During the pandemic last year, I stopped teaching yoga and didn’t do any on my own because I didn’t feel inspired to move in that way — doing sun salutations alone in my small basement home gym just didn’t have the same serene vibe as breathing and moving in a heated room with beautiful lighting, wood floors, and full of smiley people.
Not doing yoga made me realize how much my body needs yoga! My shoulders, lower back, and hamstrings have felt tighter, and I developed this weird tension and pain in my left hip. Before going to see a chiropractor or physical therapist, I realized that it was probably the lack of yoga in my life making my body feel so inflexible and achy.
A Few Minutes of Daily Stretching
Since I couldn’t pull off doing a full class on my own every day, I made a small goal to do a few minutes of daily stretching. I wanted to focus on my hips since that’s where I felt the most tightness and discomfort. Keeping it simple was key, because I knew if it was just a few poses and a few minutes, I could commit to stretching daily.
I run or walk outside every morning or row for an hour, so when I got back home, I’d just get on the floor right away and do my four stretches for a minute each: Head to Knee, Pigeon, Double Pigeon (holding for a minute each on both sides), and Butterfly. If I waited and showered first, emptied the dishwasher, or started helping the kids with something, I knew I’d forget to do it.
How I Felt After 2 Weeks
Originally, I only planned to commit to daily stretching for one week, but it felt so good, and I noticed such a change in how my muscles felt after just one week, that I had to keep going. My hips and lower back felt more flexible and open, and that weird pain in my left hip started to diminish. My mind also felt calmer and I felt more grounded. Toward the end of my run, I would look forward to those seven minutes of stretching on my living room floor.
Some days my family was still asleep, and I’d get a few extra minutes of alone time to think about my day or finish listening to a podcast. And other times, everyone was up, and I’d chat with my kids in between their bites of breakfast. Either way, it made for a lovely new morning habit that I hope to stick with. Now I mix up the poses to target my feet and calves, my hamstrings and quads, my lower back and abs, or my chest and shoulders. I try to do around 10 minutes of stretching, but even if I only get in two, it still feels good!