TANIA ALEXANDER’S A.M. FITNESS ROUTINE
This simple routine, which takes about ten minutes altogether, was devised by UK fitness expert Tania Alexander, author of No Sweat Fitness, and is suitable for anyone, at any age and any level of fitness. However, you should always check with your doctor before embarking on any unaccustomed exercise, or if you are pregnant or have a bad back. Don’t rush these exercises: do them slowly, preferably out of doors or by an open window.
Start with a breathing exercise
Stand with your feet forward, parallel and a hip width apart, tummy muscles gently drawn in, back and neck long as if a string is pulling you through the crown of your head. Let your shoulder blades relax and sink. Look ahead, then close your eyes, spread your toes and feel the ground. Stand in the same position throughout.
Breathe gently and rhythmically, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Take the same time inhaling as exhaling – count three or four beats on the in-breath, and on the out. As you get more practised, try holding your breath for a beat after inhaling and exhaling. If you enjoy visualisation, imagine your breathing pattern as a wave creeping up the beach, hovering for a moment, then flowing out. Once your breathing has settled, take five long slow (and wonderfully grounding) breaths.
TIP This is a wonderful exercise for calming yourself during the day.
Shake it all up
Shake your hands and one foot at a time, up and down, round and round, as vigorously as possible – if you can lie on the floor or some grass, even better, so you can shake hands and feet simultaneously.
TIP Shaking your hands briskly whenever you’re worried or stiff can relieve tension and stress and re-energise you.
Get your body moving from top to toe
Breathe slowly and rhythmically through these exercises.
Shoulders Stand with feet a hip width apart, knees bent a little and tummy muscles drawn in. Rest your fingertips on the outside of your thighs. Using smooth controlled movements, slowly roll your shoulders backwards in a large circle. Keep your hips facing forward and your lower body still. Repeat five times backwards, five forwards.
Now place your right palm on the centre of your stomach and stretch up to the sky with the fingertips of your left hand. Then circle your left arm backwards from the shoulder five times in a wide movement as if you are swimming backstroke. Repeat forwards five times. Then repeat the routine the other side.
Neck Mobilise a stiff neck by turning your head slowly to the right, then tuck your chin down towards your shoulder and gently roll to the left. Repeat five times in each direction. This is a semi-circular movement; do not take your head back.
Hips With your feet still a hip width apart, upper body straight, tummy tucked in, put your hands on hips, and slowly circle them in a clockwise direction. Keep your upper body and feet still so your hips alone are moving. Repeat five times clockwise, five anti-clockwise.
Standing as for your breathing exercise, place your right hand on your right thigh. On an exhalation, swing your left hand straight up to the sky so that you feel a mild stretch down the left side of your body. Keep your upper body straight. Breathe in, then, breathing out, swing the arm down to the starting point. Repeat twice on each side.
Remembering to keep tummy and bottom tucked in and walking tall, march around, inside (include stairs) or outside (up and over obstacles if you can) for two to five minutes at least.
Hail the sun
On an out-breath, keep looking straight ahead and swing both arms in front of you up towards the sky, simultaneously lifting one knee as high as you comfortably can. Breathe in, then, as you breathe out, lower arms and leg. Repeat five times alternately on each leg.
Finish by breathing your mind clear
Place your right thumb lightly over your right nostril. Breathe in deeply through your left nostril. Now close your left nostril with your middle finger and, as you do so, release your thumb and exhale through your right nostril. Then reverse the process: keeping your left nostril closed, breathe in through your right nostril, then place your thumb over your right nostril again, release your middle finger and exhale through the left nostril. Continue for 30 to 60 seconds.
TIP This technique is marvellous for clearing the mind at any time.
TIP Drink plenty of water: keep an unbreakable bottle handy.