Yoga Stretch

Yoga Stretch is another flexibility collection by Jessica Smith. This DVD contains 2 yoga/flexibility routines. AM: Energizing Flow which is 30 minutes and PM: Relaxing Flow which is 30 minutes. Judging from the titles, these are apparently designed to be used either in the morning or evening. I use them for my Sunday yoga workout. As usual, I enjoyed them both. I actually checked this DVD out from the library but I liked it so much my husband bought a copy to stuff in my stocking (no surprises here!). These routines work well alone or together. AM is active and dynamic, and PM is more relaxing and static, so start with AM and end w/ PM. When I did them I did one of Jessica’s low impact 30 minute cardio workouts to warm me up and ended with one of these 30 minute yoga flows. Either way works great. Or just do them on their own for 30 minutes of flexibility.

AM: Energizing Flow is 30:30 minutes. This is a great yoga flow. You do not hold many of the poses for long. Most of the time you are flowing between two poses. There is some body weight strength work in this routine as well. Nothing advanced, but Jessica does show various levels of many of the moves so a beginner and someone more intermediate should be able to do this routine with little problem. I really enjoyed it.

It starts with a deep breath, reaching arms overhead; lower one arm while reaching the other hand higher; reach other arm overhead while lowering the opposite arm; continue alternating arm reaches. Hinge forward, keeping back straight and arms extended out straight to sides; turn palms to face the back of the room and press arms back so they are now still straight but beside body; next bring your straight arms up beside your ears (still hinged forward); alternate between these two arm movements, sweeping arms back by hips then beside ears. Standing cat/cow (hands on thighs). Standing up again, extend both arms straight in front of you at chest level then reach one arm behind you, turning head and chest to look back at hand but keeping hips forward; repeat on other arm then continue to alternate between sides; add raising same side leg for a balance challenge. Hold chair pose; raise up to standing, pressing straight arms behind you then lower back into chair–continue to flow between standing and chair pose. Forward fold w/ back rounded; flatten back while still folded forward then flow back into forward fold–flow between these two versions of forward fold. Standing tall, take a deep breath while reaching arms overhead, forward fold placing hands on ground and step one leg back so you are in low lunge then place hands on front thigh; reach one or both arms overhead (crescent pose). While in crescent lunge, raise and lower (high lunge to low lunge). Warrior 2. Side angle pose. Reverse warrior. Flow between side angle pose and reverse warrior. Triangle pose. Straight arm plank hold. Child’s pose. Flow back and forth between cobra and child’s pose. Bird dog pose; flow between sides on bird dog pose. Lay on side, resting on bottom elbow w/ bottom knee bent and top leg extended straight in line with hip, flex foot and raise and lower top leg; raise hips off ground while continuing to raise and lower top leg; hold pose w/ hips raised, top leg raised and top arm extended to ceiling. Bent knee boat pose; while holding boat pose, arms will flow from reaching overhead to straight in front of you in line with your shins. Lay on back, knees bent and feet on floor, raise hips into bridge pose; clasp hands under body and walk shoulders back so your hips are lifted higher. Still laying on back, raise feet off ground, knees bent, raise head/neck/shoulders off floor while reaching arms toward feet; place hands behind head and reach one hand to outside of opposite thigh, alternate sides; add extending other leg when reaching toward bent leg’s thigh. Down dog pose; peddle feet while in down dog. From down dog, lower knees so they are a few inches off the floor and hold (beast pose); press back to down dog pose then keep alternating between beast pose and down dog. Roll up to standing. Reach arms overhead w/ palms together and rotate upper body in a circle (torso only circles). Stand in mountain pose w/ eyes closed while Jessica talks. Routine ends with a deep breath, reaching arms overhead.

PM: Relaxing Flow is 30:30 minutes. Equipment: a pillow and a yoga strap or towel. I used a yoga strap, but I only used it for two of the exercises (I indicate below which ones I used my yoga strap for). I did not use a pillow at all. I have a very thick cushiony yoga mat so more padding isn’t necessary for me. Unlike the AM routine, you do hold static stretches. This routine compliments the AM routine very well. In fact, if you wanted an hour of yoga/flexibility then AM would warm you up and PM would cool you down and stretch you out very nicely.

This routine out starts standing on your mat and shaking out your hands. Swing your arms from front to back; changes to swinging arms overhead and behind your head then back down; add big arm circles then swing arm up and behind head. Head rolls to stretch neck. Lower ear toward shoulder. Bring shoulders up to ears then relax them back down. Standing spine extensions (arching spine). Clasp hands behind back (or use towel/strap) and reach arms behind you, stretching chest and hinge forward at the hips into a forward fold w/ arms reaching up behind you; bring hands to floor then roll back up to standing. Holding towel/strap in one hand, reach arm overhead and bend elbow so towel/strap is hanging down behind you, reach you other hand up behind your back to grasp other end of towel/strap and try to bring hands close together; add leaning to side (<–I used my yoga strap for this). Set towel/strap aside. Take a deep breath, reaching arms overhead then fold forward, hang down with arms crossed and hands clasping elbows; sway arms/upper body from side to side. Lunge on mat w/ back knee on pillow, stretching hip flexor and quads; place hand on mat next to front foot, coming deeper into stretch; lower to elbows, coming even deeper into stretch. From lunge position, shift hips back, straightening front leg to stretch the hamstrings (half splits). Lay on one hip and same side elbow w/ knees bent and in front of you, grasp top ankle and pulled leg back behind you stretching quad. Sit on pillow w/ one leg extended straight in front of you and the other bent w/ sole of foot against inner thigh, wrap strap/towel around foot of extended leg and pull back on foot while hinging forward. Extend leg out to side with other leg still bent, sole of foot still close to inner thigh, strap/towel still wrapped around foot (other end of strap in same side hand), reach other arm overhead and lean torso to side while pulling on foot w/ towel/strap. Cat/cow stretch. Thread the needle pose. Child’s pose. Lay on back w/ pillow under head and do reclining pigeon stretch. Still laying on back, one leg bent w/ foot on floor, wrap the towel/strap around other foot and extend leg straight toward ceiling, pulling the leg in toward chest to stretch the back of the leg; open straight leg out to side while also opening bent knee to side, stretching inner thighs; bring same straight leg across body, rocking over onto opposite hip to stretch the top hip (towel/strap is still wrapped around foot w/ ends held in hand) (<–I used my yoga strap for this sequence). Still on back, hug knees into chest and rock hips back and forth. Happy baby pose. Corpse pose.

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