By Guest Contributor Sarah Croce
Regardless of age, I encourage all my students to think about a daily combination of Yoga and Pilates to be just as important as the ritual of brushing their teeth. And for seniors, the routine can be just as simple. Good news, right? The fact is, older populations are looking to either maintain, or, if they’ve been inactive for a long time, restore mobility--both physically and mentally. Integrating some basic daily movements can be very effective for mobility if they are repeated regularly. Here is a five- minute Yoga/Pilates Fusion routine you can do right in front of your mirror (after brushing your teeth) both morning and night.
Breathing: Start by planting your feet firmly into the ground (or bathroom rug, as it might be), parallel to one another. Begin “full yogic breathing” allowing the breath to filter into the body--low, middle, high--much like water fills a glass. As you exhale, imagine the breath being pushed out of the bottom of the glass first, so the out breath is also low, middle, high. Take a few more breaths this way. With each inhale, feel the crown of the head lifting effortlessly to the sky. With each exhale, reconnect to the abdomen and feel your feet root back down to the floor. See if you can close your eyes. Keep this same breathing style throughout the rest of the routine, spending roughly one minute on each body part.
Feet: Roll forward and back from the balls of your feet to your heels. Roll to the outer edge of your feet, then roll to the inner edge. Lift up all ten toes off the ground, spread them and lay them back down.
Knees: With your hand on your hips, bend and straighten your knees, being sure to keep your kneecaps in alignment with your first and second toe. Keep your body upright. If you feel sturdy enough, go from bent knees all the way up to your tippy toes and see if you can balance.
Hips: Holding onto the sink or another steady surface, pick up your right leg, bend your knee and “churn your leg in your hip socket’ in a clockwise direction. Reverse. Repeat on other leg.
Shoulders: Hike your shoulders up toward your ears and then roll them down your back in a circular motion. After 30 seconds, switch directions and roll your shoulders forward.
Arms: Bring your arms directly forward toward the wall in front of you and then circle the arms up, back, down and around, “churning the arm in the shoulder socket.” Reverse direction. Repeat on other arm.
Neck: Drop your chin to your chest and then drag your chin over towards your right shoulder. Raise your chin up and over towards your left side, like you are drawing a circle on the sky, and then drag across the left shoulder. After 30 seconds reverse direction.
Recover: Just as you began your practice, try closing your eyes, ground down through the feet, up through the crown of the head, and return to your breath. Notice how the body feels. Do you sense a difference?
Intention: Finally, invite the corners of the mouth to turn up into a little smile and give thanks to that which you are grateful for. This can be as simple as feeling grateful to yourself for taking the time to practice today. Namaste!
Sarah Croce is a certified Pilates and Yoga Instructor. She works at Sixpax Core Studio in Chicago.