5 Yoga Stretches to Get You Through the Day

Whether you’re behind a desk or on your feet all day, taking care of your body, skin and mind is vital for optimal wellness. For Yoga Awareness Month, we’ve partnered with yoga instructor and former ABT ballerina, Alexandra Elle (@healthy_ballerina) for some easy yoga poses to incorporate into your daily routine to help unwind body and mind.

Alexandra is a Los Angeles-based yoga and meditation instructor, blogger, and dancer. As a former professional ballerina with American Ballet Theatre, Alexandra brings her body awareness and diligence towards alignment to her yoga practice and instruction. As a wellness advocate, she views health as a full-spectrum practice throughout the body, mind, and spirit. Yoga, meditation, and nutrition are the pillars of Alexandra's approach to wellness.

1. Pada Hastasana (standing forward fold with feed resting on palms)

Alignment Cues + Benefits: Toes should be aligned with the creases of the wrists. Make sure to bend the knees enough so that the bottom ribs are resting on the quadriceps. Keep pulling your hands energetically from underneath your feet while firmly planting your weight into the ball of your foot. Breath into the back to find space in the spine. This stretch is great for stretching out the hamstrings and back. It also reverses the weight that the pull of gravity places on our necks from holding our heads up all day long.

2. Bound Utkatasana Variation (open-hearted chair pose) Alignment Cues and Benefits

This stretch is great for a little hamstring and glute activation, which is nice after sitting a long time. The clasped position of the interlaced fingers behind the back opens the heart. Roll your shoulders back as you melt them away from your ears, lifting your hands off of your pelvis diagonally as you sink deeper into your chair.

3. Parsva Urdhva Hastasana (upward salute side bend). Alignment Cues and Benefits

Firmly plant the feet finding the root to raise energy. On an inhale, float the arms up, and on the exhale keep the length as you begin to side bend on an upward diagonal. This stretch improves balance, gets some mobility and length in the spine, and tones the legs.

4. Modified Natarajasana (standing quad stretch) Alignment Cues and Benefits

This stretch is great for opening up the quads and hip flexors, which can get tight from sitting at a desk for a long time. Keep the knees glued together as you bend your heel to your butt while lifting both sides of the waist up to the sky.

5. Modified Gomukhasana (tricep stretch). Alignment Cues and Benefits

Reach the right arm up towards the sky and hook the elbow and forearm behind the head while reaching the fingers towards the tail. Grab your right elbow with your left hand and stretch up and over to the left, elongating through the right side body and right tricep. Keep pulling the right elbow back in space as you lift it up and over to the left, which will also open up the front of the chest, unraveling hours of sitting and typing at a computer.

Photographer: Zach Birns

Space: Sweatheory