6 Simple Yoga Stretches & Top Tips For Practising Yoga

A few minutes a day is all you need to feel better!

By Olivia Lim        17 September 2021

Whether you’re still working from home, or have gone back to the office, we can all benefit from a gentle daily stretching routine. Yoga instructor Sheena from Yoga Inc at SAFRA Punggol shares the steps for some simple stretches you can do at home, as well as tips for starting out in yoga!

1. Neck Stretch
Ease your “Tech Neck”

1. Sit up nice and tall in a comfortable cross-legged position
2. Hold on to the left side of your head with your right hand and rest your left fingertips on your left shoulder. Gently tug left shoulder down
3. Lower your right ear towards your right shoulder and feel the stretch through the left side of your neck
4. Hold for a few breaths. Slowly inhale while lifting your head back up
5. Switch sides and repeat

2. Side Body Stretch
Lengthen the sides of your body

1. Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position
2. Place your left hand on the ground in line with your hips
3. Reach your right arm up, gently drawing your elbow behind your ear
4. Walk your left fingertips out to the side and reach your right arm to the left
5. Feel the stretch across the right side of your body. Try turning your chest slightly up towards the ceiling for a deeper stretch
6. Hold for a few breaths. Slowly inhale while you lift yourself back up
7. Switch sides and repeat

3. Butterfly Pose
Stretch for your inner thighs and hips

1. Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position
2. Place the soles of your feet together
3. Hold on to your ankles
4. Gently press your knees down towards the mat
5. Extend your chest forward, pulling your elbows out towards the side. Gaze forward
6. Hold for a few breaths and feel the stretch through your hips and inner thighs
7. Slowly inhale as you lift yourself up

4. Cat Cow Pose
Warm up your back muscles

1. Start in Table Top pose. Hands and knees on the mat with hands under your shoulders, knees under your hips
2. Inhale, melt your belly down and send your chest forward. Gaze slightly upwards
3. Exhale, round your back and lightly press your chin towards your chest
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for a few more rounds before returning to neutral spine position

5. Hamstring Stretch (Pyramid Pose)
Full Body Stretch, especially the hamstrings

1. You will need 2 blocks. Step your right foot forward and place your hands on the blocks with the blocks under your shoulders
2. Turn your left foot out at a 45°angle
3. Send your chest forward and ground the back heel down into the mat
4. Feel the stretch in your right hamstring
5. Hold for a few breaths. Slowly inhale while you lift yourself back up
6. Switch sides and repeat

6. Reclined Spinal Twist
Bring relief to lower back tightness

1. Lie down on your back and stretch your arms out towards the sides
3. Draw your left knee towards your chest. Hold on to your left knee with your right hand
4. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, cross and lower your knee to the right, while you turn your torso to the left
5. Try to keep the back of your left shoulder pressing into the mat
6. Breathe deeply as you hold the pose
7. Slowly inhale while you guide your left knee back up. Lower left leg down
8. Switch sides and repeat

Yoga Q & A

1.     Do I have to be very flexible to do yoga?
Not at all! Yoga is for everyone. We offer different class types to cater to various levels. Depending on your practice and ability, you should look for one that will suit you best. Pose modifications will be provided where possible so that you can challenge yourself yet still be mindful of your body’s limits.

 In fact, if you notice a lack of flexibility or range of motion, it’s time to start practising! With consistency, your flexibility will improve over time.

2. Can yoga help me to burn fat and lose weight?
You can expect to shed some excess weight if you combine a regular exercise routine and healthy eating habits. Flow classes, which are faster-paced classes and are typically a blend of cardio and strength, will help burn more calories.

3. Is it safe to practise yoga if I have a hip or back problem?
It is important to get clearance from a medical professional before starting any exercise programme if you are suffering or recovering from an injury/medical condition. Once cleared, you can start with the less intense classes, e.g. Yin or Stretch, before moving on to more physically demanding classes. Do inform the instructor before class starts so he/she can offer you more guidance and attention.

4. Could you share what hot yoga is and is hot yoga really beneficial? Are there any risks?
Hot yoga generally refers to a yoga practice in a heated room. It helps to increase heart rate so you are working towards a more cardiovascular practice. Do expect a very sweaty workout!

There are always risks to any kind of exercise. Dehydration is the main risk when attending a hot yoga class. Make sure you drink lots of water especially after class to prevent dehydration as you will lose fluids faster in a heated room.

5. What else can I do to help improve my yoga practice?
Cardio workouts (e.g. HIIT, jogging) and functional movements can increase mobility, agility and stamina, which are great complements to a yoga practice. 

Yoga is a full body weight exercise that involves a lot of stretching and twisting. Healthy lifestyle habits such as proper nutrition and good sleep hygiene will improve general well-being and enhance your yoga practice.

6. In light of the current situation, what measures has the studio put in place to ensure safety and hygiene for participants?
We keep up to date with the current social distancing guidelines and implement adjustments as and when recommended by the government. Currently, class sizes are kept to groups of five with safe distancing within and between groups and only fully vaccinated individuals are allowed in unmasked classes. Mats and props are disinfected after every use.

Note: Do not attempt any of the suggested actions or instruction in this article without first consulting with a medical professional. 

SAFRA Members and Affiliated Members enjoy 10% off all regular packages at Yoga Inc. Not applicable to prenatal and promotional packages. Visit www.safra.sg/amenities-offerings/yoga-inc for more information on Yoga Inc’s courses.

Do you practise yoga? Share your tips with us at magnsman@sph.com.sg!