How to Practice Meditative Movement at Home

By Robert Common, Managing Partner, The Beekeeper

Sometimes throughout our day-to-day life we have different experiences, big or small, that negatively affect our mental and physical health. The toll this takes on us can be heavy and affect other aspects of our lives. This type of tension can affect everything from our ability to maintain relationships to our ability to focus on tasks or process our thoughts and feelings in the moment.

To lessen this burden, it’s important to establish a self-care routine and regularly practice healthy and productive coping mechanisms. Meditative movement and stretching exercises are an easy-to-incorporate, incredibly beneficial way to improve our wellbeing. Yoga and its accompanying stretching exercises are particularly well-known for their ability to reduce stress and promote wellness and relaxation. Described below are two types of yoga practices that can easily be done at home, as well as descriptions of how to perform specific recommended stretches.

Yoga has many different forms, but they are all designed to bring together breathing, stretching, posing, and meditation exercises to promote good health and overall wellness. Two types of yoga that are easy to do at home and not physically exhausting are:

1. Yin Yoga
Yin Yoga is a slower-paced form of yoga that relies on holding stretches for several minutes at a time. This type of yoga is designed to work on deeper tissues and restore elasticity rather than build on or engage your muscles. This form of yoga is ideal for calming your mind and finding balance

2. Restorative
Restorative yoga is also a slower paced form of yoga that relies on slow-moving stretches with long periods of holding poses in place. This type of yoga enhances relaxation and allows you to experience deeper sensations of relaxation. It’s considered a good way to start your day or to relieve tension before bed

Stretching Exercises
Listed below are some commonly used stretches that you’ll perform when practicing Yin or Restorative forms of yoga, along with brief descriptions on how to practice them at home:

Child’s Pose

  • Kneel with your knees hip-distance apart and your feet together behind you
  • Deeply inhale; when you exhale, lay your torso over your thighs, pressing your bottom onto your heels and reaching your arms forward. Rest your forehead on your mat
  • Hold this position for 30-60 seconds.You should feel a stretch on your backside and in your hips

Cat-Cow Pose

  • Start on your hands and knees with your shoulders over your wrists and hips over your knees
  • (Cat posture): deeply inhale; on the exhale, round your spine and drop your head toward the floor
  • (Cow posture): Inhale and lift your head, chest, and tailbone towards the ceiling as your back arches
  • Perform this repeatedly for 30-60 seconds. You should feel a stretch in your spine

Downward Facing Dog

  • Start on your hands and knees with your hands stacked under your shoulders and your knees under your hips
  • Spread out your hands and press your index fingers and thumbs into your mat
  • Begin straightening your legs as you lift your tailbone. Press your bottom up and draw your hips towards the ceiling. Press your heels gently toward the floor to steady yourself
  • Make sure your shoulders are pulled back and your back is flat. Your head should be in a relaxed position, facing your knees
  • Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings and calves, and perhaps also in your back and/or your shoulders

Seated Spinal Twist

  • Sit up straight with your legs crossed. Put your left arm on your right knee and your right arm behind you
  • Deeply inhale and elongate your spine, then exhale and rotate towards the right. You should be looking over your right shoulder while keeping your shoulders relaxed
  • Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then switch sides and repeat. You should feel a stretch in your spine

Forward Fold

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, let your torso hang, and straighten your legs
  • Relax your shoulders and tuck your chin in towards your chest. To elongate your spine, move your head so that the top of it is facing the floor
  • Hold onto each of your elbows with the arm opposite it, or let your arms hang separately
  • Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. You should feel a stretch in your back and your hamstrings

Of course, just knowing about these exercises isn’t going to help you; you have to do them. So, get started today! Be sure to listen to your body as you practice and not overextend yourself, and as you continue to practice yoga, look into new poses to continue to increase your meditative movement and enhance your health.

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