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Seven Beach Stretches
By Anastasia

You are soaking the sun on a colorful beach towel, lazily looking at a horizon. The kids are building sand castles and the dog is asleep. You just finished your favorite book and the weather is as close to perfect as possible, but you are bored.

There's nothing better than boredom to start a healthy habit: stretching. Stretching prevents injuries, lubricates the joints and increases oxygen supply to the muscles. Most of my YogaPulse™ students report that even a few minutes of stretching a day help them to manage their aching backs and shoulders.

Lying down on your back, extend your arms alongside your ears, interlace your fingers and stretch both your arms and your legs. Now release the finger grip and stretch your right arm and your left leg. Reverse it, stretching the left arm and the right leg. Do your stretches slowly and carefully and remember that being on the beach is a joy. Savor every motion.

Hug your knees into the chest. Give your knees a nice squeeze, making sure that your whole spine, from your shoulders to your lowers back is on the towel. Make sure your head and neck are on the towel as well.

Exhale and lower your knees to the left, looking over your right shoulder and extending your right arm straight forward to the right. Try to press your right shoulder into the towel. Stay with this stretch for about five slow deep breaths and then change sides, extending your left arm to the left and dropping your knees to the right. This exercise promotes longevity, by making the spine supple and young. It's also an excellent stretch for scoliosis.

Hug your knees back into the chest. Straighten your right leg, putting it back on the towel. Flex your right foot, therefore releasing the right hamstring. Keep pressing your left knee into the chest and make sure that your head and spine are on the towel. Hold for about five breaths and repeat on the other side. This stretch is wonderful for the hamstring and the groin muscles. If you do the exercise regularly, you'll notice that your walk is becoming lighter and more graceful, which is especially helpful if you are wearing a bikini.

Come to sit up either cross-legged or simply sit down on your heels, kneeling, with knees and shins touching. Lift your arms up above your head. Try so that your forearms are behind the ears. On the exhalation, interlace your fingers and open your palms up to the sky. Gaze in front of you, at the ocean. Work on straightening your arms and breathe slowly and deeply. Hold for about five breaths. This stretch is excellent for anyone with tight shoulders, especially for those who enjoy lifting weights. This stretch will prevent hunched shoulders, if practiced regularly.

Now come to stand up with feet hip width apart and parallel to each other. Fold forward, releasing the tension from the upper and the middle back. Try to keep your legs straight and relax your torso. Grab a hold of the opposite elbows and swing your torso from side to side gently. Let your head be heavy – it adds to the stretch. This is an excellent exercise for those that spend all year in an office and could really use a supple back for that sexy stroll down the beach.

On the inhalation, slowly come to stand up. Head is the last thing to come up.

Take your arms behind your torso and bending your elbows, grab a hold of the right elbow with the left wrist, while grabbing a hold of the left elbow with the right wrist. Make sure your back is straight. Walk by the ocean, still holding your elbows behind your back – it's likely to perfect your walk, making your back strong and supple. You can walk this way as long as you wish.

Finally, release the elbows and give your arms a nice shake. See if you are standing straighter and if your spine feels a little better. It looks like it's time to help the kids with that sandcastle. After all of the stretching, your back probably won't hurt from being hunched over.