Here is a great way to add some flexibility and mental health exercises into your fitness routine.
It is time to roll out your yoga mat and discover the combination of physical and mental exercises that for thousands of years have hooked yoga practitioners around the globe. The beauty of yoga is that you do not have to be a yogi to.
Whether you are young or old, overweight, or fit, yoga has the power to calm the mind and strengthen the body all things we as first responders need now more than ever.
Do not be intimidated by yoga terminology, fancy yoga studios and complicated poses. Yoga is for everyone. Here is a great routine that you can start to incorporate into your weekly workout schedule. I personally like to perform this quick 10-minute routine at the firehouse to help me control stress and help me improve my mobility. Give it a try.
Here are a couple of things to focus on when doing this routine or any yoga routine.
- Do not Worry What Others Think. “I look so stupid—everyone must be laughing at me.” …who cares this is all about you and your fitness journey. Rather than letting your thoughts wander toward what others are thinking, stay focused on yourself and the task at hand.
- Don't Fear the Pose- If you can’t hold the pose exactly, don’t worry. Modify the pose to meet your level of comfort
- Remember to breathe- Do not hold your breath at any point. Make sure to take deep easy breathes throughout the routine. Concentrating on steady, deep breaths not only helps you focus, but also calms both body and mind to create a more stable pose
- Feel your muscles. Try to focus on breath and what your muscles are feeling.
Follow the routine (and video) below. Perform each pose for 30 seconds and transition right from one pose to the next (like a circuit). Do not perform the corpse pose until the very circuit and hold it for one minute.
Remember to breath and relax….
Coaching Tips-- From a standing position, the legs are in a wide stance with the feet aligned and flat on the floor. The back foot is in a 60-degree angle toward the front. The hips are squared. The inner thighs are rotated toward each other. The front knee is bent in a 90-degree angle directly above the ankle. The arms extend up to the sky with the biceps by the ears. The hands can be together or separated and facing each other with the fingers spread wide. The ribcage is lifted, and the pelvis tucked. The gaze is forward. (Perform 30 seconds on each side).
Coaching Tips-- From a standing position, the feet are together and rooted into the floor with toes actively lifted. The knees are bent, and the weight of the body is on the heels of the feet. The pelvis is tucked in and the ribcage is lifted. The neck is a natural extension of the spine. The arms are lifted toward the sky with the elbows straight and the biceps by the ears. The hands can be together or separated and facing each other with the fingers spread wide. The gaze is forward.
Downward Facing Dog.
One of the most well-known yoga poses; Downward Dog is good for the entire body.
Coaching Tips- The body is positioned in an inverted "V" with the palms and feet rooted into the floor and sits bones lifted toward the sky. The arms and legs are straight. The weight of the body is equally distributed between the hands and the feet. Shoulders are squared to the floor and rotated back, down, and inward. The neck is relaxed, and the crown of the head is toward the floor. The gaze is down and slightly forward.
This is another simple but effective yoga pose to reframe your mindset and block out the world. It is also wonderfully comforting and relaxing.
Coaching Tips--Start on your knees, spread wide with most of the weight of the body on the heels of the feet. The forehead rests softly onto the mat. The arms extend to the front with the fingers spread wide. The gaze is down and inward.
This pose elongates and opens the entire spine and fully allows you to breathe in and out.
Coaching Tips- Position yourself on all fours, knees in line with your hips and your hands with your shoulders. Begin by arching your spine and tilting your head upward toward the sky. Hold for a couple of seconds. Then slowly reverse the arch in your back to a curved spine, while rotating your head downward toward the floor. Hold for another couple of seconds. Repeat this cycle for the allotted time. Remember to breathe and relax as you move….
Bound Ankle Pose
Coaching Tips- In sitting position, bend both knees and drop the knees to each side, opening the hips. Bring the soles of the feet together and bring the heels as close to the groin as possible, keeping the knees close to the ground. The hands may reach down and grasp and maneuver the feet so that the soles are facing upwards and the heels and little toes are connected. The shoulders should be pulled back and no rounding of the spine.
Seated Forward Fold
This feel-good fold elongates the back of your body, lengthens your spine, and stretches your hamstrings.
Coaching Tips-- Begin seated position, with both legs extended straight out in front of you, spine long. Press your heels actively down into the ground and flex your feet. Inhale to extend your arms up overhead, as you exhale, hinge at your hips to fold forward over your legs, maintaining a sense of length along your spine. Avoid the tendency to collapse the chest and round the spine here to move deeper into your fold. Keep your shoulders back and relaxed away from your ears.
With every inhale, find more length along your spine and front body; with every exhale, move more deeply into your forward fold.
Great pose to stretch the hips and work the glutes.
Coaching Tips- Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat, hip-width apart, heels directly below your knees. Leave your upper arms on the floor. Press into your feet and slowly send your knees forward, wrapping your outer hips toward the ceiling; then lift your buttocks away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone toward the backs of your knees. Relax your arms at your side. Hold this position and breathe.
After the bridge pose go back to the Warrior One. Perform the Corpse Pose for the last minute of the routine.
Corpse Pose- (perform for the last minute of the routine)
Yep, this pose is as simple as it sounds. Every yoga class includes a savasana, which relaxes the whole body and gives you space to absorb the benefits of the practice.
Coaching Tips- Lie faceup, bringing your legs to the outer edges of your mat, like a starfish. Splay your feet out to the sides. Place arms along sides, palms facing up. Close your eyes and relax. Focus on your breathe and focus on what you feel….
Hope you enjoyed the routine. Get in the habit of taking 10-15 minutes every day and every shift to quiet your mind, take a breath, and do some stretching. I guarantee you will feel more positive, happy and healthy.
Let me know what you think.
Stay safe, stay healthy and stay FRF (fire rescue fit).
-Aaron Zamzow (ZAM)
Looking for a little fitness motivation? FRF has created a virtual workout event to benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. The 5K the FRF Way Virtual Workout Event includes some great race swag and a Training Program that integrates yoga, strength, cardio and mobility exercises. Get leaner, stronger and more mobile and help out a great charity working to improve the health and safety of the Fire service. Join today! Click here for more info.