May 2012

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live in good health Movement That Matters To help her clients relieve tension at home or at work, Ali McWilliams, owner of Ali McWilliams Personal Fitness, offers fi ve stress-busting stretches Source of tension: Shoulders and upper back Try: Shoulder stretch Seated or standing, bring your right hand to your left shoulder, elevating your right elbow in front of you. With your left palm, press into the right elbow, stretching the shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. » Source of tension: The neck Try: Neck rolls Look straight forward before gently tipping your head to the right. Continue, rolling your head back into an extended position with your eyes facing the ceiling then gently rolling it to your left. Finish by rolling your head down and back up, bringing it straight and your gaze forward. Not only a tension relieving movement, gentle rolls can help strengthen neck muscles. But listen to your body: If it is painful or doesn't feel right at any point, stop immediately. Source of tension: A tight chest or upper back Try: Doorway chest stretch Source of tension: Hips and glutes Try: Pigeon pose on your back In yoga, stretching the hip and gluteal muscles helps reduce tension and stress. Practice this pose by lying fl at on your back. Bend your knees, placing your feet on the ground, hip distance apart. Cross your right ankle just above your left knee. Flex your right toes and push the knee away from you. For a deeper stretch, reach your right hand through the triangle that the right leg makes, bring the left hand around the left leg, clasping both behind the thigh. Gently pull the left leg toward your body, hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side. » Stretching the chest is key because it is the opposing muscle group to your back. When it tightens—especially in those of us who sit at a computer or drive a lot—it increases tension in our backs and necks. Stretch by standing inside a doorway facing the doorjamb. Extend your right arm straight in front of you, your arm hori- zontal to the ground, and grip the outside of the doorjamb. Keeping your spine tall and straight, slowly turn your body to the left, stretching the chest, shoulder and biceps. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the left arm. Source of tension: Tightness in the hamstrings, back or neck Try: Forward fold Used in yoga, this pose stretches your ham- strings and back, but is great for relaxing the neck, elongating the spine, letting the worries of the day go and increasing blood fl ow. Start by standing with your feet parallel to one another, toes spread and pointing forward. Take a deep breath. As you exhale, hinge from your hips and fold forward. Then simply surrender to the pose, letting your head hang and the weight of your upper body gently pull you into a stretch. 12 BRAVA Magazine May 2012 » » »

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