Rest best

As women grow older our body changes and the needs of our body changes. This includes the way in which we exercise. Transitioning from our 20’s to our 30’s sees us transitioning from a place of yang to a place of yin in our body. This means our body is going to respond to yin style activities far better than it is yang. And ultimately we need a lil’ more rest. As nice as that might sound in principal it can be a tough transition if you have been a gym bunny.

But if like me you are finding that high intensity gym style training is no longer serving you and you bod, may be its time for a change.

And just so you know, it is during rest that the magic happens. You see far more gain when you allow your body and mind to rest and recover.

Let me show you how to rest best by including a few of these restorative active recovery sessions in to your workout week.

Walk it out:

Getting out in nature is one of the very best things you can do for both your body and mind. Going for a walk might sound simple, and it is. But simple is sometimes where it is at. This is something you can do with a buddy, a partner, alone or anywhere in-between. Which ever you decide, here are my top tips and a just a few more of the benefits that can be gained from walking:

  • If you are going it alone, download some podcasts and learn / laugh / get inspired along the way. There are so many out there to choose from these days, pick a topic you love and walk to the talk.
  • Explore your local area; often we are so caught up and busy we miss things going on in our very own backyards. Head out and wander around your suburb / town, you will be surprised at the things you notice when you aren’t rushing to be somewhere else.
  • Become an explorer and drive out to a place you have never been before – a new beach, lake, or national park. Be inquisitive and explore every nook and cranny.
  • Take it easy, stroll and enjoy it. Try not to look at this as exercise, I know you love exercise but pushing it can lead to resentment. Do it for the love of it.

More benefits of walking:

  • Increases cardiovascular fitness
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Helps in the management of hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain or stiffness, and diabetes
  • Strengthens bones and improves balance
  • Increases muscle strength and endurance

Be Zen:

Yin yoga is all about big stretch moves with long holds, a really slow pace, and the use of cushions and blocks to assist in getting you in to the poses. Yin is guaranteed to release any muscle soreness by lengthening the target muscles; it is the perfect active recovery activity.

Here are some of my top tips for your class and a just a few more of the benefits that can be gained from yin:

  • Move slowly and gently into the pose. You might think it seems easy or even a bit boring but if you go straight to the maximum stretch of the pose you will find it difficult to hold for the correct length of time.
  • For some (me included), it is really difficult to find stillness in the poses. Consciously try to let go as you move in to each pose, and resist the urge to fidget or shift position too much.
  • Don’t think of it as a workout, it isn’t. It’s a chance to relax, stretch and rebalance.
  • The hardest thing about yin is switching off the mind. Try to repeat a short mantra as you sit in each posture. It can be anything from a real chant to ‘I am good enough’ or even more simply ‘breath in, breath out’ anything that is going to work to stop you thinking about what you are going to make for dinner or how you are going to reach that deadline.

More benefits of yin:

  • Calms and balances the mind and body.
  • Reduces stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Increases circulation.
  • Improves flexibility.
  • Releases tight fascia.
  • Improves joint mobility.
  • Improves digestion.
  • Balances internal organs.

Roll with it:

Foam rollers are very affordable and one of the best gifts you can give yourself (although you may not think that the first few times you use it). Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release or self-massage. It will ease muscle soreness, tightness and release certain trigger points.

Give these moves a go with your foam roller:

  • Upper Back (Thoracic Spine) – Lay the roller length ways on the ground. Position your mid-back against the roller just underneath your shoulder blades. Your knees should be bent and feet flat on the floor with your bum lifted in a tabletop, hands should be off the ground rested across your chest. From here slowly roll forward and back to move the roller along the mid-length of your back and the top of your shoulder blades.
  • Latissimus Dorsi – Lie on your right side as if you were going to do some Jane Fonda style leg raises. Place the foam roller length ways underneath your right arm along your bra line and extend your right arm along the floor. Lightly place your left hand on the floor for support. Now move along the roller so it rolls from your armpit to just above your waist. Repeat on the left side.
  • Quadriceps – Laying face down, place the roller underneath both your thighs, near your hips. To support your bodyweight, position your elbows and forearms so they are flat on the floor in front of you, your feet should hover just above the floor.
    From here, move the roller up and down the length of your thighs (pelvic bone to just above your knees by pushing through your arms.
  • Iliotobial (IT) Band – With the roller length ways on the ground, lay your right hip against the length the roller. Cross your left leg over the top of the right and place both hands out on the ground in front of you for support. Now, roll along the outside of the thigh (hip to above your knee) by moving your body back and forth over the roller. Repeat on the left side.
  • Glutes – Lay the roller on the ground lengthways and with straight legs sit your butt on the foam roller, take your arms behind you and place your palms down, arms straight as if you were going to do a tricep dip. Now bend one leg and angle your body so one butt cheek is taking all of the weight, with smaller rolls than in the previous exercises move your glute back and forth across the roller. Repeat on the opposite side.

More benefits of foam rolling:

  • Increases blood flow to your muscles.
  • Helps to relieve muscle tension.
  • Increases range of motion.
  • Decrease recovery time.
  • Helps with muscle repair.
  • Helps reduce cellulite.
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