Guest Post: BEING CONFIDENT ABOUT TRAVELLING SOLO

Hello my chocolate dipped biscuits,

Today I want to touch on a topic I’ve had some experience in, and think is important- travelling by yourself & how to be kickass at it. These are some of the things I’ve learnt through my experiences.

Be prepared:

Perhaps the most crucial element of travelling by yourself is being prepared. I mean this in terms of; having your itinerary printed, having cash, knowing where you’re going exactly, having people’s numbers, sorting out a sim card in the place you’re going (depending on how long you stay), transportation, etc. From a non logistical standpoint, you should also be prepared to experience some nervousness, homesickness, & anxiety depending on the type of person you are and if you’ve travelled alone before. This is completely normal. Do your best to just roll with it so you can enjoy your time there and get the most out of your trip- you’ll feel at ease once you’re settled in.

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Do your research:

If the place you are going has a language barrier, get familiar with some of the common phrases before you go so that you aren’t completely lost. If the country has a certain cultural dress code/cultural norms that you have not experienced before, read about them so you know what to expect. Doing research about the country you’re going to is so important in calming your anxiety and helping you feel more secure in your decision to travel. Also, ask your friends/family/anyone else whose had experiences travelling to that particular country. Sometimes, people we know can give us tips about the nuances in a country that are important to know, but you won’t be able to find online or in a travel guide, so ASK AROUND!

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Make friends:

I don’t mean that you befriend the man offering candy at the bus stop at 9 PM- that’s how you get murdered. What I do mean is befriending someone, preferably around your age, who seems friendly and is in a similar position to you. This step requires you to use your intuition, and put any naivety to the side since safety is an essential factor to consider when travelling alone. If you are staying in a hotel/hostel/resort, etc. casually observe where people your age are and what they are doing. This will help you get a general idea of who seems approachable, nice and is safe. If you decide you would like to be friends with that person, say hello in a public setting (breakfast for example) and start up a conversation. Usually, you’ll get a good or bad vibe from a person once you start talking to them. Also, go on a day trip or bus tour if you have that option available to you (just make sure it’s a LEGIT company and tour, again, so you don’t DIE). Day trips are usually an easy way to make friends when abroad, because everyone there is in the same position as you- exploring a new country (just maybe not travelling alone).

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Relax:

It’s good to plan and be on your guard- but you should also know when to just calm down and trust that everything will be okay. Depending on your stay, you might have a schedule/planner on the activities you want to do/ places you want to see. While this usually helps you stay on track, it can sometimes make the trip seem like work because you feel like you HAVE to do that certain thing you have planned. If you have anxiety like me, this can sometimes be the case. However, I cannot stress how important it is to go with the flow (as long as it’s safe!). If you meet a lovely family or couple, etc. and they have asked you to do some other activity with them, don’t immediately shoot them down. You may feel some apprehension , but if you trust your gut ( & logic) it’ll let you know if the situation seems safe or not. If it is safe, go and enjoy something new- often times it’ll be an experience you’ll remember forever.

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I truly believe travelling alone is something everyone has to experience in their lifetime. It really allows you to learn so much about yourself and what you are capable of. I especially think it’s important for women to travel alone. Often times we are discouraged for that because it is deemed as strange or unsafe- however with the proper precautions and common sense, it is very doable and enjoyable. You will feel invincible once you conquer travelling alone.

I hope this post was enjoyable & helpful !

Tuti xx


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I’m a 22 year old college graduate, with a penchant for beauty, health and everything in between! I’m also a scorpio ; that should explain a lot to you while reading my blog😅 https://tutistales.wordpress.com.

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Guest Post: TRAVEL|TIPS FOR TRAVELLING AS A VEGAN

Hi loves! 
As some of you may know, I’ve spent the past year living and working in Hong Kong. During that time I’ve done a lot of travelling, (with South East Asia on your doorstep how could you not?!) I’ve also discovered through trial and error, a few tips and hacks for travelling as a vegan!

