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Week Of Daily Activities

1. The Big X in Bed

In the morning when you wake up, squirm around using your whole body—limbs, spine, hips, rib cage, and neck. Take in deep breaths through your nose and out through your mouth.
Lie on your back in the middle of your bed with your right hand reaching diagonally toward the right upper corner of the bed and your left hand reaching toward the left upper corner. Spread your legs downward and out diagonally toward the right and left lower corners, so your body makes the shape of an X.
Lead with your right hand, palm down, to slide across your body until it makes contact with your left palm. The rest of your body will turn sequentially toward the left.
Keep your right leg in place, reaching toward the lower right corner of the bed. If you need to, hook your right foot around the edge of the mattress as you twist. Relax for a minute when you are settled all the way onto your left side, and feel the front of your right hip and abdomen stretching.
To do the same thing on the other side, make a big X and lead with your left hand across your body to your right palm. Now, leaving your left leg in place, stretch the front of the left side of your body.
Don’t forget to breathe through the minute of stretching on each side. The secret of youth is a long front body. Be aware of that length all week.
Afterward, hug your knees to round your back.
If someone else shares your bed, then you can do “The Big X” on a floor rug.

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2. Kitchen Counter Flat Back

Whenever you wait for the water to boil, the toaster to toast, or the microwave to heat, take a moment to stretch the back of your body. Stand with the front of your body touching the kitchen counter. Put your hands on the kitchen counter and step away slowly as you lean forward until your back is flat and at a 90-degree angle to your legs.
You will be in the shape of an L, legs perpendicular to the floor. Spread your fingers and reach your arms away from your hips while the tail end of your spine reaches in the opposite direction, away from your fingertips. Feel your back getting longer and imagine your breath flowing in between each one of your spinal column. If you can’t get your back flat, or feel uncomfortable, then bend your knees. If your back feels long and flat, then try straightening your legs. You are stretching to feel the length of your entire back body, including the back of your legs.
To come out of the stretch without putting your back at risk for strain, keep your hands on the countertop and walk all the way in toward the counter before you roll your spine up to the vertical position.

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3. Toilet Lid Stance

When you’re in the bathroom, close the lid of the toilet and take a moment to put your right leg up on the seat with your knee bent and your foot flat on the lid. Stand tall on your left leg and allow the right leg to make a 90-degree angle from your thigh to your torso.
Keep your hips level with each other and squarely facing the foot on the lid of the john. You are pretty much standing on one leg, so make sure you are situated so you can touch a wall or bathroom counter if you need to steady yourself.
Feel your long front body at the front of the left hip, just as it feels in “The Big X” (page 40). Let your right hip bend and relax downward. Don’t tense the standing foot. Lengthen your toes going forward and your heel going backward in the opposite direction.
Since your weight over a tripod of your big toe, little toe, and heel. Be calm and breathe for one minute. Your spine hangs free from your head like the string on a floating helium balloon.
Next time you’re in the bathroom, put your left leg up in the same manner so you can feel the length of your right front body and allow the left hip to fall and bend easily.

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Helium Balloon

Since gait disorders are a predictor of falling, it’s well worth examining how you walk—and exploring how you can unify your body mechanics to walk more powerfully. Watch for Your Walking Stride tips during the ten-week
plan. This first week, when you are walking, use the image of a helium balloon as the back of your head, behind your ears—not under your chin—so that the back of your neck lengthens and your head floats back and up instead of sinking forward. Imagine that your cheekbones are sliding slightly backward, in the direction of behind your shoulders. A lifestyle of driving, gazing at a screen, and rounding your shoulders may have deflated your head balloon and compressed the back of your neck.
This forward head position inhibits the spinal movement needed for a healthy striding gait. Walk and signal the adjustment of your head and neck relationship with the cue “helium balloon.”

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4. Shower Chest Stretch

While standing in the shower, face the showerhead and extend your right arm behind you along with the shower wall to your right at three o’clock, palm flat on the wall. Feel a stretching sensation in front of your right chest.
Let the warm water relax your shoulders downward. Allow your neck to grow upward into your skull and the helium balloon at the back of your head to float upward. Connect your upper body to your lower body
by gently sinking your front bottom ribs down toward your abdomen and your abdomen into your pelvis.
Turn around and face the opposite direction or switch sides, so that your left arm extends behind you on the shower wall, palm flat, at nine o’clock. Now you are stretching your left chest muscles.

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Attention to Your Feet: After you’ve showered or bathed, sit down and dry in-between your toes with a towel. Stretch each toe away from the others for individual consideration. Think of your feet as capable of the same span and dexterity as your hand. This open base of support will be your foundation for next week’s balancing activities.

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