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Om on the Go - Commuter Yoga

Katie Walsh gives some tips on incorporating healthy habits into your routine.

We're all so busy. Between work, the kids, taking care of the house, cooking meals, finding time for friends and hopefully getting eight (or close to it) hours of sleep each night; sometimes exercise can take a back seat…but it doesn't have to.

It just so happens that in addition to being a certified yoga instructor, I am also an expert multitasker! In this column I'll help you sprinkle a few easy yoga into your jam-packed day: Om on the Go!

Commuter Yoga

This week's yoga lesson includes simple moves you can do while commuting on the Metro North. If you think about it, most of us sit all day long: the car, the train, your office, your couch – that's a lot of sitting! In return for all of our sitting, we end up with tight hamstrings, tight glutes, tight hips and, ta-da!, lower back pain. Did you know an estimated 65 million people suffer from lower back pain? So let's keep you from becoming part of that statistic with a few easy moves.

Seated Twist

Once you take your seat, place your feet flat on the ground (if you have high heels on consider taking them off; heels may make your legs look long and thin but they screw up your back). Inhale and grow your spine tall. Exhale and gently twist to the right. You can place your right hand behind you and your left hand along the outside of your right leg. 
Inhale back to center, lengthening that spine and exhale as you twist to the left. 

SPOT CHECK: Make sure your knees are parallel to one another. When you twist to the right, the left knee tends to move forward and vice versa. Rein it in! Keep them parallel. How about your hips? Are they square and facing forward? Keep 'em square!

Typer's Stretch

Turn your palms down and place them on the side on either side of your legs. Externally rotate your arms so your fingers are facing behind you and rest them on the seat. Keeping your forearms straight, gently lean back, stretching your wrists and forearms.
If you spend a lot of time on the computer, you'll really feel this one!

Hip Opener

Bend your right leg and place your right ankle on your left knee. Flex your right foot; this protects your knee joint. Inhale to lengthen your spine and as you exhale tip your pelvis forward and gently fold forward. You don't have to go far to feel a good stretch. When you're ready, switch sides.

SPOT CHECK: See if you can keep your back flat instead of rounding it. It's not about how far over you fold, it's more important to keep your spine long. Make sure you're breathing! We tend to hold our breath when we're doing something challenging with our bodies.

Hamstring Stretch

Straighten your legs out in front of you and flex you feet. Remember your legs are fairly straight but try not to lock your knees. Tip your pelvis forward as you fold over your legs.

SPOT CHECK: The reason I keep saying tip your pelvis forward is because when many of us fold forward the majority of the fold occurs in our low back. This places unnecessary stress on a sensitive part of our body. If you think about tipping your pelvis forward, you will protect your lower back.

It can be hard to tip our pelvis forward if we have tight hamstrings (like me) so don't worry about folding deeply over your legs, just fold a little. You don't win a prize for pushing your body farther than it can go. 

Side Stretch

Oh boy this feels good! Inhale and reach your arms up over your hand, elbows straight. Don't shrug your shoulders. Exhale and lower your right hand to the seat and allow your left arm to reach over to your right side. Stretch open your left, creating space for each bone in your rib cage. Inhale your arms up to center and side stretch to the left.

SPOT CHECK: Make sure the raised arm is up near your ear and your chest is open. If your raised arm is in front of your face, your not getting the maximum stretch and you might be rounding your spine (a no-no).

Extra Credit…

Downward Dog: train style!

A few minutes before your train stop, stand up and move to the vestibule by the doors. Place your fingers on the handrail and step your legs back until you can fold forward with your arms straight.

SPOT CHECK: plug your arms into your shoulder sockets so you are not shrugging your shoulders. Pull you sit bones (aka your butt) back as you extend through the crown of your head to create length in your spine.

Standing Hamstring Stretch

Stay in the vestibule and step your right leg in front of your left. Keep your hips facing forward. Use the handrail for balance as you tip your pelvis and fold forward. When you're ready, switch legs.

SPOT CHECK: As we fold forward typically the hip of the leg in front of you will roll forward. Try to pull that hip back so the two are square….believe me, you'll feel the difference!

Off to work you go! Namaste! Way to multitask!

For more "Om on the Go" tips, check out my web site: www.dailyzen-yoga.com

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