Pack enough food to get by for at least a few days.
Sometimes when you get to a new country, especially one that doesn’t have lots of vegan options, its useful to have food packed that you can survive on for a couple of days. You can always buy fruit from the local shops, but things like snack bars, crackers, dried fruit etc are great to get by on. Obviously this isn’t ideal, or very nutritious. But it does the job, and dry, packaged food is normally allowed in your hand luggage, so perfect for backpackers! (Obviously check your airlines rules and regs before you pack 3 days worth of food in your bag!!) I normally pack Larabars/Cliff Bars/Nakd Bars, Tortilla chips, Trail mix, granola, and crackers! I’ve also found that instant oats are great for a quick and easy breakfast on the go, just check the packaging to make sure they haven’t added milk powder or honey!!

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Feelin’ 22 at Grassroots Pantry, Shueng Wan, Hong Kong

Don’t forget to book a special in flight meal!
Sounds obvious right? But if you’re anything like me you’ll be so wrapped up with planning the trip that you forget about the flight! Granted, plane food isn’t the most nutritious or appealing, I normally find it too salty and over processed, but its better to have a full stomach when you get to your destination, so you don’t have to stress out about finding food straight away! Also, if you really don’t want to eat plane food, either grab something at the airport or pack snacks to tide you over. (Snack ideas above!!)

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The Yoga Barn, Bali, Indonesia

HappyCow.net is your best friend.
HappyCow.net has been a lifesaver for me whilst travelling Asia! You simply type in your location, and they pull up all the vegan/veggie spots in your area, with reviews and star ratings according to other site users! They show you all the local restaurants, cafes and shops! I normally screenshot the address and show it to the taxi driver, or if I’m walking/using public transport, I’ll use google maps to find it! I’ve found some awesome places with this app that I never would have known about otherwise!

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Jinnan Ramen, Tokyo, Japan

Allergy Cards.
Now I haven’t personally used an allergy card, as I mainly travel solo, and therefore only really eat at places that cater for vegans, but these are SO useful if you’re travelling with a non vegan and want to eat at the same places. They’re little cards that have a list of foods you don’t eat, translated into the language of the place you’re going. You can show the staff in shops or restaurants and ask them to help you find food you can eat! There are various websites that make these cards, just type “Allergy Card” into google!

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Chips with chopsticks? Why the heck not?! Bien Tinh Thuong, Da Nang, Vietnam

Hope you enjoyed this post! I’ve been so pleasantly surprised about how many awesome vegan places I’ve found on my travels! 
What are your tips for travelling as a veggie/vegan?
Molly x


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My name is Molly, I’m 22 and I’m vegan!

I’m originally from sunny old Cornwall in the UK, but I currently live in Hong Kong where I work for the one and only Mickey Mouse at Hong Kong Disneyland.

I set this blog up (https://planetmollywood.wordpress.com/) so I can share with you my adventures, stories, recipes, fitness diaries, Disney talk, and general lifestyle rambling!
I would also love to help if anyone has any questions about living a cruelty free lifestyle, just drop me a comment, I’ll be happy to answer as best I can!!

Guest Post: A Day in “Red City” Toulouse

After two days in Sarlat, one of which we spent visiting Lascaux, we drove on south again – to Toulouse.
Toulouse is located in the Region Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées (wonderful name, right?!) in the Département Haute-Garonne. If you want to know why the names of the Départements and Regions are so different, click here!

Some of you may know Toulouse as the “Airbus” Center, which is totally correct, but now we won´t be looking much at those aspects, we´ll just be taking a closer look at the city itself, it´s architecture and feel!

Come take a walk with me.

We stayed here for two nights, basically only one day, since we arrived late in the evening on one day and left early in the morning on the other one. Nevertheless, that one day was magical. We walked around town pretty much the whole day. We visited three churches and no museums, there was no energy left with 35 degrees Celcius outside and all the walking we were doing. I´ll just take you along a bit with me through la ville rouge (the red city).

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Starting off with the Cathedral of Toulouse, Sainte-Étienne. It has absolutely incredibly architecture and is really a beautiful place of silence and prayer.
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When you walk through town, you see a lot of buildings look like the one on the right. The big one on the left is very unusual. Actually, it´s unique. I was walking past, stopped, took a step back and admired this mosaic wall. Just stunning!

