Sometimes we forget how important it is to remain limber, focusing so much on strength and cardio training.
But stretching is important to overall health and should be practiced regularly.
We could talk your ear off about stretching (seriously – call us!). But let’s start with the profound power of the simple Downward Dog, maybe the most familiar pose from yoga – even for people who’ve never taken a class.
To strike the pose, get on your hands and knees, fingers pointing front, and then lift your rear end — try to get your body in an inverted V. Straighten the arms, driving the shoulders away from the floor. Also, push your heels to the floor to stretch your calves.
If you’re new to it, hold for about 15 seconds, and then gradually work toward the minute range.
Downward Dog both stretches and strengthens the body like few moves, making it a 2-for-1 special. It uses strength from the shoulders, triceps and core as you push your butt up toward the ceiling. And it stretches the posterior chain, including hamstrings, calves and Achilles tendon.
Downward Dog places your head lower than your heart, which can produce a calming, restorative effect. And it extends your mid-upper back, preventing the rounded posture you see on hunched-over “old” people.
If you’re feeling rounded over, try other stretches for your back, shoulders and chest – which will bring their own benefits, as well. The point is to enjoy the practice, not to “do it better” than somebody else.
Flexibility feels great!
Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.