It’s an inalterable fact that our muscles can become tight or restricted due to age, habitual patterns, emotional stress, injuries or trauma. And there are numerous ideas as to how to maintain flexibility. A study in the Alternative and Integrative Medicine showed that women who attended hatha yoga classes twice a week for five months had improved mobility in shoulders, hips and ankles. Others believe that releasing tension from the fascia – the dense connective tissue that encompasses our muscles and bones – by using a foam roller is also beneficial. To get lasting results from this, you probably need to use the roller twice a day. New thinking also suggests that strengthening rather than stretching muscles is the key to flexibility. But what if you are desk bound? Maura Rath is a Dublin-based yoga teacher originally from Wexford, whose passion is to help others find the joy and benefits from yoga that she herself found. She has a set of five flexibility tips to perform at your desk.
– Set a reminder to move and stretch every 50 minutes
– Breathe – close your eyes and do ten long inhales and exhales. While doing this, place your hands on your belly, ensuring your belly rises and decreases as you breathe. Blink open and keep a long steady breath as you move through the movements below:
– Wrists – Reach your arms out wide in a T shape and make gentle wrist circles. Then make open fists to get the blood flowing and release tension from mouse and keyboard use.
– Shoulders – Inhale, reach your hands above your head until they meet. Exhale, pull your elbows down towards your ribs. Visualise you are squeezing your shoulder blades together. Repeat slowly ten times with ten breaths.
– Hips – Lift your left ankle on top of your right lower quad/above the knee, fold slightly forward tilting your pelvis forward, hold for ten breathes and repeat on the right side.
Maura’s yoga classes, held in Blackrock, are full of energy, positivity and humour with a backdrop of great music. Her tips to maintain flexibility throughout everyday life include the following:
– Every morning as you climb out of bed, move, stretch and breathe. A simple way is starting your morning with a downward facing dog and holding your breath for two to three minutes.
– Join a weekly yoga class, make it part of your routine, one that works with your schedule.
– Choose one posture from your weekly yoga class to work on at home each week, two to three minutes early in the morning or last thing at night before bed.
– Choose a holiday or weekend getaway with a difference: book a week or weekend yoga retreat. Rejuvenating yourself through movement can have surprising emotional and physical benefits.
– Enjoy the time you decided take to move. Be present in your yoga practice. Tune in to make the most the minutes or hours you have chosen to dedicate to yourself. Happy hormones help release tension in your body, which eventually help with our flexibility and movement goals.