Even if you’re not a sports enthusiast, the quadrennial summer Olympics broadcast is a time when many of us become one. You get to see the fittest athletes in the world chase the biggest dream of their life ― why wouldn’t we take some extra time to soak up the inspiration in Rio this month?
You may end up feeling stiff and sore from all that lounging, cheering and gasping – but not sore enough to justify a shorter daily consumption of guts and glory. I get it.
To keep yourself in optimal cheering shape, try this simple yoga sequence ― it will stretch and energize you without disrupting a single second of your Olympics watch time.
1. Seated Side Bend
Sit comfortably. Stretch your right leg out and bring your left foot in toward your groin. Place your right palm on the ground near your inner leg. Stretch left arm up and overhead. Feel for length in your left torso, and roll your heart toward the ceiling. Hold for 10-15 breaths. Switch sides.
Lay on the ground belly-down. Widen your legs ― your feet are wider than your hips. Place forearms on the ground. Lift ribs toward the sky. Unclench your glutes and feel for release in your low back. Bonus: Prop hands gently under chin for optimum binge positioning as pictured above. Hold for 10-15 breaths.
3. Bridge With A Block
Bend knees and set feet hip-width apart. Tuck your tailbone and lift your back off of the ground. Place a block underneath your sacrum at a height of your choosing. (If you don’t have a block, a stack of books or pillows also works.) Allow your spine to “hang” off of the block. This pose restores the natural S-curve of your spine. Take a longer hold here: 2-3 minutes.
4. Lunge On The Wall
This one is spicy and you may sweat. Start in a lunge with your right leg forward. Scoot yourself back until your left foot comes to the wall. Continue until left knee comes to the wall as well. I pad my left knee with a pillow for support. Place hands on hips and let your left hip hang toward the ground. Tweeze elbows together and lift ribs away from hips. Hold for 8-10 breaths, then switch sides.
5. Seated Spinal Twist
Bend your right foot toward your left hip. Cross your left ankle over your right knee. Hook your right elbow over your left knee. Turn your navel to the left and feel for a twist in your middle spine. Keep your chin aligned with sternum. Tent your back fingertips to stay tall. Hold for 8-10 breaths, then switch sides.
6. Seated Forward Fold
This bent-knees variation focuses on low back more than hamstrings. Lengthen legs out in front of you. Bend your knees as much as needed to grab the outsides of your feet with your hands. Inhale and lift your ribs away from your hips. Exhale and fold forward. Bring forehead toward your shins – this keeps your torso long. Hold for 10-15 breaths.
7. Straddle On The Wall
Bring your legs to the wall – scoot your butt all the way up to the baseboard. Place a pillow under your glutes – this makes the tilt of the hips more gradual and protects your low back. Allow legs to hang out to the sides. Your legs will release and open with time – hold for 3-5 minutes. To release, place hands behind your knees and bend your knees toward your chest. This restorative pose is great for preliminary rounds ― just hang out.