When your muscles need a good stretch but you don’t have time for yoga, try these easy muscle loosening poses.
I’m not here to remind you of the benefits of stretching, because you know that taking care of your muscles is important. It would also make me a hypocrite, because despite understanding that yoga is good for me, I struggle to find time to fit it into my day.
After a morning workout and a day spent writing, interviewing, planning (and even just thinking), the last thing I want to do is spend another minute using my brain. That is often what yoga feels like – a mental stretch as well as a physical one. It is, of course, relaxing for the muscles, but it can be challenging for your mind to hold a position or to focus on alignment when you’re distracted by the state of the world, the emails you forgot to send or the Line of Duty episodes you need to catch up on.
In short: there’s a lot on your to-do list, and stretching just feels like another thing. But what if there was a way to do some gentle yoga, loosening tight muscles and easing physical stress, without having to overthink it?
Yep, we’re talking TV yoga. “There are simple things people can do to benefit their body without needing to carve out a huge portion of time,” agrees yoga teacher Claudia Mirallegro. Of course, it’s a fine line: you still need to pay enough attention to what you’re doing to make sure you don’t get injured, and no amount of stretching in front of Married At First Sight Australia will relax you in the same way that a mindful practice will. But it can release some of the day’s physical tension, which in turn will reduce mental stress. Plus, it just feels pretty damn good.
“I’d recommend doing forward folding and hip releasing postures to relax you,” says Claudia. These poses are also especially good for those days spent sat down at a desk where we compress through the hips and hunch through the shoulders (read: every single day). “It’s also a good idea to do supported stretches, using pillows and bands where necessary, so you don’t slump into your joints.”
Here, Claudia has shared five of her favourite do-anywhere poses, for when you’re not ready for a full-on yoga flow but want to melt into a stretch.
5 yoga poses to do in front of the TV
“This pose increases hip mobility and stretches the inner thighs. Make sure to focus on keeping your chest open rather than bringing the knees to the floor, as this will mean you end up hunching. You can always place cushions under the knees for further support,” says Claudia.
- From a seated position, bring the soles of your feet together, close to your pelvis, and allow your knees to fall out to the sides.
- Ground your sitting bones and lengthen your spine
- Hold onto the outsides of your feet and press the soles of your feet towards each other.
- If your body allows it, fold forward from the hips, keeping your spine long and your collar bones spread.
Stay for five to 10 breaths
Low Lunge Pose
“This is a deep stretch for the hip flexors and quadriceps. Make sure the front knee stays stacked over the ankle, even while deepening into the lunge to avoid overextending the knee joint’s range of motion,” advises Claudia.
- Step your left leg back into a low lunge and drop your back knee to the mat. If your knee is sensitive, you can place a blanket under your knee or double up your yoga mat for more cushioning.
- Bring your hands onto your right knee and your right knee directly over your right ankle.
- Hug your inner thighs in towards one another to create a deeper stretch and engage your core to support your spine.
Stay for five to 10 breaths and repeat on the left side
“This opens and strengthens your thighs, groin, piriformis (a muscle deep in the glutes), and psoas (the muscle connecting your pelvis and thigh). Don’t collapse onto the hip of the front bent knee, but keep your hips square and prop with padding if needed,” Claudia says.
- From a table top (all fours) position, place your right knee behind your right wrist. Allow your shin to position to a 45 degree angle.
- Release your left knee to your mat. Your left leg should be flat on the floor. Take a look backward and make sure that your left foot is pointing straight back.
- Square your hips towards the front of your mat.
Stay for two minutes and repeat on the left side
“This will help to keep your hips mobile and strengthen your back. If you have a knee injury and you feel restriction or sensitivity in this pose, it’s best to avoid it and sit with your legs outstretched as an alternative,” Claudia suggests.
- Begin by sitting on your mat with your sitting bones grounded or elevated on a pillow.
- Cross your shins by bringing your right foot to stack over your left knee and your right knee directly over your left foot.
- Find length in your spine, hug your shoulder blades in and down and place your hands on your lap.
Stay for five to 10 breaths and repeat on the left side
Wide Leg Seat
“This pose stretches the hamstrings and inner thighs whilst stimulating the abdominal organs and strengthening your spine. Check if you are rounding in your lower back. If so, sit up on something so you can bring your hips higher than your knees and press the sit bones actively down,” says Claudia.
- Sitting on the floor, bring your legs wide apart to a point where you feel a good stretch, but can still hold the pose while maintaining a straight spine and without falling back.
- Flex your feet, and keep your knees and toes pointed up towards the ceiling. Press your legs and sitting bones down, and lengthen up through your spine.
Hold this pose for five to 10 breaths
Follow @StrongWomenUK on Instagram for the latest workouts, delicious recipes and motivation from your favourite fitness experts.
Images: Getty / Claudia Mirallegro
Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).