Nicole Tsong demonstrates her favorite ways to get moving outside of a structured class.
LEARNING HOW TO move more outside of a yoga or fitness class has been one of my biggest shifts in the past year. I love the challenge of a hard lifting session or sweaty yoga class, and I also have learned to move my body in other ways throughout the day. My body benefits as I tackle tough spots, like my feet, and it helps me mentally to know I am moving, especially if my schedule doesn’t allow for a dedicated class.
Here are my favorite ways to move outside of a class, inspired by my own movement teachers. Most can be done in front of the television — my favorite time to add these in.
Watch and Move
Nicole Tsong demonstrates these exercises for the TV room in this video: seattletimes.com/pacific-nw-magazine.
Truth be told, I am not motivated to do core work at home. But if I were to do one core exercise every day, it would be this one: Lie on your back. Bend your knees so your thighs are vertical, and your shins parallel to the floor. Lift your thighs toward the ceiling until your back ribs press fully into the floor. Press your hands against your legs, feet flexed and active, and make your legs resist. Set a timer, and hold for 60 seconds.
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• Sit … on the floor. Moving from a chair or the couch to the floor has created a monumental shift. I move around a lot more on the floor, and I am more inclined to add in a seated twist, too. It also allows me to practice sitting on the front side of my sitting bones and create a natural curve in my lumbar spine.
• Sit on a cushion or two, or a bolster, feet crossed. Bring your hands to your glutes, feel around for the bones at the base of your pelvis and move to the front side of your sitting bones. This will help you sit up straighter more easily. If crossing your feet bothers your knees, extend one leg.
• Add on: Lengthen your spine and hug your front ribs toward each other, then take one hand behind you on a block or the floor, and add a spinal twist.
• Once you’re on the floor, stretch your feet while you’re down there. Put your fingers in between every toe, or do a few standing foot stretches before you sit down. Your feet are enclosed in shoes most of the time. Give them some love while you watch your latest Netflix find.
• Calf stretch: This one, from biomechanist Katy Bowman, showed me how tight my Achilles and calves are. I work on this one frequently, keeping my weight centered over my heels. You can step in front of the half-dome roller to intensify the stretch.
• Roll out: Roll out your foot with a tennis ball or Yoga Tune Up ball. Warm your feet up back and forth over the ball, then find any sticky spots, and work them out side to side.
• The squat is a beautiful position that is a bonanza for your ankles, hips and pelvic floor; it takes time to work up to a deep squat. If you have trouble squatting with your heels down or feet parallel, turn your toes out, or widen your stance. You also can modify it by folding a blanket or towel under your heels to ease the intensity, and build up to a full squat. Build up to a minute.
• I focused more on walking this past year, and it is now an essential part of my day. You can build in more benefits by making a walk a tech-free time, to give your eyes (and ears) a break. I also build in rest for my eyes, another Bowman recommendation, by looking out to the horizon and to the mountains during my walks.