15 Minutes a Day to a Better You!
We all have busy schedules. Kids, jobs, travel are a few reasons we give ourselves for why we don’t have time to take care of ourselves. Basic wellness can come from simply taking time each day to sit and pay attention to our bodies and minds. We need to take care of ourselves! It’s our most obvious and basic responsibility and it’s a daily job.
You’ve heard the references to treating your body as a temple. And, in a perfect world all of our temples would be shiny and grand but it is not a perfect world! So instead of envisioning the Taj Mahal, let’s start with a small steeple or a small boat. They’ll hold up fine for the most part when left at status quo but the elements and wear and tear will eventually take its toll. A little maintenance will go a long way to preserve and increase longevity in these small but effective structures. Taking 15 minutes a day to focus on 3 basic activities – breathing, movement, stretching – can do wonders.
Choose a time in the day, preferably the same time daily, where you can be alone in a quiet space for 15 minutes. Dress in comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely and create a small place on the floor that is padded enough to lie down on (use a yoga mat or the likes).
Let’s start with the most basic of the 3 activities, breathing. We do it all day long but we don’t always take advantage of the healing effects of the breath. Lie flat on your back with your head slightly raised on a towel or pad so that your head is in-line with your spine or slightly higher. Bend the knees so that the feet are flat and the back is in a relaxed neutral position. Place your fingertips gently on the ribs and close your eyes. Try and take your self out of any stressful situations or chaos that maybe occurring in your life. Use visualization if need be and mentally transport yourself somewhere where you feel at peace. When ready, take several long breaths inhaling through the nose and gently exhaling through the mouth as if blowing out of a wide straw. As you inhale, concentrate on not only filling the lungs but also the entire torso and into the back. Oxygen is as important to survival as is water. Replenish the tissue and organs of the body with the air you take in and purge the toxins and unwelcome energy out of the body as you exhale. Spend about 5 minutes doing this. You’ll be amazed at the energy and clarity that come to the mind in this mere 5 minutes.
Open your eyes and keep yourself in this peaceful alignment. Keeping your knees bent and feet planted on the floor, place your arms along your sides and rest them at a 45 degree angle. Take a big inhale and turn your head to the right slowly as you fully exhale. Repeat on the left side and do this a few times. Next, shrug ur shoulders up toward your ears and then back down a few times allowing the shoulder blades to raise and lower. Next visualize a clock in your torso with the belly button being the center, the pubic bone 6:00 and the rib cage 12:00. With the knees bent and feet flat, tilt the pelvis towards 12:00 flattening the back. Then gently tilt the pelvis back towards 6:00 creating an arch in the spine. Repeat both positions gently quite a few times holding each one longer then the last and inhaling and exhaling throughout the movement. Finally, keep your left foot on the floor and raise your right foot off the floor. With the knee still bent, hold on gently to the right kneecap with the right hand and move the leg in a circular motion. 5 to 10 times each direction trying to keep the rest of the body perfectly still. Repeat on the other side. As you draw the circles, realize that the top of the leg connects to the hip in a “ball in socket” fashion and should move gently and smoothly. These simple moments should also only take a mere 5 minutes but will effectively improve mobility in your neck, shoulders and hips.
Stretching increases flexibility and range of motion in the joints and ligaments which can enhance regular movements, athletic performance and prevent injuries. It also increases blood flow to the muscles. Even a little can go a long way. Start by remaining on your back with the knees bent. Place your right foot on top of your left thigh, just above the knee keeping the left foot on the floor. Gently apply pressure to the inside of the right knee opening up the hips. Release and repeat a few times, inhaling and exhaling throughout the movement. Then, keeping the light pressure on the right knee, use the left hand to pull the back of the left thigh and move both hips closer to navel. Increase the stretch gradually as you continue to breathe. Repeat on the other side. Next, stand up tall keeping the shoulders nice and low away from the ears. Slowly drop the right ear towards the right shoulder lengthening the left side of the neck. Repeat on the other side. Center the head again and raise the arms at chest level keeping them long and straight. Push the finger tips forward allowing the shoulder blades to widen and the pull the arms back bring the blades back together. Repeat a few times keeping the neck muscles relaxed. Finally, drop your arms back down to your sides and complete the 15 minutes with roll-downs. Standing with feet hip width apart, drop the chin and begin rolling the upper body down toward the toes rounding the back as if you have a beach ball pressing against your stomach. Careful not to lock the knees. Once you reach your lowest point, begin to roll back up keeping the back rounded and the head and arms heavy the entire way up until you are standing completely upright. Repeat one more time being sure to take long breaths throughout the movement.
Notice how you feel after taking 15 minutes to breath, move and stretch. Look in the mirror, most likely you’ll see a healthy flush in your cheeks, a longer better posture and an overall refreshed look. Take one more long cleansing breath and charge forward through your busy day knowing that no matter what comes your way, you contributed 15 minutes to your own wellness… Peace out…