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This is pretty much the iconic architecture in the richer part of the city.

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A view down the main road. This is a beautiful and very long road, which we walked several times, at daylight and at night – both wonderful experiences.

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La ville rouge… the red city… can you see why? Btw. these rounded off corners are also pretty typical for the city.

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Again this iconic architecture with the balconies and embellishements.

When you walk down the main road you pass by this huge building which is the Capitol from the back.. together with the theater.

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And this is what it looks like from the front.

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When you stand in front of this huge building, there is a big place behind you. When you cross it and walk through smaller and poorer streets you reach the river of the city: La Garonne.

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I  totally love this photo, since it shows that the city also has a more homey feel, not so pompous as the main road. Don´t get me wrong, I love the main road, but this has a much more welcome feel to it. The main road has a specific distance to it, if you know what I mean.

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Here I´m standing on a very famous bridge looking down at the Garonne.

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This bridge is called “La Pont Neuf”, which was built in the 16th century – so a pretty only bridge.

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When you walk back into the city center from here, you first walk through a poor part of the city and then come into more richer parts, like this one.

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On your way you may pass by the church “Les Jacobins” of the Dominican religious order, which is the head of all the Dominicans of the world. This church is the center.
This is also where Thomas Aquinus is buried. He was a savant and part of the Dominican order.

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We stopped for a good hour and a half to take a look at everything here.

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From then on we walked farther back into the city and stopped for a short food stop at a “Boulangerie”. On our way we came by a palace in the middle of the city!!

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Furthermore we walked a little more and came by this arch.

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Our last stop was Saint Sernin, the church in which the counts of Toulouse were buried. I probably found this one the most beautiful one, maybe because of all the flowers…no, just kidding, it was just beautiful from the inside and the outside.

There was just one thing a little disturbing: There were Pokémon Go stops inside the church, which attracted people with smartphones. (I asked a gentleman with a smartphone very insdiscretly..that´s just me needing to know what was going on…)

I felt extremely weird about all those phones in church.

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After all that walking we were pretty exhausted, but still had enough energy for a little shopping. Having been successful we went to our hotel for a little bit to freshen up (and sleep a bit) before going out to eat.

This is what I wore..

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We ate in a restaurant called “Saint Maurice” on the Place Georges. The food was really very good. The Place Georges has a lot of wonderful little restaurants, in which the French people eat, not only tourists like us;-)

Another restaurant we ate in was called “Vincent Van Gogh”, in which the food was just excellent! I recommend this over “Saint Maurice”. Although it is a little more pricy, so if you want to save a little money then choose the “Saint Maurice”, which is also really amazing!

I couldn´t help but take a photo of a street we crossed walking home with all of it´s deserted streets, but more or less colorful lights!

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I am a nature-loving, cooking, reading and writing sport-freak, who loves to travel and create things, dress pretty, eat fruit, drink smoothies, listen to music, read in cute cafés, talk, laugh, inspire people and enjoy life one day at a time.

Connect with Little Sunshine on Social Mediat:
Follow me on Instagram: @littlesunshine01
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Contact me via e-mail: little-sunshine@t-online.de

 

Guest Post: KOREA IV – CATCHING A BUS TO NORTH KOREA

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(Joint Security Area at North and South Korean border)

My trip to Korea has officially come full circle, a year ago I spontaneously bought tickets to South Korea to visit my friend who was teaching English to young children at a hagwon (private English academy). My adventure to South Korea is one I will never forget, it was an experience that made me grow as a person and I cherish every memory. Had I not gone I would not be able to share with you the story of how I sprinted across Seoul to catch my bus to North Korea. Yes, I sprinted through the morning rush hour from one side of Seoul to the other to catch a bus to North Korea.

