Flex & Relax

by Amy Nestor on Dec 01, 2007


A mind-body cool-down perfectly caps almost any class.

Are you interested in exploring moves but not ready to teach an entire class of them? Cool-downs are a great opportunity to introduce mindful exercises to students. The following movements will increase flexibility and help students feel relaxed as they head back into the “real world” outside the group exercise room.

Connection Transition
The cool-down slowly brings heart rates down to preclass resting rates as participants make the transition from the class’s core (the most intense work, whether it be cardiovascular or strength) to its finish. Aim to link breath with movement, making a true mind-body connection.

Mountain Pose. Stand with big toes together, heels slightly apart.

Transition: Step out to plié squat.

Sun God. At top of plié squat, move arms up, palms touching, and look up.

Moon God. While still in plié, pull arms down, elbows bent, and squeeze shoulder blades down and back, arms at a 90-degree angle.

Repeat sun god/moon god series (4x); hold at bottom of plié squat.

Side-Bend Stretch (Right [R] Side). Place R hand or elbow on thigh; stretch left (L) arm up and over to R side, chest open. Look up toward ceiling, and reach to R side again. Return to center, and lower arm.

Repeat sun god/moon god series (4x); hold at bottom of plié squat.

Repeat side-bend stretch, L side.

Transition: Step feet back together, and lower arms to mountain pose.

Fan (Chest Opener) and Plank. Clasp hands behind back; inhale and lift chest; exhale and fold forward as arms stretch toward ceiling. Hold for 2–4 breaths. Release hands to shins or floor. Bend knees, and step back to plank position (top of triceps push-up).

Chaturanga. Lower to triceps push-up position; hold, without letting hips or belly touch the mat. Modification: Lower knees to floor.

Upward-Facing Dog. Roll onto tops of feet, extend spine, lift chest, draw shoulders down and away from ears, and push away from floor. Hips remain lifted off mat. Modification: Lower knees to floor.

Downward-Facing Dog. Lift hips up and back until body is an inverted “V,” tailbone to ceiling. Lengthen legs, press heels into mat, and line ears between shoulders.

Crouching Downward-Facing Dog. Bend knees, move hips to back wall, and extend R leg. Rotate hips R, squaring shoulders to floor.

Repeat on L side.

Repeat crouching downward-facing dog series, alternating sides (4x). On last pair, hold leg up for 2–4 breaths, open hips, and square shoulders to floor.

Transition to pigeon pose by slowly bending R knee and bringing it between arms. Hold for 4 breaths. Lift hips up and step back into plank.

Repeat chaturanga, upward-facing dog and downward-facing dog.

Repeat crouching downward-facing dog series, starting with L lead and alternating sides (4x). On last pair, hold leg up for 2–4 breaths, open hips, and square shoulders toward floor.

Transition to pigeon pose (L side) and hold for 4 breaths. Lift hips up and step back into plank.

Cat/Cow. Lower to hands and knees, move into cat/cow stretch series (4x). Bend knees, and sit back in child’s pose. Lower to elbows; push up into hands-and-knees position. Repeat cat/cow series.

Transition: Sit on one hip and swing legs around slowly to front of mat for butterfly stretch.

Relaxation. Do a series of deep breathing exercises and finish in corpse pose. Lead the class to a calm and peaceful ending with a guided relaxation.

Amy Nestor is the corporate director of presenters and special projects for Powder Blue Productions. She has more than 14 years’ experience in the fitness industry as an instructor, a personal trainer, a manager and a presenter.

IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 4, Issue 11

© 2007 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Amy Nestor IDEA Author/Presenter

Amy Nestor has more than 15 years’ experience as an instructor, a personal fitness trainer and a manager. She leads training workshops, presents for various organizations in the

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