I had a question this week from someone that said they often felt stiff and tight in the muscles on either side of their back. I'll preface this with saying: if you have back pain, go see a doctor/ osteopath/ chiropractor etc. But if you just want to move your spine a bit more and stretch out some of the muscles in the back of your torso this is a great little sequence. It may help improve flexibility in the backs of your legs too, which can also be good for back discomfort. Remember: be gentle. Don't force anything! 😎
1. Sit on the floor with your legs out straight in front of you. Take your hand to your lower back: if you can feel your vertebrae sticking out (instead of your lower back having its natural inward curve) sit up on a block/ couple of books/ folded up towel/ something like that. If you still can't sit up straight bend your knees until you can.
Leave your right leg where it is. Bend your left knee and step your left foot to the outside of your right thigh. Put your left fingertips on the floor behind you. As you inhale push down into your left hand and sit up tall. As you exhale turn towards your top knee and either cradle it with your right arm or put your right elbow on the outside of that knee. For your next five (slow!) breaths: each time you inhale sit taller. Each time you exhale turn a bit more towards your top knee.
TIP: notice how it's easy to sit tall through the left side of your torso by pushing down into your back hand. See if you can also create the same amount of lift through the other side of your torso.
2. As you inhale release the twist and face forward again. Bring your left foot back to its own side of your bottom leg. Keep your left knee bent but this time let your knee fall out to the side. If it doesn't reach the ground support it with a pillow or rolled up towel. Turn your chest to face towards your left knee and place the back of your right hand on top of your right leg. Keep facing towards your bent leg and as you inhale sweep your left arm up alongside your ear; as you exhale bend sideways towards your extended leg. Take five slow breaths here.
TIP: notice how your top shoulder wants to drop forwards so your chest turns down towards the floor. Try to resist the temptation to do that; instead back out of the posture a little and turn your chest more up to the ceiling. Lean your top shoulder a little bit back. You might not be able to reach your top arm so far but the stretch will be more in the side of your body (which is what we're trying to target here!).
3. As you inhale, lead with your top arm to come all the way back up. Keep your legs where they are but this time turn your chest to face towards your extended (right) leg. Again, remember that slightly bending that leg may help you sit up taller. Place your finger tips either side of that extended leg. As you inhale sit tall; as you exhale turn more towards that leg and fold (= yoga jargon for lean your chest down towards your leg!). Hold for five slow breaths. As you next inhale sit all the way up again, and repeat the whole sequence on the other side.
As always, let me know if any comments or questions! 🙏🏼♥️