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The Ultimate Cool Down Session: A Yoga Instructor On Ten Stretches To Do After That Cardio

We know, we know: Stretching is usually the last thing on your mind after a hard spin class or long run, but it shouldn't be. Here's why (and ten stretches to do).

Newsflash: Whether dancing on a stationary bike or running along a beach, you’ve gotta stretch. I know because, as someone who takes at least three spin classes a week (because you also gotta keep that cardio up), I’ve noticed that my calves, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes and shoulders have been a little tighter than usual. And even though I practice yoga daily, I’ve noticed that adding 5-10 minutes of extra static stretching goes a long way. Below, ten stretches to do to recover from that cardio workout faster—and to keep those muscles long, flexible and sexy.

1. Calf stretch. Set up against a wall. Crawl your right toes up the wall. Keep your toes flexed and lean your torso agaisnt the wall. Take five breaths.

2. Arrow lunge. Set up in a lunge position with your fingertips on the ground. Lengthen your left leg as far back as possible. Press the top or your left foot on the ground. Lift your left knee off the ground. Take five breaths.

3. Half-splits. Start in a lunge. Glide your right leg forward. Shift your hips over your left knee. Focus on keeping your toes flexed, your hips squared and your spine long. Take five breaths.

4. IT band stretch. From half splits, glide your right heel to the left side. Keep your right leg straight and at a diagonal. Assure that your toes are flexed, and walk your hands towards the upper right corner of your space (away from your right leg). Take five breaths.

5. Pigeon. From IT band stretch, bend your right knee to the ground. Assure that your right knee is at a diagonal from your hips and your left leg is straight back behind you. You can stay in the upward variation or fold over your right leg. Take five breaths.

6. Seated-tree pose or forehead-to-knee pose. From pigeon, lean over your right hip, swing your left leg forward. Bring the sole of your right foot inside your left inner thigh. Frame your left leg with your hands. Fold over your left leg to your own degree. Take five breaths.

7. Seated forward bend. Extend your legs in front of you. If you have tight hammies, keep your knees softly bent. Fold forward to your own degree. Take five breaths.

8. Standing forward fold. Stand up and fold forward over your legs. Keep a micro-bend on your knees. Interlace your hands behind your low back. Lift your knuckles away from your hips and glide your shoulder blades up, away from your ears. Take five breaths.

9. Shoulder rolls. Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart. Inhale, and draw your shoulders to your ears. Squeeze the top of your shoulder blades together. Exhale, and relax your shoulders down your back. Repeat five times.

10. Neck stretch. Stand with feet hip-width distance apart. Relax your right ear to your right shoulder. Place your right hand on the left side of your head and gently encourage your right ear to come closer to your shoulder. Keep both shoulders relaxed as you extend your left arm out to the side.

Repeat this sequence on the left side, and your body will thank you!

A few other ways we like to reset after a hard workout:

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