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EXERCISE FOR RELAXATION

Ease your body into these stretches: you should not be jumping or bouncing around, and the exercises are not supposed to be uncomfortable. Remember to breathe slowly and rhythmically too. The positions should be held for at least 10 seconds, but if you want to increase your flexibility, stretch the major muscle groups for a minimum of 30 seconds. As well as helping your body to relax by reducing muscle tension, these stretch exercises can be done to increase flexibility or to ease muscles, or cool down after exercising.

Abdominal breathing is the key here. This allows you to take air deep into your lungs. When you breathe deeply, blood is able to carry oxygen more efficiently to all parts of your body.

Mermaid with hip flexor stretch

This exercise releases the hip flexors, which pull on the lower back. The hip flexors shorten when we sit. 

How to do:

1. Start in a high kneeling position. Take one leg forward into a lunge and press hips forward until you feel a stretch through the front of the thigh and hip

2. Reach up to the ceiling and side bend towards the ring, pressing it down. You should feel a  stretch through the side of the body

Tip: For more of a stretch, take the foot farther away

Reps: Hold for 30 seconds each side, breathing throughout 

Spine Twist

The spine twist is a great posture-strengthening exercise.

How to do:

1.  Sit up tall with the feet wide and the legs straight. Place the ring between the legs with the hands on top of it. Ensure you are sitting tall and the arms are straight

2. Exhale to release one arm and twist to one side. Inhale to return to centre. Keep the hips still and the arms strong throughout the movement

Tip: If you are finding it hard to sit up tall, you can do this one sitting on a chair or elevated on a bolster

Reps: 6 to 8 each side

Criss Cross

How to do :

1. Start on your back, holding a Pilates ring or squishy ball to the ceiling with the legs in table-top

2. Exhale to curl up with the body and twist to one side, extending the opposite leg

3. Inhale to alternate to the other side. You want to tap the opposite arm to the bent leg and straighten the other leg, hovering it above the mat.

Keep it quick and dynamic without pauses

Tip: To make this exercise harder, keep legs straight and scissor them, twisting towards the leg stretched up to the ceiling

Reps: 8 to 10 each side

Sprinters step-up

Keep it simple with this hip flexor engaging exercise for shapely legs and a toned tush!

How to do:

Walk from one spot to the next by raising each knee high towards your chest, on your toes at the top with the grounded leg and then come down and repeat the other side. 

Tip:

The less distance you make, the better you are doing – this is about control and technique, not speed and covering a large area.

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