Maintaining a healthy spine is one of the best things you can do to prevent back pain which affects millions of people every day. Our spines move in 4 distinct ways - forward, backward, laterally (side to side), and twist. In this practice we work with each movement singly and then together to open, release, and promote good spinal health. Breathe, move mindfully, and sense how your spine feels in each pose and as the pose progresses.
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Hold: 2-5 mins per side
Come onto your back and walk both heels over to the right, stacking the left ankle over the right (option to just keep them side by side). Keeping the hips in place, move your upper body and head over to the right as well. Take arms up overhead and grasp left wrist with right hand OR simply take hands where you feel stretch but not pain. Turn your head wherever it feels most comfortable. Take deep breaths into the left side body feeling the opening from the left foot through the left hand. To come out, release the hands to the hips and move the upper body back to center. Slowly unwind the ankles and realign the lower body to center. Relax with arms and heels wide for 1 minute. Take the second side.
Hold: 3-5 minutes
Bring your elbows under your shoulders or slightly in front, palms together with outside edge down. Feel your chest pulling forward and belly towards the floor. Gently sink your chest between your shoulders OR keep lightly engaged to lighten the load on the back. If you want more, bend your knees to 90 degrees and/or drop your chin to your chest. Sense the area of your lower back and breath into it. Release the tension in your lower back and shoulders. To come out, slowly lower your head to the bolster and take your hands out to sides. Slowly roll onto your back and take a few breaths with your entire body flat on the floor OR take one knee out to the side in lie flat on your belly for a decompression and then switch sides.
Hold: 2-5 minutes
Come to a seat using a folded blanket or towel under your hips to help your body tilt forward. Allow the feet to be further apart (or closer), and if you have tension in the back legs, bend your knees and fold forward. Allow your body to follow gravity, placing your hands palms up along side your hips/legs. As you breathe here, perhaps you find your legs straightening or your back rounding more - allow this and sense the changes after time. To come out, use hands to come back to seat, place hands behind you and lift chest to open the heart.
Swan, Sleeping Swan & Lateral Swan
Hold: 2-5 minutes/side - (each pose)
From Down Dog, take your right knee forward towards the right wrist. Tuck your right foot underneath your pelvis or take your right shin more in line with the front edge of your mat (depends on your hip bones). Keep your right foot activated. Walk your left foot back more with top of the foot on the floor behind you. Walk your hands out in front of you and keep a lift in your spine for 2 minute. Lengthen your spine and fold forward. Remain here for 2 minutes. Gently press up and walk the hands over to the left side and lower back down. Remain here for 2 minutes. Return to center, press back up and into Downward facing dog for 1-2 minutes. Take the second side.
Hold: 3-5 mins/side
Come onto your back. Gently press through your feet to lift hips over to the right side. Bring knees to chest and drop over to the left side, stacking the knees as much as possible (using a block underneath if the knees don't come to the floor easily). Take arms wide out from shoulders and turn head to the right. Allow gravity to pull your knees ground bound and settle your shoulders deeper. Enjoy the release of the spine, back and hips in here and breathe deeply into the space you have found. To come out, turn head to center, engage core and come back to center hugging knees in and rocking for a few breaths. Take the second side.
Hold: 5-10 minutes
Allow the heels to settle out to the corners of the mat OR keep your feet flat, knees bent and drop knees towards one another. Slide your shoulder blades underneath your body, and take your hands out to the sides, palms up or one hand to heart, one hand to belly. Take some deep breaths, coming back to the 3 part breath - first in the belly, then in the chest and finally the collarbones - and extend the exhale even longer. Allow yourself to sigh a few times and let it all go! Take a 6 count inhale, 6 count exhale, 6 count hold at the bottom of the exhale for 3-5 rounds. Focus on your breath and let go.
I have been "playing" and experimenting with yoga, aromatherapy and healthy living since my late teens - researching, testing, reading, investigating, and learning anything that would make my life - and the lives around me - better naturally.
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All rights reserved by Aprille Walker and The Yoga Ranger Studio 2014-2018 (copyrighted material)