Relief From Standing

It’s been fun making the Yoga Anywhere! Take Five and Stretch Videos and I appreciate the positive feedback I’ve  been hearing from you. I am so glad the videos are helpful!

Some of you have reached out and said that you stand all day, and asked what you can do to ease the discomfort and pain that results.  This week’s post is for you. If you’re a teacher, retail worker, doctor, nurse, waitresses, cashiers or other stander, here are some tips for you!

A few of the consequences of standing at your job all day are; sore feet, varicose veins, stiff lower back, locking the knee joint, and just like our seated friends, stiff neck and shoulders.

Here are some ways you can relieve these symptoms.

1. When you get home each evening take your shoes off and don’t wear them around the house. After removing your shoes use your hands to give yourself a foot massage bringing circulation back to your feet.

2. Give your feet and legs a rest by putting your legs up the wall. Here’s how! While you are there point and flex your feet and roll your ankles in circles in both directions, then rest for at least 10 minutes. In addition to being rejuvenating and boosting to your immune system, this posture is wonderful relief to tired legs and helps to combat varicose veins.

3. Invest in a pair of YogaToes® toe stretchers! I bought these 14 years ago when I was on my feet all day as a schoolteacher and I still love them! They may not be comfortable at first but work up to wearing them for an hour each day. Not only does it feel like having a foot massage but these funny looking things will prevent and even reduce bunions. I don’t profit from your purchase, these are just something I really believe in.

4. Stretch your thighs with a standing quad stretch and use this supine yoga sequence to open your hamstrings and hips. Both will free your lower back.

5. Sit in Virasana (kneeling on your knees) with a rolled up yoga mat or blanket  between your thighs and calves. Start in the knee joint and gradually move the roll back towards the ankles. Sit in the juicy spots longer! Opening your knee joint and giving it traction allows circulation. As you move the roll down you mash your calves and hamstrings releasing tightness in these muscles. This posture is especially important if you wear heels and/or hyperextend your knees.

6. Invest in a foam roller and roll out all sides of your legs. You can also lay over it both parallel and perpendicular to your spine to open the front chest.

Other Tips:

• Change your posture often.
• Notice if you tend to stand thrusting one hip forward or to the side. Practice being aware of standing evenly on both feet. If that is not realistic for  you switch sides often and teach yourself not to favor one leg.
• Be aware of your knee joint and avoid hyperextending or locking your knees.
• Make sure your core is engaged to support your lower back. When I say core, I mean your lower abs and deeper postural muscles which are your funcional support. HERE are a few ways to increase support and stability there.
• Invest in a pair of comfortable and supportive shoes. Thank goddess they make fashionable comfort these days! I often put pair of SuperFeet in my shoes.
• Avoid standing on hard surfaces. Ask your company to buy a rug or a rubber mat or cushion for you to stand on.
• Use the Yoga Anywhere! videos stretch your neck and shoulders while standing up.

YogaToes

 

 

Take Five and Stretch: Standing Crescent

Standing Crescent
Stand with your feet hips width apart. Inhale, stretch your arms up and hold your right wrist with your left hand. Exhale lean to your left. Stand strong through your right leg and give a gentle tug on your arm. Breathe. Inhale stand up and repeat on the second side.
Leg Variation: Cross the right leg behind the left past the midline.
Arm Variation: Cross wrists and press palms together.
Benefits: Stretches the legs and hip flexors, opens the side body, the back, the ribs, and makes space for  the breath.

 

Standing-crescent

Healthful Advice

Years ago I received some really good advice from one of my first yoga teachers and would like to pass it along to you.

It was 1995 and I had a stressful corporate job.  Some days there was so much pressure I began to experience a bit of anxiety.

My wise yoga teacher suggested that when I felt stressed or simply experienced a drop in energy during my day to go into the restroom and get my head below my heart.  Believe it or not I started to do this.  I found myself going to the restroom and taking Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) breaks a few times a day.

This helpful advice worked wonders!

Next time you feel stressed or catch yourself looking for a sugar or caffeine boost during the day try inverting instead!

For more on the benefits of inversions see my recent blog post. To learn how to cultivate a healthy practice of the more powerful inverted postures please join me for my upcoming mini-series Turn It Upside Down.

photo 2

 

Kitchen Sink Yoga

Here’s a great stretch to start out your day.  Most of us wake up a bit stiff from sleep.  My yoga starts as soon as I get out of bed, I have found creative ways to stretch as I go about my morning routine . Tomorrow while you are making your coffee or tea, use the kitchen sink for a juicy stretch and traction of your spine!

1.  Hold on to  your kitchen sink, lean your hips back, and straighten your legs.

  • Squeeze your shins (lower legs) toward one another to stabilize
  • Lift your arms, rib cage, and belly
  • Breathe as you lengthen your spine

2. Walk your feet toward the sink and bend your knees. Sit back as if you were sitting into a chair.

  • Lean back and traction your spine

3. Walk your feet in even closer and drop your pelvis down to a squat. 

  • Hang your hips down to stretch the muscles along your spine and your lower back.

P1080790 - Version 2     P1080792 - Version 2     P1080800 - Version 2

Please post a comment below and let me know how it goes!

Three Tips to Open Your Shoulders

Poor posture while sitting at a desk or driving can create tightness in the front chest, back pain, and other physical side effects. Here are three stretches to open your upper arms and front chest, engaging and strengthening your back, and improve your breathing.  Try them out and start improving your posture and your health today!

 

1.  Shoulder Stretch at a Wall:P1070605
Stand with one side facing the wall. Take your arm behind you palm up, little finger side of the hand on the wall. Make sure your arm is as high as your shoulder.  Press your hand into the wall and pull as if you were to drag your hand forward to engage the muscles.  Then lean forward and slightly turn away from the wall until you feel a stretch.
Variations and Modifications:
a.) Step the foot closest to the wall forward and lunge.
b.) Work with your elbow bent at a corner or door jam. Make sure your elbow is the height of your shoulder.
c.) Put your palm flat on the wall.

 

 

2. Lay Over Two Blocks:P1070160
Sit with your knees bent, feet on the floor, and two blocks behind you.  Lift your chest and ease yourself back until one block is under the bottom tips of your shoulder blades and place the other block under your head.  Start with the blocks on the lowest height first.  You can turn them as you open.  Please note that if your upper back is very tight you may need more support under your head. Either turn the block higher or use a blanket for more support. Stretch your legs straight, engage them from time to time rooting the thighs toward the floor and extend out through your feet. Lay there and breathe.
Variations and Modifications:
a.) Put weight on the thighs.
b.) As your upper back opens, lower the block under your head.
c.) Do the same pose with the legs in Virasana.

 

3. Purvottanasana:P1070181
Sit with your legs in front of you.  Reach your arms behind you, palms down, fingers toward your feet.  Press down through your arms, lift your chest.  Then lift your hips.  Breathe into your chest and let it open.
Variations and Modifications:
a.) If your shoulders are  tighter, turn your fingers to face away from you.
b.) Do the pose with bent knees like an upward facing table.

I’d love to hear from you, please share your questions and your results in the comment section below.