After I bought my flight to S. Korea I began looking into visiting one more country while I was in the region. But in the end I decided to spend my whole trip in Seoul with my friend and have the chance to explore as much of the city as I could. While doing research about what to do in Korea I stumbled upon a tour to the DMZ. The DMZ is the demilitarized zone along the border of North and South Korea along the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) which divides the Korean peninsula 155 miles (241km) from East to West. In July 1953 both sides signed the Armistice Agreement to cease fire and pull back 1.24 miles (2km) from the MDL to insure peace. Today the DMZ is a buffer zone ending all military and hostile actions. I was quiet surprised to learn that the DMZ ecosystem has been prospering and is very fertile land for growing rice, soy beans and wine. There are is one village within the DMZ zone, Daesongdong “freedom village”. The people of Daesongdong tend to the rice fields and farming in the area and are exempt from federal taxes and mandatory military draft from either Korea. Many people compare the border of North and South Korea to the border of former East and West Germany. I was born after the fall of the Berlin Wall and Iron Curtain but I grew up hearing many stories about that time from my family in Czech. In some ways I felt like I had an understanding of the sensitive situation in Korea.

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(Demilitarized Zone)

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(Ribbons along the fence in Imjunak Park)

When I came across the tour I hesitated about going. My friend was working most of the days I was visiting her so I wanted to fill the time with touristy things around Seoul. Would a trip to the North Korean border be ok with my parents? My stepdad was more than excited to hear about my trip to Korea and when I mentioned the tour he said he had taken it while he was in South Korea in the late 1980s. My mom happy for me that I was traveling to Korea and visiting my childhood friend but when I shared the news of my adventure to the North Korea border she was less than thrilled. Now, let’s fast forward about ten days after I told my mom I was going to go to the border of one of the most hostile countries in the world – alone.

I was out the door of my friend’s apartment at 8:01 am to catch my tour bus, little did I know that that one minute would cause me such stress. To get to where the bus was picking me up would take 45 minutes. As I walked to catch the bus to the metro, I see it pulling away from the stop but thankfully another one came within 2 minutes. Once at the metro stop I hurry down the steps and just as I land on the last step of the stairs the train doors close. Great, next train is in 3 minutes and I am already running late. Keep in mind that there are only three tours a week and you must be cleared by the United Nations seven days prior to your tour to even be allowed. This wasn’t an easy tour I could reschedule. My train came and I have to make one more metro line change, at this point I begin wondering if this is a sign that I shouldn’t be going. Should I listen to the signs? No, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and there is no refund if I miss the tour.

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(Entrance to Imjingak Park)

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(Liberty Bell in Imjingak in honor bidding the 20th century goodbye and welcoming the 21st century as a time of reunification and peace in the world)

I make the change and as I run down the stairs to catch my last train I see the doors close. I look at my watch, I still have about ten minutes until I get to the stop I need. The Korean metro map looks like one of the most complex transit systems in the world. (See the map here) Thankfully Koreans are tech savvy and created an app that helps passengers navigate through the web of colored metro lines, thankfully I had that app. A day before the tour I did a practice run of where the place was so I would know where to go, I was so grateful to my past self for preparing the day before because the moment my future self climbed out of the metro I orientated in the right direction and started to make a run for it. On my ticket it said to meet at the grand piano of a hotel, I sprinted through lobby doors to find that there wasn’t a group waiting around the piano. I grabbed a concierge and explained to him that I was late for the Panmunjom Tour. As soon as I said this a gentleman came up to me and said he was part of the tour and that our bus was waiting on me outside. When our tour guide saw us she quickly hurried us onto the bus because we were on a tight schedule. I couldn’t believe I had made it.

(View looking over  Imjin River)

(View looking over Imjin River)

(Steam locomotive symbolizing tragic history after it was left in the DMZ after being derailed by bombs during the Korean War; train is in Imjingak Park)

(Steam locomotive symbolizing tragic history after it was left in the DMZ after being derailed by bombs during the Korean War; train is in Imjingak Park)

