To get your best stretch in, invest in comfortable, quality workout gear that will last. We love Lululemon’s bestselling pair of leggings, the Wunder Under Hi-Rise Tight, which are designed to act as a second skin when you move.


Move 1: The Runner’s Stretch

(A) Step your right foot forward and lower into a lunge, placing your fingertips on the floor or on two firm cushions if your hands don’t reach.

(B) Breathe in, then, in one motion, exhale as you straighten your right leg. Slowly return to the lunge position. Repeat four times. Switch sides.

To succeed with this stretch it’s key to keep all your bits in place, starting with a sports bra. For one that comes with both style and function, you can’t beat Bereli, which is the favorite sports bra of tennis champion Serena Williams. She even rocked this bra while pregnant and winning her last grand slam.


Move 2: The Standing Side Stretch

(A) Stand with your feet together and your arms straight overhead. Clasp your hands together, with your fingers interlaced and pointer fingers extended. Inhale as you reach upward.

(B) Breathe out as you bend your upper body to the right. Take five slow breaths. Slowly return to the center. Repeat on the left side.

To keep your side and back bends in tip top shape go for a tank that can move with you, like Athleta’s Limitless Keyhole top. The tank is made for medium and high-impact workouts and is ultra-lightweight to keep you cool. Best of all, it comes with plenty of style as well thanks to its strappy back design.


Move 3: The Forward Hang

Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and your knees slightly bent.

(A) Interlace your fingers behind your back. (If your hands don’t touch, hold on to a dish towel.) Breathe in and straighten your arms to expand your chest.

(B) Exhale and bend at your waist, letting your hands stretch toward your head. Hold for five deep breaths.

For maximum stretch potential try Lululemon’s In Movement short that comes with four-way stretch, and is both sweat-wicking and cool to the touch. This way, you can feel more comfortable working out both at home or at any hot yoga class.


Move 4: The Low Lunge Arch

Step your right foot forward into a lunge and lower your left knee onto the floor or a folded towel or blanket.

(A) Bring your arms in front of your right leg and hook your thumbs together, palms facing the floor.

(B) Breathe in as you sweep your arms overhead, stretching as far back as is comfortable. Take five deep breaths. Switch sides.

Having a firm grip on the floor or on the mat will make your yoga or stretching time all the more enjoyable. Keep it simple with a pair of no-slip socks from CosFash. Not only will these socks help you from slipping and sliding, but they also come with anti-odor technology as well.


Move 5: The Seated Back Twist

Sit on the floor with your legs straight.

(A) Bend your right knee and step your right foot over your left leg. Put your right hand on the floor, fingers pointing outward, for support. Bend your left elbow and turn to the right, placing the back of your arm against your right knee. Inhale as you sit tall.

(B) Breathe out as you twist, pressing your arm into your leg and looking over your right shoulder. Hold for five breaths, then slowly return to the center. Switch sides.

To get even deeper into a stretch try out an assistant like FitLifestyleCo’s Yoga Strap. Using a band will allow you to gradually go deeper into a movement without straining your muscles.


Move 6: The Bound Angle

Sit on the floor with your legs straight.

(A) Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together, letting your knees drop toward the ground. Hold your shins as you inhale and stretch your chest upward.

(B) Exhale as you hinge forward from your hips (without rounding your back) and place your palms on the ground. Hold for five slow breaths.

Keep your balance in place while attempting this move with a yoga block by Pavandeep. The prop will help you move into more difficult moves with ease and adjust postures for maximum stretch.


See more at: Real Simple

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