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6 Yoga Poses to do After Work

Open your hips and hamstrings with this short sequence

· yoga,Stretch

If you're like most people, then you spend upwards of 10 hours a day sitting - at your desk at work, on the bus or in the car on your commute, and lounging in front of your laptop or TV when you get home. All that sitting leads to tight hips and hamstrings. Do these poses after work to help counterbalance some of the tightness and to release stress.

Lay flat on the floor with your legs stretched out. Bring one knee into your chest and gently pull the leg side to side across your body, opening up the hamstring, groin, and hip. This pose is also beneficial for the lower back, as it can neutralize and relieve stress. Stretch for 30 second and then switch legs.

For a more intense stretch, start in a standing position with your feet together (or hips distance for tighter hamstrings and more stability in the pose) and bend fully forward. Bring your left hand to the floor outside your right foot and bend your right knee. From here, reach your chest forward and slowly start to turn your chest and shoulders to the right. If you feel stable here, you can reach your right arm towards the ceiling. Hold for 10-20 seconds and then switch sides.

Start with your feet wider than hips distance apart. A good rule to follow is that your ankles should be directly below your wrists when your arms are spread wide. To keep your alignment and protect your joints, make sure your leg muscles are active before you fold forward, and make sure that you're pressing equally into the inner and outer edges of your feet. From a standing position, keep the legs engaged and gently lower your upper body towards the floor. If you're feeling tight, keep the fingertips on the floor or on blocks underneath your shoulders. For a deeper stretch, walk your hands back between your feet, or grab onto your ankles to draw your chest closer to the floor. Hold for 30 seconds.

Cross your legs, with your feet flexed to protect your knees. Feet can be either under your knees, or if you are very flexible, you can bring one foot gently on top of your opposite knee. You can stay here, or, for a bigger stretch, bring your chest forward towards the floor. Hold for 20-30 seconds before stretching your legs out and switching sides.

Stretch your legs out in front of you, with your thighs strong, and your toes pointing towards the ceiling. Use your breath to slowly lower into a forward fold. On each inhale, lift your chest, and on every exhale, bring your chest towards your thighs. For less flexible hamstrings, you can adapt the pose by sitting on a cushion, or by using a strap around the balls of the feet. Try to stretch from your hips and hamstrings, not by straining your lower back. 

This is a great final pose to gently open the hips and relax the shoulders and back. Try out a few variations: with arms forward and knees either together or wide apart (big toes stay touching), or with knees together and arms back along your sides, palms facing up next to your hips. Stay here as long as you like.

What are your favourite stretches to do after you've spent a long day sitting? Let me know in the comments!

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