While many define yoga as connecting with your inner self and being one with the Earth, it is actually a long-standing tradition of practicing to further your body, soul and mind. A yogi — someone who practices yoga — uses stretching, balancing, and breathing techniques to improve flexibility, reduce stress, and challenge the body. Here at FAST we believe adding yoga — along with proper eating, sleeping, and hydrating — to your training program is a great way to take a holistic approach to your health.
Rolling out of bed to make that 4:30 a.m. sunrise yoga class can be difficult, so we rounded up some yoga-inspired moves you can easily do at home. Add these moves to a warm-up before training, on off-days to stretch and enhance recovery, or post workout to help the body cool down.
Pigeon Pose with Reach Through
The classic pigeon pose but with a twist (literally). Start on all fours with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees under your hips (table position). Extend your right knee towards your right hand, resting the bent leg on the ground in front of you at a two o’clock position, with the top of your thigh parallel to the right edge of your mat.
Next, slide your left leg back, ending with the leg straight and the top of the foot resting on the floor. Sit into your front hip, feeling the stretch in your glutes, and place both hands in front of you, sitting next to your hips. Stay in this position for a couple deep breaths.
To get the “twist,” take your left hand and slide it under your right arm, allowing your torso to follow and “stack” your shoulders with your left shoulder resting on the ground. Hold the position for a few breaths. Come back up, still sitting into your hips, and repeat on the other side.
Benefits: This yoga pose is great for your glutes and spine. It stretches out the muscles deep inside your hips and helps loosen up your lower back.
Downward-Facing Dog with Straight Leg Raises
Begin in a plank position and press your hips back and up, while keeping your feet and hands rooted to the ground. Stretch your butt to the ceiling and push your chest through your arms, essentially making a triangle with your body. Your heels will want to raise up, but make sure you’re actively pushing them down toward the floor. You will feel a stretch in your hamstrings. If the stretch is uncomfortable, bend at the knee and focus on pressing your heels down so you can progress to straight legs with further practice. From here, raise one of your legs to the ceiling, keeping it straight as possible and hold for a few breaths. Bring the leg back down and switch sides.
Benefits: This active yoga pose is great for elongating the hamstrings, which are notorious for shortening or tightening up during long periods of sitting. It is also good to challenge your body with a mild “inverted” position.
Standing Quad Stretch with Forward Lean
Start standing up tall, with your feet shoulder-width apart.. Bend your right knee and reach back with your right hand you to grab your ankle and pull your right heel towards your butt. While keeping a soft bend in your standing left knee, lean forward as far as you feel comfortable, extending your left arm in front of you, palm down, and parallel to the ground for balance. The lower you go and the longer you pause while leaning forward, the harder it will be. Return to start position and switch legs.
Benefits: This dynamic movement will stretch out your quads and hip flexors while simultaneously working on your single leg stability. Being able to stabilize parts of your body while other parts are moving is important for balance and everyday life.
This pose is nice to finish with because you start by lying down flat on your stomach. Put your hands under your shoulders and push your torso upward while keeping your hip bones glued to the ground. Your back will curve, similar to a snake before it strikes, hence the name. Make sure to press your shoulders down to avoid squeezing your shoulders up towards your ears. You should feel your arms and shoulders actively working to hold your torso up. Breathe a few deep breaths and return to the original position. Repeat this 10 to 20 times.
Benefits: Often our habits of looking down at our phones or computers leave us really “rounded” with bad posture. This negatively affects our back health, so it’s good to restore space in our spine and undo rounding with an extension-based stretch.
Try these four yoga-inspired moves throughout your training program: before a workout, on an off day, or once you finish a workout to cool down. Let us know what you think and find a FAST facility near you for further instructions or training. Make sure to workout hard, but also recover hard!