If you spend any time slouching at your desk or looking down at your phone, you’ll want to give yourself the gift of this little yoga sequence.
1. Child’s Pose
Kneel on a soft surface like a rug, blanket, or thick yoga mat to start. Spread your knees wide, and bring your big toes to touch. Then slide your hips down to your heels, and lie over your thighs. Let your head go, and rest your forehead on the mat or wherever is most comfortable. Place your arms alongside your shins with the palms facing up. Stay here for five to 10 breaths. Then gently exit the pose by sitting up.
2. Warrior 2, modified
Prepare with a few simple shoulder shrugs up and down, plus some shoulder rolls backward and forward while breathing deeply and evenly. Then take a wide stance, and turn your right foot out at a 90-degree angle, lining up your right heel with the center of your left arch. Bend your right knee deeply. Lift your right arm up alongside your ear, and bend your elbow completely until your fingers touch your upper back. With your left arm, reach up and place your fingers around your right elbow. Use your fingers to pull the skin of your right elbow up as you pull your elbow straight back for a juicy tricep opening. Hold this for three to five deep breaths, and then straighten your leg to come out of the pose. Repeat the pose on the other side.
3. Ardha Uttanasana, modified
For this pose, you will need either a chair or a tabletop to rest your elbows and stretch your triceps, shoulders, and upper back. Standing with your feet hip-distance apart, bend forward and place your elbows on top of a chair back or tabletop with your elbows bent and fingertips touching your upper back. Keep your arms lightly elevated to avoid collapsing your shoulders while you stretch your hips back and enjoy the opening in the underside of your shoulders and chest. If you have any discomfort in your lower back or stiffness in your hamstrings, bend your knees and try to stick out your butt to increase your lumbar curve. Stay here for three to 10 breaths.
4. Prasarita Paddotanasana
For this pose you’ll need a yoga strap, a belt, or a large towel. Come into a wide stance with your feet parallel to each other. Take your hands behind you, and hold either end of the strap, keeping your hands shoulder-width apart. Firm your legs, and fold forward as much as is comfortable, bringing the strap with you over your head as you maintain a soft bend in your elbows. Try not to let your upper back round, and concentrate on squeezing your shoulder blades toward each other and pulling the heads of your arm bones back. If you have any discomfort in your lower back or stiffness in your hamstrings, bend your knees and try to stick out your butt to increase your lumbar curve. Stay here for three to 10 breaths.
5. Supported Fish Pose
For this restorative pose, you’ll need two yoga blocks. Place the blocks one in front of the other at your desired height (low, medium, or tall). The higher you go, the deeper the stretch in the upper back. Sit in front of the blocks, and lie back doing your best to line up the bottom tips of your shoulder blades on the edge of the first block. Once your shoulder blades are anchored, continue to lie all the way back, and rest your head on the second block. If you have any discomfort in your lower back, try lowering the block heights. If you feel any discomfort in the shoulders, rest your elbows on pillows. Let your legs relax out in front of you, and rest your arms along your sides, palms facing up. Stay here up to 15 minutes as a final relaxation that will leave you energized.
Amy Ippoliti is the coauthor of The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga and cofounder of90 Monkeys, an online and in-person school.
Source: Rodale’s Organic Life