Best Yoga Exercises

SPRING IS S TARTING TO HAPPILY CREEP IT S WAY IN

And the regular sunshine and longer days might be just what you need to get your productive juices flowing and spark a much-needed cleaning spree. It’s out with the old to make room for the new! Clearing out the clutter and purging isn’t only therapeutic and cathartic (there’s so much room we didn’t know we had!), but donating clothing or furniture can also benefit our local community.

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As we get into the spring-cleaning spirit, it’s important to remember our Pilates principles and practice to stay injury free. Cleaning can be something many of us do without even thinking, but even the smallest movement done improperly can lead to injury or strain—especially for those who are pregnant or have a pre-existing condition such as low-back or neck pain. Do these Pilates moves a few times a week to help improve alignment and boost efficiency so that as you’re reaching, dragging, stooping and lifting, you’re engaging all the right muscles to keep those aches and pains at bay. Your body— and sparkling-clean space—will thank you!

Pilates Deadlift

Best Yoga Exercises

PURPOSE

Teaches proper engagement of the posterior chain (back body), to keep the work in the correct place (out of the low back and in the legs and abs) when lifting or moving heavy objects and when stooping to pick things up.

SET UP

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, weight in your heels and knees tracking over your middle toe. Extend your arms toward the ceiling, palms facing inward. 1 . Inhale as you pitch forward from your hips with a neutral spine to squat deeply while reaching your hands toward the floor. 2 . Exhale as you engage your glutes and hamstrings to return to the starting position. Do 10–15 reps.

Best Yoga Exercises

TIPS

Keep your gaze steady in front of you, your weight in your heels and your navel pulling in toward your spine.

ADVANCE D

Hold a weighted ball for more muscle engagement.

Double-Leg Stretch PURPOS E works the abdominals, especially the psoas and transverse to help support proper posture and core stability while lifting and carrying.

SETUP Lie on your back with your legs in tabletop. Lift your head, neck and shoulder blades, and place your hands on your knees. 1 . Inhale as you extend your arms overhead in line with your ears and stretch your legs out on a high diagonal without allowing your chest to lower. 2 . Exhale as you circle your arms around to return to the starting position. Do 10–12 reps.

Best Yoga Exercises

ADVANCED Hold a light hand weight, or add ankle weights for an extra challenge; if using ankle weights, be careful not to let your legs lower too much, which can cause back strain.

Spine Twist Supine PURPOE improves flexibility of the spine while engaging the abdominals—especially the obliques—to assist with moving and twisting when vacuuming or mopping

SETUP Lie on your back with your legs in tabletop and arms out to a T position, palms down.

1 . Inhale as you drop your knees over to one side, without allowing your opposite shoulder to come off the mat.

2 . Exhale as you bring your knees back to tabletop, and then repeat to your other side. Do 8–10 reps. TIP Keep your inner thighs active and hips stacked.

DO: … bend at your knees and hips when lifting or picking up heavy objects (e.g., boxes and furniture), and put your weight in your heels. … be mindful of keeping your abdominals engaged and spine neutral. … switch sides regularly when vacuuming and mopping (also a good challenge for your motor skills!), so you’re not overworking one side; step one leg forward so your weight is on both legs. … take short breaks to stretch and give your body a rest from lifting, moving and stooping.

DON’T: … lock your knees, hunch or round your back when lifting heavy objects. (Also avoid pitching from your hips with straight knees.) … allow your spine to curve or your shoulders to come up, putting excessive strain on your neck and back when vacuuming or mopping. … reach for too-high objects, which can cause neck strain; instead, use a step stool or ladder.

Chest Lift Prone PURPOSE strengthens the spinal muscles, which are important for posture and while lifting objects.

SETUP Lie facedown with your hands stacked underneath your forehead, and legs hip-width apart in parallel.

1 . Keeping your forehead on your hands, inhale as you lift your upper body off the mat, focusing on lengthening through the crown of your head.

2 . Exhale as you lower to the starting position. Do 10–12 reps. TIP Keeping your hands underneath your forehead will help you maintain a neutral spine—and avoid using your head or neck to lift. Engage the muscles in your upper back (like the teres major and minor, trapezius, lats, etc.) to lift.

VARIATION Lift your legs with your chest to fire up the hamstrings and glutes.

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