The border is a 45 minute drive north of Seoul, surprisingly close in distance yet a world away. As we head north I notice what looks like a small village across the river. Our tour guide explains that the North Koreans have set up propaganda villages along the border to make it appear as though people are able to live freely and close to the border. Through modern technology such as heat sensors, it was proven that no one actually lives in the village and that they are just for show. Our first stop is in Imjingak Park where the Bridge of Freedom crosses the Imjin River and is a memorial park for those unable to return to their hometowns or to see family and friends. The bridge was a former railroad bridge used to exchange prisoners after the Korean War, today a train stands on the railroad tracks in memory of those it brought back. There is one place to eat while visiting the memorial, Popeye’s Louisiana Chicken. Yes, if you are hungry and you can grab a snack at the American fast food chain Popeye’s from New Orleans, Louisiana just a few yards from the border of North Korea. Back on the bus we head to the town of Paju located just south of the 38th parallel, the line of latitude that created the border between North and South Korea. Once we cross the border control into Paju we make a stop at the Dora Observatory where we get to see into North Korea and Kaesung City, the second largest city in North Korea. From the observatory you can also see Kijongdong, another propaganda village.

Our second to last stop of the morning tour is the 3rd tunnel. Made by the North Koreans and discovered in 1978 by the South Koreans, the 5364.17ft (1,635m) long by 6.4ft (1.95m) – in some parts even lower- high by 6.9ft (2.1m) wide tunnel which passes into the Military Demarcation Line by 1427.17ft (435 m). Our group was taken to the entrance of the tunnel where we began the long walk down through bedrock and about 239.5ft (73m) underground and equipped with hard helmets. At the end of the tunnel you can see what you hope is a thick concrete wall that separates you from the North Korean end of the tunnel. The morning tour ended at the Dorasan Station, the railway station that is the northernmost stop on South Korea’s railway line and is a symbol of future trading between the two nations. If North Korea allows for the railway to continue through its country you will be able to take a train from Seoul, South Korea to Paris, France.

"Not the last station from the South, but the first station toward the North" - Dorasan station

“Not the last station from the South, but the first station toward the North”
– Dorasan station

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(Korean lunch for one, a little bit of everything)

The bus drops me off in Paju where I am served a Korean style lunch and wait for my next bus to come and take me to Camp Bonifas. As I settle into my seat on my afternoon tour bus our tour guide begins to explain the safety and rules we must follow while in touring and that we may be evacuated from the camp if there is even a small threat to our safety and will received no refund if this happens. The camp is property of the United Nations, hence why the U.N has to clear you before you sign up for the tour. Also there is a dress code: shoulders must not be visible, any offensive clothing cannot be worn, absolutely no oversized clothing, sheer clothing, flip flops/sandals or military clothing are allowed. While we were in Camp Bonifas we were prohibited to take photos unless our guide allowed us. The most exciting part of the tour was our last stop, the Joint Security Area. Little blue huts welcomed us as we emerged from a large gray building and the border line between North and South Korea was just a few steps away from us. These little blue huts are the conference rooms which are used by both sides when meetings and negotiations need to be made. Inside the conference rooms the room is split by an imaginary line that divides the room between the north and south, with no visibily present line the space feels equal and neutral. Inside the rooms there are no flags and the only color is blue, the color of the United Nations. The area is heavily guarded with both North and South Korean soldiers standing watch over us. It was an unimaginable and thrilling experience being in JSA and being able to put one foot on North Korea land and the other on South Korean land.

(Dora observatory)

(Dora observatory)

(View to North Korea from Dora observatory; Kaesung City in the distance)

(View to North Korea from Dora observatory; Kaesung City in the distance)

(Joint Security Area with blue huts used as conference rooms)

(Joint Security Area with blue huts used as conference rooms)

Having been taught so little about the Korean War in school it was truly eye opening to discover Paju, JSA and the DMZ. After having to make my way across Seoul by bus, train and foot to visit the DMZ every second of my morning adventure to get to the bus was worth it.  I will never take what I have for granted and am so grateful that I live in a country where I have the freedom and opportunities. My heart goes out to everyone effected by the war and those who are still separated from their friends and family.

