Stress really can be a pain in the neck. Sometimes, you can even feel it in your shoulders, back, and legs—especially after a long commute. When you’re tense, you may tighten up your muscles without even realizing it. It’s one of the ways the body responds to stress. To relax your mind and body, try these gentle stretches.
Sit on a mat or towel with your left leg crossed in front of your right. With your elbow straight, reach your right arm across your chest. Place your left hand on your right elbow, and gently bring your right arm toward your chest. You should feel a stretch in your right shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds, then switch sides by reaching your left arm across your chest.
Gentle Hip Stretch
Sit on a mat or towel with your left leg crossed in front of your right. Turn to your right. Place your right hand on the ground and your left hand on your left knee. Inhale, and sit up tall. Exhale, and lower your chest toward your right leg. Gently allow your head to drop. You should feel a stretch in your left hip. Hold for 1 minute, then switch sides by crossing your right leg in front of your left.
Lying Knee-to-Chest Stretch
Lie on a mat or towel with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Lift your right knee, clasp your hands below it, and gently bring your knee toward your chest. You should feel a stretch in your back and legs. For a deeper stretch, straighten your left leg so that it rests on the ground. Hold for 1 minute, then switch sides by lifting your left knee.