Welcome back mind-body students! We have had a lot of posts about research and special events on the blog lately! These are all great, and I am so happy to share the amazing work we are doing with all of you. However, I also like to have action on my blog too!
So let's dive into a great mind-body workout this week, and get back into the groove of our mind-body routine!
Mind-Body Workout #10: Strengthening Your Roots
Let's begin with some stretching of the key muscles that support stability and balance. Stretching these muscles is not only important for flexibility and avoiding falls, but it is also a key part to releasing our skeleton from being a prisoner of the soft tissue. This improves blood flow, which allows oxygen to reach all of our cells more effectively, and energizes our whole mind-body system!
The first stretch will be the Flamingo Stretch for our hips. Our hips are the core of our body, and they are responsible for directing the strength that we generate from our legs. Having strong roots is not much help if you cannot use your hips correctly! Do the stretch to each side (each leg) for 2-3 minutes, using whatever support you need.
Next we will stretch our lower back out in each of its major directions using the Five Musketeers Stretch. Just like with the hips, the lower back is responsible for directing a lot of the strength of our root system (our legs). If your lower back is tight, you will not be able to properly strengthen your legs! Do this stretch like I show in the video, for about 1-2 minutes at each angle. Use blocks or books and pillows to properly support yourself so that you are doing 80% effort.
For our last stretch, we will be working on the tightest muscles in our body: our hamstrings! This technique is an old favorite I call "Vitamin H." While we do this stretch, we will also be focusing on performing "water breath." This will begin to really engage our mind and breath into the workout. This stretch you can hold for 3-4 minutes, but make sure you are doing 80% effort, just like before!
For our first of three strengthening exercises, we will be moving Up and Down Like the Moon and the Sun. Remember to do the two sets, legs apart and legs together. Up to 15 (in each set!) is beginner level, 15-30 repetitions is intermediate, and 30-50 repetitions is the advanced level of leg strength. Do the amount that you are able to with 80% effort.
From working our quadriceps and other thigh muscles, we are moving down to the calves! This exercise has you go up onto your toes, and then roll back onto your heals. It works your calf muscles as well as massages the bottom of your feet. The feet are so important for generating the strength and force from the ground that everyone needs. Whether you are a martial artists who wants to throw a powerful kick, or just a person who needs to run up and down a flight of stairs, strong and flexible feet are so important. Do this 20-30 times, and be sure to pay attention to your breathing like I mention in the video.
Finally, we are going to practice moving up and down from the floor safely. This may seem like it contradicts what our workout is about. Why would we practice this if the goal is to have strong roots and not to fall over? The answer is pretty simple! Everyone falls over sometime. When you practice this movement, not only are you getting a good workout in for your whole body (especially your legs), but you will also be teaching your body how to react when it loses balance: bend the knees, move down low in a straight down way so your body can "collapse" instead of "fall". Do this 10 times to each side, practicing getting down and up from one side and then the other.
And that's all for this week! I hope you enjoy the workout!
And as always, happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!