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6 Full-Body Stretching Exercises

No flexibility in your schedule? Rest assured, this stretching routine is quick—and its benefits are many.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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