On Monday's The Early Show Stephanie Oakes, Fitness Editor of USA Weekend Magazine, demonstrates these exercises you can sneak into your busy day.
In addition to those who already do yoga, these exercises are a great introduction to the yoga practice for the novice student. "They're moves everyone can do to attain balance, strength and inner calm - no matter if they've done yoga before or not," she says. "A lot of people are really intimidated when they hear 'yoga,' but these are exercises that everyone can - and should do."
Music is a great motivator in exercise; listen to upbeat music throughout the day - it'll help your posture and make you feel calm and well.
Here are five exercises that we can incorporate into our daily routines, from waking up in the morning to standing in line at the grocery to going to sleep at night. Each is derived from yoga positions, but adapted for ease and ability to do anywhere at anytime. It is important to note that these are not substitutions for exercise; rather, they're complimentary to your exercise routine.
Deep Breathing For Finding Calm And Tranquility
There is a saying in yoga: When you can control your breath, you can control everything. Oakes says that this meditative deep breathing exercise, which is the type of breathing you often do at the end of a yoga class, helps your brain and calms your nerves, and can be done almost anywhere, anytime. From the diaphragm, inhale deeply. Inhale for five counts, then slowly exhale for five counts. This breathing exercise is especially helpful in moments of high stress and tension.
Adaptation Of Sun Salutation Movement To Help Back And Neck Pain Caused By Being Too Hunched Over
This move is especially good for busy moms who are perpetually pushing a stroller around, Oakes says. "I'm not an especially tall person," she says, "yet I'm always hunched over my children's stroller, and when you're walking for an extended period of time hunched over, it takes a toll on your lower back all the way up to your neck and shoulders." To cure these issues, Oakes suggests while sitting or standing, clasp your hands behind your back, sit or stand up straight, and slowly stretch your clasped hands upward. She also suggests doing a series of neck rolls, from one side to the front to the other side - not all the way around. It also helps if you use your arms while doing a neck roll. Bending somewhat to the side, hold one arm up in the air, and roll your head from the opposite direction to the arm in the air. Then switch arms and roll your head in the other direction. Your posture will be improved, and your neck and shoulders won't be hunched up making you look and feel like a mess.
Adaptation Of Downward Dog To Ease Lower Back And Shoulder Pain Caused By Carrying A Backpack Or Briefcase That's Too Heavy
"The average child's backpack weighs 30 pounds," Oakes says, "and far too many of us carry purses or briefcases that are entirely too heavy to tote on one shoulder. The spine, shoulders and neck get whacked out of alignment, and you can suffer real pain when this happens." The easiest way to do this modified downward dog movement is actually when you're standing in the kitchen waiting for your water to boil or toast to come out of the toaster. Place your palms shoulder-width apart on a countertop. With your feet hip-width apart, bend forward at the hips and walk your feet back until your upper body is parallel to the floor and your legs are directly beneath your hips. Keep your neck in line with your spine. Breathe deeply, and hold for 2 to 3 full breaths (inhaling and exhaling). Oakes suggests adding a hamstring stretch in with this exercise so your entire body gets aligned, from the shoulders to the hips to the ankles.
Balance Work With A Modified Tree Pose
The perfect exercise to do while waiting on line at the bank or grocery store, this modified yoga move will help you strengthen your core strength and balance -- without your looking like you're exercising! "Standing on one foot, balance by bringing your other foot to the ankle of the grounded foot, stretching upright from your shoulders downward, buttocks tucked in, keeping everything perfectly aligned from your head to your shoulders to your spine. Hold for 10 seconds, then switch feet and balance on the other foot.
Modified Dead Man's Pose To End The Day
To unwind and calm your mind and body down after a chaotic day, Oakes suggests doing two exercises in your bedroom before hitting the sack. First, she suggests that you invest in a foam roller (a long spiral piece of foam that you can get at an athletic store) and a yoga mat. With the yoga mat on the floor, lay the foam roller on it (running the length of the mat, not perpendicular to the length of the mat). Lie on the roller (so it runs lengthwise along your spine), and open up your chest, your hips, and your back. Lie that way for 2-3 minutes, releasing your spine, and slowly sit back up.
Oakes also suggests using a resistance ball to open up the spine and lower back, and says this exercise is especially good to combat lower back pain and fatigue. Lying on your back on a yoga mat, put your legs on top of a resistance ball. Move your legs from side to side slowly, and this will give you a good stretch in the lower back, spine, and hip area that feels fantastic after a long day on your feet.
Finally, Oakes suggests a relaxing pose that also helps to relieve leg cramps and varicose veins to end the day. First, set a timer for 15 minutes. Take your yoga mat and put it against a wall. Lie down, and swing your legs up onto the wall (so you're laying in an inverted "L" shape). Focus on deep breathing, and on each breath inhaling and exhaling deliberately. Don't let your mind wander to other places - just focus on the breath. When the timer goes off 15 minutes later, you'll feel relaxed, stretched out, and ready for bed.