The onset of spring brings a bundle of benefits that help lift us out of that winter slump; more sunshine, blooming florals, fresh air, and the desire for outdoor activities. But how can we support our bodies during this seasonal shift? Stretching! Stretching helps the body spring forward with ease by increasing blood flow, body warmth, and elongation. So, whether it's in the comfort of your home or somewhere al fresco, we invite you to try our top 4 stretches and breathe a little deeper this spring.
The Moves /
1. Spine (cat-cow pose) – this is an excellent starting stretch as it gently warms up the spine without strain. You'll begin on all fours, ensuring the shoulders are over the wrists and the hips over the knees (creating a 90-degree angle). Inhale and slowly drop the belly for cow-pose, arching the back, allowing it to fall downward, rolling the shoulders back, and gazing up towards the sky. You'll reverse as you exhale, concaving the belly and rib cage, pulling your back up and the chest in as you move into cat-pose. This time the gaze is inward at your navel, and the head is relaxing downward. On your next inhale, begin to arch the back and gaze towards the sky, alternating from cat-cow until the spine feels flexible/fluid.
2. Neck – it's not often we look up at the sky and relieve neck pressure accumulated from increased screen time, desk time, or even poor sleeping positions. So these neck stretches are great for bringing balance and rejuvenating this muscle. Start by standing or sitting somewhere calm and take a deep inhale. Exhale and slowly drop your chin to your chest, feeling a slight pull on your upper spine. Begin to place both hands on the top of your head and gently pull downward – tucking your chin further into your chest. Hold for roughly 30 seconds and slowly rise, bringing the chin back to the center. Inhale again, and repeat in the opposite direction as you exhale. Bring the back of your head to the top of your spine, ensuring your shoulders are back and relaxed with an upright posture. Continue looking up – feeling the elongation on the front of your neck. Finish off the stretch by pivoting your head left and right, looking over each shoulder for 10-15 seconds, and then slowly drawing a 180 circle hitting the front, back, left, and right points that may be feeling tight or knotted.
3. Hips (frog pose) – emotions are stored in the hips, so it's not uncommon to feel tightness or restriction in this area. If you're familiar with frog or child's pose in yoga, you'll know that these stretches are excellent for opening the hips and increasing circulation. You'll start on your hands and knees, widening the knees as much as your flexibility allows and pointing the toes outwards. Open the feet wider than the knees, continue moving the hips back towards the heels, and lean onto your forearms. Remember to breathe and gaze down or slightly forward. Hold for 30 -45 seconds. To finish, bring the knees inward and press the hips back until you're sitting on your ankles and can comfortably drop the arms and shoulders entirely forward, resting your chest and head on the ground. Hold for another 30-45 seconds and repeat this cycle until your heart's content.
4. Back of leg – begin by laying flat on the ground and taking three deep breaths. Once relaxed, bend one leg in and bring the knee towards your chest. Grab your knee with both hands and pull towards your chest, feeling the stretch in your glute and hamstring. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other leg! For a more advanced movement, keep the leg straight as you bring it up, and grab onto your foot - pulling the whole leg closer while keeping it straight for a deep stretch in your hamstring. Repeat on the other leg.
*We encourage you to listen to your body as you move through these stretches and modify as needed. The more you invest in your flexibility / mobility, the more you can challenge yourself!
Ashley Lange is a certified IHP (Integrative Health Practitioner), wellness innovator, and writer based in San Diego, CA. When she’s not with her pup at dog beach or in the mountains skiing with family, she enjoys empowering others through research-forward writing and holistic skin education.