Welcome to 2016!! I hope everyone had a great holiday and happy start to the New Year! This is a time for new beginnings, new goals and I’m sure many of you have made some kind of health or fitness goal. Stretching is an easy thing to add to your routine and I hope you decide to dedicate time each week to it!
This month for the weekly stretch we will begin the year with strengthening as we stretch. We will be doing back bending all month, so if you have low back problems please be mindful and attentive to how your body feels through these movements.
This first week of January is a therapeutic back bend called Cobra pose. You will not need anything for this back bend.
- Start on your stomach on the floor. Place your hand’s palm down right next to your low ribs. (If you’re not sure where your low ribs are, feel with your hands on either side of your body until you find your last set of ribs. Place your hands there on the floor). Place your legs hip distance apart. Now rotate your inner thighs towards the ceiling and curl the toes under.
- Press through the heels so the knees lift off the floor and the legs are fully engaged. From here inhale, press your hands very lightly into the floor and start to peel the chest away from the floor. Use your back muscles and not your arms to raise up. Gaze will be roughly 6 inches in front of you on the floor.
- Once here, pull the belly button towards the spine and press the pubis bone towards the floor. Keeping the belly engaged will protect your low back. You should not feel any crunching in the low back.
- This posture is about opening and stretching through the chest, collar bones and front body. Keep the elbows pointed directly behind you. Keep the heart coming forward, you don’t want rounding in the chest or collapsing in the shoulders. Refer to the top photo below for correct alignment. Notice the differences between the top and bottom photos.
- From this position you have two options. Staying here for 5-8 breaths will stretch the front body. But you can also make this into a back exercise: inhale raise up and try to hover the hands above the floor next to your low ribs. Exhale and lower back down, face to one cheek on the floor. Repeat 5-10 times to strengthen the back! Try both ways for stretch and strengthening. 🙂