Here is a link to the tour I took Panmunjom Tour

Guest Post: Keeping Your Routine While Travelling

Years ago, kept your routine while travelling required a lot of commitment and dedication. I think nowadays we have good options to continue working out if we have to travel. Let´s review a few:
Hotels with gym. Unfortunately, not available for any pocket. But if you can afford it, this is one option you want to consider. Let me tell you it won´t be perfect, it will be a “new gym”. You may like it or not. You´re used to your gym and maybe you´ll miss your favourite machine. Don´t worry, it´s temporary. Get your workout done.
Local gyms. Search “gym, city” on google maps. As easy as that 🙂
If you don´t like gyms and usually workout at home. Then, what´s the problem? Don´t forget your resistance bands or TRX at home. If your room is not big enough, don´t be afraid to go outdoors. There is always a spot where to anchor your equipment.
Last, and most important. Even if you don´t exercise, you should stretch at the end of the day. Whether it´s a business or leisure trip, you shouldn´t skip your stretching routine. After a long day away from home, the best we can do is take care of our body, give some relief to our soreness muscles, getting ready to sleep… or enjoy the nightlife!
One way or another, all my trips include a lot of walking. I use these simple exercises to relief tightness and I strongly recommend you to give them a try. 
 
1. Stand a little less than arm’s distance from a wall.
2. Step one leg forward and one leg back, keeping your feet parallel.
3. Bend your forward knee and press through your back heel.
4. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and switch legs.
 
(I do this one, instead the standing stretch, because I have a lower back injury)
1. Lie on your left side on the floor with your legs extended straight away from your body. Allow your head to rest on the lower arm. Bend your right (top) knee bringing your right foot towards your right hip. Grasp your foot or ankle with your right hand. Keep your spine in neutral position.
2. Engage your abdominal muscles to stabilize the pelvis. Exhale and use your hand to gently pull yourfoot and lower leg backward and up toward your tailbone. Keep the bent knee pointing straight away from thehip joint. Hold this position for 30-45 seconds, then straighten the leg and engage the thigh muscles. Repeat the series for 2-5 repetitions; change sides and repeat with the right leg.
 
1. Lie on your back on the floor. Engage your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine. Keep one leg extended as you bring the other knee to your chest. Hold it with both hands.
2. Exhale and slowly extend your leg to the ceiling by contracting the muscles on the front of the thigh. Pull your toes downwards toward your body and push your heel toward the ceiling. This will increase the stretch in your hamstrings and calf muscles. Do not allow any movement in your hips and low back during this stretch.
3. Hold this position for 15 – 30 seconds. Return to starting position and repeat with the opposite leg.
 
1. Lie on your back on the floor, with bent knees.
2. Cross your left leg over the right; resting your left foot on your right knee. With both hands, reach down and grab the back of the right thigh. Exhale and pull your right thigh and knee toward your chest. Try to maintain a ninety-degree bend in both knees while in this position.
3.  Change legs placing the right foot on the left knee and repeat.
4. Exercise Variation: Use a chair (or bed), which will allow your hip and knee to remain at ninety-degree angles. 
 
1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you, toes pointed toward the ceiling. Knees should be straight. Bend your left knee and place the sole of the left foot against the inside of your right thigh. Sit as tall and straight as possible keeping your head aligned with your spine. Place your hands on the top of your right thigh.
2. Exhale and bend forward from your hips, sliding your hands toward your ankle. Do not allow the back to round. Keep your head aligned with your spine. Do not lower or lift the chin. The knee should remain straight with the toes pointed toward the ceiling. This should stretch your hamstrings and calf muscles, with some stretching in your low and middle back.
3. Hold this position for 15 – 30 seconds. Relax and return to your starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg.
 
1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Point your toes towards the ceiling without bending your knees. Try to make your torso vertical to the floor and your head aligned with your spine. Place your hands on the top of your thighs.
2. Exhale as you slowly hinge forward at the hips, sliding your hands down your legs toward your ankles. Try to keep the back flat. Keep your head aligned with your spine, knees straight and toes pointed upwards toward the ceiling. This should stretch your calves and hamstrings, with some stretching in your low and middle back.
3. Hold this position for 15 – 30 seconds. Return to starting position. Repeat 3-4 times.