Sometimes you just don't know how much tension you're holding until you take a good stretch. This quick upper-body loosener, demonstrated by fitness expert Jennifer Kries, from her "Hot Body Cool Mind" DVD series, is sweet relief in the middle or at the end of the workday.
What it does
The graceful combination move stretches and strengthens the muscles of the hands, arms, wrists, neck and shoulders. It relieves tension as it reinforces good posture.
What to do
Start with feet together, arms at sides and toes spread in mountain pose. Press the tips of your thumb, pinkie and ring finger together, while extending your index and middle finger straight.
Inhale and stretch arms forward with fingers pointing up, then slowly extend to the sides at shoulder level, keeping index and middle fingers pointing up to the ceiling. Exhale and point the extended digits down, feeling the stretch on top of the wrists. Take five breaths here, continuing to press out with the arms in opposite directions. Inhale and reverse finger direction to the ceiling, continuing to press out to opposite walls. Exhale and release finger position and flex palms up pushing out to opposite sides of the room with shoulders down and back. Reverse and press the fingers of each hand down. Then release hands and shake them out.
Next, move into Spanish hands, inhaling and circling your wrists and fingers out and around in graceful little circles in the air in front of your body, exhaling and watching as they move up over your head. Once at the top, begin the descent, moving fingers and hands in small circles toward the body, as if gathering energy and pulling it in to your body as you move down in front of your body and back in front of your thighs, Do two passes up and down the body.
Do this series of movements once or twice a day to relieve tension and release stress.